"Gene Colan, Prolific Comic-Book Artist, Dies at 84"
June 25th, 2011
Los Angeles Times
June 25th, 2011
Los Angeles Times
Gene Colan, a towering figure among comic-book artists, whose depictions of some of the best-known characters in the genre were lauded for their realism, expressiveness and painterly qualities, died on Thursday in the Bronx. He was 84 and lived in Brooklyn.
The cause was complications of cancer and liver disease, his son, Erik, said.
Most closely associated with Marvel Comics, Mr. Colan also drew for DC and other publishers. At Marvel, he was best known for Daredevil (written by Marvel’s editor in chief, Stan Lee), about a blind man with superpowers; the Falcon, one of the first African-American superheroes, created by Mr. Colan and Mr. Lee; Howard the Duck, written by Steve Gerber; and The Tomb of Dracula, which Mr. Colan created with the writer Marv Wolfman.
Mr. Colan’s work was noteworthy on several counts. The first was its sheer duration: He completed his first professional assignment in the 1940s and his last a year or two ago. In between, his art was a mainstay of the Silver Age of comics, as the period from the mid-1950s to about 1970 — a time of heady artistic ferment in the field — is known.
The second was its prodigious volume: Over nearly seven decades he illustrated many hundreds of comics, from the famous, including Batman, Wonder Woman and the Hulk, to the possibly less so, including Ben Casey, Falling in Love and Captain Britain.
The third was his visual style, by all accounts unlike that of any other artist in the business. Where comic-book art tends toward deliberately flat, stylized images, Mr. Colan preferred a realistic look that emphasized texture and fluidity: the drape of a hero’s cape, tilt of a head, the arc of an oncoming fist.
A lifelong film buff, Mr. Colan was known as a master of light and shadow, which lent his work a noirish, cinematic quality.
“He was referred to as a painter with a pencil,” Tom Field, the author of “Secrets in the Shadows: The Art & Life of Gene Colan“ (2005), said in an interview on Friday. “Comic books had been put together like a production line: There’s someone who writes the script, someone who would letter the words onto the pages, someone who would do the pencil illustrations. And typically another artist would come along with India ink and embellish those illustrations so they would stand out for the printer. In Gene’s case, the pencils were so rich and lavish that when the technology evolved to that point, the publishers stopped putting ink on his pencils and reproduced the work just as it was drawn.”
Mr. Colan had lived for many years with glaucoma; since the early 1990s, Mr. Field said, he was nearly blind in one eye and had tunnel vision in the other. Throughout this period, his work continued unabated, and it was, in most estimates, as fine as what had gone before.
Eugene Jules Colan was born in New York on Sept. 1, 1926. (The family name, according to Mr. Field’s book, was originally Cohen.) He was reared in Manhattan, where his parents ran an antiques business on the Upper East Side. He studied at the Art Students League of New York and toward the end of World War II served in the Philippines with the Army Air Forces.
After the war he joined Marvel (then known as Timely Comics), where his assignments would include Captain America, Captain Marvel, Iron Man and Sub-Mariner.
For DC (and its precursor, National Comics), Mr. Colan drew Batman, Hopalong Cassidy and Silverblade.
Mr. Colan’s first marriage, to Cynthia Sanders, ended in divorce. His second wife, the former Adrienne Brickman, died last year. He is survived by two children from his second marriage, his son, Erik, and a daughter, Nanci Solo; and three grandchildren.
Underpinning the realistic look of Mr. Colan’s comics was his fealty to real-world models. For the Dracula series, he based the title character on Jack Palance, whom he had seen play Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde in a 1968 television movie. Fittingly, Mr. Palance went on to play Dracula in a 1974 television movie.
On another occasion, Mr. Colan needed to draw a particular make of handgun. “He was such a stickler for detail,” Mr. Field said, “that he went down to the police station and asked them to pull one out and show it to him.”
Comic Book Resources...
June 23rd, 2011
Writer Clifford Meth shares the sad news that comics legend Gene Colan has died. He was 84. Colan was in poor health for some time and passed away following a broken hip and complications from liver disease.
Colan is considered one of the premier Silver Age Marvel artists, illustrating some of the best known comics characters of all time including Captain America, Doctor Strange and the characters he's most associated with, Daredevil, as well as Blade, a character he co-created with writer Marv Wolfman. Colan also contributed work at DC Comics, with the majority of it seen in the pages of “Batman” and “Detective Comics.” Colan's last major achievement came in 2009, contributing to "Captain America" #601 with Ed Brubaker, which was awarded the Eisner Award for Best Single Issue.
CBR will have a full remembrance of Colan on Friday by columnist George Khoury. In the meantime, those looking to learn more about this major artistic talent should read this panel report from 2009’s Comic-Con International, our interview with Colan from 2009 or this extensive interview that looks back on Colan’s career conducted in 2000 .
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Gene Colan [Wikipedia]