Sunday, January 02, 2022

Today in Comics History, January 2: Happy birthday, Don Heck!

Born on this day in 1929: Dashing Don Heck, longtime Golden Age and Marvel artist! He molded the backbone of the MCU (and thus should have been swimming in cash dollars, alas) by co-creating Iron Man, the Wasp, Black Widow, Hawkeye, The Swordsman, Mantis, Wonder Man, Polaris, and Havok, as well as drawing The Avengers, The X-Men, Amazing Spider-Man, Strange Tales, Tales to Astonish, Strange Worlds, World of Fantasy, Journey into Mystery and more, and stints on the comic strips The Phantom and Terry and the Pirates. Plus work on DC's Wonder Woman, Justice League of America, Lois Lane, The Flash, and lots of others. And the proverbial, much, much, more! Whew! Busy Don!

from The Mighty Marvel Calendar 1976 and Marvel Age#97 (Marvel, February 1991)

But let's let Don introduce himself in his own words!

from Avengers Annual (1967 series) #1 (September 1967)

And now, let's get a good look at Don as he changed throughout the years.

L: from Marvel Tales Annual #1 (Marvel, September 1964)
R: from Fantastic Four Annual #7 (Marvel, November 1969)

Uncanny, ain't it?

Even more fun is to spot the appearances of Don within the t-square-drawn frame of an actual comic. Here he is, among many mighty members of the mildly magnificent Marvel Bullpen, sunnin' themselves at the beach while gawkin' at an all-washed-up Prince Namor. Can you spot Don among this sandy assortment of beach bums?

Top and middle: from Sub-Mariner (1968 series) #19 (Marvel, November 1969), script by Roy Thomas, pencils and colors by Marie Severin, inks by Johnny Craig, letters by Artie Simek, fish by Irving Forbush
Bottom: from letter column in Sub-Mariner #24 (Marvel, April 1970)

There was a short period when Marvel creators had to serve time and do duty as horror hosts on tales for Marvel's 1970s monster/chiller line for stories that they had written or drawn. Don Heck got lucky: he was about to present (albeit without any Crypt-Kepper style puns) two such haunting tales!

from "One Last Wish!" in Monsters on the Prowl (1971 series) #10 (Marvel, April 1971), script by Mike Friedrich, pencils by Don Heck, inks by George Tuska, letters by Jean Izzo

from "Evil Is a Baaaaad Scene!!" in Tower of Shadows #4 (Marvel, March 1970), script by Allyn Brodsky, pencils and inks by Don Heck, letters by Sam Rosen

No collection of portrayals of Don Heck is complete without the Not Brand Echh-style spoof of Marvel writer Rascally Roy Thomas working Don Heck into an early grave:

from "Avenjerks Assemble!" in Avengers Annual (1967 series) #2 (September 1968), script by Roy Thomas, pencils by John Buscema, inks by Frank Giacoia, letters by Artie Simek

But we all love and revere Don Heck, no matter what trash Harlan Ellison said back in that horrible The Comics Journal interview. Why, even a post-apocalyptic alternate-universe tyin'-up-loose-ends comic book knows that!

from Avengers Forever (1998 series) #4 (March 1999), co-plot by Roger Stern, co-plot and script by Kurt Busiek, pencils by Carlos Pacheco, inks by Jesús Merino, colors by Steve Oliff, color separations by Graphic Color Works, letters by Richard Starkings and Albert Deschesne

Read More About It Department:: If you want to read more about and by Mister Heck (and you really should!), here's a couple of great books to search out: Don Heck: A Work of Art by John Coates (TwoMorrows, August 2014) and Horror by Heck, edited by Craig Yoe (IDW, February 2016). These Amazon links are ads.

Happy birthday, Don Heck!

from Marvel Age #119 (Marvel., December 1992), art by Don Heck


argh.sims said...

I always liked his Silver Age Marvel work. Towards the end of his career, I could see what Ellison was talking about, but he was awfully harsh.

Thanks for coming back, Bully!

Dave said...

Heck was always held up as something of a hack, which was an opinion I shared for years, but his work on (especially) Iron Man and The Avengers was really top-notch, solid storytelling. Over the years, I've really gotten to like his work a lot.

Oh, and welcome back, Bully.