Friday, September 01, 2023

Today in Comics History, September 1: Happy birthday, Gene Colan!

Let's all wish a happy birthday to comics artist Gene Colan, born this day in 1926! Daredevil, Doctor Strange, Tomb of Dracula, Detective Comics, Wonder Woman, Tales of Suspense, Night Force, Jemm: Son of Saturn, Captain America, Silverblade, Iron Man, Howard the Duck, My Love, Our Army at War, Hopalong Cassidy, The Avengers, and don't forget Jughead's Time Police – he's drawn 'em all! Plus ever so very many more! Why, we'd be here all night so maybe I'd better list the comics Gene Colan hasn't worked on. Let's see...Angel Love...? And here's a short list of the dozens of characters he's co-created: Blade, Carol Danvers, the Super-Adaptoid, Ben Urich, freakin' Dracula (well, the Marvel version, at least), Nathaniel Dusk, Captain Mar-Vell, Madame Masque, Jemm (Son o' Saturn), Baron Winters and the members of Night Force, Mister Fear, Nocturna, and my favorite, Man-Bull! Whew!

from The Mighty Marvel Calendar 1976, 1977, 1978 and 1979 (Marvel, 1975-1978)

from Captain America #601 (Marvel, September 2009), pencils and inks by Gene Colan

Genial Gene pops up when you'd least expect him! Like...underwater, in this tale where he's been assigned to follow and sketch the Sea Devils! (Hope that's waterproof paper and pencil, Gene!)

from "The Secrets of 3 Sunken Ships!, Part 2!" in Sea Devils #13 (DC/National, September 1963), script by Ed Herron, soggy pencils and inks by Gene Colan

Here's Colan acting as a horror host (like Elvira, except his top is not that low-cut) from a story about a guy with a one-track mind!

from "The Scream from Beyond!" in Tower of Shadows #6 (Marvel, July 1970), script by Steve Skeates, pencils by Gene Colan, inks by Dan Adkins, letters by Sam Rosen

And again at the top of this splash page:

from "One Little Indian!" in Tower of Shadows #4 (Marvel, March 1970), script by Marv Wolfman, pencils by Gene Colan, inks by Dan Adkins, letters by Sam Rosen

Gene and Stan (pre-mustache, pre-sunglasses, pre-raccoon lying on his head) hash out a Daredevil tale:

from "At the Stroke of Midnight!" in Daredevil Annual (1967 series) #1 (Marvel, September 1967), script by Stan Lee, pencils by Gene Colan, inks by John Tartaglione, colors by Stan Goldberg (?), letters by Artie Simek

I suppose you're wondering all this time, even after that beautiful rendition of Stan's doggo above, did Gene Colan like dogs? Well, let's answer that with this burst of flavor and factoid from Dark Horse Comics!

from "Horsepower" in Dark Horse Comics cover-dated January 2011

Gene passed away in June 2011.

from Marvel Comics cover-dated September 2011

A few years previously, Marvel had published this 100-page comic that reprinted some of the best of Gene Colan's work. It's my take that this sort of book should be created for each old-guard o9r retired major artist, with proceeds going to them or their families. But then again, that's only when I run Marvel, sigh.

cover of A Tribute to Gene Colan one-shot (Marvel, 2008), pencils by Gene Colan, colors by Morry Hollowell

If you can find this at your local comic book store in the back issues, I highly recommend it! Thgere's some great Colan Marvel reprints plus memories from those who worked with him.

If you're looking to experience some great Colan, I also recommend his work over at DC:

And Gene Colan: Visions of a Man without fear is a really great collection catalogue that gets two Bully hoofs-up! It's available from the Cartoon Art Museum:

A very happy birthday to you, Gene Colan, legend!

from Daredevil Annual #1

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