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Saturday, May 01, 2010

Gene Colan Update: Gene Colan Exclusive Interview - Gene Speaks

As anyone in the comic book industry now knows, Gene Colan had a fall a few weeks back and suffered a serious injury. The injury was enough to place him in hospital, where he’s been for the past month and a bit. At the same time as Gene was taken into hospital, art was reported as having gone missing from his home studio and Gene assigned his children as his representatives and Clifford Meth as his official spokesperson. During the same time people went silent and answers weren’t forthcoming. Now all of that added up to people speculating as to what happened, with the result being a lot of false information, rumours, innuendo and outright lies being bandied about the internet. Just so everyone is clear, Gene injured himself at home and his injuries were not related to any art that went missing – in short Gene was not mugged, nor was he attacked and robbed.

In order to get some information out to the general public Clifford Meth and Gene asked me if I could conduct short interviews with both men, with the view of dispelling a lot of the wrong information that’s currently in the public domain (you can read Cliff's interview here). To that end I phoned Gene who graciously gave me some of his time from his hospital bed. There will be a follow up interview once Gene is at home and settled in.

Until that time, this interview should answer most people’s questions; for the people who wish to know how Gene is, how his recovery is going and what his overall outlook is for the future, you’ll find the answers here. The rest, well, gossip is always just gossip. You can believe what you want, written by people who have no direct contact with Gene or Cliff, or you can believe the words coming from their own mouths.
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DANIEL BEST: How are you currently feeling?
GENE COLAN: I’m pretty good. I may go home in about a week or so. I’m getting the use of my left hand back, which was slow in coming. It’s been quite a few weeks for that to happen and I’ve been here for a good six weeks or better. I’m in a rehabilitation centre.
DB: How serious are those injuries?
GC: I would say medium serious. I just broke my shoulder, but it could have been worse, but it was a hairline fracture. I lost my balance and down I went, on my back. It could have been worse, but the doctor told me that it was fortunate that they don’t have to operate and put in a ball joint. It turns out that the hairline fracture will heal, I just have to be patient. That was all they had to say, and he was right because I can do a lot more with that hand now, I can even draw a little bit, just a little, and I’m getting my handwriting back which I couldn’t do before. So I’m doing a few things that I never did before I came here. It’s coming back, slow but sure.
DB: Has the doctor said that you’ll make a full recovery?
GC: Oh yeah. I’m fairly confident that I will. I can’t wait to get back to earning money and getting to work. I just want to start making a living again. I should be thinking more of retirement, I suppose, but I don’t even think about retiring. I need to draw, I love it, so why should I give it up.
DB: What has your reaction been to the many donations and the general outpouring of concern and affection during all of this?
GC: It makes me feel loved. Really. People don’t have to do that. I had idols too in my time and people have their idols too, and I’m talking about comic books now, and I guess I’m one of them. I’m here and I think they have a right to know that I love the attention. What can I say? It’s great attention, and it’s good to know that people care that much about you. There should be more of it in the world today and maybe we wouldn’t be in such a jam.
DB: Have you spoken to Joe Sinnott to get tips on how to recover from a shoulder injury with the view of drawing again?
GC: I know that Joe fell visiting a friend. He fell on the deck of the house and broke his shoulder. I talked to him a long time ago when he had the fall and he told me that it just takes time.
DB: Do you plan to attend any conventions in the future?
GC: I could, but it becomes more and more difficult for me and my wife to do so. She’s much younger than me, and it’s hard for her to get me to the airport, and unfortunately a lot of these places are not non-stop flights. You have to stop off somewhere and get to another gate, and walk through the terminal. Sometimes those walks are up to a mile long. But they do have carts that’ll carry you. But also when you go to these conventions you’re exposed to illness. For me, that’s where I think I caught pneumonia, at a convention, and I was in the hospital for weeks and weeks. I think I’ve spent more time in hospital than at home (laughter) and I want to get rid of that.

