Inspiration 5 – Fred Hembeck

Fred Hembeck Jan 30, 1953- still alive!

Humorist, artist, writer, pal

Humor comics are not my bag. Occasionally there is one that is interesting. I have made some of my own. But there is one humor comic that continually leaps into my bag —- anything touched by the great Fred Hembeck.

The Fantastic Four Roast is one of my favorite comics. It is crammed full of sight gags, puns, quips, setups, and an intimate love of the material that gains value the more you learn about marvel continuity and in real life. This is a marvel zombie’s comfort food.

Just out of college, Hembeck got a job with his self-created Dateline:@!!# for the Comics Buyer’s Guide ( I miss that rag, jeez). This ran forever in CBG with a collection by Eclipse and another thru Fantaco – Hembeck: the best of dateline :@!!#.

Hembeck’s unique “big foot” style is beloved by all. It easily captures the essence of virtually every character he renders. Hembeck has put this to the test in drawing almost every marvel and DC character there is in one form or another.

There is a multitude of reasons I love Hembeck so much. Primarily it is his storytelling. The enormous walls of text. The intimate description of how his life and comics intertwine. Placing a comic in context within the comic’s continuity, it’s place in the real world and what was going on in and surrounding Hembeck’s life. His fearless use of the medium to tell a story, defying convention by ignoring panel rules to the point there are no panels.

Another reason is the love. He is genuine in his love of comics and pop culture. He never shies from it. This is in his writing but also in the cover reproductions he makes. Many artists make them but they inevitably make them ‘better’, missing the point of recreating a cover (by another artist. If it was their’s originally, they can riff all they want). Hembeck turns the cover into his style, keeping everything that makes that cover intact.

Hembeck has made a run of 3 panel strips for DC, had his own magazine sized series of thick books published by Fantaco, had strips in Marvel Age, created countless trading cards, pin ups, special edition covers, and more. Much like Weird Al, he never fades away. He is ever present in comics and the comics community.

As it is his birthday, I will pimp a couple things you can participate in easily. is his main net presence. Lots of material to mine there for free. Also, I cannot recommend this more, buy his book Nearly Complete Essential Hembeck Archives Omnibus. It is the single best read you can get to replenish your love of comics and life.

I met Hembeck years ago. I had interviewed him for comic geek speak. Graciously, he gave me personal time just to chat. Since then he has wished me happy birthday every year which still makes me so happy.

What did Hembeck do for me? He taught me to not be afraid of being myself. He taught me it’s ok to be deeply nerdy. He taught me to explore how to tell a story. He taught me it’s ok to be different. In college, I was trying to get some little gigs to supplement my comics buying habit. No one was interested in my fine art nor in my crappy sci-fi strips. But, being inspired by what I knew about Hembeck, I tried a cartoon style and got work. That opened doors to design work and off I went. I am honored to have made some small connection with Hembeck. He is a color added to the mix of my life and I am better for it.


© 2022, mikegallagherart. All rights reserved.

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