Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Invincible Gene Colan

This blog entry is the 500th entry (edited to add that this is not the 500th post - my apologizes to those of you keeping score) here on Ich Liebe Comics! which I first started three years ago, back in May, 2007. So I'm going to mark this occasion by writing about The Invincible Gene Colan, a new book that spotlights the amazing artwork of one of my favorite all time artists, Gene Colan.

The Invincible Gene Colan is a hardcover, 131 page, full color (other then when Gene Colan's penciled pages are reproduced) Marvel produced book, edited by Clifford Meth. Since this book was published by Marvel, there's no art from other companies that Gene Colan worked for, but he did do most of his comic book artistic work for Marvel so there's definitely lots of great Gene Colan artwork within this volume. My only criticism of The Invincible Gene Colan is that it could easily have been three times in length because he worked in this industry for something like sixty-four years! Gene Colan is about 84 years old and his health has been declining, but last year he drew what will probably be his last interior comic book art, for an issue of Captain America (issue #601 written by Ed Brubaker) and it was of course amazing!
Gene Colan has drawn numerous Marvel characters, including long great runs on Daredevil, Iron Man, and Dr. Strange, but for me and many others, the Marvel title that was perfect for Gene Colan was Tomb of Dracula, which he penciled for seven years, with writer Marv Wolfman. Tomb of Dracula is one of the best portrayals of vampires that I have seen in any medium and this would not have been the case if not for Gene Colan's dark, atmospheric art.

One of my other favorite Marvel comics in the 1970's was Howard The Duck, written by Steve Gerber, and while he wasn't the first artist to have drawn Howard, he drew more Howard The Duck comics than any other artist and his style is deservedly the most associated with the character. I've talked to Gene Colan at a couple of conventions and he always spoke highly of Steve Gerber's writing and that drawing Howard was amongst his favorite drawing gigs he'd done over the years.

Gene Colan has always said that the main source of inspiration for his artistic style came from the cinema. As fellow artists remark in The Invincible Gen Colan, Gene Colan is an artist's artist and while many have tried, it is hard to ape his art style. I've always thought Gene Colan's art style lends itself more to real world / real people stories (Ragamuffins and Detective Inc., both written by Don McGregor) because he can so perfectly draw the way a person moves, the way their clothes fit, and the environments they live in, so well that gives the reader great frames of context. This doesn't mean that Gene Colan can't also draw comics with fantastical characters and fantastical environments because one has only to look at his Dr. Strange and Captain Marvel runs to see that he is adapt at drawing those kind of comics as well. Gene Colan is also a master at inventive panel layouts and the way he totally understands how to light a page which is what makes his work so immersive for the reader and why writers loved working with him (additionally, Gene Colan was able to do all of this at a pretty prolific rate that many artists today and yesteryear can't come close to equaling).

As great as I think The Invincible Gene Colan book is, especially covering the span of the artwork he did for many Marvel Comics, I hope someone else does a companion art book looking at his artwork that he did for other companies such as DC (Night Force, Wonder Woman, Phantom Zone) and Eclipse (Detectives Inc. and Ragamuffins).

As I wrap up my 500th (which I've since been alerted to as being wrong - but Gene Colan still rules!) Ich Liebe Comics! blog entry, I want to again thank everyone who has ever read my blog (and those of you who give me feedback) and to thank those of you who've gotten their comic book jones on at Alternate Reality Comics, here in Las Vegas over the past 16 years!

p.s. Even though the date on this post says Tuesday, March 25th, I did just write it today, Friday, March 28. I sometimes will upload images for a blog entry I want to do, but don't have time to actually write about just then (which is also why this entry appears before my entry on Dear Dad, which I just wrote yesterday, even though it also has a date of Tuesday, March 25th). Thank you - as you were!


Andrea Walter said...

500th post! Fantastic!

That book looks amazing, not a fan of Howard the Duck but everything else looks great. Gene is awesome.

Harry Fagel said...

Sweet Ralph! Put me down for a copy please...I enjoyed the review and I am now compelled to read the book...

Ralph Mathieu said...

Harry, you do mean the Gene Colan book right?

Happy New Comics Wednesday 7/18/18 - Life of Captain Marvel, Magic Order #2 (we still have #1 too!), conclusion of Infinity Countdown, Justice League edition!

 Hope all of my friends going to the San Diego Comic-Con this week have a GREAT time!