Original Art Stories: Hembeck In Colour

With the release of the recent Essential Hembeck Omnibus Archive I thought it'd be a tad interesting to look at a different side of Hembeck - the Coloured Hembeck. The format of the Hembeck Omnibus meant that, outside of the cover, no colour material would be included, and that's a large shame. Still there is a load of colour Hembeck out there but what's rarely seen is Fred's contributions to The Comic Reader.

The Comic Reader ran for quite a number of years and was considered to be one of the best sources of information when it came to what was being released, when and who was doing it. Personally I can't get enough of these magazines and I buy them for three things - the art, the interviews and the rest. In that order. You see The Comic Reader, like a lot of the fanzines and comic book related magazines of it's time, sported covers by a wide variety of artists, including John Byrne, Mike Zeck, Alan Kupperberg, Jim Starlin, Alex Toth, Frank Robbins and a host of others, some famous, some legendary, some not so famous and some that no-one has heard from since. Included in this was one Fred Hembeck.

While I don't have anywhere near a complete set of The Comic Reader, I do have at least three issues which sport unique Hembeck art, in full colour. Allow me to share.

First up is the back cover The Comic Reader #158 (July 1978). I picked this one to go first because the character was originally drawn and created by one of Hembecks favourites Steve Ditko - Dr Strange. A little image, it takes up 2/3 of the rear cover. Cosmic Hembeck!

White Lightning. The rear cover to The Comic Reader #196 (December 1980). The front cover of this issue sports a great Don Newton (inked by Dan Adkins no less!) Captain Marvel. Fred was in good company here. Oddly enough it leads us into the next cover...

The Comic Reader #161 (October 1978). Fred gets top billing with the cover to this issue. The Marvel Family as only Fred can draw them. One of the more interesting aspects to these covers is to see the development of Hembeck's now signature style. In the Dr Strange image we see that the knees are there, but the elbows are standard. As he drew more clearly he just let loose and became, well, Fred Hembeck!

I think I'll be hunting down some more of these just to see what gems lie both within the pages and on the front and rear covers. In the meantime I might just drag out some more issues and share some art that people might have forgotten or simply not ever seen before.


dave166 said…
It's only fitting that "White Lightning" appears in "Colored Hembeck"!
bob said…
He did at least two more TCR covers. I've posted them here.

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