LEGENDARY IRON MAN ARTIST, DON HECK, TAKES ON LOVECRAFT LORE
(July 29, 2008). Artist Don Heck, best known for co-creating Marvel's Iron Man, delves into Lovecraftian horror in The Miskatonic Project: H.P. Lovecraft's The Whisperer in Darkness, scheduled for an October 2008 release from Transfuzion/Millennial Concepts.
The 128 page graphic novel presents an adaptation of and a sequel to a pivotal story in H.P. Lovecraft's Cthulhu Mythos, "The Whisperer in Darkness", with a cover by Darryl (Green Lantern) Banks and Melissa Martin.
Written by best-selling SF author Mark (James Axler) Ellis, the interior art is by Darryl Banks, noted Lovecraft illustrator Daryl (Crypt of Cthulhu) Hutchinson and legendary Marvel Comic artist Don Heck, who handles the majority of the art chores for the graphic novel.
All of the elements of the Cthulhu Mythos are present--from the city of "witch haunted" Arkham, the Miskatonic University, the blasphemous book, The Necronomicon, and of course, loathsome creatures from beyond.
A long-time resident of Rhode Island, H.P. Lovecraft’s home state, Mark Ellis is pleased that the subject matter of the second release by Transfuzion/Millennial Concepts is so close to home.
“I’ve been a Lovecraft fan since I was in my teens,” he says. “His work has been an influence in my own writing career. In fact, several novels in my Outlanders series feature Lovecraftian themes.”
Mark is aware that at first glance, Don Heck seems to be an odd choice to illustrate Lovecraft, particularly since the famed artist is known more for his superhero work, from The Avengers to The Justice League of America.
"Most people don't know that Don drew horror and supernatural tales for pre-Fantastic Four Marvel and other publishers," points out Mark. "He was great at it…he felt his horror stories were superior to his work on superhero titles."
Don Heck began work at Marvel in 1954 and quickly earned a reputation as a trustworthy utility man, able to draw any kind of comic story, whether it was romance, science fiction or war.
When Stan Lee came out with anthology titles such as Strange Tales and Amazing Adult Fantasy, Don found steady employment illustrating stories about giant monsters with names like Torr, Zutak and Droom, the Living Lizard.
In a 1991 interview, Don Heck described his work at pre-hero Marvel as crammed full of "buildings tumbling down all over the place—Japanese monster movie stuff."
After the success of Marvel's first super-hero titles, Don found himself assigned the inaugural Iron Man story. It took him a bit of time to adjust to drawing super-heroes, but his solid craftsmanship set Iron Man on the road to enduring popularity.
“I was never that keen on superheroes,” Don told Will Murray in 1993. “I always liked regular stories—people as people.”
Mark says, "Don, like almost all comic artists and cartoonists in his age group, came from the Milton Caniff school. Caniff was the Gold Standard of cartooning for about 30 years…in fact, Don assisted Milton Caniff on Steve Canyon for a while."
Mark asked Don if he would be interested in working with him on The Miskatonic Project and he was happy to do so, partly because it was a break from superheroes.
"Also," Mark says, "Grant, one of the main characters, reminded him of Hawk, the character played by Avery Brooks on Spenser For Hire, his favorite TV show."
Don Heck is one of the seminal figures of the Silver Age of Comics, and most of his early Iron Man work has been collected in deluxe format Marvel Masterwork editions.
The Miskatonic Project graphic novel also contains an extensive interview with Don conducted by Lou Mougin and features never-before-published work from the late artist as well as many other extras.
“This isn’t simply a compilation or a reprint volume,” says Mark. “All of the artwork has been digitally remastered and it’s completely re-lettered. The gray-toned art is in the classic tradition of Creepy and Eerie magazines and we have a lot of new material. This is a beautiful package designed by Melissa Martin and is sure to appeal to Lovecraft and comics fans alike.”
Of The Miskatonic Project: The Whisperer in Darkness, The Comic Shop News said: “This may be the first successful Lovecraft project in the comics medium, which has found Lovecraft’s essence very elusive thus far.”