Sunday, October 06, 2013

Hopping Along

Friday Comic Book Day.

Even though Stan Lee admired Gene Colan, he never actually did a lot of stories with his. But when Lee was writing western titles in the late fifties, he had a system. Out of the four or (later) five stories in a book, three (or later four) were with the main charcater. If the book was a compillation book, the main stories woud feature heroes who had their own books. The remaining story would be a random western story, without a name hero. And they could have been drawn by anyone. It was here Al Williamson dd most of his western work for Stan Lee, presumable because he couldn't carry a whole book on his own. But other artists, who could (and often did) carry their own books, drew them as well. George Tuska. Don Heck. Dave Berg. And Gene Colan.

Colan was doing better paid work at DC at the time, drawing stories for their licenced western title Hopalong Cassidy. His art was buried in the DC house style inking of peope like Frank Giella and Sy Barry. At Timely he probably did not get half the page price, but he was alleowed to do his own inking. And Stan Lee liked his work so much that he was the only artist give the right to open every story wth is page filling splash. Stan Lee often opened the book with that story, as well. I have written a whole article about this unjustly forgotten period of Colan's work (and I am stil looking for a magazine to take it). Most of the books he worked for were of the war or the post code horror/fantasy genre. But he did others as well, as this western. It was done before the page price of Timely dropped even further and Colan was allowed to work on smaller boards, but it does have one of his splash pages. Which raises the question: if the script was picked of the top of the pile and was not written especially for Colan, why does it have a splash page? Did Colan work these out on his own, which would mean that he was allowed to reformat the pacing of the story - working in a sort of Marvel Style long before others were doing it?

5 comments:

Mike Lynch said...

Gee whiz, just my opinion -- but, really, the Alter Ego magazine folks should take your Colan story and print it!

cerebus660 said...

Thanks for posting this! It's interesting to see Colan's early work, before the more familiar, "mature" work of the '60s and '70s. Stan Lee may not have worked with Colan much in the fifties but they certainly collaborated a lot in the Silver / Bronze Age: 30 issues of Daredevil and 20 issues of Tales Of Suspense for example. Perhaps it took Lee that long to figure out how good The Dean really was...

Mike Lynch said...

Wasn't there a 3-4 page story in DD Special #1 where Colan drives over to Stan Lee's house?

Mike Lynch said...

Of course. Booksteve has the story scanned here: http://booksteveslibrary.blogspot.com/2011/06/rip-gene-colan.html

Ger Apeldoorn said...

Thanks for the additional info. I am not really very well at home in the sixties. Stan did do very little with Gene in the fifties, when he was always picking out the best artists for his own work. Seeing the treatment he gave Colan, one may suppose that he knew in the late fifties that he had something special on his hands. I think part of that may be because in the early fifties Colan was still wrking out what would be the best way to translate his pencils into inked pages. He produced some really looking weird stuff. DC hated it, Stan Lee seems to have tolerated it. It wasn't until Coln started inking his work solidly, as he did from 1956 onwards, that it turned around. The point of my article is, that Colan may nog have known himself. His main client was DC and they didn't like his style or his inkng. Later in life he became convinced that his work was best represented when shot directly from the pencils, because 'no one could ink him' But there was one man who showed how it should be done. Colan himself in these late fifties Timely stories. I have offered the article to Roy, but he has so much of a backlog, that he doesn't even has had the time to read it. Too bad, because I think it is one of my best pieces. With a real point.