I first met Fred Hembeck at FantaCo, the comic book store at 21 Central Avenue in Albany, NY, in February 1980. That was about three months before I would work there. The occasion was a signing for Hembeck 1980, published by FantaCo.
But I knew his work from the weekly strips that he did for the Buyer’s Guide to Comic Fandom. Here’s a brief review by former Marvel editor Tom Brevoort, who nails what I liked about his work.
“Hembeck was great–he had an appealing style, he didn’t take the subject matter too seriously (and simultaneously took it very, very seriously, a dichotomy I could appreciate), and he was a like a comic book archaeologist, digging through old issues to find weird and forgotten stories to spotlight.”
Fred created seven Hembeck magazines with FantaCo, He also made some spot illos for other FantaCo pubs, including the three FantaCo Chronicles I edited. We also became friends. A few years later, he moved from Rensselaer County downstate, and we lost touch for a while.
Then in 2004 – and I’ve mentioned this before – our mutual friend Rocco asked if I had read Fred’s blog. I had never read ANYONE’S blog. But I devoured his writings going back to January 2003.
Eventually, I would send Fred blog ideas or questions, and my name started appearing in his columns, starting in January 2005.
Around the same time, we exchanged CD mixes. His were more eclectic than mine, featuring discs of Andy Williams, Robbie Williams, and Beatles covers. His discs of 1960s tunes were epic.
In time, I decided that I’d start my blog. Fred plugged it. Moreover, I visited his extensive blog roster, checked out some of those folks, and commented on their blogs. That’s how I “met” Lefty, Gordon, Eddie, and even Greg.
Then my family started being in his general neighborhood once each summer. So from 2006 to 2013, my wife, daughter, and I would visit his family, a grand time in which Fred and I would philosophically muse about media.
He tends to stay with television programs he started with to the end, whereas I will give up. We were both describing the same song but remembering different parts: What the World Needs Now/Abraham, Martin, and John by Tom Clay.
These days, I tend to see him at the Albany Comic Con when I can make it, which was impacted by COVID. I should note that Fred does NOT have squiggles where his elbows and knees should be, though his comic book persona does.
So now Fred is older than I am, for about five weeks. Happy birthday, effendi.
2 thoughts on “Fred Hembeck is 70”
I know I’m familiar with his work, but I don’t remember exactly how. This is going to vex me now, I suspect.
He did the Fantastic Four Roast, FH Sells the Marvel Universe, Spider-Ham, and LOTS of other pieces.