This month in May 2020, Mark G. Heike celebrates a major milestone!
Mark has been working at AC Comics for forty years!
He began working in-house at AC Comics (ostensibly as an Assistant Editor ) on May 17, 1990, after having working for them and other companies as a freelance penciler and inker since 1980.
He had begun doing freelance work for the black and white Paragon Publications “prozines” that eventually evolved into the color Americomics line that soon became known as AC Comics.
During his early freelance days, Mark experienced some health problems that for a time curtailed his creative work. The problem was the meds that were supposed to fix one thing, made something else much worse. When he was persuaded to get a “real job” by his family and work for an architectural firm, Mark continued freelancing in his off-hours, which included “ghosting” and assisting efforts for various individuals and studios that supplied art for Marvel and DC, working with artists like Jerry Ordway, Mike Machlan, Bill Jaska, Jeff Butler, John Statema and Doug Hazlewood.
Snagging a fairly high-profile indy comics gig penciling fill-ins on (then)First Comics title Nexus in 1989 seemed like somewhat of a coup in the moment, but Mark’s structured figures and straight-laced style was an awkward fit on a science fiction/parody comic, very unlike Steve Rude, the original artist on Nexus, who was heavily influenced by Andrew Loomis. “Mark is the Bob Newhart of comic artists. Very Midwestern and a straightforward classic comic book artist, he likes drawing real-world stuff. Trying to put him on a book with lots of cartoony alien creatures and ultra stylized science fiction props and buildings was really not a good idea, even though he was a fan of the book. One of Mark’s favorite characters is Clonezone, but Mike Baron (Nexus writer) still doesn’t believe it.” says his wife Stephanie.
In 1990, Mark quit his “day job” job in Milwaukee, WI to take on the position of Assistant Editor at AC Comics in Orlando, FL. “I told my family that I really wanted to try to do comic books full-time for a while and that I would probably be back in six months.”
Thirty years later, Heike is still at AC; albeit now in the position of Editor-In-Chief, with AC originator Bill Black in semi-retirement as AC Editor Emeritus; a position that allows Bill to devote time to writing and drawing for AC once again without the burden of handling the companies’ day-to-day administrative duties.
Even throughout the coronavirus scare, Mark keeps working steadily while sheltering at home on Superbabes, the new color Femforce companion book launched last year for AC Comics.
AC Comics is best known for Femforce, it’s all-female group of superheroines still going after thirty-five years. “As of last issue (#188) series creator Bill Black has returned to this signature title on an ongoing basis, writing, inking, lettering, and coloring the book, with pencils from Eric Coile. The same creative team has produced #189, which will be released as soon as Diamond Distribution starts up operations once again. ”
AC also publishes Golden Age reprints of many vintage genres including “good girl” art, “Pre-code” horror, jungle heroines, and westerns in addition to costumed heroes.
A brand new book at AC, 21st Centurions started out as an independent outside project written and drawn by his wife, Stephanie. “We just shipped issue two of 21st Centurions to Diamond when they announced they were shutting down, so it’s sitting in their warehouse right now.”
The Heikes’ twentieth wedding anniversary was earlier this year, but due to problems unrelated to the COVID-19 scare, they have been unable to celebrate properly. “We actually went out to a favorite local restaurant before everything locked down, but not on our anniversary or at the place we originally intended to go to.” says wife Stephanie. “This has been a very weird year.”