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Secrets In The Shadows: The Art & Life Of Gene Colan: The Art and Life of Gene Colan Hardcover – 15 Sep 2005
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Top Customer Reviews
The 1970s saw Colan provide artwork for the entire first series of Tomb of Dracula, widely regarded as a classic of the horror genre. This series introduced the character of Blade the Vampire Hunter. Also in the 70s, Gene proved his talent for humour when he teamed up with Steve Gerber to produce the funniest satirical comic book of all time, Howard The Duck Omnibus HC. Forget the movie - check out the comics - they are wonderful.
In the 80s, Gene worked on Batman, Wonder Woman and other titles for DC. In the 90s he popped up as guest artist on titles he had helped to make famous in the 60s.
Colan's pencilling style is refreshingly loose while also being highly detailed and realistic. As a pencil artist, he uses a lot of shading and complex cross-hatching, making his work quite a challenge to ink.Read more ›
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Wonderful insight and candid anecdotes on Gene's personal life and how that impacted his art lend a real depth to the artist's history. Tom's writing style is clear and compelling, making the book very hard to put down.
An able assist from best-selling author Glen Gold adds considerably to the book, along with a terrific afterword from internationally renowned artist Mark Staff Brandl. Interviews with Gene, Stan Lee, premiere inker Tom Palmer, and acclaimed writers Steve Gerber and Marv Wolfman, provide enthralling perspective on how gratifying it was to work with Gene, both in terms of the amazing artwork he did, and in terms of what a fine and gentlemanly person Gene is.
The many illustrations show Gene's advancement as an artist, from early sketches Gene did as a child, to the masterful work he did on such books as Daredevil, Iron Man, Howard the Duck, and Tomb of Dracula. Recent commissions are shown both before and after inking, which lends great insight into how the inker affects the completed page, and how different artists approach Gene's challengingly detailed work.
This book is one great read, and is another terrific addition to the history of the Silver age from TwoMorrows publishing. I cannot recommend it highly enough.
Secrets in the Shadows is a combination biography and tribute to one of the all-time great comic artists, Gene Colan. Author Tom Field takes on a guided tour through Gene's life, beginning with his upbringing in New York and his first comic book work for Fiction House. Gene tells a story similar to many of his contemporaries such as John Buscema and John Romita, and their mass dismissal from Timely Comics. Gene would go on to DC and then back to what was now Atlas Comics. Atlas would then implode leaving Gene again out of work in the late 1950's and with a lifelong feeling of insecurity about the comic book business. As Gene explains this was a difficult time in his life as he was not only out of a job, but also had just gone through a divorce with his first wife.
Stan Lee would come beckoning again in the early 1960's as the Marvel Age was off and running. Gene quickly became one of Marvel's top artists and perhaps the only one whose style was so unique that he was not asked to pencil over Jack Kirby's layouts the way many other artists were. Field presents several conversations in the book between Gene and some of the people he worked with at Marvel. The first is a lengthy conversation from 2004 between Gene and Stan Lee. They talk about their first meeting at Timely in the 1940's. Gene mentions that Stan was wearing a beanie cap with a propeller...now that's something I'd love to see! They also discuss their creative process and how books were plotted and finished. Other conversations include Gene talking with his long-time inker Tom Palmer with whom he worked on so many great books over the years, and with Steve Gerber, the writer on Howard the Duck.
Gene worked on numerous titles at Marvel over the years, Daredevil, The Avengers, Captain America...But perhaps the title most associated with him was Dracula which had a remarkable 70 issue run in the 1970's. Colan's Dracula was dark and grim and his incredible use of light and shading gave the book a true horrific feel.
Gene would eventually leave Marvel in the early 1980's after several run-ins with then Editor-in-Chief, Jim Shooter. Shooter's tenure was marred by one controversy after another including his shameful treatment of Jack Kirby. Shooter was highly critical of Gene's work and harassed him with constant demands of changes. Gene would migrate to DC along with many other former Marvel staffers who had grown tired of Shooter including Roy Thomas, Len Wein, and Marv Wolfman. To be fair, Tom Field presents both sides in the Colan/Shooter situation. He allows Shooter to give his side of the story in which he feels he was doing what was right for the company and felt Gene was cutting corners with his work. Unfortunately Shooter's credibility is almost nil due to his run-ins with so many other artists and writers.
At DC Gene would work on Batman, Wonder Woman, Detective, and new projects such as Night Force and Nathaniel Dusk. Gene would find himself under attack again for his art, this time by John Byrne who was highly critical of Gene in a Comics Journal interview in 1982. Byrne would basically call Gene a cheat and say that 90% of the time you could not tell what was happening on the page. I credit Field for including this in the book. I would guess he knew that rather than be any kind of indictment against Gene, that it would make Byrne look like a jerk for making an unwarranted attack on a true legend. Cheat? Byrne is still giving every character that same weird looking, rectangular mouth for twenty-five years!
Gene would leave DC some years later after similar criticisms by then Editor Dick Giordano. Gene would strictly freelance from now on and even go back to work at Marvel (shooter has since been broomed himself). Today, Gene has found many new outlets for his work thanks to the internet. He's busy doing commissions for fans who truly appreciate his work.
Tom Field presents a portrait of a man who fits the nickname of "Gentleman Gene". Colan's volume of work over the last sixty years is awe-inspiring. It's great to see Gene finally getting the tribute he so justly deserves.
Reviewed by Tim Janson
It wasn't however, until I read this book that I truly had a deep appreciation for the work. Gene is a living legend, and deservedly so. Buy this book. Not only is it a testament to Gene, it give the reader a good look behind the scenes of how hard it was for comic artists before the dawning of "Image Comics".
I also HIGHLY recommend you check out Gene's website ([...]) He's still turning out AMAZING artwork. Many of his recent commissions are far and away nicer than most anything being published today.
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