new
archives
faq
links
contact
X
X
X
CHAPTER ONE
BIRTH OF THE HEAP

The HEAP, shambling inspiration for every swamp man-monster from Solomon Grundy to the Thing, Hulk, Man-Thing and Swamp Thing, was NOT an entirely original character himself!

XThe inspiration for the Heap came from a story called "It," written by Theodore Sturgeon. It first appeared in Street and Smith's UNKNOWN pulp magazine, August 1940 (cover pictured right). At the time, no one realized how huge this story was going to become, and so the tale is not even mentioned on the issue'smostly-text cover.

Sturgeon's "IT" told the story of a shambling plant monster who is ultimately revealed to have been created by forming around the skeleton of a deceased man named Roger Kirk.

Marvel comics adapted Sturgeon's tale in SUPERNATURAL THRILLERS #1, with a memorable cover by Jim Steranko, interior art by Marie Severin and Frank Giacoia, story adaptation by Roy Thomas. Oh, and I should also mention, the comic's cover was done by legendary artist Jim Steranko!
Here it is...

X
X
The story was reprinted in the black and white Marvel magazine MASTERS OF TERROR #1 (1975), with a lovely new (unsigned) cover by Gray Morrow...
X
In the story, a menacing muck monster known as IT stalks a little girl...
X
BUT THE GIRL MANAGES TO ESCAPE, AND...
X
THEN, LIKE THE WICKED WITCH DOUSED WITH WATER...
X
The water washes away the muck, leaving a human skeleton! Like a reverse version of the origin of every swamp monster that ever was, from Solomon Grundy to the Heap to the Man-Thing to the Swamp Thing. They all owe their existence to IT. Thanks Theodore Sturgeon!
Two years after "IT" was published, the first of many It-imitators, THE HEAP, made his debut in AIR FIGHTERS COMICS #3, December 1942 (cover pictured below).
X
The Heap didn't make the cover, but he dominated the splash page! Even though the character had never appeared before, the story is titled THE HEAP RETURNS.
X
Baron von Emmalman is shot from the sky during a WWI air battle!
X
The fetid swamp mixed with the Baron's remains...
X
LOOK OUT WORLD! HERE COMES THE HEAP!
X
But the Heap is finally defeated...
X
IT CAN! The Heap returned
(with a new-ish origin story) in AIRBOY COMICS #3.
X
In the Heap's odd new origin story, Ceres, goddess of the earth, is responsible for the creature's creation. She intervenes to rescue the war-loving Baron because she wants to reform him -- by turning him into the Heap! Wow. Ceres. Did they really have to invent a new goddess for this? Weren't there enough real legendary pantheons to choose from? Guess not.
X
X
X
Most people didn't expect to see the Heap hit the big time, but he DID, becoming a headline character who enjoyed his own series for several years, and inspiring a small army of swampy muck-monster characters.

As time passed, the Heap became more popular, and he began to appear as a billed star on many AIRBOY covers. BELOW: AIRBOY v.9 #5 and #7.
X

BELOW: AIRBOY v.9 #8 and #12. As you can see, the Heap's appearance evolved from a walking slush pile to a sort of octopus-monster, before settling into the familiar green moss pile with a trunk we all recognize. Of course, you may recognize that form as Marvel's Man-Thing -- but he didn't have it first! P.S. We'll be covering Manny later in this series!
X

Here's what the Heap looked like on the INSIDE of the book...
X

In 1986, Eclipse Comics revived both the original Airboy and the original Heap in a bi-weekly, 50 cent comic that lasted 50 issues. Cover of AIRBOY #3 and #4, pictured below left and center, by Stan Woch and Tim Truman, AIRBOY #27, on the right, is by Randall.
X

The original HEAP stories have been collected by PS ART BOOKS, complete with introductions by Roy Thomas and beautiful new covers...
X
THE HEAP volume 1, cover art by Mike Ploog.
X
THE HEAP volume 2, cover art by Frank Brunner.
X
THE HEAP volume 3, cover art by Mike Ploog.

X
NEXT: THE HEAP CHAPTER TWO
The SKYWALD YEARS
X
X
X

X