Gene Colan 1926-2011

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Artist Gene Colan, whose mastery of expression and action alike made him a giant of the Silver Age and beyond, passed away tonight, longtime friend and helper Clifford Meth reports. Colan had been in a coma following a fall and in general ill health from ongoing liver problems.

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Colan was part of the glorious ’60s Bullpen era with work on Iron Man, Dr. Strange, and especially Daredevil — it was great, pioneering work, dynamic with an unusual style that was a whole different school from the angular Kirby, more fluid, and observed. As great as his superhero work was, he found an even better fit for his style in the ’70s with a 70-issue run on TOMB OF DRACULA — despite the lurid title, Colan’s artwork, always sensitive to small nuances of characters, perfectly mirrored the horror soap opera that Marv Wolfman crafted.

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He followed this up with a run on HOWARD THE DUCK, Steve Gerber’s acerbic study of alienation in waterfowl form. Colan handled both the comedy and such outre characters as Dr. Bong with aplomb. With such varied material under his belt, he moved into the independent era with work on such books as DETECTIVES Inc. and NATHANIEL DUSK, as well as STEWART THE RAT, a parallel of sorts to HOWARD THE DUCK.

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Colan worked steadily in later years, as much as his health would allow. As recently as 2009, he won an Eisner award for an issue of CAPTAIN AMERICA written by Ed Brubaker. In recent years, as is natural with older people, declining health made it more difficult for him to work, and various benefits and tributes were set up to help him.

Colan was a hugely loved and influential artist, and tributes will be pouring out for days. He’s trending on Twitter as we write this.

Meth writes:

I am terribly saddened to lose Gene. He was a gentle and deeply spiritual man, a bright light in every context, and those who knew him at any level were enriched by his warmth and generous nature.


He has details of Colan’s passing and more thoughts on their friendship in the link.

Comments

  1. Gary Esposito says:

    Heidi,
    Daredevil #47 was the first Gene Colan comic I ever read when I was a kid and I’ve been a fan ever since. IMHO it’s one of the top 10 greatest comics ever published. He will always be remembered. RIP Mr. Colan.

  2. One of the best ever. A true legend who will be sorely missed.

  3. The first comic I ever read had a Stan Lee/Gene Colan Iron Man as a back up feature (behind a Lee/Kirby Captain America story). It was a tale in which Iron Man battled the Growing Man.

    I’ll never forget how alien and otherworldly his tall, elegant, looming Iron Man was. He drew Iron Man to perfection. That iconic cover for Iron Man #1 underscores how he owned that character (among many others).

    Years later, I got to know his work on Tomb of Dracula, Son of Satan, Howard the Duck…and I got to interview him by phone for an article on Captain America and Falcon in Back Issue #22. I’m glad I had the chance to hear some of his stories working for Marvel.

    I loved his run on Brother Voodoo in Strange Tales. His art was always beautifully atmospheric.

    We just lost a giant in the field and the game will never be the same again knowing Gene the Dean is no longer among us.

  4. dhr. GeeK says:

    Loved the Tomb of Dracula! Dead forever!

  5. Steve Leialoha says:

    I always loved his work. He had the most beautiful penciled pages I’ve ever seen. It was an honor to have worked with him.

  6. Al™ says:

    I first saw his work, and first saw Daredevil in Daredveil 53. I was amazed by both, and remained hooked on Gene Colan’s atmospheric work ever since.

    I loved the way he rendered figures and clothing, their mass and movement.

    His long career took him from company to company, from drawing war and horror books in the 50′s, superhero and romance in the 60′s and even Archie and Disney work in the late 80′s – early 90′s.

    Sorry to see him go.

  7. My first exposure to Gene Colan’s work was in AVENGERS #206 in 1981. There was something about his distinctive style in that issue that grabbed my attention and hasn’t let go for the past thirty years.

    Rest In Peace, Mr. Colan, and thanks.

