Friday, June 24, 2011

Rest in Peace, Gene Colan - Romance Comic Book Artist Extraordinaire

Sad news struck the comic book industry early this morning -- Gene Colan has passed away. Primarily known for his work on Daredevil, Howard the Duck and Tomb of Dracula, Gene was also a prolific romance artist. Gene had been on my mind lately and I think that is why I posted a "Reach for Happiness!" episode just the other day. He had been ill for quite some time, so while not completely unexpected, his death is nonetheless a time for reflection. Below, are a few images which I feel eloquently capture Colan's distinct 1960s and '70s romance work for DC and Marvel.

Colan excelled at illustrating the sadness
that sometimes accompanies romantic relationships

"Love is Two Strangers!"
Secret Hearts #101
(January 1965)

On the other end of the emotional spectrum,
Colan drew kisses effortlessly, and with a high degree of intimacy.

"A Visit to a Lost Love!"
Young Love #56
(July/August 1966)

Colan's romance work was realistic and never
shied away from the vulnerabilities inherent in romance.

"Diary of a Broken Heart"
Young Romance #144
(October/November 1966)

Gene's 1970s pencils for Marvel helped to show his range.
Colan's characters most definitely knew how to have fun!

Inks by Dick Ayers
"Born to be Unloved?"
My Love #8
(November 1970)

Youth and movement were not things Colan
took for granted in the pages of the romance comics.

Inks by Dick Ayers
"I Loved You Once -- Remember?"
My Love #9
(January 1971)

Gorgeous layouts and sweeping
cinematic scenes came naturally for Colan.

Inks by Dick Ayers
"He's Hers, But -- I Want Him!"
Our Love Story #21
(February 1973)

Rest in peace, Mr. Colan



  1. One of the Greats. His work will live forever. A longer retrospective would be awesome in the future. A BOOK, even, to showcase his unique style

  2. All Gene's comics seem to have had romance at the heart, whether boy meets girl or the romance of adventure. Sorely missed doesn't even begin to describe the loss to comics fans of my generation. My heart and prayers go out to his family and friends. Thanks for the great tribute here Jacque.

  3. Really nice tribute, Jacque - it just further highlights what a truly prolific master artist Colan was. He will indeed be missed.

  4. One of the truly unique stylists in comics, Colan leaves behind a body of work that stands testament to his great talent. There was -- and is -- no one else like him: he didn't so much tell stories with pictures, but shades and texture. A very sensuous style where form was king.

    @Lysdexicuss: there are several books about Colan. "Secrets in the Shadows" was a good one.

  5. Gene was one of the unique artists in comics. He could draw just about anything well, from westerns to crime to horror, and everything in between. I came to his romance comics late in the game, but his beautiful rendition of women and expressive emotions in the super hero sagas of Daredevil, Iron-Man and Captain America made it clear he was exceptional in that area as well.

    Speaking of romance, I recall one particular scene in Daredevil where Matt has an awkward moment with Karen and she fixes his glasses. It perfectly conveyed a very real emotion. On a personal level I was thrilled to have met him and his wife Adrienne over the years. A perfect gentleman and a kind soul.

    Nick C.

  6. Interesting to see his romance work here, since I know Colan's art primarily from Dr. Strange and Tomb of Dracula. A great loss.

  7. i love this tribute! thank you Jaque

  8. I'm a little late on catching up on comments, but a big thank you everyone for sharing your remembrances of Gene. He will definitely be missed... and thank you, Erik, for stopping in. I am so sorry for your loss, and my thoughts continue to be with your family at this hard time.

  9. Colan is a perfect example of what was right in old comics and lacking in today's comics. Because he drew everything, particularly romance comics, his superhero work had real people and real emotions. Today we have fanboys who became artists who read nothing but characters in long underwear punching each other in the face. One of my favorite comics ever was a Colan Black Widow from Amazing Adventures #5. Imagine, a superheroine who shows real emotion!