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

Each hour of each day brings more and more tributes to Gene Colan. Keep 'em coming. And by all means help support Gene by checking out what my good pal Clifford Meth is doing. Put aside any personal feelings you might have towards anyone and just do the right thing. It's that simple. Remember - you can send Gene a card to lift his spirits, the address is here.

Clifford Meth also has this information on his blog:
We're getting lots of email saying, "How can I help?" If you're a writer or artist or TV/film professional, please contact me --
Or just mail a drawing or signed book or whatever it is you're contributing to:
COLAN c/o Clifford Meth
179-9 Rt. 46 West
Box 252
Rockaway,NJ 07866
Items will be auctioned off at ComicLink.com

In the meantime I've also put all of the comments into a single page on the main site, hopefully they'll be a bit easier to read there, and as more come in then I'll add them in there. Gene will be able to have it printed out a lot easier and will be able to read them all - and read them he has. This has also put a few old pals back in touch with Gene, so even better.

Now to today's tributes. As they arrive I'll post them up.

I’ve written about Gene’s stuff (and its impact on me and my own work) more than once but I’d like to tell a quick tale of when I first met him. I was at a San Diego con several years ago and saw him at a table by himself (Adrienne must’ve been away for a bit). I was both elated and immensely disappointed, as I had no idea he was going to be there. If I did, I would have brought something for him to sign (most likely my treasured copy of CAP #116, one of my earliest and most fondly-remembered Colan stories).

After a quick beeline to the nearest dealer’s table with Silver Age comics on sale (I’d spent most of my dough, as usual), I returned with a “generic” Gene issue of DAREDEVIL (of course, a generic Colan-drawn issue was the same as a “standout” issue by nearly anyone else) in hand. I told him how much I adored his work and of course, he was gracious and generous. Feebly reaching for a topic with which to open a dialog (other than, “What’s a great artist like you doing in a place like this?”), I asked him who his influences were. I’d always wondered this, as, unlike most other artists I could not see anyone else I recognized in his work.

Almost immediately he said “MIlton Caniff and Hal Foster.”

And almost immediately my jaw hit the floor. Because frankly, I couldn’t see ANY evidence of either guy in Gene’s stuff. While I respect the first and love the latter, I think Colan’s figures and faces are yards better than Caniff’s, and his storytelling and action are yards more dynamic than Foster’s. I just didn’t see it.

Then it hit me—DUH!! THAT’S ANOTHER REASON WHY GENE IS SO INCREDIBLE! Not just what he draws, but the fact that he could synthesize two incredibly diverse greats into a completely unique style all his own. Like a Kirby or a Ditko, you can spot his stuff a mile away, despite his influences being the same as most of his generation.

It took me awhile to realize that, but when I did, it helped inspire me even more...as well as grow my appreciation for all things Colan...just when I thought it couldn’t grow any more.

I thank God I was able to tell Gene how much his work meant to me that day, and that I’d get the chance several more times in the future. And I thank Gene for everything he’s done for my work, my life, and my soul from childhood to the rest of my days. God bless him now and forever.

I love you, Gene.


I thought Gene Colan was brilliant. I did a couple of stories with him on Daredevil but I never understood him the way Tom Palmer does. There are certain guys for certain guys. A guy like Gene sees everything in shades of black and white. He doesn’t see line. Gene was the most difficult guy to ink because he doesn’t use lines he uses shading. Light and dark, light to dark and the lines are created by the separation between light to dark. He doesn’t use a contour like Frank Giacoia, like me, like Ross and I wanted. We’d outline our stuff. Gene was a painter, but you needed an inker who knows how to do it.

Gene was a very creative guy. The two of us, when we were young fellows, about 21 worked at the Timely Comics Bullpen. He used to sit right behind me and we’d joke about who was the youngest guy in the business. He was a good looking little kid, and I was a good looking guy, so we were both good looking kids. He had a great desire to do sound effects and things like that. He had a tape machine, which wasn’t common in those days, and he’d record things. I’d say, “How do you record that ‘smack’ sound?” and he’d say, “You take a beefsteak and slap it on the table." This was back in about 1949. Quite a while ago. I’m very sorry to hear about his current problems.

-Mike Esposito


I can't begin to tell you what your work has meant to me for so many years, and today. You're an inspiration at all times!


Al Bigley


dave166 said…
Just got off the phone with Gene. He is having a rough time of it, but I think he'll be with us a good while longer.

Dave Simons
Johnny B said…
I've posted one of Gene's Warren stories as a Flickr slideshow, along with info about how contributions can be made, and wanted to get the word out...

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