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Gene Colan

Real Name
Eugene Jules Colan
Pseudonyms
Gene Colan; Adam Austin

Employers
Marvel; Atlas; Epic; Curtis Magazines; DC Comics; Warren; Eclipse; Dark Horse Comics; MVCreations


Characteristics
Gender

Notable Creations

Place of Birth
New York City , New York , United States of America

Place of Death
New York City, New York, United States of America

Date of Birth
Date of Death

September 1, 1926
June 23, 2011

Personal History

Gene Colan was born "Eugene Jules" Colan as his Jewish parents had changed their last name from Cohan. His parents owned an "antiques" shop in the Upper East Side of NYC. According to his family, the first thing he ever drew was a lion at age three, but he remembers that his favorite subject to draw was his grandfather.

He got a summer job drawing for "Wing Comics" before joining the U.S. Army Air Corps (the precursor to the U.S. Air Force) in 1944. While he was stationed in the Philippines, where he was an award-winning artist for the Manila Times, Colan learned to take his time with his art. He learned that drawing a tree within ten minutes didn't do the tree justice because the acorn took 100 years to become that tree, so why should a drawing of that tree be reduced to ten minutes?.

Upon returning home in 1946, Colan got a job working for Timely Comics, which would go on to become Marvel Comics.

In 1948, when Timely released all but a skeleton crew, Colan went to do freelance work for DC Comic's predecessor, National Comics. He worked on war stories and cowboy stories. More than a decade later, while writing romance comics for the newly dubbed "DC Comics," he got the call to return to Timely, now called "Marvel" Comics where he finally got to draw superheroes.

Colan started drawing the Sub-Mariner feature in Tales to Astonish, and succeeded Don Heck on Iron Man in Tales of Suspense while under the pseudonym Adam Austin, because he was still technically working for DC Comics. He was persuaded to come full-time by Stan Lee with the lure of more money.

Gene got to work immediately by drawing Namor, Iron Man, and Dr. Strange; he did this into the mid-70's. Gene became famous within the Bullpen for not adhering to the "Marvel Method" of drawing all their characters in a similar way, which modeled Jack Kirby because he refused to be anyone's clone. In taking his stance, Gene was known as one of the few original artists on staff.

Gene once described how he’s met Stan for the first time and he was surprised to see Stan wearing a beanie cap with a propeller on top. He loved working for Stan because he was a big dreamer and was, too easily shocked out of his own thoughts by bullies, and a bully was something that Stan was not.

Gene was bullied into quitting three times in his life by strong-willed editors. The first was Harvey Kurtzman, who edited Two-Fisted Tales at EC Comics. Kurtzman was demanding of his artists, and he didn’t like how Colan drew his one and only assignment, the story Wake in issue #30. He called Colan a dullard once and that was it for Colan. The second time was with Bob Kanigher at DC Comics. Kanigher was best known for co-creating Sgt. Rock. He hired Colan to draw war, western, and romance stories, and he browbeat the young artist with his untempered criticism. Kanigher’s complaints ranged from storytelling to rendering, and they were always delivered harshly. One day, Colan called him crazy and was promptly escorted from the building, fired.

Much later, Colan would quit Marvel when Jim Shooter went from writer to Editor-in-Chief. Several writers had difficulty with Gene’s method of pacing the book and they were upset that he seemed to ignore the writers that he drew for. With Stan Lee gone, and Shooter in charge, the writers gained more control and they wanted Gene to be leashed or reassigned.

The accounts of Jim Shooter and Gene both differ, but it came down to Marvel begging Gene to stay and Gene refusing.

Professional History

Gene Colon was one of the original artists in Marvel Comics, dating back to the Namor, the Sub-Mariner in Tales of Suspense. He worked on Daredevil and Howard the Duck and was a co-creator of the Falcon and Blade.

Interview with ComicBookResources.com when asked how he got his big break:

Quote1 Well, I was just fresh out of the service, in 1945 I think, and I went to the Art Students League for about a year, and then I decided to make the rounds. I always knew I wanted to get into comics. I first went to DC, but the door wasn't open to me. They thought I needed more school; you know, the same stuff they tell everybody. But I was determined to get in, so I worked up some samples, and the next place I hit was Marvel. They were called Timely Comics at that time. And that's how I met Stan. During the lunch hour break, he was playing cards with one of the people there, and he had seen my work, and the art director pointed out to Stan that I was looking for a position. And I got it. Stan was always a big kid, I just loved him for that. Very animated guy. Quote2
--Gene Colan

Daredevil

Gene took over for Daredevil in 1966 while Stan Lee was still writing for that comic. Gene worked best with Stan Lee. He got along well with him and Stan took on so many projects that he simply didn’t have the time to devote to writing a full script. That suited Colan well because he didn’t have enough patience to read a full script. When Stan wrote for Daredevil, he kept the writing to bare bones, which allowed Gene to set his own pace.

