Eugene "Gene" Colan (September 1, 1926 – June 23, 2011) was an American comic book artist best known for his work for Marvel Comics, where his signature titles include the superhero series, Daredevil, the cult-hit satiric series Howard the Duck, and The Tomb of Dracula, considered one of comics' classic horror series. He co-created the Falcon, the first African-American superhero in mainstream comics, and the non-costumed, supernatural African-American character Blade, which went on to star in a series of films starring Wesley Snipes.
Colan was inducted into the Will Eisner Comic Book Hall of Fame in 2005.
Comic book artist Gene Colan, who in his seven-decade career chronicled the adventures of characters including Dracula, Batman, Daredevil and Howard the Duck, died June 23 at a hospital in New York at 84. He had liver disease and cancer.
Mr. Colan had a subtle and emotional style that imbued the characters he drew with a sense of vitality that seemed to leap off the page. His art was a staple of the Silver Age era of comics, and his 70-issue run on “The Tomb of Dracula,” written by Marv Wolfman, in the 1970s remains critically lauded for returning horror to the pages of comic books.
In the 1980s, Mr. Colan’s work on Batman for DC Comics drew plaudits and is sought out by aficionados of original comic-book art.
Born in New York on Sept. 1, 1926, Mr. Colan began working in comics in 1944, drawing for Wings Comics. He joined the Army Air Forces and was stationed in the Philippines at the end of World War II. When he was discharged, he joined Timely Comics, the precursor to Marvel Comics and then drew for National Comics, now DC.
He returned to Marvel in the 1960s as the industry entered what is widely known as comics’ Silver Age. That period saw the revitalization of classic heroes from the 1940s, such as Superman, Batman and Green Lantern at DC, as well as the creation of Marvel’s Fantastic Four, the Avengers, Captain America and Daredevil.
Dracula and Batman
Colan also in the 1970s illustrated the complete, 70-issue run of the acclaimed horror title The Tomb of Dracula, as well as most issues of writer Steve Gerber's cult-hit, Howard the Duck.
Colan, already one of Marvel's most well-established and prominent artists, said he had lobbied for the Tomb of Dracula assignment.
When I heard Marvel was putting out a Dracula book, I confronted [editor] Stan [Lee] about it and asked him to let me do it. He didn't give me too much trouble but, as it turned out, he took that promise away, saying he had promised it to Bill Everett. Well, right then and there I auditioned for it. Stan didn't know what I was up to, but I spent a day at home and worked up a sample, using Jack Palance as my inspiration and sent it to Stan. I got a call that very day: 'It's yours.'"
Back at DC in the 1980s, following a professional falling out with Marvel, Colan brought his shadowy, moody textures to Batman, serving as the Dark Knight's primary artist from 1982–1986, penciling most issues of Detective Comics and Batman during that time. He was also the artist of Wonder Woman from early 1982 to mid-1983. Helping to create new characters as well, Colan collaborated in the 1980s with The Tomb of Dracula writer Marv Wolfman on the 14-issue run of Night Force; with Cary Bates on the 12-issue run of Silverblade; and with Greg Potter on the 12-issue run of Jemm, Son of Saturn. As well, he drew the first six issues of Doug Moench's 1987 revival of The Spectre.