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10 William Stout Production Drawings for Masters of the Universe

Masters of the Universe art by William Stout

Skeletor art by William Stout for Masters of the Universe (1987)

William Stout has had a long and eventful career as an illustrator and production designer—you can read all about it in the biography on his official website. His work has run in numerous publications, including Heavy Metal (see the October 1978 and September 1990 issues), and his filmography includes Buck Rogers, Conan, First Blood, Men in Black and Pan’s Labyrinth. And then there was Masters of the Universe. The 1987 movie seemed like a good idea, given the popularity of the toys, but the Cannon Films production, starring Dolph Lundgren as He-Man and Frank Langella as Skeletor, was a flop.

But these amazing drawings by production designer William Stout are surely blameless—hell, if these were all we’d seen, we’d guess that it might be a good movie. Or at least a good comic book. Thanks to MOTUmovie.com for collecting and preserving these. The good folks behind that site have also done an extensive Interview with William Stout that is worth reading.

Say, whatever happened to ol’ Dolph Lundgren anyway? Well, the now 58-year-old Swede is cashing checks from three Expendables films and has a movie opening this weekend—Skin Trade.

Masters of the Universe art by William Stout

Skeletor art by William Stout for Masters of the Universe (1987)

Masters of the Universe art by William Stout

He-Man art by William Stout for Masters of the Universe (1987)

Masters of the Universe art by William Stout

Beast Man art by William Stout for Masters of the Universe (1987)

Masters of the Universe art by William Stout

Blade art by William Stout for Masters of the Universe (1987)

Masters of the Universe art by William Stout

Saurod art by William Stout for Masters of the Universe (1987)

Masters of the Universe art by William Stout

Skeletor art by William Stout for Masters of the Universe (1987)

Masters of the Universe art by William Stout

Man-at-Arms art by William Stout for Masters of the Universe (1987)

Masters of the Universe art by William Stout

She-Ra art by William Stout for Masters of the Universe (1987)

Masters of the Universe art by William Stout

Saurod art by William Stout for Masters of the Universe (1987)

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Published on: May 5, 2015

Filled Under: Films, News

Views: 20298

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17 Responses to 10 William Stout Production Drawings for Masters of the Universe

  1. Skele Slog says:

    there's admirable skill in these drawings but i hate the way he's tried to re-style these classic charecters. Man at Arms, beastman, skeletor and he-man all look lame in these pics. Should have retained the classic styling and colours. As for "blade" and "saurod" WTF? they should never have made it into the movie

  2. He Man is drawn by Moebius (you can see hissignature)…i guess Stout did the colours? Great drawings btw.

  3. Mike Dubisch says:

    Penciled by Moeb, inked by Stout. Some of the others look like they might be collabs as well.

  4. I did three collaborations with my friend Moebius in the re-design of He-man; He did one pen drawing; I did three re-drawings — the last two in a sad attempt (the first was the best) to satisfy the mucky-mucks at Mattel — and then inked and colored them. We also collaborated on the throne set.

    Sorry if you don't like my re-stylings here, Skele Slog — but had I followed your preferences, I fear you'd have been the only person in the movie theater. I emphasized to Moebius that He-man should not look like a member of ABBA, like he does in the toys and cartoons. Blade and Saurod (both were my original designs; as I recall, director Gary Goddard came up with the new characters) were attempts to revitalize a toy line that was dying (if not already dead). Would you have preferred they were replaced with Stinkor? And the toys' original candy colors made my teeth hurt.

    Different strokes for different folks…

    PS: These are nine designs out of over 100 that I painted for the film. My designs included more characters and costumes, as well as sets, vehicles, weapons, storyboards, etc. None of them got into the new book on the art of He-man and Masters of the Universe because Mattel informed me they would not include them in the book (for which I would not have been paid) unless I turned over all of my copyrights to them. For free. Really!

    • Al says:

      Your 1987 He-man costume was not bad, but you could have retained the color scheme. Dolph Lundgren looked the part, but the film was a drastic deviation from the source material. No orko, The Sorceress looked like an old bag, oh….the travesty of this film, and I am not blaming you Mr stout, but whomever wrote that script, and the fool that ok’d it, needed to be put in front of a firing squad.

