Legendary artist influenced a generationWritten by Jim Beard | | email@example.com
Every once in a while, a comic book artist comes along who rises above the rest and not only establishes a unique visual language, but cements himself for years to come in the minds of fans. The late Gene Colan was one of those artists. An integral part of Marvel Comics editor Stan Lee’s juggernaut of style in the “Silver Age” of the 1960s, Colan, who died June 23, leaves behind a body of work that’s still discussed by aficionados.
“Gene ‘The Dean’ Colan has left us for that drawing table in the sky,” said Jim Collins of JC’s Comic Stop. “It saddens me that Gene was never thought of in the same light as Jack ‘King’ Kirby by the industry as a whole, but this does not diminish the body of work he produced over fifty years. As with Jack, Gene most certainly influenced a generation of artists.”
A kid from The Bronx, Colan gained art experience in the 1940s in the neophyte comics industry as well as in the Army Air Corps in World War II. He went on to win multiple awards and also give back to budding illustrators as an art instructor.
“I was first aware of Gene when he was doing the art on Sub-Mariner in ‘Tales to Astonish’ for Marvel (1965-66),” Collins said. “He quickly became one of my favorite artists, working on ‘Iron Man,’ ‘Daredevil,’ ‘Tomb of Dracula,’ ‘Captain America,’ ‘Doctor Strange’ and ‘Howard the Duck.’ Gene’s art style was unlike anyone else’s; there was no mistaking him for [artists] Don Heck, George Tuska, Gil Kane, John Romita, Steve Ditko or Kirby.
“His storytelling was unique onto itself. My favorite work of his had to be ‘Howard the Duck.’ Along with Steve Gerber’s writing, Gene’s art had me looking forward each and every month to see what was in store for the fowl that was ‘Trapped in A World He Never Made’.”
Collins said Colan lives on in the comics he drew, easily accessed in this day of reprints and digital copies.
“Gene,” he said, “thank you for the enjoyment you’ve given me and your legion of fans out there. It’s a sadder world without you.”