Delivering the goods: Don Heck, a much under appreciated artist

Wonder Woman by Don Heck, published in a DC Comics “Sampler” back in 1983,reprinted in Alter Ego #13

Wonder Woman by Don Heck, published in a DC Comics “Sampler” back in 1983,reprinted in Alter Ego #13

Donald L. “Don” Heck was an American comics artist best known for co-creating the Marvel Comics character Iron Man (not the character’s design, but plenty more that shaped him), and for his long run penciling the Marvel superhero-team series The Avengers during the 1960s.

For many, he’s a much under appreciated artist, despite his solid work throughout his 40-year career, and I’m sure many comic artists can sympathise with stories of him being asked to echo house styles rather develop his own, which he would clearly be capable of doing.

Don Heck’s Cover for War Fury #1, published in 1952

Don Heck’s Cover for War Fury #1, published in 1952

Interior Art by Don Heck for War Fury # 1, September 1952

Interior Art by Don Heck for War Fury # 1, September 1952

Weird Terror - 1950s horror work by Don Heck

Weird Terror – 1950s horror work by Don Heck

Here’s one of his character studies – I’m afraid I don’t recognise which title they were for – that reveals another side of this artist, sent to me by artist Michael Neno.

Character Studies by Don Heck

Character Studies by Don Heck

Who could forget his work on Marvel’s Ant-Man, either? Here’s a page from “The Man In The Ant Hill”, for Tales to Astonish #27. The original art for this page sold at auction back in 2002 for a staggering $65,090. It’s regarded as one of his best strips for Marvel, but he did so much more — I haven’t even begun to try to highlight some of his incredible art for Marvel’s romance titles, or featured much of his DC work, either.

“The Man in the Ant Hill”, Tales to Astonish #27

“The Man in the Ant Hill”, Tales to Astonish #27

The opening page of the Iron Man story for Tales of Suspense #60, art by Don Heck

The opening page of the Iron Man story for Tales of Suspense #60, art by Don Heck

Don Heck’s Cover for Avengers #29, inked by Frank Giacoia

Don Heck’s Cover for Avengers #29, inked by Frank Giacoia

The cover of The Avengers #37

The cover of The Avengers #37

Don’s work got well deserved recognition in the 2014 TwoMorrows’ publication Don Heck: A Work Of Art  by John Coates, a full-colour hardcover recounting the artist’s life story and offering a fascinating insight into his work.

If you’re a fan, then look out, also for Craig Yoe’s salute to Heck’s classic 1950’s horror work, Buy Horror by Heck!, released in 2016.

As a comics editor, I’ve often argued with publishers about the considered “value” of some comic artists, and my argument has always been that obviously, I want a he Best a creator can deliver, with the emphasis on “deliver”.

Don was one of those talents who, like many others, did just that.

Web Links

Don Heck: A Work of ArtDon Heck – In His Own Words

A terrific 1980s interview with Don which includes his account of working with Jack Kirby and Stan Lee at Marvel in the 1960s

Buy Don Heck: A Work of Art from amazon.co.uk (using this link helps support downthetubes )

Buy Horror by Heck! from amazon.co.uk (using this link helps support downthetubes )

There’s a great Don Heck Appreciation group over on Facebook

There’s a hefty taster of Don Heck: A Work of Art here on Issuu, uploaded by the publisher

A tribute to Don Heck by Larry Wilson, over on Geek Genie

Marvel Mysteries and Comics Minutiae: Appreciating Don Heck by Nick Caputo



Categories: Comic Creator Spotlight, Creating Comics, downthetubes Comics News, downthetubes News, US Comics

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