Tuesday, August 11, 2015

War Is Hell (But Necessary) Last Call

Monday Extra.

Coming to the end of my planned run. Looke back through all of it, it occurs to me that the star of this show artistically is Russ Heath. I was already a fan of his horror stoies and his many covers for the war and horror books, but it seems to me that he brough a little bit extra to all of the war stories I ahve shown over the last few weeks. He is known for his heavy realism in the many war stories he did for DC from 1955 onwards. But of course what we get at DC is not realism, it is a saniticed version, made realy by the slick rendering of Mr. Heath of all the material and people involved. One thing immediately shows when you compare the war stories he did for Stan Lee with those he did for Bob Khaniger. At DC, the war was fought in the daylight. At Timely/Atlas, it was fought at night. Even when the bleakest stories disappeared after 1952, Russ Heath's war contributions in the early fifties remained rawer, more muddy and more emotional than his later ones. I want to finish off this run of war material with a run of three stories Russ Heath did back to back for three different titles. Stan Lee used a record keeping method of job numbers for all of the publisher's stories that was attributed to any story when the writer was paid. One day in 1951, Russ Heath was either handed three stories all at once, that had been delivered by a writer together. This would have been a rare occasion, since the only writer I have known to do that is Stan Lee himself and I see no evidence of these three being by Stan himself. The other time this occured was when Don Rico delevered four consequtive stories for Battlefield (which were then drawn by Jerry Robinson). But here the stories are seperate. The third time I have something like this, was when Jack Kirby did two consequetive stories in the mid fifties. I took that as a sign that Jack had in fact written those stories himself and brought them im artwork and all, getting their job numbers when he brought them in and sold them before taking out a new war story to drawn (with indeed a lower job number, since that would have been one from the pile). So either Stan Lee made a special exception for Russ Heath and let him have three stories at once (because he went on a trip or something like that), which still would not explain why he would let a writer deliver three stories together against his normal practice. Or Russ Heath did them by himself and sold them as such, just like Jack Kirby did.


Diego Cordoba said...

As I've noted before, Russ Heath was already good early on. He was in his early to mid-twenties when he did this and his art looks pretty good, as opposed to many other artists whose art doesn't look that good in the beginning (as with Joe Kubert, for example).

I don't know if he wrote any story himself, but he was a rather slow worker, and could've been accumulating stories, and then turned them all in at once. Of course that wasn't the practice of the day, where you were given a new story once you turned your work in. But with Heath, Stan Lee might've made an exception (since he liked his work), and handed him more than one story to do.

Charles from the South said...

I've a fan of Russ Heath since I saw his work in the terror magazines of "Timely". But I didn't know much of his war stories, so I thank you for posting this jewels.
Listen, if you're interested in the "Ernie Pike" stories by Oesterheld/Pratt, I'm scanning and translating into English one of my favorites, "A German Lieutenant", of which I've done the first 4 pages, and I'd be glad to send the whole 19 pages if you like. My e-mail address is: cmfederici@hotmail.com
Just let me know if you want it.

C. M. Federici
Montevideo, Uruguay

Ger Apeldoorn said...

I will take you up on that at a later moment.

Charles from the South said...

You'll be welcome.