Legendary comic book artist Gene Colan has passed away at the age of 84.
A Bronx native, Colan’s first known comic work came in 1946, when he signed on at Marvel Comics precursor Timely Comics after a brief stint in the Army Air Corps. While lax standards of crediting make tracking his early work difficulty, his first work was likely a story titled “Adam and Eve — Crime Incorporated” in Lawbreakers Always Lose #1, while Colan himself stated the story “The Cop They Couldn’t Stop” in All-True Crime #27 may have been first, but was unsure due to the confusing publication dates. Released from Timely in 1948, he began working for DC Comics precursor National Comics, where worked on an assortment of popular war titles, including All-American Men at War and Our Army at War, as well as working for Atlas Comics.
While working for DC in the 60s as a freelance artist, Colan took on his first superhero title, introducing The Sub-Mariner in Tales to Astonish and taking over from Don Heck on the Iron Man features in Tales of Suspense, working on both titles under the pseudonym Adam Austin. Not long after this he began working under his own title, where he became famous for his work on Daredevil, a title which he worked on for a then unprecedented 81 issues, as well as Captain America, where he created the first African-American hero in mainstream comics, The Falcon, and Doctor Strange. Notably, Colan opted to create his own art style for the books instead of attempting to emulate the previous artists.
Continuing into the 1970s, Colan began a critically acclaimed 70 issue run on The Tomb of Dracula, which became a runaway horror hit, as well as doing the art on Steve Gerber’s Howard The Duck. After a falling out with Marvel, Colan returned to DC Comics in the mid-80s and began work on Detective Comics, Batman and Wonder Woman, as well as the first 6 issues of Doug Moenche’s revival of The Spectre in 1987. During the mid 80s to early 90s, Colan went on to work with independant companies as well as Archie Comics, where he would draw and write a number of stories.
Colan continued to produce art in the 2000s, working on Dark Horse’s Buffy The Vampire Slayer for a pair of back-up stories, and drawing the lead story of Captain America #601, which won him an Eisner Award for Best Single Issue along with writer Ed Brubaker.
Colan had been hospitalized for liver failure as early as 2008, but continued to work as much as possible. He’s survived by his children; his wife, Adrienne, passed away June of last year.