The legendary satirist will be at our East Coast Comicon. Here’s what he’s up to — and how you can meet him!
Hembeck is a favorite of mine going back to childhood — and judging by his continued popularity, I am not alone.
Fred will be at the East Coast Comicon at the Meadowlands Expo Center in N.J. on the first day of the April 11-12 show.
He also gets the honor of being the first of this year’s convention Spotlights. We’ll be highlighting other guests — like Neal Adams, Fred Van Lente, Annie Nocenti and many more over the next two weeks.
Now, here’s Fred!
Dan Greenfield: What’s your Secret Origin?
Fred Hembeck: My dad brought home a copy of Spooky the Tuff Little Ghost given to him by a co-worker whose kid had outgrown comics to see if I liked it. I did. Dad then received a full box of cast-offs, mostly kiddie comics. A year later, I began buying Superman comics off the newsstands on my own. A year after that, Fantastic Four #4 sealed the deal — I wanted to be a cartoonist in the worst way!
Apparently, I succeeded, because when I took my samples around to Marvel and DC in 1977, they said “no thanks” — try again, kid. While I was mounting a second assault, to keep my spirits up, I began doing goofy little cartoons in an entirely different style, using a self-caricature I’d invented for illustrated letters to my college roommates after we’d recently gone our separate ways, and sent them off to various fanzines, most notably The Buyer’s Guide for Comics Fandom.
Somehow, this approach unexpectedly caught on, and I never did go back to attempting a more standard, serious art style. And I’m more than happy with the way things worked out!
What are you working on now?
I recently provided a short introduction and a new wrap-around cover for House of Hem, a 104-page collection of some of my past Marvel work that’ll come out in June. They chose the material and came up with the title, but it’s a good selection: Fantastic Four Roast, Fred Hembeck Destroys The Marvel Universe, 10 of my Marvel Age strips, a five-pager I did for a 1999 Hulk Annual, and, best of all from my viewpoint, a 10-page Spider-Man story I did in 2010 that up until now has only been issued digitally. I got to use the Sinister Six, the Human Torch, JJJ and MJ in a story I’d call more of a sitcom approach than a parody one, and I’ve always wanted to see it printed on actual paper. Dreams DO come true, and the book will be out in June.
Beyond that, there’s some other things in the works for Marvel, my Dateline: @#$! strip appears in each issue of TwoMorrows’ Comic Book Creator, and I continue to take on commissions and offer full-color sketch cards on eBay. I’m drawing more than ever, and I couldn’t be happier! (OK, maybe if I got paid a bit more, but otherwise, it’s all peaches and cream…)
What’s your favorite convention memory?
Going to the one and only Marvel-sponsored con before I’d gotten into the biz, and congratulating an actor dressed as Captain America on what a great job he’d done during the previous stage presentation in representing the Avenger’s ideals, all while a close friend looked on, jaw-dropped, seriously concerned that’d I’d completely lost it and truly believed I thought I was addressing a real character, not a fictional one! No, I wasn’t crazy — I knew the score, honest — but the combination of the actor’s earnestness to stay in character while speaking with me and Charlie’s incredulousness always makes me smile.
Do you still have that Spooky comic?
I don’t have that Spooky comic anymore, but I do have a bunch from the subsequent box of goodies, as well as my first DC Comic (Superman Annual #2) and that FF.
Fred Hembeck will be at East Coast Comicon at the Meadowlands Expo Center in N.J. Come meet him! Click here for tickets!