Of Don Heck (1929 – 1995), former Marvel Editor-in-Chief Roy Thomas once noted that he was “one of a handful of artists who were of real importance during the very early days of Marvel.” And that he was. Best known for his work on Iron Man, Heck also illustrated the first appearance of not only Hawkeye but Black Widow as well and went on to enjoy a long run on The Avengers.
Born in Queens, New York City, Heck’s first published comic work appeared in the Comic Media titles War Fury #1 and Weird Terror #1, both cover dated September 1952. He went on to freelance for Quality Comics, Hillman Comics, and Toby Press before landing at Marvel’s predecessor, Atlas.
There he drew Mystery Tales, Navy Combat, and other features and, before the arrival of Marvel’s now-famous line of super hero comics, illustrated many stories in Love Romances, My own Romance, Strange Tales, Tales to Astonish, Strange Worlds, Worlds of Fantasy, Journey into Mystery, and Tales of Suspense (even providing the cover as well as some interior artwork for issue #1).
After the success of such characters as the Fantastic Four, Spider-Man, and Thor, Heck was part of the collaborative efforts between Stan Lee (as story plotter and editor), Larry Lieber (scripter), Jack Kirby (cover artist and armor designer) in introducing Iron Man in Tales of Suspense #39. Heck, while he didn’t create the armor, did design the look of Tony Stark himself as well as supporting characters like Pepper Potts. Iron Man would ultimately go on to become one of Marvel’s most popular characters and one of its most successful film franchises.
Heck also worked for DC. In 1970, his assignments from Marvel becoming less frequent, Heck worked on such DC mainstays as the Flash, Batgirl, and Wonder Woman as well as romance comics, House of Secrets and the Rose and Thorn backup feature in Superman’s Girlfriend, Lois Lane.
He continued, however, to provide sporadic artwork to Marvel on such titles as Daredevil, Sub-Mariner, Ghost Rider, The Champions, and The Avengers. In 1977 Heck left Marvel to work almost exclusively at DC, becoming the regular artist on The Flash and drawing the Justice League of America as well Wonder Woman for the remainder of that series’ run (1986). His last published DC work was on their TSR tie-in series Spelljammer in 1991.
The non “Big Two” work of his latter career consisted of Topps NightGlider, Vortex’s NASCAR Adventures, Millennium Publications’ H.P. Lovecraft’s Cathulhu: The Whisper of Darkness, and Hero Comics’ Mr. Fixit.
Heck ultimately returned to Marvel, working on such titles as Marvel Fanfare, Marvel Comics Presents, Solo Avengers, and Avengers Spotlight. His last published comics work was a Thor story and appeared in the second series of Marvel Super-Heroes, issue #15 in 1993.
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