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Thursday, June 13, 2019

Gene Colan - Born for Black & White

An artist for whom my appreciation has grown throughout my comics reading life is Gene Colan. It's tough to recall where I first encountered Gentleman Gene's work - it was most likely in Daredevil, though we all know he had lengthy tenures on Iron Man and Captain America (Tales of Suspense, as well as their solo titles), and of course Tomb of Dracula. I am less familiar with his time at the Distinguished Competition, though DC fans I'm sure have fond memories of his Batman and Wonder Woman output.

If ever there was a penciler who could look better in black & white, it's Gene Colan. His mastery of both motion and shadow make his work really pop without colors. Hopefully the samples I've provided today show this. And if I ever find a little extra cash laying around, I'd love to be able to purchase a copy of the IDW Artist Edition that showcases Colan's Dracula series.

Many thanks to all the wonderful people around the World Wide Web who have posted their Gene Colan treasures - they retain all ownership of these resources.



  1. Oh, yeah. I love so much of Colan's work.
    As to his DC output, I'm actually less familiar with his tenures on Batman and Wonder Woman (I only recall have a few issues of each), but I do recall the Phantom Zone mini series, a kind of gloomy story for which his art was ideally suited. Also, he did stellar work the two Nathaniel Dusk minis (4 issues each) from the early 1980s, written by Don McGregor. What's really interesting about them is that they were colored over Colan's pencils, without any inks - it's a great effect that works well for the stories, since they're set in the 1930s.
    Later in the '80s, Colan worked on another limited series, Silverblade (written by Cary Bates); I didn't like the story as much, but Colan's art is wonderful throughout.

  2. Hi, Edo -

    I'm not familiar with the Nathaniel Dusk series, but I did have a buddy in college who bought the Silverblade mini-series. I recall looking through it. Colan still had it.


  3. Yeah, Colan's stuff was great; I didn't really appreciate it as a kid, but I like it a lot now. I still haven't read Tomb of Dracula (it's on the list!), but I'm reviewing some of Colan's Batman and Wonder Woman issues right now on my blog (I'm into 1982 now) and his art really works on those titles. There's a vampire storyline coming up and a couple of Man-Bat stories, so Colan's art will really shine on those.

  4. Just tweeted about Colan. Didn’t realize you were on the same topic. Great minds think alike! The Silverblade art is quite good. I actually own a page and when you see the original it is very cool how Colan’s lines flow to make shadows, billows and movement. I don’t think anybody draws garments better than Colan. Loose fitting garb like dresses or Dr Strange’s tunics just look amazing. He also drew hair extremely well. The little things add up and when coupled with the wild poses the art just sings!

  5. I am a huge fan of Gene Colan's art, and was lucky enough to meet him at an in-store appearance 20 years ago. He lived up to his "gentleman" moniker, and I enjoyed chatting with him.

    The Essential Tomb of Dracula collections are among my favorite comics. Colan's moody, expressive artwork was complimented perfectly by Tom Palmer's inks. I'm greatful that Colan's artwork was printed from pencils from the '90s until the end of his life. I recommend checking out his work in Curse of Dracula, The Escapist comics, Tales of the Slayers (a Buffy spin-off), and Captain America 600 (available in black and white, fittingly).

    - Mike Loughlin


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