Gene Colan, a true original

By now, you’ve probably heard of the passing of Gene Colan. It’s personally heartbreaking for me, as I’m sure it is for many of you. Of all the artists working at Marvel in the 1960s, his was, to my mind, the most distinctive, recognizeable style there. After seeing his pencils for the first time, with their detailed shading, I had to wonder, how in the world does an inker take something so rendered, and turn it into simple black-&-white ink lines?

Some were great at it (like Tom Palmer). Others struggled with it, as I would have if I’d had to ink it. But just like when you’d put a powerful inking style over Kirby (as when Wallace Wood inked Jack), you couldn’t subdue Colan’s style underneath. He told great stories, and when he came to DC and started drawing Batman (with Klaus Janson inking him), I couldn’t have been happier.

Gene had continued doing amazing commissioned drawings for fans up until recently, and those beautiful pieces showed that, like a select few (Will Eisner comes to mind), he just kept getting better as he got older (even more amazing considering his past eyesight problems).

Tom Field wrote a wonderful book on Gene which we published several years ago, called Secrets In The Shadows. It’s been sold out a couple of years now, but we’ll be re-releasing it shortly as a Digital Edition. It tells Gene’s story beautifully, and I’m thrilled we were able to produce it while Gene was here to see it. Tom did an amazing job on it, and I know Gene was proud of it too.

My pal George Khoury just wrote a wonderful tribute to Gene, and you can (nay, should) go read it here.