Friday, June 24, 2011

R.I.P. Gene Colan



It with great sadness that I 'm posting about the death last night of one of the great comic books artists of all time, Gene Colan. I grew up on Colan's work, admiring his mood lighting and the realism in his figures. I poured over his Tomb of Dracula and Dr. Strange runs. He was a major influence in the way I learned how to draw.  I was lucky enough to have had a brief conversation with him via Skype at a CAPS dinner honoring him in 2009.  We talked about his comics work and we talked about visual effects.  He told me how he was amazed by visual effects, but even the old films could fill him with a sense of wonder--citing the 1936 Clark Gable film San Francisco ( about the 1906 earthquake ).







Ironically, my next post was going to be about Gene Colan.  I had recently been admiring a period in his career that doesn't seem to get a lot of ink, but I found noteworthy. During the 50's, he did a bunch of short war stories for several of Atlas Comic's ( now Marvel ) war anthologies like Battleground, Battlefront, Battle Action and Battle. He also did war comics for St. Johns and DC Comics around the same time but a lot of that stuff was inked by other artists, and barely looked like Gene's work.  It was obvious he was having the most fun with the Atlas stuff. They seemed to give him freer reign creatively.  Not only did he ink his own work in these, but most of his stories led off with a striking splash page ( which no one else seemed to be doing in the anthology books at that time )and inventive layouts.




If you have a chance, look for some of his work outside his superhero output for DC and Marvel which has already been very well documented.  You'll find he was an amazingly talented and versatile artist whose work continued to change and evolve til the end. He did some wonderful romance comics, as well as some great horror work as well.

Gene died in New York at the age of 84.

8 Comments:

At Sunday, June 26, 2011 at 8:06:00 AM PDT, Blogger Mike Moran said...

Out of all the blogs about Gene in the past few days I enjoyed this the most. Thanks Benton.

 
At Sunday, June 26, 2011 at 9:30:00 AM PDT, Blogger bluemoonpaul said...

What striking splash pages! Great post, Benton.

 
At Wednesday, June 29, 2011 at 7:34:00 AM PDT, Blogger benton jew said...

mike,bluemoonpaul-thanks guys. I hope this post helps give people broader view of Gene's contributions and encourages them to seek out more of his work. Perhaps I'll do another post with some other rarities.

 
At Wednesday, June 29, 2011 at 2:39:00 PM PDT, Blogger Jamie Baker said...

Great Post, Benton. Thanks for those tips on his WAR stories. I had not heard of them

 
At Tuesday, July 5, 2011 at 7:47:00 AM PDT, Blogger benton jew said...

Jamie-Thanks for coming by. I'm going to try to post more of this rare stuff from many different artists. Stay tuned.

 
At Sunday, July 17, 2011 at 1:58:00 PM PDT, Blogger crazy_asian_man said...

Great tribute, Benton! :)

I'd read a bit about Colan's life after leaving Marvel, a lot of the 'senior artists' I'd read about had some pretty horrible struggles after leaving comics, I'm glad that Colan (from what I've last read about him anyways) was able to make a good transition to doing commissions on the web.

I know you're mentioning his less recognized work in your post, but it's neat that at least he died seeing some of his more famous stuff (Tomb of Dracula & his superhero stuff) get immortalized in hardcover volumes....

 
At Saturday, July 30, 2011 at 9:45:00 AM PDT, Blogger benton jew said...

crazy_asian_man-Certainly would be great to see a high-quality collection of the mans work some time. There have been a few b/w art books, but they've kind of left me wanting. A nicely done, full-color, hardbound book is in order for the man's work. And it should include the Marvel stuff, the superhero stuff, and and the other beautiful work he's done.

We're losing these great older guys quickly. High quality editions documenting their work need to be done. They've recently done high high quality books on Toth. But guys like Tuska, Andru, Aparo, among many others have passed recently without a book, or the books haven't been up the the highest standard.

 
At Sunday, August 21, 2011 at 9:18:00 PM PDT, Blogger Randy Reynaldo said...

I missed this when it first got posted, but I'm glad I stumbled across it. I've never seen his non-DC/Marvel work (let alone these war stories) and they look terrific.

 

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