September 1st would have been Gene Colan’s 90th Birthday. And September 18th would have been Joe Kubert’s 90th Birthday! In my last couple of columns I spoke of Jack Kirby’s legacy in what would have been his 99th Birthday. There is a pattern here. Times stands still for no one and the older we get the more fantastical the passage of time seems.
So what is my point? Nothing really, other than an observation of how short a lifespan really is and how vital these artists were and are to the hobby we all love. If I had to pick my absolute favorite artist, which really isn’t a fair exercise at all, since it depends on exactly what genre we happen to be speaking about, I would have to say Gene Colan overall.
I don’t say this lightly, as I am a huge John Buscema fan as well as Kirby’s and Romita, but Gene made everything look real in a way that is hard to describe. Not really photo realistic real, but stylized in a way, by using light and shadow, to make even the strangest creatures look possible.
If you look back to his earliest work from the 40’s he always had his unique style, one that never copied whoever was popular at the time, whether it was Joe Maneely, or George Tuska in the 50’s or Kirby in the 60’s, Gene was always Gene.
His fantastic layouts, unique perspectives and angles were always recognizable. Gene was not mistaken for anyone else but Gene Colan.
I almost met the man, but unfortunately he passed away just before the New York Comic Con that I was set up to meet him at.
Fortunately we have his body of work that is timeless. He could draw anything, although he wasn’t crazy about Science Fiction or walls of machinery, he was a natural at Westerns, Romance and Horror and an incredible storyteller.Whether it was Dr.Strange, Daredevil, Iron-Man or Dracula, the real always met up with the amazing!
Joe Kubert also could draw anything.To me it will always be his Tarzan that springs first and foremost to mind, or his mastery of the War story. Way back in the Golden Age he drew Blue Beetle as well as the Golden Age Flash. His name was synonymous with Hawkman .In the 50’s he pioneered the 3D comic books and in the 60’s turned the War comic into a work of Art! Sgt. Rock, Enemy Ace, Tor and Tarzan…I could go on and on.
Recently the Artist Editions have shown Kubert’s art in a whole new light and I hope that someday soon Gene Colan will get the Artist Edition treatment. I would love to see Colan’s Nathaniel Dusk 2 series shot from his pencils.
So here we are in September, caught between the seasons, remembering the incredible body of work by these two great artists. And like the transition between the seasons, their artwork straddled the real and the fantastic, and still all the while entertained us and entertains us still.
These are two artists that produced great work right up to their passing and if you haven’t seen some of their last works, Check out Gene’s work on Tales of the Slayers and Hell and Hot Water. And for Joe look at Dong Xoai, Vietnam 1965 and Sgt. Rock, The Prophecy.
Till next time…continued happy collecting.
Bravo, Dennis! So well-put; you’ve described the uniqueness of both of them so well.
With Colan, Tomb of Dracula and DD loom so large in my personal Golden Age of collecting (As Roy Thomas said, “The Golden Age of comics is seven.”) having grown up in the ’70s, that he leaps to mind as the master of moody, but he’s so much more than just that, as you remind. On the other end of the spectrum, for example, his Iron Man-Namor slugfest crossover in TOS/TTA is classic Marvel action rivalling anyone’s.
One often forgotten Kubert work that’s absolutely breathtaking is his DC treasury of Bible stories. I jumped at the hardcover re-release a few years back.
Thanks so much for the kind words Readcomix!I had forgotten about the Bible stories. I will have to look up the hardcover.Did not Rudy Nebres ink that?
There are few things I enjoy more than reading you waxing poetic about some of my favourite comic artists. As much as I loved Daredevil art by the likes of Mazzuchelli, Maleev and Lark ( sorry, Mr. Miller but you would have been worse than second rate without Klaus Janson’s inks), Gene Colan’s dynamic and original page layouts set the tone for the whole series and remains the standard against which all other efforts are would be judged. and, trust me, he placed the bar very high indeed. It was a sad day when we lost Gentleman Gene. Thanks for another loving look at one of our heroes of hero lore.
My pleasure Mel.As you can probably tell,I feel the same way and find it a privaledge to be able to do this every two weeks.It’s comments like yours and readcomix that make it all worthwhile!
Dennis, I double-checked and it was Nestor Redondo who inked Kubert on the 70’s Bible treasury-size book. (There’s another underrated guy and book: Rima #1. Redondo’s two-page spread that opens the book would be right at home in a 40’s-50’s Fox GGA comic….I think that’s a bargain category right now…throwback GGA that somehow slipped into print well past Comics Code coming into place. See Jonah Hex #87 cover, the 1990’s Katy Keene #7 bondage cover…there’s a few, but I’m digressing and I already owe Walt one write-up!)
Nestor Redondo and Joe Kubert had very little in common to their approach to inking.I am going to have to find me a copy of that book and check it out again.Thanks for the update!