Saturday, August 25, 2018

R.I.P. Russ Heath

Just learned of the passing of artist extraordinaire, Russ Heath, an incredibly influencial hero to many in the field of comics, and especially to the fearless fandom of pre code horror, most notably his top notch output for Atlas / Marvel. There are quite a few examples of his tremendous work in our archive, just use the keyword name tag (on the left) today, and pay your respects to a true legend. I've included one of my favorite Atlas quickies by him below from the April 1953 issue of Marvel Tales #113. R.I.P.







8 comments:

Mestiere said...

Russ Heath was one of the comic book artists ripped off by Roy Lichtenstein. Russ even made a comic about it (Russ made a mistake in his comic, Whaam! is based on a drawing by Irv Novick). I think the original drawings were all better.

John said...

This is sad news, indeed. His work for Warren, especially in "Blazing Combat", was superlative.

nutsilica.blogspot.com said...

I didn't really appreciate Heath until I saw some of his Atlas stuff. Now I can discern what parts he painted in the Little Annie Fanny comics.
I love his Atlas work. We'll always have that. R.I.P.

Mr. Cavin said...

Mestiere: to make Whaam!, Lichtenstein used the layout and story elements from the last panel on page eleven of Robert Kanigher's story "The Star Jockey", originally printed in ALL AMERICAN MEN OF WAR, number 89. That panel was penciled and inked by Irv Novivk, right!, and it was lettered by Gaspar Saladino (who was likely responsible that all-important sound effect, after all); but most germane to the conversation of Roy's pop art phase, it was colored by an unknown Ben Day man at the print shop. That really only covers the panel design, though. The jet fighter on the left (the big one) was originally drawn by Jerry Grandenetti, taken from a story in a different issue of the same title ("Wingmate of Doom", panel 3 page 11, AAMoW #90), and the jet fighter getting Whaamed! is indeed from the Russ Heath-illustrated story "Aces Wild" (panel 3 page 3) in the same issue as "Star Jockey".

I think it is important to remember all of these people when discussing the issue of Roy Lichtenstein. In the process of appropriating an entire commercial process for the purposes of his artistic output, he was using the collaborative material of an industry, not just one person. He was reproducing a product, not any one artist.

Anyway, Karswell, I love this story! One for the werewolf hall-of-fame collection for sure. I sent this very URL to a couple of friends last night (along with some other faves form your archives). I love the splash here, but I can't help kind of loving that third panel on page two the best. It's just so damned weird! Why do you thing the colorist chose to block-in those red parts? Surely that was just solid blacks on the original boards, right? If I was Lichtenstein, that's the panel I'd have hanging in my huge, four-million dollar castle living room, for sure.

Mestiere said...

In one of those ironies of life Lichtenstein and Irv Novick knew each other. Novick was an army officer in the boot camp where Lichtenstein trained during World War II. Irv befriended Lichtenstein and, recognizing his talents as a draftsman, Novick took him off cleaning latrines and got him designing signs and posters. Twenty years later Lichtenstein returned the favor by "immortalizing" Novick's panel in Whaam! without giving credit. Check out some of the other artists he immortalized.

anthrax2525 said...

Russ Heath also created the Haunted Tank feature for DC's G.I. Combat, at the intersection of war stories and our preferred horror genre.
He never liked it because it seemed like the same story every time.

Even better, during his Little Annie Fanny time, Harvey Kurtzman called him to Chicago to finish one episode when Kurtzman and Will Elder were in a last-minute panic. Russ Heath came in, got put up at the (original) Playboy Mansion, and they were able to finish the project. Harvey and Will left, but Russ didn't. He was able to stay on because everyone assumed he was just supposed to be there, and he kept on with his free room, 24 hour kitchen access, and Bunny chasing until someone realized he wasn't supposed to be there. It was months before he finally got booted out!

Mr. Karswell said...

Haha, that is now my all time favorite Russ Heath story!

Brian Barnes said...

The beast-man transformation panel is the punch of this story, Stan could write a great shock ending story, and he knew when to back off the text (something Al had a problem with) but he really pounds the Beast-man thing a bit into the ground! Art is fabulous all around, from the drooling beast-man to the bat-like vampires.

Very few of the old guard around anymore, but their work will live on, and a lot of it is thanks to people like Karswell who spread the gospel.