Russ Heath Archives - Robot 6 @ Comic Book Resources

Russ Heath’s Lichtenstein comic: an overnight sensation two years in the making

Russ Heath/Darwyn Cooke contribute to Hero Comics 2012

Russ Heath and Darwyn Cooke’s “Bottle of Wine”

In the past couple of weeks, “Bottle of Wine,” a one-page comic by Russ Heath rightfully captivated the imagination of many industry observers, where the legendary artist addresses the appropriation of his work by pop artist Roy Lichtenstein. Lichtenstein got rich and famous, the strip relates, and Heath received no monetary compensation. A silver lining, Heath describes, is that the work of The Hero Initiative — a nonprofit focused on aiding comics creators in need — has provided him with financial support decades later, including assistance after a knee-replacement surgery.

A tweet on Nov. 1 from cartoonist Dylan Horrocks helped bring widespread attention to the comic — 1,325 retweets and 1,000 favorites as of Wednesday afternoon — and renewed critiques of Lichtenstein’s body of work, frequently derivative of existing comic book art with no credit to the original illustrator. Outlets from Boing Boing to ComicsAlliance all picked up on Heath’s strip, bringing greater awareness to both the Hero Initiative’s work and Lichtenstein’s problematic oeuvre.

Hero Initiative President Jim McLauchlin reached ROBOT 6 to clear the air on a couple of elements of the “Bottle of Wine” coverage. First, the comic strip (colored and lettered by Darwyn Cooke) was initially published in May 2012, in IDW’s Hero Comics 2012. (In fact, ROBOT 6 ran the comic that month.) Also, the Lichtenstein work cited in the comic, 1963’s “Whaam!,” was actually based on a panel by Irv Novick in 1962’s All-American Men of War #89, published by DC Comics — Lichtenstein lifted from Heath in 1962’s “Blam,” with a panel also from All-American Men of War #89. Same issue, different artists.

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Quote of the Day | ‘It’s very humbling’

From ComicArtFans

From ComicArtFans

“It’s very humbling to put your best effort into something for so many years, and not really know if it’s appreciated, and then to find out that people have been paying attention and following what you’ve been doing.”

— artist Russ Heath, famed for his work on such titles as G.I. Combat and Our Army at War, reacting to the news that he’ll be honored in May with the National Cartoonists Society’s Milton Caniff Lifetime Achievement Award

Russ Heath to receive NCS’s Milton Caniff Award

all american men of war94The National Cartoonists Society will honor legendary comics artist Russ Heath with the Milton Caniff Lifetime Achievement Award on May 24 during the Reuben Awards banquet in San Diego.

Heath’s career has spanned from Timely’s Wild Western in the 1940s and DC’s Sea Devils in the 1960s to Marvel’s The Immortal Iron Fist in 2009 and Aardvark-Vanheim’s Glamourpuss in 2010. However, the 87-year-old artist is perhaps best known for his work on DC’s war titles like G.I. Combat, All American Men of War and Our Army at War — or for his detailed depictions of Roman and Revolutionary War battle scenes in ads for toy soldiers that appeared on the back of comic books throughout the 1970s.

Heath, who teamed with writer Cary Bates in 1981 to revive the syndicated Lone Ranger comic strip, was inducted into the Will Eisner Comic Book Hall of Fame in 2004.

Named for Terry and the Pirates creator, and NCS co-founder, Milton Caniff, the Lifetime Achievement Award is given by unanimous vote of the group’s board for “a lifetime of outstanding and accomplished work to a cartoonist who has not previously won the organization’s highest honor, the Reuben Award for Outstanding Cartoonist of the Year.”

Previous recipients include Will Eisner, Al Hirschfeld, Jack Davis, Dale Messick, Charles Schulz, Jerry Robinson and Joe Kubert.

(via The Comics Reporter)

Comics A.M. | Platinum shareholders move to oust Rosenberg

Platinum Studios

Publishing | Heidi MacDonald reports that shareholders of Platinum Studios held a conference call Wednesday, with President Chris Beall sending a letter to founder Scott Rosenberg suspending him indefinitely as the company’s chief executive officer. Rich Johnston posted the press release announcing the call, and some of the topics on the agenda were fairly jaw-dropping. [The Beat]

Publishing | Andrews McMeel Publishing and Universal UClick (which are different divisions of the same company) are collaborating on a new line of digital comics, Udig, which collects themed newspaper strips into short e-books (the one I checked had 55 comics) for $2.99 each. [Good E-Reader]

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Food or Comics? | Dominique Laveau: Voodoo Dog

Welcome to Food or Comics?, where every week we talk about what comics we’d buy at our local comic shop based on certain spending limits — $15 and $30 — as well as what we’d get if we had extra money or a gift card to spend on a splurge item.

Check out Diamond’s release list or ComicList, and tell us what you’re getting in our comments field.

