The family of Russ Heath has confirmed the comic book legend passed away Thursday evening at the age of 91 in Long Beach, California, after battling cancer.
Born in 1927, Heath broke into comic books working on Western stories for Timely Comics (now Marvel Entertainment), including Two-Gun Kid.
Moving on to horror and war stories, Heath worked for EC Comics for a time before co-creating the Haunted Tank at DC Comics and drawing the first appearance of the Losers.
Heath’s illustrations were well known outside of comic books as well. Several panels of fighter jets from his work on DC war comic books were appropriated by Roy Lichtenstein for his paintings, including his works “Blam,” “Brattata,” and “Whaam.”
Heath also contributed to Playboy’s comic strip Little Annie Fanny – even living at the Playboy Mansion for a brief period.
Heath also worked in commercial art, illustrating battle scenes to advertise toy soldiers which ran in comic books for many years.
In his career, Heath was recognized with a 1997 Inkpot award, a 2010 Comic Art Professional Society Sergio Award, and the National Cartoonists Society’s Milton Caniff Award in 2014. In 2009, he was inducted into the Will Eisner Comic Book Hall of Fame.