30 Things I Like About Comics — #28 Fred Hembeck

Fred Hembeck's "Fantastif Four Roast" cover

I was first introduced to Fred Hembeck as a child, thanks to his work being Comics Scene. For those who have no idea what I’m talking about, imagine Wizard but without a price guide. His style was unique, with those unmistakable faces and swirly knees/elbows. Hembeck’s cartoons lovingly poked fun at super heroes (and comics in general). Some of his strips would feature him as a character, interacting with the various heroes and villains.

Hembeck’s strips were published in other magazines. He even had a run of doing comic strips for DC, and was a regular feature in Marvel Age. Compared to the state of the comics industry today, it’s crazy to think that Marvel could support a monthly title in the 1980s/early 1990s that was about comics!

The best part of his work is all the great references, both hidden and obvious, in his work. His humor and cleverness is just so great.

If you look at the cover of Fantastic Four Roast above, just check out all the great subtleties:

  • Ka-Zar (bottom center) is flirting with a very smitten Shadowcat, much to the surprise of her boyfriend Colossus.
  • Tigra and Angel (lower left) are so going to hook up after this.
  • Iron Man (center) is chit chatting with Dazzler, and drinking a bottle of Coca Cola. I guess he’s serious about not being an alcoholic and his sobriety.
  • Deathlok (middle left) looks really angry, and just below him is 3-D Man. I would be angry if I was stuck talking with him, too.

Hembeck’s website is filled with all kinds of goodness, comic strips, cover reinterpretations, and much more. Check it out; it will be good times.

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