Batman, Inc. #1

Chris Arrant

If I had $15, this ever-lovin’ comics fan would first pick out Dark Horse Presents #12 (Dark Horse, $7.99). First off: John Layman and Sam Kieth doing an Aliens story, can you believe that? That debut, coupled with the return of Mike Baron and Steve Rude’s Nexus, makes this another DHP worth buying. After that, I’d jump into Prophet #25 (Image, $2.99) to see Brandon Graham’s rollicking story with special guest artist Farel Dalrymple. The creators lined up on this Extreme Comics revival continue to impress me, and I’m excited to see new work by Dalrymple here. Third up would be Secret Avengers #27 (Marvel, $3.99), and I’m all hyped up to see how Rick Remender handles the touchy subject of Marvel’s original Captain Marvel. As for the artist, I’m still waiting for Renato Guedes to wow me the way he did before he jumped from DC to Marvel; the previews for this show some promise, so I’m excited to see the entire package.

If I had $30, I’d double back to get the return of Batman Incorporated #1 (DC, $2.99). Grant Morrison’s schedule, along with the New 52, seemed to harpoon this title last year, but I’m hoping this is some attempt to right that ship. Next up would be Fantastic Four #606 (Marvel, $2.99), seeing Jonathan Hickman come full circle as his run nears conclusion by going back to where the FF started: with four people in space suits. Ron Garney is an interesting choice to draw this one, and his take on the Thing is right up there with Stuart Immonen’s. Last up would be Irredeemable #37 (BOOM! Studios, $3.99). I admit I switched to trades a couple issues ago, but I’m jumping back in — spoilers be damned — to find out the end to this story. I’m a little bit morose that artist Peter Krause isn’t the one drawing the finale given all he put into this, but Diego Barretto is an able artist to draw what Waid has set out for this final issue. Oh, hey, I’ve got $5.06 left so I’ll live up to the the title of this Robot 6 feature and get some food: a hot dog from Voodoo Dogs in Tallahassee. Have you seen their new commercial?

If I could splurge, I’d finish eating my hot dog and pick up Comic Book History of Comics (IDW Publishing, $21.99). I’ve failed at life when I couldn’t track down all six of these issues on my own, but IDW offering it all up in one package saves me from that level of hell. Fred Van Lente and Ryan Dunlavey have put on a master class here in doing bio comics, especially bio comics about comics, and as a journalist, comics fan and would be comics writer myself this hits all the right spots for an engrossing read.

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The Avengers ‘campaign’ raises $1,100 for The Hero Initiative

Russ Heath/Darwyn Cooke contribute to Hero Comics 2012

Here’s some good news for The Hero Initiative: according to Tom Spurgeon at The Comics Reporter, the organization has received about $1,100 so far due to campaigns like this one that asked people to donate money to the organization if they go see The Avengers.

“You’re probably going to go see The Avengers and, judging by the early reviews, you’ll probably enjoy it. How about — as a thank you to the creators who brought you these characters in the first place, who gave you something to enjoy so much — you match your ticket price as a donation to The Hero Initiative?” cartoonist Jon Morris wrote on his blog before the film’s release.

Spurgeon points out that these funds were raised without any effort on the Hero Initiative’s part, making them “bonus” money the organization wasn’t expecting or planning for. He also reached out to the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, another charity mentioned as a possible recipient, but they haven’t seen a notable increase.

There’s no deadline for donating, so if you saw the film, or even if you haven’t and just want to support comics creators, head over to The Hero Initiative site to do so. You can also help them out by buying the upcoming Hero Comics 2012, their annual anthology by creators like Russ Heath and Darwyn Cooke (whose strip I included to the left), Kevin Eastman (who does a new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles story), Chris Ryall and Ashley Wood, Richard Starkings and Dave Sim, and many more. Wait, Dave Sim is drawing an Elephantman story? That’s probably worth a look just for curiosity’s sake alone.

Food or Comics? | Pete and mirliton

Welcome to Food or Comics?, where every week we talk about what comics we’d buy at our local comic shop based on certain spending limits — $15 and $30 — as well as what we’d get if we had extra money or a gift card to spend on a splurge item.

Check out Diamond’s release list or ComicList, and tell us what you’re getting in our comments field.

The Amazing Spider-Man: Hooky

Chris Arrant

If I had $15, I’d first snap up a book I’ve been trying to track down for years: Amazing Spider-Man: Hooky (Marvel, $4.99). This 1986 lost classic features Bernie Wrightson drawing a webhead story featuring monsters and alternate worlds – looks like a real gem. Now to convince Marvel to republish John Paul Leon’s Logan: Path of the Warlord… Next up would be Secret Service #1 (Marvel/Icon, $2.99). I’ll buy pretty much anything Dave Gibbons puts out these days, and seeing him with Mark Millar is bound to be a unique experience. Next up is Saga #2 (Image, $2.99); Brian K. Vaughn is really setting up a world – like a sci-fi sitcom here, with loads of direction to go in. Lastly I’d get Conan the Barbarian #3 (Dark Horse, $3.50). Can I admit I might like this more than Northlanders? Brian Wood’s definitely expanding how people think of him with this story, and Becky Cloonan is making a lot of editors look foolish for not putting her on these kinds of books sooner.