Quote1 ... If he was looking for a particular pose, he would stand right up on the desk, and say "Now this is how I want it to look!" He himself was a kid, although he's 3 years older than me! Quote2
--Gene Colan

“The fact that he was blind and could do all these things really appealed to me,” Colan said of his stint on the title. “I tried to figure out a way to actually illustrate his blindness so that the reader could follow it. He had an uncanny knack of actually seeing better than a sighted person because of his keen senses, and I tried to illustrate that in some vague way with pictures of what he saw. Strictly out of my imagination.”

Gene started on Daredevil in issue #20, where he brought back the Owl, originally created by Stan Lee and Bill Everett. Daredevil #42 introduced the Jester, who would become a longtime villain. He and Stan co-created the Emissaries of Evil in Daredevil Annual #1. Stan Lee stayed on writing duties with Gene until issue #50, where writer Roy Thomas started. This partnership lasted until issue #71 when Gerry Conway took over writing credits.

In issue #81, Colan and Conway brought the Black Widow into the series. This is often considered the most interesting of the Black Widow stories due to the magnetism of the romance between the two and how involved she was in the stories, so-much-so that the Daredevil comic was renamed Daredevil and the Black Widow for a time( issue #92 - issue #107). In issue #87, Daredevil moved to San Francisco, making for an entirely different building and landscape style for the heavily researched Colan.

Gene finished his run on Daredevil with issue #100 in 1973. This is the comic run that he is most remembered for by the majority of his fans.

Falcon

While T'Challa came first (Black Panther is billed as the first "African" hero), Gene, along with Stan Lee, created the first "African-American" superhero. Gene is recognized for his part in the creation of Falcon in Captain America Vol 1 117.

Blade

Blade first appeared in the July, 1970 issue of Tomb of Dracula 10. He was created by Gene and Marve Wolfman and is one of the earliest African-European superheroes, being British-born.

In fact, Gene illustrated the complete, 70-issue run of the horror title The Tomb of Dracula.

Gene, when he found out that Marvel was going to produce a Dracula title, said he had lobbied for the assignment.

"When I heard Marvel was putting out a Dracula book, I confronted [editor] Stan [Lee] about it and asked him to let me do it. He didn't give me too much trouble but, as it turned out, he took that promise away, saying he had promised it to Bill Everett. Well, right then and there I auditioned for it. Stan didn't know what I was up to, but I spent a day at home and worked up a sample, using Jack Palance as my inspiration and sent it to Stan. I got a call that very day: 'It's yours.'"[1]

Howard the Duck

Colan worked with Steve Gerber on the Howard the Duck series. The character was so successful that the title character was nominated by the All-Night Party, a fictional political party, as their nominee in the Presidential campaign of 1976. Howard the Duck actually received thousands of write-in votes in the election.[2] The Gerber-Colan team created Doctor Bong in Howard the Duck #15

Work History


Images Attributed to Gene Colan (Earth-1218)


Notes

Colan was inducted into the Will Eisner Comic Book Hall of Fame in 2005 for his work on Captain America #601.

  • In a new 40-minute documentary titles "Gene Colan Revisited", Gene reveales how film was a huge influence on his art. [3]


Trivia

  • Gene Colan was given the nicknames "Gene the Dean," "Genial Gene," and "Gentleman Gene" by Stan Lee.
  • Gene was the only artist in the mid-60's to 70's who was not told to draw like Jack Kirby, Stan referred to Colan's artwork as, "painting with a pencil".
  • He did his first superhero work for Marvel under the pseudonym Adam Austin. He couldn't use his real name because he was working for DC Comics at the time.
  • Gene has acting credentials, sort of. Eric Roberts (actor and brother of Julia Roberts) had a role in the 1990 film "The Ambulance" where he played a comic book artist. The director wanted a scene of him drawing, but Roberts could not draw, so Gene was brought in. His hands were made up to match the younger Roberts and was filmed from the hands down while he drew.
  • He did some insert artwork on the album "Hellbilly Deluxe" (released Aug 1998), the first solo album of Rob Zombie, credited as Gene "The Mean Machine" Colan. He also contributed some stories and art to Spookshow International, Rob's comic book line. Colan also has "unpublished" work on Rob's web page featuring Rob's first band, White Zombie, Dracula, and Howard the Duck.
  • Gene was a teacher at Manhattan's School Of Visual Arts and the Fashion Institute of Technology.


See Also




Links and References

Gene Colan Appreciation Society [2]

Footnotes

  1. Greenberger, Robert. "Inside the Tome of Dracula", Marvel Spotlight: Marvel Zombies Return (2009), p. 27
  2. [[Daniels, Les (1991). Marvel: Five Fabulous Decades of the World's Greatest Comics. Harry N. Abrams. p. 174. ISBN 9780810938212. Stan Lee...recalls that the duck received thousands of write-in votes when he ran for President of the United States against Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter in 1976."]]
  3. "Gene Colan On Cinematic Influence" [1]



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