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 Don Heck  (1929 - 1995)

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Lived/Active: New York      Known for: comic strip

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Ad Code: 3
Don Heck
from Auction House Records.
Avengers #20 Page 10 Original Art (Marvel, 1965).
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
This biography from the Archives of AskART:
The following was written and submitted by Nick Caputo, January 2004.

Don Heck was born on January 2nd, 1929 in Jamaica, New York. In 1949 Heck got his first job in comics at Harvey Comics, doing production work on reprints of strips such as Milton Caniff's "Terry and the Pirates", of which his art was greatly influenced. He then moved on to Hillman, Quality and Toby press, drawing various features. Heck continued to improve with his work for Comic Media, notably the simple, attractive graphics he employed on the covers of "Weird Terror" and "Horrific", as well as strong work on crime and western features.

In 1954 Don Heck began a long association with Marvel (then Atlas) Comics, under editor Stan Lee. Heck worked in every genre, including war, western, crime, horror and romance. Heck would become notable for drawing some of the most attractive women in comics, and his clear sense of design, ability to draw normal people in everyday settings and quality of work served him well in providing material for almost all of Lee's comic book line.

The mid-1950s were hard times for comic books, following senate hearing horror comics were banned and the Comics Code restricted much material. Many companies closed up and those that remained cut back, After a two-year hiatus, Stan Lee called Heck back in 1959 to work on some new features, including a new fantasy title, "Tales of Suspense", of ehich he drew the first cover. Heck also drew short fantasy and science fiction stories for "Tales to Astonish", "Journey into Mystery", and "Strange Tales". He continued to draw many genre stories for the war and romance line as well.

With the revival of super-heroes in 1961, Marvel Comics, under the editorship of Stan Lee, began to cut back on the fantasy material, and Don Heck while continuing on a few western and romance featurss, was soon put to work on the more profitable super-heroes. In 1963 Heck drew the debut of "Iron-Man in Tales of Suspense # 39". While Jack Kirby designed the costume, Heck came up with the look of alter-ego Tony Stark, as well as the rest of the supporting characters. Heck would soon draw other characters created by Lee and Kirby, including Ant-Man/Giant-Man, Thor, the X-Men, and, notably, a long run on The Avengers.

Heck began plotting the stories in this period with Stan Lee, giving him a greater hand in designing the pace and design of each story. While this was initially hard for Heck, he eventually adapted to the format (known as the "Marvel method", this gave editor/writer Stan Lee the ability to script most of the companies line due to all his artists co-plotting the stories and writing notes on the pages of original art as a guide for Stan to follow the story). Heck drew some wonderful, imaginative stories in this period, although the production method would soon cause complications.

Due to comics monthly schedule, Stan Lee soon needed his main artists to produce as much material as they could handle. This called for Heck to have his pencilled work inked by other artists, changing the look of the finished art and, many times, diluting the quality and intent of the artists pencils. Further, Lee would use Heck to provid layouts for other artists to complete, and he would lose the two strips he was most associated with to others (Avengers and Iron-Man).

Heck continued at Marvel into the late 1960s assisting on strips such as "Spider-Man" as well as penciling "Captain Marvel" and "Captain Savage", and began to pencil romance and horror stories again. He also did freelance work for Gold Key on titles such as the "Man from Uncle", "Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea" and the "Twilight Zone".

Heck would do a great deal of work for DC comics in the 1970s and 1980s, where he was put to good use on features with attractive heroines such as "Bat-Girl" and "Wonder Woman". He also worked on the "Flash", "Green Lantern" and the "Justice League of America".

Heck's artwork fell out of favor in the 1970s, due mainly to a host of poor inkers, but Heck was allowed to ink his own work again in the 1980s which showed a distinct improvement. Heck continued to work for Marvel and DC, and drew for companies such as Topps as well. One of his best jobs in this period was illustrations for a western prose story in a magazine entitled Adventure Illustrated.

Don Heck died in 1995.

Information culled from various comics related publications, books and interviews with the artist. "I am a comic book fan/historian who has researched many of these artists and have had articles published in various trade magazines (Comic Book Marketplace, Comic Book Artist, Alter Ego)."

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