Artist Gene Colan, whose mastery of expression and action alike made him a giant of the Silver Age and beyond, passed away tonight, longtime friend and helper Clifford Meth reports. Colan had been in a coma following a fall and in general ill health from ongoing liver problems.
Colan was part of the glorious ’60s Bullpen era with work on Iron Man, Dr. Strange, and especially Daredevil — it was great, pioneering work, dynamic with an unusual style that was a whole different school from the angular Kirby, more fluid, and observed. As great as his superhero work was, he found an even better fit for his style in the ’70s with a 70-issue run on TOMB OF DRACULA — despite the lurid title, Colan’s artwork, always sensitive to small nuances of characters, perfectly mirrored the horror soap opera that Marv Wolfman crafted.
He followed this up with a run on HOWARD THE DUCK, Steve Gerber’s acerbic study of alienation in waterfowl form. Colan handled both the comedy and such outre characters as Dr. Bong with aplomb. With such varied material under his belt, he moved into the independent era with work on such books as DETECTIVES Inc. and NATHANIEL DUSK, as well as STEWART THE RAT, a parallel of sorts to HOWARD THE DUCK.
Colan worked steadily in later years, as much as his health would allow. As recently as 2009, he won an Eisner award for an issue of CAPTAIN AMERICA written by Ed Brubaker. In recent years, as is natural with older people, declining health made it more difficult for him to work, and various benefits and tributes were set up to help him.
Colan was a hugely loved and influential artist, and tributes will be pouring out for days. He’s trending on Twitter as we write this.
I am terribly saddened to lose Gene. 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.
He has details of Colan’s passing and more thoughts on their friendship in the link.
Heidi MacDonald is the founder and editor in chief of The Beat. In the past, she worked for Disney, DC Comics, Fox and Publishers Weekly. She can be heard regularly on the More To Come Podcast. She likes coffee, cats and noble struggle.