The last convention was going to be in Pittsburgh, an all expenses paid thing, hotels, airfares, but I couldn’t make it. I just didn’t have the energy, because I work really hard, even not, and it takes a lot of energy to do, go to conventions.
DB: What is the real story behind the missing art?
GC: I kept that artwork somewhere in my room and things got a little chaotic at home; I don’t know exactly what happened. But someone came over to the house, my wife wasn’t at home, and they wanted to clean the house for us. They started to clean the house and looked in my studio and had a look around and although things looked OK they couldn’t find the artwork. One of them was a piece for George Lucas, which he bought some time ago, it was Star Wars. The other three were equally as important to me, one was a Dracula with some of the characters in the book, another one was Blade, he’s running through a cemetery with a big knife in his hand and the last one was Luke Cage. Those were the four and I know where I kept them, so when I get out of here I’m going to look for them because I don’t think anyone really knows where I kept them, so they still might be there.

They are listed as perhaps stolen, so if anybody did steal them, because there were lots of people in my studio when I wasn’t there, they couldn’t sell them. Not with a notice like that.
DB: Who is helping you with business and so forth?
GC: Cliff. He’s excellent, he’s a wizard. Because I’ve been absent from my work he’s been trying to help me get established again. A lot of people are asking where I am and what happened to me, where my wife is and what happened to her, and all kinds of stuff. Cliff is a wonder. I’ve known him for about twenty years.
DB: How are you passing the time during the days?
GC: I didn’t have a cell phone when I came over here and I can’t make calls other than local calls. My daughter gave me a cell phone as a gift and now I can call anybody. But I watch a lot of TV. I can’t sleep at night, it’s very difficult for me to fall asleep, so I watch TV until maybe two in the morning. When I get sick of that I walk the halls and go to the nurses’ station. There’s something intriguing to me about the nurses station. When I was in the service I was sick, I got pneumonia. It was the first time I ever got pneumonia and I was put in to the hospital. The hospital was like a great big barracks loaded with other sick soldiers, lined up in beds and the only light I could see at night was in the nurses’ station. A little bulb was shining, and I’d look at that bulb and the light it would cast and I felt that all was well with the world. I felt alive, I felt watched over.

To this day I go to the nurses station here in the hospital and I sometimes talk to them if they’re on duty there and it makes me feel good.
DB: Any closing thoughts?
GC: I never thought my career would take on the proportions that it has. To me it was a job, in the beginning. I didn’t know much about art in the beginning but I was fortunate enough to get the position from Stan Lee, I knew him pretty well, and he gave me my first break, with Marvel, at that time it was called Timely. I was just proud of the fact that I could actually draw something and do a story. I didn’t really know that much about technique, but with the help of the art department, and a very fine artist by the name of Syd Shores who taught me a lot of stuff, I was being paid on the job. So it took off and the proportion that it reached just boggles the mind. I’m very fortunate in that respect. The fans have been so wonderful to me, I can’t begin to thank them enough, and it’s never enough. Such loyalty, oh my goodness, that’s hard to come by.

I appreciate it. I feel like Gary Cooper. (laughter) He was my favourite actor, which is why I brought him up. He was my idol and had I ever met him in person I think I’d have died and gone to heaven. (laughter)
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So now that you’ve read the interview, and have read Cliff’s interview as well, scoot on over to Gene’s auctions and buy some stuff. As you can see it’s no so much the medical bills that’ll need paying for, it’s the costs associated with being in hospital. As anyone knows, while you’re incapacitated you’re not able to earn any money and the bills don’t stop coming in. So any assistance is good assistance. If you have art that you have spare then feel free to donate it. Otherwise, get in there and buy some art. All of the profits go directly to Gene to assist him with his return home, and with donations coming in from the likes of Walter Simonson, Michael Moorcock and Bill Sienkiewicz, to name but three, well you know there’s going to be something there that you want.

Plus there’s plenty of art from Gene’s own files on offer, so buy directly from the man himself. Until then do spread the word about Gene and his condition, and when you see something that doesn’t look right, then feel free to point them towards this blog and this entry

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