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.
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.
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.
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.
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 )
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The founder of downthetubes, which he established in 1998. John works as a comics and magazine editor, writer, and on promotional work for the Lakes International Comic Art Festival. He is currently editor of Star Trek Explorer, published by Titan – his third tour of duty on the title originally titled Star Trek Magazine.
Working in British comics publishing since the 1980s, his credits include editor of titles such as Doctor Who Magazine, Babylon 5 Magazine, and more. He also edited the comics anthology STRIP Magazine and edited several audio comics for ROK Comics. He has also edited several comic collections, including volumes of “Charley’s War” and “Dan Dare”.
He’s the writer of “Pilgrim: Secrets and Lies” for B7 Comics; “Crucible”, a creator-owned project with 2000AD artist Smuzz; and “Death Duty” and “Skow Dogs” with Dave Hailwood.