Comic book artist Gene Colan — who illustrated, among other things, Daredevil, Iron Man, and Tomb Of Dracula for Marvel, as well as Batman and Wonder Woman for DC — died yesterday at the age of 84 after a long illness. Gene’s artistic style was not only unique, but also legendary — the kind that we’ll never see again.
When I was a youngster, I was introduced to Gene’s artwork via a number of Marvel comic books — and his work impressed me as much as those of his contemporaries. Gene’s use of mood and shadow in his Daredevil stories — and later, Tomb Of Dracula — were effective in terms of artistic storytelling, maybe more so, since Gene had a number of superb writers he worked with over the years, including Marv Wolfman, Roy Thomas, and Doug Moench. Of course, my favorite Colan-illustrated stories were published by DC during the 1980’s, when Gene drew Batman, one of my all-time favorite comic book super-heroes — and whose rendition ranks alongside other artists who’ve drawn the Caped Crusader in the past, including Neal Adams, Marshall Rogers, Frank Miller, etc. If anything else, Gene’s version of Batman should be remembered, because he was one of many artists who perfectly captured the image of Batman as a nocturnal crime-fighter and avenger, remaining true to creator Bob Kane’s original vision of the character.
There’ll no doubt be more tributes to Gene Colan and his artistic legacy in the days to come. So I’ll end my tribute to him like this: even though I never met Gene Colan face-to-face — I knew him through his artwork, which stands as a testament to his extraordinary talent. What he did will not only endure forever — but also inspire future generations of comic book artists to help advance and improve the art of graphic storytelling. Just like Gene did.
John Lavernoich is the author of the novels Code Name: Chameleons and Chameleons To The Rescue, as well as close to three dozen articles and short stories that have been published in print and on the Internet — to learn more about Mr. Lavernoich and his writing achievements, please visit his official website (http://jlavernoich2008.web.officelive.com/default.aspx), as well as his pages on Windows Live Spaces (http://cid-ef88d131988ab38f.profile.live.com), Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/john.lavernoich?ref=name), MySpace (http://www.myspace.com/jlavernoich), and Twitter (http://twitter.com/JLav65). Mr. Lavernoich also maintains his own video channel on YouTube (http://www.youtube.com/user/JLav65?feature=mhsn).
©2011 John Lavernoich.