Sunday, May 18, 2008

Original Art Stories: Gene Colan, Part VI, A Living Tribute, Part VI

First up, excellent news about Marvel, via Clifford Meth.

"I am delighted beyond delighted to announce that Marvel Entertainment has made clear its intentions to help Gene and Adrienne Colan.

"In a warm conversation this morning, executives at Marvel offered Adrienne and I some of the many things that they plan to do for the Colans to provide immediate and long-term relief. I will provide the details soon."

Keep checking Clifford's blog as he has all the details about the auctions and how to help Gene in a financial manner. So far Cliff has noted the following as offering support for Gene, in the way of a donation, or something more substantial:
Neal Adams, Doug Braithwaite, Norm Breyfogle, Randy Bowen, Ed Brubaker, Adam-Troy Castro, Paty Cockrum, Peter David, Rufus Dayglo, Tom DeFalco, J.M. deMatteis, Pat DiNizio, Harlan Ellison, Mark Evanier, Neil Gaiman, Sam Keith, Joe Kubert, Erik Larsen, Bob Layton, Jae Lee, Jim Lee, Stan Lee, David Lloyd, Leah Moore, Albert Moy, Michael Netzer, Josh Olsen, James A. Owen, Tom Palmer, Greg Pak, Mike Pascale, Jim Salicrup, Bob Shreck, Dave Simons, Gail Simone, Walter and Louise Simonson, Joe Sinnott, David Spurlock, Jim Starlin, Roy Thomas, Juan Torres, Andrew Wildman, Marv Wolfman and Ash Wood.

Aardwolf Publishing, Harris Publishing, IDW Publishing, Marvel Comics, NY ComicCon, PaperCutz and Vanguard Productions have also stepped up.

I've sent my contribution off. I'm donating a copy of the Andru & Esposito book Partners For Life, signed by Mike Esposito and also by myself (yep, I've recanted on my earlier decision not to sign any copies of the book - hey good cause and all) and I've also thrown in Mike's original ink art to the Ross Andru/Mike Epsosito Spider-Man illo that was used for the limited edition. And yes, that's the actual art shown to the left here. That's a one-off in anyone's books. Someone will have something I don't even have. So visit Cliff's blog, follow his prompts and help Gene.

You can also send Gene something directly. At the moment you can send him a get well card - Gene's family is swamped in them, and that's not a bad thing, by using the address here:
Gene Colan
2 Sea Cliff Avenue
Sea Cliff, NY 11579
USA
And you can send a PayPal donation to this email address. Send a card, send some cash. From small things big things grow, or so someone once sang.

One thing to clear up. Despite the hype from other blogs Gene is not in hospital at the moment. He is at home and as comfortable as can be in his situation. So be careful when you report this stuff (and nope, I never said he was in hospital, someone else made that one up).

Today's tributes!


Last week, before I headed off to NYC to help chaperone my son's 8th grade class trip (and caught a hellish cold), the lovely Liana K forwarded me a link to an online discussion of the rapidly deteriorating health of Gene Colan. As Liana knew from our conversation at Ad Astra in Toronto earlier this year, Gene has been a hero of mine since I was nine or ten years old.

We are all the sum of our parts, and it is no exaggeration to say that without TOMB OF DRACULA and the art of Gene Colan, I might well never have become a writer. (So, yes, you have Gene to blame, along with the creators of Kolchak, Stephen King, and Charlie Grant.)

Back up. When I was a kid, whenever I was sick enough to need medicine, my mom would come home from the pharmacy with a small stack of comic books. She knew nothing about them, of course, except that I liked them, so in addition to Justice League and Avengers, I would get Richie Rich and even the occasional Jughead. One summer--when, as I said, I was either nine or ten--my parents rented a house on Cape Cod and my brother and I walked down to the country store with some loose change. It was the first time I had ever picked out a comic book for myself, and it was TOMB OF DRACULA #15, written by Marv Wolfman and drawn by Gene Colan, who had already had legendary runs on a number of series, including Daredevil.

It altered me. The story was always entertaining, of course, with the great Marv Wolfman at the top of his game. But Gene's art drew me into the world of that series in a way that no comic book before or since has ever managed. It was like watching Christopher Lee in Hammer films, only better, a sexy, textured, ominous world in which Dracula was both the ultimate evil and the ultimate tragic hero. He was written that way, of course, but Gene *made it work.*

The only piece of original comic book artwork I've ever bought is a page from TOMB OF DRACULA #15, which I bought from Gene himself at a convention, the very first time I met him. It hangs, signed and framed, in my home.

My good friend Tom Sniegoski can (and apparently could, back then) tell you who wrote and drew every issue of every comic book he read throughout his youth. Not me. Truth is, at that age, I didn't even know who Jack Kirby was. I paid no attention to the names of artists, except for one: Gene Colan. While the rest of the industry was trying to learn to draw like Kirby, Colan was just being Colan.