If I had $30, I’d start out with Secret #1 (Image, $3.50). Manhattan Projects seems more up my alley than this story, but Jonathan Hickman’s built up some credit in me to try anything new he puts out even if I’m not too interested. Next up would be Northlanders #50 (DC/Vertigo, $2.99), which I’m sad to see go. I think this will be one of those series that achieves more popularity after it’s over, and it’s a shame DC can’t find a way to continue it. After that it would be Glory #25 (Image, $2.99). I was a bit shaky on the story after Joe Keatinge’s first issue, but everything after has really put the pieces into place and Ross Campbell seems to be finding his footing to really land the superheroics of this story. Last up would be Secret Avengers #25 (Marvel, $3.99); Rick Remender’s clearly put his own spin to this series, so much I’m surprised Marvel didn’t use this as a chance to renumber the series… but I’m glad they didn’t.

If I could splurge, I’d throw money at my comic retailer for Pete and Miriam (Boom!, $14.99). Big fan of Rich Tommaso, and he seems to be honing his craft like a knife, creating more pointed and poignant stories here. And Miriam, she’s a real gem.

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SDCC ’11 | Fantagraphics to publish EC Comics Library

from Corpse on the Imjin by Harvey Kurtzman

from Corpse on the Imjin by Harvey Kurtzman

On the same day that Fantagraphics announced The Complete Zap Comix, the publisher revealed it will bring yet another treasure trove of groundbreaking comics back to the stands. At its panel at Comic-Con International and in an interview with The Comics Reporter’s Tom Spurgeon, Fantagraphics announced it had acquired the rights to publish the EC Comics library from the representatives of its late publisher, William M. Gaines.

Known for pushing comics’ boundaries of formal innovation and craft as well as raw content before anti-comics hysteria and the creation of the Comics Code helped stifle the publisher in the mid-’50s, EC has generally been reprinted in formats that center on its (in)famous horror, crime, science fiction, and war anthology series, such as Tales from the Crypt, The Vault of Horror, The Haunt of Fear, Crime SuspenStories, Weird Science, Weird Fantasy, Two-Fisted Tales, and Frontline Combat. What sets the Fantagraphics reprint project apart is that individual creators’ work will be culled from the series in which it appeared and presented in a series of black-and-white solo spotlight volumes. The first four books announced will collect war stories written by Harvey Kurtzman (Corpse on the Imjin and Other Stories, featuring art by Kurtzman, Gene Colan, Russ Heath, and Joe Kubert), suspense stories by Wally Wood (Came the Dawn and Other Stories), horror stories by written by Al Feldstein and illustrated by Jack Davis, and science fiction stories by Al Williamson.

Click on over to The Comics Reporter for more details, including an interview with editor and co-publisher Gary Groth.

Hero Initiative offers updates on Russ Heath, Josh Medors

Russ Heath

The Hero Initiative has two updates on a couple of creators who have had health issues.

First up is Will Eisner hall-of-famer Russ Heath, who had knee surgery earlier this year. The Hero Initiative’s Jim McLauchlin had lunch with Heath yesterday and says the classic artist is out of rehab earlier than expected. “I was fortunate enough to have lunch with Russ Heath yesterday, and he was in great spirits, having a grand ol’ time and cracking rapid-fire jokes, just like always,” McLauchlin said.

Next is Josh Medors, who continues to battle cancer. The Hero Initiative posted an update from the artist’s wife, Charlotte:

“It turns out Josh’s white blood cell counts were two one-hundredths of a point away from being too low to continue chemo. We’re working on getting those back up. In the meantime, his body is having a tough time fighting off infections due to this. He is fighting a bit of a cold, but he is keeping his spirits up. He has been drawing like crazy! It seems he is either sleeping or drawing all the time lately. It is really nice to see him drawing again!”

McLauchlin said to expect news on “a cover gig for Josh and a great product tie-in as well coming soon.” Best of luck to both artists.

Hero Initiative on Russ Heath’s knee surgery, Cooke art auction results

Last month Parker: The Outfit creator Darwyn Cooke auctioned off some of his artwork to benefit the Hero Initiative. Now the organization, which provides financial aid for comic book veterans, has announced Cooke presented them with a check for $10,000 — complete with a hilarious faux check presentation ceremony:

According to the post, the Hero Initiative will use the money to help out Will Eisner Award hall of famer Russ Heath, who this past week underwent knee surgery.

“The deposit is well-timed, as yesterday was the day 1960s war comics legend Russ Heath went under the knife for knee replacement surgery,” said the Hero Initiative’s Jim McLauchlin in the post. “We’re happy to report that the surgery was a success, and Russ is resting comfortably. He’ll need the rest, as rehab is several months long, but if there’s one tough SOB who will get through it, even at age 84, it’s Russ Heath. Hero has been and will be along for the ride to help Russ out as well, of course.”


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