“To the living we owe respect, to the dead we owe only the truth”
Artist, Husband, Father.
Coined ‘The Dean’ by Stan the Man Lee, was one of comics’ most beloved elder statesmen, and days ago as of this writing… he passed away.
I had the pleasure of hearing the soft spoken Gene Colan speak on a panel with the aforementioned Stan Lee, as well as via various podcasts, and he was always a gentleman in the truest definition of that word.
Growing up in the age of Neal Adams and Don Newton and John Byrne and George Perez, Colan was, like Kirby, not an artist I gravitated to.
With Colan, particularly, this is because his moody belabored pencils never came through in the garishly colored comics he was oft relegated to doing. His fine detailed pencils were lost beneath ‘get to the point’ inks, and gaudy colors. And his superhero work for me, just didn’t appeal.
It was only much later when I got the chance to see Colan’s work sans skintight costumed heroes, an unhelpful colors, that I saw an undeniable craft and consummate work ethic.
It is when working with real people, in real clothes, with creases, and expressions, and faces uncovered by masks… that Colan’s work for me came alive. Some of his best work is on books like TOMB OF DRACULA, and SON OF SATAN, where Colan’s penchant for camera angles, and atmospherics, and beautiful women could shine.
A few years back I bought the simply stellar SECRETS IN THE SHADOWS: THE ART & LIFE OF GENE COLAN. It’s a simply indispensable overview of a great artist, and an inspiring man.
I point you to that book for an indepth look at Colan’s work and Colan’s grace (spring for the HC, it’s worth the money), but I’ll end this post with a few of my favorite Colan covers.
For reasons previously stated much of Colan’s Superhero work, including covers, didn’t grab me, but there were some where I thought everything worked, the pencils, the inks, the coloring…and here are those chosen few: