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 (he did “Shmegeggi of the CaveMen” with Harvey Kurtzman in the sold-out October 1978 issue, and he illustrated Harlan Ellison’s “Shattered Like a Glass Goblin” from September 1990), 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. You can hear more about all this from the man himself in the comments below this story, where he has been kind enough to share his thoughts on the agony and ecstasy of trying to level up these cartoons and toys for a live-action film.
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.
In the images below, the He-Man design is a collaboration between Stout and his friend Moebius, who needs no introduction.
Say, whatever happened to ol’ Dolph Lundgren anyway? Still working! You might have seen him as King Nereus in Aquaman or Konstantin Kovar on the Arrow TV series. He’s also reprised his Ivan Drago role in Creed II and was in all three Expendables movies.
William Stout recently published a super-mega collection of his impressive work called Fantastic Worlds of William Stout.