Ten Things You Should Know About Gene Colan

1.  Gene Colan came to work for what would become Marvel Comics early on in its existence, hired by Stan Lee in 1946. He eventually moved to rival DC Comics, working on many of their war titles, before returning to Marvel in the 1960s. Because at the time freelancing for the competition was frowned upon, his Marvel work was initially credited to Adam Austin, a pseudonym that appears on his early Iron Man and Sub-Mariner tales.

2.  Gene had foundational runs on many key Marvel characters including the Sub-Mariner (1965-1968), Iron Man (1966-1968), Daredevil (1966-1973), Captain America (1969-1971, wherein he co-created Marvel's first African-American superhero, The Falcon), and Doctor Strange (1968-1969, 1975-1976, and 1979-1981). But he was probably best-known for his runs on two non-superhero titles. One is Tomb of Dracula, which he illustrated the entire 70-issue run of from 1972 to 1979, co-creating the vampire hunter Blade with Marv Wolfman along the way. The other is Howard the Duck, a brilliant satire which he drew from 1976 to 1979 alongside writer Steve Gerber.

3.  In 1981, Gene left Marvel for DC, where he began illustrating Batman comics, as well as reuniting with Tomb of Dracula collaborator Marv Wolfman on the series Night Force. He also had stints for DC on Wonder Woman, Firestorm, Legion of Super-Heroes, The Spectre, and Nathaniel Dusk.

4.  Gene served as the artistic hands for actor Eric Roberts in the 1990 film The Ambulance. Roberts played a comic book artist, and the director wanted a scene of him drawing, but unfortunately that was not part of Roberts' skill set. So Gene was brought in, his hands made up to match the younger Roberts, and was filmed from the hands down providing his unique style of draftsmanship.

5.  Rocker Rob Zombie is a huge Gene Colan fan, and hired him to do the art for his first solo album, Hellbilly Deluxe. Gene also drew stories for Rob's Spookshow International comic series, and drew an unpublished story featuring White Zombie (Rob's first band), Dracula, and Howard The Duck, pages of which Rob has posted to his blog.

6.  In 2005, Gene was voted into the Will Eisner Comic Book Hall Of Fame, joining an exclusive company of fewer than 100 comic book artists and writers from across the decades of the industry.

7.  Gene passed his accumulated experience and knowledge on to the next generation of artists, when he taught at Manhattan's School Of Visual Arts and the Fashion Institute of Technology.

8. Gene interacted for years with his fans on the Gene Colan Yahoo Group, where group members came to feel that they were a part of Gene's extended family, and followed him through the highs and lows of his life.

9.  In recent years, Gene battled many health issues, including blindness stemming from glaucoma, liver disease, heart disease, and cancer. In spite of all this, he continued to produce new work, for Dark Horse under editor Shawna Gore, notably on the relaunched Creepy magazine, and also new assignments for Marvel, including Captain America #601 in 2009 which won the Eisner Award for Best Single Issue. His numerous health problems made it difficult to pay the bills, however, and in 2010, Marvel teamed up with the non-profit Hero Initiative, to produce the Invincible Gene Colan, a benefit book which went a long way towards improving Gene's financial situation.

10.  Over the past few months, Gene's cancer worsened, and Gene made the decision to move to a hospice rather than pursue harrowing chemotherapy treatment. Gene Colan passed away at 11 PM on Thursday, June 23rd. His funeral was held on Sunday, June 26th, and comics luminaries Walt Simonson, Tom Palmer, Don McGregor, and Lee Weeks were on hand to pay tribute to a master of his craft. One of his closest friends, Clifford Meth, is setting up a scholarship in Gene's honor at the renowned Kubert School, which Gene's family asks well-wishers to donate to in lieu of flowers.

I personally cannot think of a better way to honor someone who spent his life advancing the art form we all love. Goodbye, Gene.

 

Comments

  1. Pompster Pompster says:

    So much of Gene Colan drew illustrated my childhood. For me Gene drew how daredevil and Dracula will always look to me. A print of Gene’s Iron Man hangs at the top of my stairs, 
    He will be sorely missed.  

  2. RobotZombie RobotZombie says:

    In honor of Gene Marvel should drop that ridiculous red armored Dracula and go back to his classic look.

  3. jimladdy jimladdy says:

    What a shame, nobody did atmospheric black horror artwork like Gene Colan, I’ll have a drink in his honour this weekend!

  4. lawnbuddha lawnbuddha says:

    R.i.P. Mr. Colan

  5. I remember seeing Gene Colan’s art for the first time and being struck by how ‘alive’ it was.  This was how comics should look!  

    That pencils only issue of Captain America no. 601 proved he still had it.  Gene’s gone, but his art lives on….

    I’ll be looking out for Gene and Marv’s Night Force Omnibus later this year!  

  6. MisterJ says:

    Everyone should know more than 10 things about Gene Colan, because he is great.

  7. SkipSpacer SkipSpacer says:

    It’s funny, when I first started reading comics when I was a kid (in the late 70′s), his stuff was everywhere – and I didn’t care for it.  It took me a while to appreciate the style, how he conveyed energy and strength and movement.  As my art tastes matured, I finally figured out what a master he was.  He will be missed.

  8. kennyg kennyg says:

    What an awesome legacy. I didn’t know he did some Rob Zombie album art. What a perfect match. Wish I still had those old Dracula books I read as a kid. I plan to donate to the scholarzship fund and would encourate others to as well.

  9. This was a great article. Gene colan has had long, defining runs on most of my favorite comic book characters (Iron Man, Daredevil, Batman and Howard the Duck.) Now i want to read those old Dracula stories. He was a legend in the industry and will be sorely missed.

  10. Shallam Shallam says:

    gene is one of the first artists I remember recognising as his early work was reprinte din teh UK in the 1970′s
    A great and formative talent in the industry. Sorely missed. Rest in peace

  11. SteveM SteveM says:

    RIP Gene.

  12. pwac pwac says:

    Gene was the first guy I actively followed in the ’80s when I started reading comics - I bought both “Nathaniel Dusk” series and my first indie book, “Detectives, Inc.” Guys like Perez I understood and loved as well - detailed, crisp and exact; as an budding high school artist I could figure it out and draw what he drew. But Gene was the first artist whose art confused and intrigued me – It was stuff I knew I couldn’t simply “copy” – it was emotion on paper. Love and prayers to his family and fans.