Friday, June 24, 2011

Gene Colan 1926-2011

Gene Colan has died at the age of 84 at a Bronx, NY hospice "following a broken hip and complications from liver disease," reports his friend Clifford Meth.

Considered to be one of the premier Silver Age Marvel artists, Colan illustrated some of the world's most famous comics characters, from Captain America and Doctor Strange to Daredevil and Blade.

He co-created the latter with writer Marv Wolfman and, in 1969, created the Falcon with Stan Lee. A regular partner of Captain America, the Falcon was the first African-American superhero to feature in mainstream comics.

In the 1970s, Colan drew all 70 issues of Marvel's horror series The Tomb of Dracula, and much of the Steve Gerber-written satire Howard the Duck. During his stint on Tomb of Dracula, Colan and writer Marv Wolfman created Blade, a character that went on to inspire three films starring Wesley Snipes and a television series.

Colan worked extensively for DC Comics in the 1980s, including multiple issues of both Batman and Detective Comics. At DC, he also reunited with Wolfman for the 14-issue supernatural series Night Force, and experimented stylistically with two Nathaniel Dusk miniseries.

-- Albert Ching for Newsrama

As a reader, I loved Gene's work. There was a credibility about it: No matter how outlandish the premise or plot, Gene somehow made you believe it. His pencil art was many ways, too good for the assembly line production process and the flimsy printing that it usually received. As good as his work looked in your comics, it was always probably better.

-- Mark Evanier

This man was my introduction to Marvel Comics. There was a little drugstore at the end of time in Lawrence, KS. I went to elementary school in that town. For some reason the drug store stocked comics that were 5, 6 or 7 years old on its spinner rack. I bought Daredevil Special #1, in like-new condition, for its cover price of 25 cents. A major investment! My first Marvel comic book.

The energy in those drawings as Daredevil fought his enemies ("Electro and his emissaries of evil") was captivating. Colan had a dramatic style that seemed cinematic.

In the 1970s, my peak Marvel-geek years, I would buy ANYTHING Colan: DD, Howard the Duck, Tomb of Dracula, Captain America and the Falcon. Even after I stopped buying comics, I hadn't outgrow Colan. I'd buy his later projects, like Nathaniel Dusk, and be in awe just like I was when I was a tot in Kansas.

He was my Jack Kirby. Through his work, I got into the Marvel Comics line.

He will be missed.


Faff said...

Just got a picture of Gene in my head sitting on a cloud discussing figure drawing with Raphael, Michelangelo and Da Vinci. Just can't shake it and it's making me smile.

Gene's comics were such a big part of my life when I was younger. His was not only one of the few names that guaranteed I would buy a book but one of a handful whose books I would actively track down and hunt for. I remember visiting six or seven comics shops across London, after a two hour coach trip to get there, just to track down all the issues of Nathaniel Dusk. Gonna go read me some comics now.

John R. Platt said...

I wasn't lucky enough to experience Gene's art as a kid -- I guess I never read Daredevil, Dracula, or even Howard the Duck when I was growing up. I only discovered him as an adult, but what a discovery it was. I'm happy to have two pages of his original art in my collection.

Jeff P said...

I wholly identify, Mike. I was an ignorant Batman/Superman reader til a 4th grade friend introduced me to Marvel, including Colan's Daredevil. God, I miss those squeaky revolving metal comics racks.

Gerry said...

He did a story, maybe for "Blazing Combat" or another Warren title, it was in B&W washes, and took place on a submarine. They were running silent, and then the alarm sounded. In mid-action pose, all the characters stood stock-still. I would look at that panel and wonder, how do you draw people, in action poses, standing still? He did it. I never understood how. Great stylist, great, near-photographic shading and shadowing

Stephanie said...

This was really sad news. Thanks for letting me know, Mike. I LOVED Gene Colan's work and had a crush on his Dracula and owned every issue (which I'm trying to replicate now). He was brilliant and his work stood out even from a crowd of great comic artists.