Welcome to the inaugaural 4th Thursday of the Month edition of the [DC Comic Book Art Connoisseurs Club] for October 24 2019!
Our premiere biweekly topic for reflection and celebration is:
The DC Comic Book Art of Don Heck!
No question, when the name “Don Heck” comes up in a discussion between avid comic book art fans, many mixed emotions follow. On the positive side, Don Heck without question is a central artist figure for later Golden Age / Silver Age / Marvel Age and DC Bronze Age comics, and you’ll be astonished when you see all the characters he was the first to draw and create the “look” for that would carry on for decades later, both at DC and also Marvel.
Don Heck Artwork in the DC Universe Library: beginning, middle, end for consideration, reflection and celebration!
Early Don Heck DC Artwork:
From 2/3/1971: Detective Comics #408: “Batgirl vs the Phantom Bull Fighter” (brrrrr!): https://www.dcuniverse.com/comics/book/detective-comics-1937-408/84016e30-f481-4f3b-bfc0-00089a25723a
From 3/31/1971: Detective Comics #409: “Night of the Sharp Horns!” (yeeeeooowww) https://www.dcuniverse.com/comics/book/detective-comics-1937-409/28e6779d-f392-4cb1-b209-1df55b96fbb8/
Middle of Don Heck DC Art Timeline:
The Flash #280-295 (also Wonder Woman #306-329 and Steel the Indestructible Man (not on DCU)
Later Don Heck DC Artwork:
Justice League of America (1960) #198 - 216
Other artists just gush with praise for Don Heck’s style: Comics artist Jerry Ordway, describing the mid-50s era of Heck’s work, called the artist “truly under-appreciated … His Atlas work (pre-Marvel) was terrific, with a clean sharp style, and an ink line that wouldn’t quit.”
But, while Don Heck always turned in very mature, adult-looking comics with an art style that was sophisticated and reminiscent of the realistic art in a fashion magazine that emphasizes posing and outfits, it definitely works better in certain genres than others for many of us. As a teenager, I would shudder when Don Heck would step in for Jack Kirby or Steve Ditko or even one of the “DC House Style” artists of the 70s. But why is that?
Marvel one-time editor-in-chief Roy Thomas notes, “Don was unlucky enough, I think, to be a non-superhero artist who, starting in the sixties, had to find his niche in a world dominated by superheroes. Fortunately, as he proved first with Iron Man and then with the Avengers, Don could rise to the occasion because he had real talent and a good grounding in the fundamentals. He amalgamated into his own style certain aspects of Jack Kirby’s style, and carved out a place for himself as one of a handful of artists who were of real importance during the very early days of Marvel.”
So please share with the rest of your DC Universe Community comrades your reminiscences, reflections and favorite screen shots of panels as we celebrate what we love about his art as well as what just didn’t work for us.