Wednesday, July 18, 2012
John Coates, who is writing a book on Don Heck's life for TwoMorrow's Publishing, recently interviewed me regarding my brief relationship with Don. From that interview:
What was your overall relationship with Don? More than an agent? Friend? Confidant?
I was very close with Gray Morrow, Dave Cockrum, and Gene Colan but I was never close with Don. We were friends, but not what I'd call close. Towards the end of his life—after he called me and told me he was dying—I guess you could say we were closer. He asked me to help find someone who could take care of his dog. He was terribly concerned that he’d die and there would be no one there for the dog.
Did Don share any recollections about his time at Marvel? Not getting art returned?
Don had nothing negative to say about anything or anyone. He’d been trashed by Gary Groth and that miserable rag he publishes. Groth had manipulated Harlan Ellison into saying something disparaging about Don's abilities during an interview, but Don didn’t indicate that he held it against Harlan. He knew Harlan and I were friends—at least I presume that he knew that—but these types of things seemed beneath him. It wasn’t as if he was taking the high road; I think it was all just petty to him... He certainly had great affection for John Buscema, as John did for him. John told me he wanted to punch Groth in the mouth for what he did to Don.
Were you in communications with Don prior to his death?
One day Don phoned me. “I’m calling to say goodbye,” he said. “Goodbye?” I asked. “I have cancer,” said Don. “I’m not gonna make it.” I can still hear him saying it. And how do you respond to that? With some bullshit that everything’s going to be okay? I was stunned. He was only 66.
Were you involved in the estate post-death?
Not at all. I was just sad. I liked Don very much. He was humble and easy to get along with. He did what he said he was going to do and his commission work at the end of his life was as good as anything he’d done during his career. He was very much the craftsman. I didn’t see a lot of emotion in Don's artwork, like you’d see in, say, Gene Colan’s, but I s'pose comparing artists is as foolish as comparing schools of thought. As Stan Lee once told me, Don was reliable; you’d give him a job and know he’d get it done right and on time. There’s plenty to be said for reliability.