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.