  8. David Blaine Clemons says:

    What a wonderful person that I had the pleasure to meet on too few occasions. So sad that he passed in such a poor state of health.
    I’m not sure if it was the Daredevil or Captain Marvel series in the late 60s where I first saw his work. His action style poses were so wild and unique, but it was his non-superhero work that would always stand out for me, such as in the Warren mags or the Nathaniel Dusk series. Damn.

  9. Hi art was like no other. All other atists often had people who would almost pencil like them, if not better. He was one of the person who gave young people the envy to create our mag in France (he was featured in our 2nd issue, next to Frank Miller, back in 1983).

  10. Andrew Farago says:

    A great artist, and as his nickname suggests, an absolute gentleman. I was fortunate enough to work with him many times over the past decade, and I’m really grateful that I got to spend as much time with him as I did.

    Rest in peace, Gene.

  11. Dave Miller-lad says:

    What I loved about his art was that it had the photo-realism of a Neal Adams coupled with the exagerration of a Jack Kirby. No one else was able to do that.

  12. Today didn’t start well for me. Woke up, turned on NPR, and first thing I hear is that Gene Colan has died. I knew he’d been in poor health for several years, so it wasn’t much of a surprise. But still …

    Colan has been my favorite comic book artist since the day in 1966 that I bought “Daredevil” No. 20, the first issue of his 7-year run on that book. I regard his Iron Man as definitive, and his Dr. Strange as second only to Ditko’s version.

    In the ’70s, he drew my two favorite comic books of that decade: “Tomb of Dracula” and “Howard the Duck.” He was unique, and comics are poorer for his loss.

  13. My first exposure I believe was Daredevil issue 55
    http://www.comics.org/issue/22904/#161043
    which belonged to my mom. That issue particularly stayed with me. And of course loved his work on my favorite books Dracula and Howard.

  14. http://www.deseretnews.com/article/700146799/Comic-book-artist-Gene-Colan-dies-at-84.html?s_cid=rss-5

    Here’s a lengthy AP obit. I’m surprised (but pleased) to see Gene getting so much mainstream media attention.

  15. Clifford Meth says:

    Thanks Heidi.

  16. Another one of the greats. When I was a youngling, I had no time for Colan (or Kirby or Frank Robbins), but once I started studying painting and drawing, I could see that beneath their idiosyncratic drawing styles, was absolute mastery of their craft. I was SO bummed when Brunner left Howard, but sometime around the Treasury edition (“The black hole… sucks!”) Colan won me over for good. No one else could match him at rendering a flurri-ous Howard freak-out (“WAUGH!”). Thanks Gene, for everything.

  17. Vince Argondecci says:

    I just heard about Mr Colan’s passing.Just a great illustrator. He could lend life to any character or concept and make you want for more. I met him at a convention several years ago, Roger Mc Kenzie and I were also guests, and Rog introduced us. Gene was very relaxed,and it is interesting how that almost zen, easy going personality was reflected in his work. Roger also introduced me at the same con to another mutual guest, Gil Kane, and Gil was more animated and energetic, and I noticed you can pick up the differences in style, corresponding to the personalities. These men are giants, and their work will live on forever.

  18. Mario Hernandez says:

    One of my favorite artists ever. I first really noticed him in the “Eerie” story “Hatchet Man” and was blown away with his mastery of wash and human expressions. Some fantastic runs on books that is be the bar to strive for.

  19. I think other website proprietors should take this site as an model, very clean and good user friendly style and design .

  20. As a reader of 60′s and early comics, this guy was one of the best, a style all his own, every panel jumped out at you just screaming with action, rank him with John Buscema and Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko, I even sent him an email few years back and he replied humbly
    “glad I could entertain you” you sure did, but the pleasure was all mine ! you entertained many of your numerous fans, RIP Gene !

  21. Jeppe Severin says:

    Oh, no, no, no…

    First encounter: DD #112 – never forget.

    Thanks, Gene.

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