Gene Colan, comic-book artist, dead at 84

June 24, 2011 | 2:55 p.m.

Comic-book artist Gene Colan in his studio in his home in Brooklyn, New York, in 2009. (Jennifer S. Altman / For The Times)

Comic-book artist Gene Colan in his studio in his home in Brooklyn, New York, in 2009. (Jennifer S. Altman / For The Times)

Comic-book artist Gene Colan in his studio in his home in Brooklyn, New York, in 2009. (Jennifer S. Altman / For The Times)

Comic-book artist Gene Colan in his studio in his home in Brooklyn, New York, in 2009. (Jennifer S. Altman / For The Times)

Comic-book artist Gene Colan in his studio in his home in Brooklyn, New York, in 2009. (Jennifer S. Altman / For The Times)

Comic-book artist Gene Colan in his studio in his home in Brooklyn, New York, in 2009. (Jennifer S. Altman / For The Times)

A drawing from The Tomb of Dracula, drawn by artist Gene Colan, whose career spanned seven decades and included illustrating the adventures of characters such as Dracula, Batman, Daredevil and the wise-cracking fowl Howard the Duck, died Thursday, June 23, 2011, from complications of liver disease and cancer in the Bronx borough of New York. He was 84. (Marvel Comics / Associated Press)

Gene Colan, the comic-book artist best known for The Tomb of Dracula and his work with characters such as Daredevil, Batman, Iron Man and Howard the Duck , died Thursday in New York after battling liver disease and cancer.

The work of the Bronx, N.Y., native spanned 67 years and crossed multiple comics universes, with credits for Marvel, DC, Dark Horse, Eclipse and even Archie. His moody, atmospheric style stood in stark contrast to, say, the cosmic bombast of Jack Kirby or the kinetic realism of Neal Adams.

Gene Colan, RIP June 24th, 2011 I regret to tell you that Gene passed away on 6/23/2011, around 11pm. Gene had ongoing health issues with his liver, heart and cancer. He was a fighter to the end, making plans on leaving the hospice to return home. He wanted me to price him a VW Beetle. - Bryan Headley

The Tomb of Dracula (Marvel Comics)

Colan will be most remembered for an era-defining achievement in 1970s horror comics; he drew 70 issues of The Tomb of Dracula,” written by Marv Wolfman, creating the vampire-hunter character Blade that would lead to the first Marvel film franchise. (“Howard the Duck” also made history in 1986 as the first Marvel feature film, although its achievements beyond that are debatable.)

In 2009, Colan illustrated a Captain America issue titled “Red, White and Blue-Blood,” written by Ed Brubaker. The book won the 2010 Eisner Award for best single issue.

“Gene Colan was like no other artist of his generation,” said Jim Lee, comic-book artist and co-publisher of DC Comics. “His ability to create dramatic, multi-valued tonal illustrations using straight India ink and board was unparalleled. The comics industry has lost one of its true visionaries today.”

A post on Colan’s website said the artist was “a fighter to the end, making plans on leaving the hospice” and pricing a VW Beetle.

Writer Clifford Meth wrote about his friend Colan’s death on his blog.

“He was a gentle and deeply spiritual man, a bright light in every context, and those who knew him at any level were enriched by his warmth and generous nature,” Meth wrote. “He was exactly the type of man who should be drawing superheroes for young people to marvel at. Exactly and precisely.”

– Noelene Clark



13 Responses to Gene Colan, comic-book artist, dead at 84

  1. danny says:

    Very under appreciated artist in his prime. Rest In Peace, Gene.

  2. Ron Zeilinger says:

    Ditto THAT Danny! Gene was a tremendous Man and artist, he will always live in the realm of comic book legends who "defined" every character he drew. I particularly loved his Doctor Strange, Daredevil and Nathanial Dusk characters.

    God Bless you Gene and Godspeed, you leave a legacy of work that will be appreciated for decades and generations to come.

  3. lwaddhubbard says:

    RIP Gene "The Dean"

  4. Tony Lazarus says:

    RIP Gene, one of the greats of my youth. I loved his Dr Strange issues with Steve Englehart in the seventies.

    BTW The Howard The Duck COMICS, written by Steve Gerber and drawn mainly by Gene Colan, were witty, incisive, brilliant satire. Read them before glibly writing off Howard The Duck on the basis of the crap film. Apart from that, good article.

  5. bea bussiere says:

    howard the duck is orphan… we too…

  6. Doug Drexler says:

    Gerber and Colan's Howard The Duck was a masterwork, not to mention a real milestone for comics. Witty and sophisticated, the horrendous movie literally assassinated the comic.

    • Doug King says:

      Right on, brother. No other comic had such an impact on me as HTD. Brilliant. And it would not have been the masterwork it was without Gene. Gene and Steve's visions meshed perfectly on HTD. God bless them both. Sad to have lost them.

  7. Theresa Z. says:

    Rest in Peace Gene Colan

  8. Joe Puma says:

    Gene Colan is not under-appreciated by the thousands of us who grew up "marveling" at his work.My favorites were of course "Daredevil","Ironman","Dracula",etc.,( I wish I still had my "Howard The Duck " #1) but he left his imprint on so many great comic books and so many interested minds.The 70's were a wonderful time for many of us to grow up in,I thank Gene Colan for being a part of those times for me. RIP.

  9. brettghampton says:

    Unlike so many artists in comics who were, in some way, copying first Jack Kirby or Neal Adams, and nowadays, copying artists like Jim Lee and Rob Liefeld (who themselves were copying others), Colan's work was unique. His artwork had neither ancestors nor descendants; it was uniquely his own. Kirby had his flair for the cosmic; Ditko his verve with the otherworldly; but when Gene Colan drew Daredevil coming at you, Daredevil seemed to be leaping off of the page towards you. His was a singular talent in an industry beset by copycats.

  10. Ed Holmes says:

    Gene "the dean" Colan…gone! So sad. I've enjoyed his work very much over the years. He's one of my favorites. I have the 70 issue run of TOMB OF DRACULA. It was one of the best written and of course, best drawn comics series. Gene penciled every issue. If you haven't had a chance to check out Marvel's TOMB OF DRACULA and you are a fan of Gene, then, this is the comic for you. He also did a lot of DAREDEVIL, IRON MAN, CAPTAIN AMERICA, SUB-MARINER, and HOWARD THE DUCK. He did some work with DC Comics like NIGHT FORCE and BATMAN. Gene also did art for CREEPY and other Warren magazines. Gene Colan. As Stan Lee would say…Excelsior!

  11. Comic Art says:

    I was just thinking of Gene when the recent Green Lantern film came out. Someone straighten me out here but I think Gene did that comic as well for a time. He was my favorite Batman artist during the period when I read and collected comics between the years 1967 to 72. Like the article says his work was a little darker and more brooding, which suited the caped crusader very well. I am so glad to have experienced his work when I did and even more so that he got to do the thing he loved all his life.

  12. angie says:

    R.I.P Mr.Colan i will miss you a whole lot you are one that your face is in graved in my heart i will remember those times i use to go do my job and we had those great conversations that just made my day. the minute i walked out your door there was always a smile on my face i will surly keep that promise that me and you spoke about don`t worry i wont let you down even though your not with your family your in a better place were no one can touch you you inspired me a lot and you were a very creative guy. -Angie

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