Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Black and White Wednesday: "Shadow of the Axe!" by Sim and Heath

After the birthday celebrations, Ol' Groove hates to have to rap about the passing of the inimitable Russ Heath, but sadly, I must. Mr. Heath passed away last Thursday, August 23. Besides co-creating the Haunted Tank for DC and having his art "swiped" by Roy Lichtenstein, Heath had a long career that began in the late 1940s and lasted until well into the 2000s. His detailed, realistic, nuanced art won him many, many awards and accolades--and it seemed that he could never produce enough art to please us fans. A search on Grand Comics Database shows he did way more than we ever gave him credit for (for most every comics publisher, as well as Playboy, Peter Pan Records, slews of non-U.S. publishers, advertising (remember that ad for 132 toy Roman soldiers? That was Russ Heath art!). Still and all, his prodigious talent will be missed. And yeah, it's seems a bit weird to be remembering an artist by posting a story about an axe murder, but it's so beautifully rendered--and written by a young, pre-Cerebus Dave Sim. It's from Creepy #79 (March 1976). Oh, and these are scans of the original art (from the indispensable Heritage Auctions site).  Check it out...


  1. Heath was a power until himself artwise. Stories such as this one, Thrilling Adventure Stories # 2, Vampire Tales # 9 and his Kazar tales in Savage Tales had so much depth. I can't imagine the amount of time it took to draw these or the techniques employed to come up with the uber-realistic style. I just know they looked goooood. Sorry to hear of his passing. It seems like pretty soon we won't have anyone left from the Groovy Age (except Stan Lee, who seems to have discovered the secret of eternal life).

  2. Seems like we are loosing a lot of legends lately. The Haunted Tank - G.I. Combat was the first comic that I bought monthly as a kid. I was in 6th grade and saving for the $1 cover price was no easy task. How about publishing some Haunted Tank stories as a tribute?

    1. Seconded, for any of his DC war comics.
      Sad to see that the passing of one of the really great comic book artists only seems to have elicited a couple of comments here so far. Makes you wonder whether Russ Heath's reputation has suffered as a result of not being associated with superhero stories (actually, I can't think of any from the 70s, unless you count an issue of Son of Satan).


  3. Visually the opening reminds me a bit of Wrightson's "Nightfall" for Warren in 1974. Both stories utilise inkwash.

    Chris A.

    1. Here it is:



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Special thanks to Mike's Amazing World of Comics and Grand Comics Database for being such fantastic resources for covers, dates, creator info, etc. Thou art treasures true!

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