“Dashing” Don Heck entered the comics industry with Harvey Comics in 1949. His first major work was for Harwell’s Comic Media where he became their main cover artist and produced some of the precode’s most riveting horror cover images, including the classic Horrific #3’s “bullet hole in forehead” cover. At Comic Media, Heck penciled and inked precode horror in Weird Terror and Horrific, westerns in Death Valley, and adventure in Danger and War Fury. Though he also freelanced at Toby, Hillman and Magazine Enterprises, at this time his next big move was over to Stan Lee and Atlas in late 1954, his first stories appearing in March and April 1955 cover-dated issues of Rugged Action and Battlefront.
Heck immediately dove into Atlas’ burgeoning postcode war comic line and launched the “Torpedo Taylor” feature in Navy Combat, drawing it for the first 16 issues. Other features include “Cliff Mason White Hunter” in Jann of the Jungle, the singular Police Badge #459, #5, and generic war stories in every war title Atlas published up through 1957, where he added the superlative western “Kid From Dodge City,” including the cover to issue #1. A top-notch romance artist who drew some of the prettiest women in comics, Heck rendered 14 romance stories for Stan Lee from 1955-1963.
After Atlas imploded, Heck left comics for a year only to return to Stan Lee as the third pre-hero fantasy artist behind Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko on scores of fantasy and science-fiction vignettes. He then went over to National, returning to romance from 1963-1965, and drew for Dell, all while simultaneously launching the “Iron Man” feature in Tales of Suspense, and continuing with Marvel on “Ant-Man,” the Avengers and issues of X-Men and Spider-Man, changing his natural artistic inclinations to accommodate a more dynamic Kirby-like storytelling approach.
By the late 1960s, Heck’s Milton Caniff-influenced style had somewhat fallen out of favor on Marvel super-heroes, so he went over once again to National and proceeded to draw nearly every character in every title at one time or another from 1970 to the early 1990s. In 1993 Heck helped launch Topps’ comic book line, drawing the Kirby-created Nightglider, before passing away in 1995. [source: Dr. Michael J. Vassallo]