Fast forward. I don't have the dates in front of me, but let's call it mid-nineties. Marvel had drastically altered the characters of Blade (who first debuted in the pages of TOMB OF DRACULA of course) and Hannibal King (ditto) for a series called Nightstalkers...but the Blade movie was in the offing and Marvel wanted to hit the restart button, to get back to the character's origins. Editor Ralph Macchio asked me to do a one-shot that would be its own story, but that would also retell the origin of Blade and reintroduce some of the characters from his past. I was thrilled, but worried. As a novelist, I was always being told my comics writing was too wordy (it was) and what Ralph wanted--in a 40 page comic--would be pretty text heavy. He assured me he wanted it that way. With meat on its bones.

The pitch was called BLADE: CRESCENT CITY BLUES. I turned in the breakdowns for the plot, and a couple of days later, Ralph called. "It looks like we're going to have Gene Colan draw it."

I thought he was joking. Gene hadn't done anything for Marvel in a while at that point. When I realized he was serious, I was so overwhelmed that I nearly wept. Mock if you will, but *that's* how much it meant to me. Working with Gene was a dream come true. He was a consummate gentleman, a blast to brainstorm with, a pleasure to talk to, and every page came in just as beautiful as any he had done on TOMB.

When we were done...after the comic book had come out...I called Gene one day to thank him again. I asked him if, once he got the artwork back, he'd be willing to sell me a page or two of the comic we'd done together. Gene had gotten 22 of the 40 pages. The inker, Mark Pennington, received 18. Gene refused to let me pay him. He said that he'd had such a good time and liked the one-shot so much that he wanted to send me a couple of pages, and he wouldn't let me talk him out of it.

The next day, a FedEx box arrived containing NINETEEN pages of Crescent City Blues. Gene had kept the three he liked best, and sent me the rest. It was an extraordinary gift, and I'll never forget it.

In the time since then, I've only spoken to Gene once or twice, and not for years. He remains my favorite comic book artist of all time.

- Christopher Golden


I know Gene and I share a love of the film, 'To Kill A Mockingbird' and as I sit here writing this I can't help but think how much Gene parallels Atticus Finch.

They are both men of honesty, honor and compassion. Their keen intellect let them see things below the surface and to bring out the best in those around them. They lead by example and do their best everyday to make the world a better place. They carry themselves with dignity and grace and their body of work leaves a deep and indelible mark on the world... - and let's not forget that they are both characters in the truest sense of the word.

While Atticus fought injustice, segregation and prejudice in a courtroom residing in Harper Lee's imagination, Gene did it in comics. From his artistic approach and vision in bringing characters like the Falcon, Brother Voodoo and Blade to life, to his iconic images in Daredevil #47's, 'Brother, Take My Hand', Gene Colan transcended the world of comic books to a much higher socially aware place.

Thank you Gene for not only so many wonderful years of sharing your gift with us but for making us all better people in the process. You have touched so many lives on so many levels - we can never all start to repay you for your kindness. Atticus would truly be very proud of you.

With Much Love & Respect,

- Jim Cardillo

To the GREAT Gene:

First of all, sorry for my bad English.

I am an Argentinian artist of comic books and through this letter I wanted to leave my absolute support to Gene. Gene: you are one of the really BIG authors of the North American comic. And, mainly with a strong character, absolutely unique graphics. Your work, so much in the Tomb of Dracula, in Daredevil and in the infinity of productions that you have carried out throughout your extensive career, they are a continuous source of inspiration. The work of the light and the shade is unique in the field of the comics books. The atmosphere achieved with the light and the shade makes that "common" scenes (dialogue scene) transform into something memorable. And the action scenes, simply superb.

The other factor that impressed myself of youth was the incredible fluency of your narration, to read a comic drawn by you was to have the feeling of a to flow continuous of movements and action. Very personal and always different to all your great friends artists in the '70s.

With the years and with my intention of beginning career in the art of the comic, I have appreciated every time more your incredible work and I come back every time to your work, an irreplaceable reference. Your magnificent work has accompanied in all stages, of adolescent reader until mature professional. Always for different reasons, you are an irreplaceable author.

From here I sends you, with all respect, my biggest hug and all my support to you and your family. I hope it can overcome this moment positively. I love your work and I respect it a lot you. One of the really BIG authors and artist of the industry of the North American comic.

Luis Guaragna



Keep 'em coming. You send, I'll post and Gene reads! Remember that all of the tributes are gathered here.

2 comments:

Johnny B said...

Great news that Marvel is going to help out, as is only right. But what about DC? Gene worked for them for several years as well...

Mark Staff Brandl said...

Great post Danny. Bless Cliff Meth and you and all who are helping the great Gene Colan. I'll be joining in too.