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Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Original Art Stories: The War Time Russ Heath

If you've read this blog previously, then you'd have read how Alan Weiss introduced me to the sheer majesty of Russ Heath's artwork via the pages of Blazing Combat, the all too short-lived Warren war magazine.  It's almost impossible to detail what the best part of Blazing Combat was, virtually all the stories were written by Archie Goodwin, who was at the top of his game, and drawn by the likes of Heath, Gene Colan, Wally Wood, John Severin, Joe Orlando, Alex Toth, George Evans, Gray Morrow and many more - in fact it was the cream of the artistic crop of the time and each artist turned in some of the best work of their careers.  Oh, and the covers were done by Frazetta, as if you ever needed any more of an excuse to get this stuff.

Amongst the best of the stories is this one by Russ Heath.  I was blown away by it when I finally got my hands on a decent reprint - Heath has created an almost photo-realistic story via his pencils and inks, and the art shows a depth that's simply missing in art these days.  Nothing done by a computer can come close to what Heath has done here, through sheer talent and application.

What amazed me more was when Alan told me that Heath had photos taken of him (Heath, that is, not Alan Weiss) dressed in army gear, which he then drew.  Thus every soldier in the story, including the Nazis, every pose, is Russ Heath, with slight differences.  Absolutely brilliant! This story is arguably the best thing he ever did, and that’s saying plenty.

If you want to talk about artistic Holy Grails, well this is easily mine.  If I had a few thousand dollars spare then I'd make a run at it - the thought of having this on the wall is almost too enticing.  Frankly it's museum quality and many an artist of today could do worse than to study Russ Heath's art and learn from it.  To be honest there's a lot of famous artists alive, who are regarded as modern masters, who've not come close to producing anything of the quality of this, or any other Russ Heath story, but that's the way things go.  I expect that there's artists out there who've been drawing all of their lives who will freely admit that they'll never reach this height, and lofty grounds they are indeed.

Go ahead, enlarge these pages and appreciate the art!

2 comments:

David Gee said...

Mr. Buckler, it was with great interest that I read your post on the masterful Russ Heath story "Give and Take" from Blazing Combat #4.

I have always considered it the best drawn story I have ever seen in comics. I was curious as to the resemblance of all the characters in the story and was pleased to find the answer.

Thanks for some great reading!!

David Gee said...

Mr. Best, could you please correct my prior comment's salutation to read: Mr. Best, rather than, Mr. Buckler?

Thanks, he said sheepishly...