Russ Heath is a comics artist legend. He has been drawing comics since the 1940s. Mostly war stories and westerns, but he has done a wide variety of work over the years.
He’s now 90 years old, living on his own in L.A.’s San Fernando Valley. A nonprofit called The Hero Initiative organizes volunteers to visit comics creators in need. Last year, I came across a Hero Initiative comic page that Heath created with Darwyn Cooke. I saw a Facebook post from Hero Initiative calling for volunteers to visit Heath, so I responded.
Yesterday, I headed up to the valley, picked Heath up. We had lunch and went grocery shopping.
He’s doing well for 90, though his hearing isn’t great (and I am deaf in one ear) so our conversation was mostly me prompting him, then listening. He told stories about Harvey Kurtzman, Al Jaffee, Will Elder, and more.
I got him to sign my copy of Tom Strong #13. When I tried to get him to talk about that story, he said it was not such a great job. He wasn’t all that fond of superheros, instead preferring westerns, war stories, and underwater adventure.
I plan to visit him again soon.
(The Hero Initiative is looking for a few more volunteers, including L.A. area folks who would volunteer to visit with Russ Heath. Check the Hero Initiative website to volunteer or donate.)