My First Lunch with Russ Heath

by
russheathshopping17feb12

Russ Heath

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.

russheathtomstrongsignature

Russ Heath signature on Tom Strong 13

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.)

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