Consider Going Black and White with Captain America #601

This week’s Captain America #601
features interior art by comic book legend — and that term gets thrown around a lot, but in this case it’s absolutely true — Gene Colan.

To celebrate, Marvel is putting out a black and white variant issue, with the both the pages and the cover sans color. This is something that Marvel has done quite a few times, but here it’s different. Normally, the black and white variant is just the pencils and inks, uncolored. Here, we see Gene Colan’s old school art style that is totally unlike just about everybody else drawing mainstream comics today. He doesn’t leave blank spaces marked with little Xs to indicate where the inker should fill in blacks, Colan, pencils in the shading himself. He doesn’t leave the texturing work for the colorist, it’s all their on the page. The man does it all himself.

We here at iFanboy have some strong opinions about Marvel Comics’ house coloring the style and how it tends to overpower (or perhaps destroy) some of the art. There are some pages here where the color really enhances the art, and there are some where the color erases a lot of the atmosphere in the pencils. But I don’t want to make this about Dean White’s coloring. This is more about appreciating the straight pencils of a singular comic book talent.

The man is 82 years old! He was hospitalized for liver failure last year! It’s incredible!

When you hit the store today, give the black and white variant version of Captain America #601 a look, you might like what you see.


  1. I sure hope my comics shop has a copy of this on hand.  I’m a sucker for anything old school and throwback!  Great stuff!

  2. Paul Montgomery (@fuzzytypewriter) says:

    The layouts!  The layouts! 

    He’s been working in comics for over 60 years! That’s amazing!   

  3. My shop charges so much more for variants but it is amazing what he can still do at his age.

  4. It’s amazing to see how of the industry vets, Colan is one of the few who’s work appears to be BETTER now – can you imagine what some of his old work looked like in pencils before it was dulled down by the inker and older, worse printing technology?

  5. I think i might have to get both. Wow, those are amazing. If anyone hasn’t seen the documentary on the Iron Man DVd Gene is awesome in it. I could listen to that man talk comics all day.

  6. @Ron  That’s exactly what I was thinking!

  7. Paul Montgomery (@fuzzytypewriter) says:

    Yeah, flipping through my Tomb of Dracula Showcase, these pages are great, but the Cap pages above are even better.  

  8. Being relatively new to comics I didn’t know who Gene Colan was until reading this article, but I do know that those pencils are drop dead gorgeous. WOW.

    Thanks for the early morning eye candy Conor.

  9. I have always preferred Colon’s art in B&W.  I had no idea he was that old!  The Essential Tomb of Dracula still looks amazing in B&W, but I never cared for his work on batman in the 80s in color, obviously.

  10. The B&W pages give off the feeling that this happend, that the artist was on the front lines telling the story. It’s more personal than the colored pages, even though the coloring look good.

  11. Paul Montgomery (@fuzzytypewriter) says:

    I can’t get over this. He started working in comics the year before this book takes place! What a perfect story for him to draw!

  12. I hear that once you go black (& white) you never go back.  Just a word of warning.

    Also, these pages look pretty. Gene Colan is extremely talented.

  13. "A Very Special Issue"?

    Is this the issue wherein Bucky talks about how Cap touched his *special* place?

  14. Girl Bucky gets her first period?  Where’s Phylicia Rashad when you need her?

  15. You wouldn’t think that a book called "Howard the Duck" could be anything lovely, but once Colan gets on that book the issues really rocket through the stratosphere.

  16. Wow, that’s beautiful. Thanks for the heads up, I probably would have missed the variant.

  17. Hopefully my LCS isn’t charging extra for the B&W variant.  I’m loving the couple pages scanned in.

  18. Very nice, but I’m still gettin’ the color version. I’m not an art fetishist. 🙂


  19. Wow.  The black and white is amazing. Feels like the panels are falling though time.  Thanks for the heads up.  

  20. @Jimski – that Howard the Duck Essential is a beautiful thing to behold. One of the few trades I pull out on a regular basis just to look at.

    I’m a huge Colan fan mostly due to seeing his work presented this way. I don’t feel as strongly about Marvel’s coloring as the iFanboys, but those B&W pages look much better than the colored stuff. Hopefully, I can score this version.

  21. Looks gorgeous.

  22. I’m hitting up the black & white fo’ sho.  It truely is a no brainier

  23. think I’m gonna grab both

  24. Those pages are just amazing.  The black and white gives you a really pure look at some gorgeous pencils.  It’s interesting to wonder just what Marvel’s thought was behind this.  Could they simply be motivated by art appreciation? I’m just not sure my LCS will have any in stock…

  25. Black and white if I can find one. Stuff looks amazing.

  26. Fortunately, my LCS had copies of the B&W no extra charge. Picked it up at IFanboys recommendation and I’m glad I did. Thanks Guys!

