Legendary Artist Gene Colan Dead at 84, Industry Reacts

Legendary Comic Artist Gene Colan Dead


Updated 12:15pm ET (below): Legendary comic book artist Gene Colan has passed away at age 84, as first reported on the personal blog of writer Clifford Meth.

Colan had nearly 70 years of experience in the comic book industry, including work in the 1940s for Marvel's precursor Timely Comics. Colan went on to draw several Marvel icons, including Iron Man (in Tales of Suspense), Doctor Strange, and a seven-year run on Daredevil between 1966 and 1973. In 1969, Colan and Stan Lee created the Falcon, a frequent partner of Captain America and the first African-American superhero in mainstream comics.


In the 1970s, Colan drew all 70 issues of Marvel's horror series The Tomb of Dracula, and much of the Steve Gerber-written satire Howard the Duck. During his stint on Tomb of Dracula, Colan and writer Marv Wolfman created Blade, a character that went on to inspire three films starring Wesley Snipes and a television series.

Colan worked extensively for DC Comics in the 1980s, including multiple issues of both Batman and Detective Comics. At DC, he also reunited with Wolfman for the 14-issue supernatural series Night Force, and experimented stylistically with two Nathaniel Dusk miniseries.

Beyond Marvel and DC, Colan illustrated a story in the Buffy the Vampire Slayer graphic novel "Tales of the Slayers" for Dark Horse Comics, and several Archie Comics titles including Jughead's Time Police.


Colan remained active late in his career. In 1997, the artist returned to Daredevil for an eight issue run. Last year, he won the Eisner Award for Best Single Issue along with writer Ed Brubaker for Captain America #601, his last published work. Colan was a 2005 inductee into the Will Eisner Comic Book Hall of Fame.

Meth, a colleague and long-time friend, wrote than Colan had spent the last week in a "quasi-coma state" following a broken hip and complications from liver disease. In April of this year, Meth organized an auction of Colan's artwork to help aid the ailing creator, describing his situation then as "tenuous."

A Newsarama video interview with Colan from New York Comic Con 2009 can be viewed here.

Updated 12:15pm ET: The industry continues to react to the passing of Mr. Colan Friday morning, including these statements from executives at Marvel and DC...

"Gene Colan is a one-of-a-kind artist whose style is as synonymous with my early comics-reading experience as that of Jack Kirby, Neal Adams or John Buscema. When you read a comic book that Gene illustrated you are transported into his world. When I think Dracula, the first image that pops into my mind is Gene's rendition. I'm sure I'm not alone." - Axel Alonso, Marvel Editor-in-Chief

"Gene is one of those rare breed of comic book artists that invent their own idiom. Colan’s work never looked like anybody else’s — he was a true originator, a one-of-a-kind visionary. In terms of both tenure and quality of work, it would be hard to point to many peers who had a career the equal of Gene Colan’s.

"Beyond that, he was a gentle pixie of a man, sensitive and almost childlike in the glee he took in old black and white movies, and, of course, the work." - Tom Brevoot, Marvel Senior Vice President of Publishing

"Gene Colan was one of the great draftsmen in the industry and his work is a fond part of some of my best comic book memories. - Dan DiDio, Co-Publisher of DC Comics

"Gene Colan was like no other artist of his generation. 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. - Jim Lee, artist and Co-Publisher of DC Comics 

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