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

More tributes are coming in thick and fast. 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
NJ 07866
Items will be auctioned off at ComicLink.com (details, dates, etc. TBA)
If you're thinking of making a more substantial contribution then by all means send something in. Cliff has done these kinds of auctions more than once, notably for Dave Cockrum and Gene himself when he was struck down with eye problems, so it will be incredible. So far the list of contributors includes: Neal Adams, Steven Bove, Norm Breyfogle, Adam-Troy Castro, Peter David, Tom DeFalco, Pat DiNizio, Harlan Ellison, Mark Evanier, Neil Gaiman, Joe Kubert, Jim Lee, Stan Lee, Leah Moore, Tom Palmer, Mike Pascale, Dave Simons, Marv Wolfman and Ash Wood. It's growing each and every day, so chip in.

Now to the tributes. Remember, Gene sees all of these, so if you can't send a card then spread some cheer this way. As emails arrive they get posted up, and there's plenty of additional comments. Let's do what we can for Gene!

I have never had the honor to meet Gene, but he is one of my icons. His moody and distorted work on such titles as Doctor Strange and Howard the Duck was such an integral part of my life. I look back to those times and remember the great times along with Gene's phenomenal work.

Gene, thanks for the memories.

Peace and health,

-Bill Banick, RYT

Of course I remember Gene Colan’s epic work on Daredevil, Captain America, Iron Man, Sub-Mariner and Doctor Strange, who doesn’t? But Gene also was also one of the few Marvel Comics artists that took risks with his work in both layout and design. Daredevil #44 - #46 was truly groundbreaking in its use of angled panels and cinematic flow. Gene’s experimentation didn’t end there. It was the variety filled pages of Marvel Super-Heroes where Gene created his most bizarre and captivating works.

One in particular was The Guardians of the Galaxy in MSH #18. The work was so far out-there and different from the other Marvel books at the time that to look at it was to expand your horizons and realize that the comics’ art form was incredibly panoramic and vast. As great as these characters were they were never captured with the same artistic intent that Gene had given them.

I’d had the privilege of meeting Gene Colan a few times through the years but one time really stood out for me. I was walking with him in the DC corridors and I expressed how much I admired his run on Daredevil. Gene had a look of both pride and a touch of sadness when he said, “Those days with Stan were the best”.

Be well Gene. Along with Jack Kirby you were the heart of Marvel Comics.

-Steven Bove

I met Gene, like many others, only once.

Only two years ago, at the height of my love affair with Tomb of Dracula, Gene was part of a panel at HeroesCon regarding said title… I hung around briefly after the panel when, as I started to leave, a nice old man, asked me where the artists’ tables were. This nice old man, of course, turned out to be none other than The Dean himself. I was such a little kid at 28… completely starstruck and at a total loss for words. “Sure, I said, it’s around 15 corners and down 8 halls…” oh, wait… My girlfriend had her wits about her… Just walk with him! I was the worst possible choice with my long nervous strides covering far too much ground at once as I tried to not completely geek out and talk about something, anything, other than “omg I luv your comix!” It was an everyday occurrence… nothing out of the ordinary. But I was, and still am, completely blown away by the fact that *I*, a total nobody, was walking through the convention hall side-by-side with one of my true idols. Gene and Adrienne were some of the kindest and most generous people I’ve ever met. And still capable of instilling within me a complete sense of dread. It’s a tiny but wonderful memory that I’m sure exists nowhere but in my mind. All of my best to him and his family. Thank you for the years and years of wonderful stories; I’m looking forward to even more! Good luck and God Bless J

-Jim Rice

I met Gene Colan and his lovely wife, Adrianne, at Comicon International, San Diego around 2002 or 2003. Sorry the memory isn't what it used to be and it wasn't too good back then. I was attending the Con with my wife, Linda, and working away in Artists Alley. A long time friend of ours, Dr. Ron Zodkevitch, stopped by our table to chat and invite us to dinner after the show that day. He mentioned that he had also invited Comics Legend Gene Colan and his wife, Adrienne, to the same dinner. How could I refuse.

As a teenager I had seen Gene's work on Daredevil, Doctor Strange, Captain America, Tomb of Dracula and IronMan. I still have a copy of IronMan #1 illustrated by Gene "the Dean" Colan in my collection. I must add that he drew THE best Wonder Woman and Supergirl I ever saw in "The Phantom Zone" mini series for DC. I knew way back then that this artist was special. I learned at that dinner in San Diego just how special he really is.

Gene was so easy going and humble. He immediately made everyone at the table feel comfortable. He was as interested in us as we were in him. I sat across from Gene at the dinner table. In my mind I was fan boy (okay a very old fan boy) meeting one of his comics heroes. Within minutes he and I were talking like a couple of old Bullpen Buddies grousing about editors, writers, payscale and credit. Adrienne and Linda talked about the real world, family and stuff. Gene and I were on a roll about really important stuff. Comics!

Linda and I went to that San Diego dinner to meet my boyhood hero. We left with two new friends, Gene and Adrienne Colan.

With apologies to the late Bob Hope...Gene, thanks for the memories!

With deepest respect, admiration and affection,

-Paul and Linda Ryan

Turning 13, I was just about to give up on comics back in 1977. I had been reading them for years – always as a DC fan – and had grown tired of the same Superman stories over and over again. Still, I thought I would give Marvel a shot just to see if there was anything interesting happening there. So I went to the local Kroger store and flipped through the spinner-rack to see what caught my eye.

It was HOWARD THE DUCK #24, which featured Gene Colan’s art along Steve Gerber’s script. The issue, featuring Howard trying to come down emotionally after having saved the galaxy in the previous issue, held me so strongly that I had to pick up the next issue. And then the next. And then some Spider-Man issues and, what the heck, maybe some Dr. Strange and some Fantastic Fours on top of that.

So I can blame Mr. Colan for getting me hooked on comics for good. Oh, sure, I was drawn to Gerber’s writing and found his work to be of personal influence in my own writing over the years, but it was the artwork that told half the story and from then on Gene would always be THE Howard the Duck artist for me. Sure Val Mayerik may have been there before him to kick things off, but it was Colan who was there by the time I got a chance to pick up the comic and no one else ever caught the emotions and look of Howard better than Colan. Heck, he even got the size right – making Howard duck-size but without making him looking too much like a duck that you couldn’t see the human element in his guise. Howard (and Bev as well) never looked better.

Oddly enough, for a visual medium, I never followed particular artists. I knew people’s art when I saw it, but it never was a particular driving factor in my choices for comics. The writers were what had me coming back. That is, except with it came to Gene Colan. His art I followed. I picked up TOMB OF DRACULA because of him, as well as starting to read AVENGERS when he did some work on the title back in ’81. I also remember fondly his work on a much-too-shortlived title for DC called NIGHT FORCE, which was another chance to watch Colan in his smoky environment of mystical happenings. Over the years, I can immediately recall many moments in his comic-book art from particular issues of DC & Marvel comics; moments that have stuck with me long after I can name particular issues or text associated with them.

I know I can’t add much to what has already been said about Gene, but I can say that his work had an impact on me and I am glad I had a chance to become a fan.

-Dale Sherman


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