  27. Thanks for the head’s-up. I’ll definitely pick up the B&W if it doesn’t cost extra.

  28. Went to the shop today at lunch, no copies in B&W, maybe Paul bought them all.

  29. Oh man, Colan did the art for Howard the Duck? Boy I feel really stupid now, I have that omnibus….

    I’m not changing my mind on the colored version fo this, it still looks pretty bad. But the B&W version clearly shuts me up and Colan is a great artist. I guess Marvel really has a bad coloring department.

    Sorry for all the hoopla I caused earlier this week.

  30. OK, sold. I’ll do it — great suggestion, CK.

  31. WILL DO!

  32. This has me wondering… Marvel has those "Essentials" volumes, those phone books that print years of comics on black and white newsprint-level paper. I tend to dismiss them, but do you suppose there are some books that would be better to experience that way?

  33. @Jimski I love my Essentials. B&W is the best way to drink in the vetrans, like Kirby, and evidentally Colan. I must caution you, they are printed on newsprint, which seems to send you into a berseker rage 🙂 but I’d recommend it to study layouts and compositions. Really great way to apprecaite craft.

  34. Related: This just makes me makes me more excited for PROJECT LONGBOX. The option of turning the color off (which was mentioned as possible functionaly in Rantz’s Heroes Con presition makes me giddy with excitement. Imagine seing Epting, Lark, Larsen, Allred, Brewister pages uncolored. Yummy.


  35. Damn store didn’t have any black & white copies.  Oh poo

  36. @Conor: Thank you for making me pick up this version. The book really is amazing and it’s sad that the ink/color turned it into muddy dark garbage. 

  37. Thanks for posting these pages, Conor. i hadnt seen em, but Id buy the book just for the art…

  38. I knew "fuck the colorist" day was around the corner. Is there a march?

  39. @TheNextChampion: please don’t soften your opinions because people disagree with them. I enjoyed your comments earlier this week, and completely agree with you about Cap’s leg on the front cover. By the way, I agree with the masses that the black and white version is better than the color version.

  40. @Wonder: I’m not softening my opinion, just revising it a bit. The colored version looks like shit, but the B&W copy makes me understand why Colan is considered a legend.

    Plus now that I remember he did the Howard the Duck series, he definitely is a talent artist.

    Maybe Marvel should have all of their comics be put in a B&W copy. Cause I bet a lot of people would prefer that over their shitty final versions. (Most of the time)

  41. I like Crank’s idea from a recent Crankcast to have digital comics include both.  You could click the color on or off or even down to the scripted page.

  42. If I would have known about the black and white version I would have picked it up but the color version was in my box and when I looked at the new release wall I didn’t even pay attention to it. Just thought it was a B&W cover.

  43. On the basis of Connor’s article, I purchased both versions. (Something I never do.) That artwork is stunning.


  44. If anyone ever gets the chance, pick up Colans ‘Night Force’ series he did for DC in he 80’s as well as the ‘Nathaniel Dusk’ Mini’s he did for them.  I think I first fell in love with Colan when he did the Nocturna storyline in Batman in the early 80’s and it was those stories, along with being as bit older, that made me realise it was actually his art I had loved on Tomb of Dracula when I was REALLY young…

  45. I didn’t even see this at my LCS.  I’ll go back tomorrow to look – that’s the bonus/problem of working one block down from a comic book store. 

  46. Black and white does look pretty epic. I’m picking that up for sure.

  47. Jimski– Colan’s Essential Tomb of Dracula. Black and White version of his classic run.


    Picked up both and very happy I did. Brubaker was very excited about this project and for good reason. He’s talked about it for awhil, most recently in Marvel Spotlight from 2 weeks ago where he talk a good bit about working with Gene. Solid read.

  48. I went with the B&W. I will always pick up the B&W when I have the chance. It was done very well.

  49. Wow, that looks absolutely gorgeous. I’ll have to look for that.

  50. @odare77: I’m thinking part of the motivation is simply because Colan has gone on record many times saying that he prefers his work without color.  In fact he’s implied that his old Silver Age work was ruined many times by the colorist.  So perhaps, in addition to the profits, it’s a gift/thank you to Colan for all his years.

  51. Got to my LCS, only had the color version so I bought it.  But they had run out of another book I wanted to read, so I stopped off at another store to try get my hands on this other book.  And they happen to have 1 of the B&W copies.  Now I’m not one to usually double dip but I wanted the B&W variant.

  52. Reminds me of John Byrne’s lastest Angel Mini at IDW….

  53. I bought both.  The B&W is freakin’ awesome.

  54. went back and bought it last night.

    sound advice conor.

    absolutly beautiful.

  55. SO HOT. I got a b&w…so nice

  56. I agree with you guys.  I just finished reading this horrible story, and I hated the colored art.  I then looked this up to spew hatred on it and saw the B&W you had posted and my attitude changed completely.  

    The coloring is horrible, the story still was a stupid waste of time, but I do have a new appreciation for the artwork, sans color. 

  57. Story was good.