    • The_Rick says:

      The thing is, especially in rertospect, we would have rather had Stinkor. While the director made choice way before you, you certainly didn’t aid the process of bringing kids to ask their parents to take them to the movie.

      I remember how dissapointed I was that there was no Orko and that Frank was great and all, but he wasn’t the Skelator I grew up entertained by. And what the hell was with the gold god suit at the end?

      The whole film was a side show honestly. But a side show based on you and anothers concepts. You, as a grown man, you were simply out of touch with what an 8-10 year old boy would have wanted to see. You wanted to get some original work out there and get some toys made from your designs, I get it. You didnt like the colors and designs of the toys, in your opinion, so you figured you could fix all that you saw wrong and make it yours from that point forward. That’s bold, but risky. Yourself, like those before you and after working on projects like this, just tend to disregard source material and try to re-invent the wheel when they don’t have to. Some of which is handed down to you as a job, to feed and shelter yourself. Like I said, I get it, but that doesn’t make it right.

      It just sucks Hollywood feels it is neccessary to water down existing successfull intellectual property to attract non-demographics, at the expense of its core support. Seems very counterproductive and rarley works out, as history in cinema has shown us.

      No one is denying your talent. It is just sad a kid to not get what you expect. I think majority rules now among kids who played with these toys everyday and have grown up that He-Man did not satisfy or meet expectations, even in a cult status level. A portion of which you have to own forever. If you care to anyway.

  5. Did I say "nine" designs? I meant ten.

  6. Out of all of it Blade and Saurod are my favorite. But then again I love Stout's work so I could be bias. 😉 Would
    love to see all the other designs!

  7. Love these Bill. Enjoy every picture you post.

  8. Gerson Novak says:

    Agh, dude. You're a legend and I'm so in love with everything you do. The Mattel stuff sucks, but I'm really glad you worked on this. This is AMAZING stuff.

  9. William Stout very good drawings he man is so heavy metal style i like it did you do the he man battle armor version drawing after all these ones??

  10. Rei Shaw says:

    I love these designs. I briefly discussed this movie with you last year at OzCon, and I really think it's an underrated (if also under-realized thanks to Cannon film's shenanigans) little scifi-epic. I really like seeing that image of Skeletor with the powers of Grayskull… He's kinda 40K-esc seeing him with a bit more definition than the actual costume allowed, I like it.

    There was a Star (Marvel) Comics Adaptation that oddly used the Filmation designs rather than yours, and it just didn't fit. I wonder if Skele Slog ever saw that.

  11. Bruce Acosta says:

    Mr Stout, are you interested on the He-Man reboot?

    • Al says:

      Keep him away from it. He is good, but we need someone that will honor the source material, and please, don’t tell me the cartoon version would look corny live action. They can tweek certain things on the costumes like they did in the 2003 He_man animated series, or take inspiration from Lord Of The Rings or even Thor….which believe it or not, I thought Thor borrowed heavily from Masters of The Universe 1987. Thor is the perfect example of what He-man should be like….with the bold colors and all. Unfortunately, Marvel’s Thor should’ve look more like Lord of the Rings.

  12. conan says:

    Love the “Abba” comment Mr Stout! He-man though I loved it as a kid was very camp. Conan was better and mattel ripped it off with he-man comics, toyline and movie.Love your designs! I had no idea you did these. New about your Conan stuff but not he-man. Man if the character designs seen in the TV show made it to the 1987 movie it would have been way crappier than it already was, thank god they didn’t make it! I have a few copies of your amazing dinosaur pics on my walls. Also used to have the toys of blade and zaurod and loved em! However,unlike other child he-man and star wars fans I have grown up and don’t fantasize about my childhood heroes anymore. Both are children’s films , if you like heman watch Conan the barbarian with Arnold its way better and made for adults?

  13. Al says:

    Anytime you deviate too far away from the source material, your endeavour needs to fail, and I do mean fail hard. I hated the look of 1987’s Masters of The Universe. Really hated that they showed the cartoon no respect. Skeletor, they got right to a certain extent, and Evil lyn, but no prince adam ? WTF ?! What makes matters worse is the majority of the film took place on Earth. WTF ? Sure, Adam’s mom was from Earth….but come on, let’s see Eternal !
    We need Peter Jackson on a reboot of this. With that said, the concept art here is good, but was all wrong for Masters of the Universe.

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