For someone who is a pretty big fan of the Thing, it's taken me quite a while to get some original art from one of the character's solo titles. Much of that is because both Marvel Two-in-One and the first Thing volume are between 25 and 35 years old, and the second volume ran a meager eight issues (seriously, what a revoltin' development THAT was). Add this to the fact that some of those who contributed large swaths of material to the earlier series were named Byrne, Buscema, Perez and Kirby, and there aren't many pages floating around out there that I can afford.
I have been keeping an eye on one newcomer, though, for quite a while, and a few weeks ago the price dropped to a number that I was able to commit to, so I'm happy to say that I'm now the owner of an original page of artwork from the first solo Thing series, namely, issue #31, page 9, with art by Ron Wilson and Kim DeMulder, and letters by Jack Morelli.
As I've lamented before, the Thing (in both Two-in-One and his original series) has had some truly awful stories told about him. There have been plenty of highlights as well, to be sure, but also a lot of fluff and other stories best left forgotten. The final dozen or so issues of the Thing volume one fits into that category, as he returns from a strange trip to the Secret Wars planet only to wander around aimlessly for a time, joining a professional wrestling team and feeling depressed. Also he wore boots, which I hated.
Issue #31 featured one of those aimless stories, where Ben hangs out with Sharon Ventura (later the She-Thing) as she tries to be an actress in a Hollywood production of a movie featuring the Devil Dinosaur. Ben keeps mistaking movie props and situations for the real thing, and as a result he halts production several times due to his ill-timed heroics (at one point, he punches an animatronic Devil Dinosaur and everyone gives him heck for it).
This is, of course, not to say that I'm anything less than thrilled to own a page of Thing history. This particular page has seen some wear, as its corners are clipped (which is the case with a lot of pages from this time) and there are a number of editorial notes written in the margins. These notes and other corrections add a lot to the page, and it took me a minute to realize that most of them are simply corrections in the dialogue. For instance, I thought that the following panel:
might be the result of a spat between the artist and the editor, before I realized that it was simply a note for the letterer, probably in an attempt to get Ben off the hook for his mishap with the Devil Dinosaur robot. There are several of these corrections, and plenty of White Out, on the page.
Two of the panels were swapped out after the fact, and in 1985/86 that meant cutting the board, swapping the panels and taping it all back together.
The page came with a copy of the issue the art appeared in, which was a nice gesture. I'll definitely bring the book with me if I ever happen to see Ron Wilson at a convention again. He's a classic Thing artist, having worked on more issues of both Two-in-One and the Thing than any other artist, and even though this issue was toward the end of the book and chronicled a rather inauspicious period in the character's history, it's still pretty nifty. I may never own one of the more high end pieces (check out this guy's collection! Yow!), but I'm more than pleased to finally have in my possession some original Thing art.