Friday, May 15, 2009

Original Art Stories: Gene Colan's Dubious Daredevil #1

I'm sure I'll cop some flack from this one. The art you see here is currently up for auction over at the Heritage web-site. The official description states, Gene Colan Daredevil #1 Penciled Cover Re-Creation Original Art (undated). Celebrated as one of the Man Without Fear's best artists, Colan has re-created the landmark, first cover appearance of Marvel's Daredevil, and he has captured all the vitality and charm of the Jack Kirby and Bill Everett cover in his homage. Drawn in pencil, this piece has an image area of 10" x 16.25", and the art is in Excellent condition.

Now I have an issue with this, and I'm not alone. Three other people also have an issue with this - Gene Colan, his wife, Adrienne and his long time inker, Dave Gutierrez, and frankly they'd know. Gene doesn't remember drawing it, Dave, who usually sees these things, doesn't remember seeing it. So what is it? I'm not sure, but I am fairly convinced that it's not a Gene Colan Daredevil #1 recreation.

Why? Really, it's simple, but let's have a look shall we?

This is the signature from the Heritage Colan. It's undated and very, very shaky. Even in his worst days Gene's hand wasn't that unsure, especially when it comes to writing his own name. Plus, according to his wife, Adrienne, "Gene's signature doesn't have that 'hook' on the top of the 'G' and does not go up at the end of 'n'," and you'd expect the Colan's to know Gene's own handwriting. Compare the above signature with this one:
and you'll soon see what I mean. The other thing to watch for is that Gene almost always dates his work. I have a sketch that I bought as part of a deal, from Gene, to coincide with the release of his book, Secrets In The Shadows, and even something as small as a sketch is dated. However there are examples of Gene's work out there with undated signatures - I own one. With that in mind I scanned the signature and here it is:Compare the line work of that signature with the one from the Heritage Colan (the first signature example shown here) and tell me if the same guy did them both. I have my own (serious) doubts.

The other indicator for me is the presence of the logos and the like. Try as I might I can't really find an example of where Gene has done a Daredevil recreation where he's penciled in the text and logos. Here's a recreation from 2005:and here's the finished inks, side by side, for comparison:

As you can clearly see the logo's have been added in at the inking stage, not during the pencils. I'm also dubious about Gene doing a recreation of someone else's work, but then stranger things have happened. That Gene can't recall this particular piece of art and has asked for provenance from Heritage speaks volumes. I'm not saying this is an outright fake, but I would say, caveat emptor, let the buyer beware. Someone might pay a very high price for this only to discover that it's not what they think it is.

I'll be watching this auction with great interest, and any updates that might arrive from the Colans themselves, I'll be sure to post, one way or another.

Further to this: The Colan's have contacted Heritage to express their doubts about the piece in question. The main concerns, from the Colans, are as follows: the signature doesn't look like Gene's signature (as outlined above), Gene doesn't draw in other artists style, Gene rarely, if ever, does recreations of covers that he didn't originally draw, Gene can't recall drawing it - now you'd think, if this were genuine, that Gene would remember drawing it. He remembers art he drew in the '50s, why not this one?

Heritage have replied stating that the consignor of the art bought it from an un-named 'reputable' dealer some years back and that both Heritage and the consignor believe it's real. Heritage have also stated that, "...unless you (the Colans) —or someone else—has something stronger than vague recollections or a bit of doubt, it’s honestly not fair to our consignor to call into question the authenticity."

I guess the doubts of the artist aren't enough in this case. Ok, I'll put this to Heritage - I strongly believe that the Gene Colan signature was not done by Gene Colan. It looks nothing like every other Gene Colan signature out there, it's undated and looks too rough to be a genuine Colan. Heritage is out there to make money, both for the consigner and themselves, so it's in their best interests to deny any claim of fraud in relation to the art until after the auction is finished and paid for.

Again, buyer beware. Until Gene comes out and says he did draw it, or someone can prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that it's real, I'll still insist that this art is dubious and might well be a fake. I'd not touch it with a pole.


Dave said...

SERIOUSLY not sure w/ this one. i instantly called gene w/ my doubts and he honestly didnt remember but thought he might have done it. i doubt it for several reasons but i will let it play out w/ heritage (a-hem) b4 i continue w/ any doubt. dave gutierrez

Devils Advocate said...

In fairness to the seller, you should quote the Colans' email to his Yahoo list in which they say "Gene has a vague recollection of it but not certain. The only thing we can think of is that perhaps about ten years ago maybe someone commissioned him to do this recreation copying Jack Kirby's style and that would account for the cartoonyness of it". Surely this statement leaves the door open to the possibility that Gene actually drew it?

cbagallery said...

Guys, forget the art for just a second. The signature itself obviously has 2 layers to it. A lighter one underneath and then the darker one on top that someone with a very hesitant hand traced over with a darker shade.

Now, no offense to Gene because the fact that he has still been able to put out the overall quality he has during the past 10 years or so is a feat in and of itself, but in the meantime I've also seen many subpar commissions that were not up to his best level of quality. The quality of this recreation is certainly comparable enough in terms of artistic ability to create reasonable doubt, and sadly the fact that Gene himself admits he "might have" done it, puts the proverbial nail in the coffin of anyone who tries to get the auction removed.
But due to the signature alone, I wouldn't touch this with a ten foot pole.

-CBA Gallery

Anonymous said...

Hello everyone,

I am the original consignor of this piece. I arranged to have it done directly with Gene and Adrienne many years ago as a gift for my husband. It was to be the first in a series of Daredevil cover recreations and this was before Gene had started doing Daredevil cover recreations. If anyone is interested I do have the original letter that accompanied this piece when Gene sent it to me.

Over the years we have donated a lot of original art to various charities and this was one of those pieces.

If anyone has any further questions please feel free to contact me directly.

I hope this helps clear things up.


Anonymous said...

Shouldn't this blog entry be removed, given the true information that has now come forward? Also, did you apologize to the seller?

Danny said...

Guess you didn't read the next post along did you?

Heritage have done enough dodgy things in their time, so I doubt they'd be too affected, if at all. This wouldn't have even been a blip on their radar, and if it were a fake, well what would they care?

Have fun, Mr Anon.

Anonymous said...

Heritage is not the seller I mean. It is the owner of the art who has consigned it to Heritage to auction off on their behalf. Is this a "blip on their radar" if, for example, they were counting on the proceeds to pay their mortgage this month? Imagine how you'd feel if you needed to sell off your prized Breyfogle pieces and someone posted all over the Internet that they were not authentic. Would you expect an apology in that situation?

Danny said...

Mr Anon - would I expect an apology? Nope. Would I expect a follow-up post explaining things? Yep. And that's exactly what I've done. It appears that you, Mr Anon, are the one who's keeping this going and has an issue. I posted the seller's reasoning and have posted that the art is genuine. That's where it ends, unless you wish to keep this going.

There's plenty of other places where you'll not get equal space for a retraction, nor get a speedy one. Heritage could have solved this easily by being upfront and not being vague, they elected to wait until this was in the public before doing...nothing. The seller contacted, the message is there. If the seller has an issue they can contact me again, which I doubt they will.

Feel free to email me and we can discuss this more. Otherwise merely move on.

Joe Jusko said...

I saw this piece when it was originally commissioned. I know it's the same piece because the word "Different" is still misspelled as "Differnt" at the bottom of the page. It was something we noticed as soon as the piece was received. Out of respect for Gene and Adrienne they opted not to mention it. I know both Christi and her husband for almost 20 years. The piece is most definitely authentic.