Friday, June 24, 2011

Gene Colan, 1926-2011

Gene Colan, an artist born in the Bronx who became best known for his work for Marvel and DC comics, has died at the age of 84. The writer Clifford Meth has devoted a blog to Colan's work where original drawings are for sale. The proceeds went to Mr. Colan's care in his final days and works sold now will be the start of a scholarship in his name.

Colan worked on a lot of titles, as did all of the artists back then. I was amazed at how much work these guys did every month and missing few deadlines. In later years, Colan admitted to abusing amphetamines to keep up with the schedule.

He worked on some titles I didn't regularly read, like Iron Man and Captain America, but he was also the artist on Daredevil, Howard the Duck and others.

When he started, Stan Lee told him what he told all the new artists. Draw like Jack Kirby or Steve Ditko or John Romita or some other established artist. Colan refused, saying wasn't physically capable of doing that. He got to work in his own style and it worked very well for him.

Some of my favorite work of his was in Dr. Strange. There was another artist coming up in the late 1960s named Barry Windsor-Smith, who drew very intricately but much too slowly. There were several titles that Smith was supposed to draw, but because of missed deadlines, other artists would be forced to fill in. As I became obsessed with Windsor-Smith's work, I considered it a letdown when someone else had to fill in for him on an issue, but over the years I came to appreciate Colan's work on its own merits and stopped wondering what a story would have looked like if Barry Windsor-Smith had just been fast enough. Colan's work with the inker Tom Palmer was especially remarkable.

Best wishes to the friends and family of Gene Colan, from a formerly fickle fan.

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