In 2010, TwoMorrows Publishing produced a biography of Vince Colletta, the controversial, much-maligned, but highly prolific inker of comics in the 1960s and 1970s. While many readers were initially skeptical of the idea of giving Colletta his own book, The Thin Black Line: Vince Colletta garnered rave reviews for finally documenting the compelling life and career of a pivotal comics artist, about whom little was known publicly.
TwoMorrows is at it again with their new biography, Don Heck: A Work of Art, which is officially shipping this week. Like with Colletta, fans have had a love/hate relationship with Don Heck (1929-1995), the original artist of Iron Man, Black Widow, Hawkeye, and key early Avengers issues. In this full-color hardcover, Heck finally gets his due, thanks to author John Coates, who tirelessly researched the artist’s background and career. It documents how he joined Atlas/Marvel Comics in 1954, and along with industry giants Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, Steve Ditko, Joe Maneely, and Dick Ayers, became an integral player in The Marvel Age of Comics, drawing The X-Men, Spider-Man, Nick FuryAgent of SHIELD, Daredevil, The Defenders, Ghost Rider, and most of Marvel’s other major characters. Also covered is how he became regular artist on top-tier 1970s DC Comics titles such as Teen Titans, The Flash, Justice League of America, Wonder Woman, as well as putting in time at Dell, Gold Key, and as ghost artist on Lee Falks The Phantom newspaper strip.
In addition to personal recollections from Dons surviving family, long-time friends, and comics industry legends, the narrative of the book is formed from two lengthy interviews with Heck himself (one rarely-seen, and another unpublished until now), which have been melded into a seamless conversation with Don. There’s a wealth of examples of his artwork (all in full-color), and a special chapter where the author debunks the longstanding myth that putting Don as artist on a comic meant the sales would dropcomplete with actual sales figures to prove the point. Iron Man co-creator Stan Lee provides the Foreword, and Beau Smith pens the Afterword.
TwoMorrows publisher John Morrow championed this project for several yearsperhaps as a form of penance for his youthful ignorance. He shared, “As a kid, I was one of the fans who jumped on the popular bandwagon of considering Don Heck to be one of the worst artists in comics. Thankfully, I’ve matured since then, and have come to realize how wrong I was. So I challenge readers to give this book a tryyou can’t help but come away a new appreciation for this underrated artist. And wait’ll you marvel at his amazing storytelling ability, especially when he was allowed to ink his own work.”
This full-color hardcover is 192 pages long, and retails for $39.95. It is available now in both print and digital editions, through TwoMorrows website (www.twomorrows.com), comic and bookstores through Diamond Comic/Book Distributors, on Amazon.com, and through the company’s app on the Apple and Android platform.