Friday, June 24, 2011

Farewell, Gene Colan

Iron Man & Sub-Mariner 1 1967 cover by Gene Colan

Sad to hear of Gene Colan’s passing yesterday.  As many fans like myself are already well aware, Colan was one of the giants of the comic book industry.  To my taste, there are a number of artists which belong to an elite group for true originality in style and substance: Jack Kirby, Neal Adams, Jim Steranko, Gil Kane, John Romita, Berni Wrightson, etc.  Gene Colan was certainly in that list as well. 

Daredevil 87 1972 by Gene Colan, on the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco

Everyone who loved Colan’s artwork knows what I mean.  He approached comics like a film director, drawing a comic book panel as if he were looking through the lens of a movie camera.  Tilting the camera a bit for the best angle, sometimes tilting the entire panel (from a time when all panels were strictly rectangular) to get the best image.  Colan did tons of research as well, in a time there was no internet or Google, compiling photographic references.  Check out the panel above for Daredevil #87 in 1972, the first issue where DD moved to San Francisco.  Coit Tower, Lombard Street, the Bay Bridge, etc., all the famous landmarks appeared in Daredevil and gave the series a fresh look.

Doctor Strange 177

Three Marvel Comics series are forever locked with my memory of Gene Colan.  The first one was Daredevil, as I noted above.  Another was Doctor Strange, where he drew this iconic 1968 cover of Doc adopting his new “superhero” masked costume: Hail the Master!  When I wrote about my love for this cover on Giant-Size Marvel, a few people said I was totally nuts and this was the worst thing that ever happened to Doc.  But Gene Colan made this costume work in my mind—it was such a great cover that it was sold as a poster.  Even so, when Colan returned to Doctor Strange in the early 70s (sans mask), he did a superlative job as well.

Dracula Poster

Tomb of Dracula, of course, is the other series.  I still have the entire run of comics plus the Omnibus edition.  While Colan did a great job with superheroes, in some ways he was better suited to different genres like romance, mystery, and horror.  Marv Wolfman gave Colan all types of scenes to draw in the Dracula series. 

I mourn the passing of this great legend.  Farewell, Gene, you will be missed.  Nuff Said.

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