With Great Chutzpah …

In the midst of the imbroglio over Alan Moore and Before Watchmen, Rob Steibel’s Kirby Dynamics blog reminds us that Marvel’s record of caring for creators isn’t any better.

In a new documentary about Stan Lee, “The Man” takes sole credit for creating the Black Panther when history indicates that some guy by the name of Jack Kirby had just as much – if not more – involvement in conceiving the character.

Lee also claims credit for The Falcon, when the idea – as originally revealed in the forward to a Marvel Masterworks Captain America volume – apparently originated from the mind of Gene Colan.

Guess those constant cameos in every single Marvel film, cartoon and video game weren’t enough to stroke Stan’s ego…

All The King’s Men

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Still more Gene Colan!

This story was published eight years after the artist’s “Clipper Kirk” strip, yet it seems as if a lifetime had passed.

By this point, Colan had moved beyond crude imitations of Milton Caniff and forged a distinctive identity of his own. The noir elements readers would later associate with Tomb Of Dracula, Daredevil and Doctor Strange is present in this short horror tale by Stan Lee, a then-obscure writer-editor who would move on to bigger things himself.

From Menace #6, Atlas Comics (August 1953), here’s “Checkmate!” The story is by Lee and Colan.

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Yankee Clipper

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Here’s another story by the great Gene Colan, although this particular example is taken from very early in the artist’s storied career.

Even though the art is crude compared to his later efforts, Colan still displays a nice feel for mood and action. It is also interesting to note the strong influence of Milton Caniff. I wish more artists these days took their cues from the creator of Terry And The Pirates and Steve Canyon.

From Wings Comics #53, Fiction House (January, 1945), here’s “Clipper Kirk.”

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Gene Colan: 1926-2011

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Gene Colan, one of the true giants of the comic-book industry, passed away June 23 from complications of liver disease. He was 84.

Colan was one of the few artists – along with Jack Kirby, Steve Ditko and Jim Steranko – whose work I actively sought out as a youthful collector. His mastery of mood –  primarily through a skillful deployment of photographic imagery and shadows – made Colan’s comics seem so much more sophisticated than the standard fare of the time.

His work on Howard The Duck, Tomb Of Dracula and Daredevil are definitive. Colan’s version of Doctor Strange and Batman rank among the very best. How many other artists can stake such a claim?

Mark Evanier has posted an excellent obituary on his site. The best tribute I can offer is an example of Colan’s work itself.

The following story has garnered some attention over the years for its use of The Beatles. The real attraction, in my eyes, is Colan’s typically gorgeous art. Not only does he do fine caricatures of The Fab Four and other contemporary celebrities, but the great artist also ably conveys the protagonist’s excessive fantasy life – and the resulting soap-operatic anguish – with seemingly minimal effort.

From Girls’ Romances #109, DC Comics (June, 1965), here’s “When My Dreams Come True!”

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