Eugene "Gene" Colan (born September 1, 1926 in The Bronx, New York City) was an American comic book artist. Best known as one of Marvel Comics' most significant artists, whose signature titles included the superhero series Daredevil and Iron Man, the cult-hit satiric series Howard the Duck, and the horror classic The Tomb of Dracula. Colan is also known as the co-creator of the famous vampire hunter "Blade".
Gene Colan began working in comics in 1944 for publisher Fiction House. After returning from army duty in The Philippines in 1946, Colan went to work as a penciler for Timely Comics. Colan’s first cover art was for an issue of Captain America Comics. After leaving Timely in 1948, Colan began freelancing for National Comics. When National turned into DC Comics, Colan worked on several war titles while simultaneously freelancing for Atlas Comics. Colan's earliest confirmed credit during this time is penciling and inking the crime fiction story "Dream Of Doom" in Atlas' Lawbreakers Always Lose #6 (Feb. 1949).
During the 1960s while still freelancing for DC, Colan did his first superhero work for Marvel Comics under the pseudonym Adam Austin. The superhero genre suited Colan perfectly and he soon became a Marvel regular. Rebuffing pressure from Stan Lee to imitate the styles of Steve Ditko and Jack Kirby, Gene Colan stuck to his own unique style of dark, moody illustrations. Colan drew the Sub-Mariner in Tales to Astonish, and succeeded Don Heck on Iron Man in Tales of Suspense. Colan soon became one of the foremost Silver Age artists for Marvel. Now using his real name, he illustrated major characters such as Captain America, Doctor Strange and Daredevil. Colan's long run on Daredevil began with #20 (Sep. 1966) and ended on #100 (Jun. 1973). In Captain America #117 (Sep. 1969), Colan and Stan Lee co-created the first African-American superhero in mainstream comics - The Falcon.
During the 1970’s Gene Colan worked on the entire 70 issue run of The Tomb of Dracula as well as the majority of issues on Steve Gerber's Howard the Duck. He also sporadically returned to work on Daredevil. During their partnership on The Tomb of Dracula, Colan and Wolfman co-created Blade (The Tomb of Dracula #10, Jul. 1973)
After a falling out with then Marvel editor-in-chief Jim Shooter, Colan re-joined DC Comics where he worked as the primary illustrator of Batman and Detective Comics from 1982–1986. During this time he and writer Gerry Conway co-created Killer Croc in Detective Comics #523 (Feb. 1983). Colan also had short runs on Wonder Woman and Doug Moench's revival of The Spectre. Whilst working for DC, Gene Colan worked on several different series’ and co-created a number of new characters and teams including:
The 1980’s saw Gene Colan break into independent comics with the Eclipse title Detectives, Inc.: A Terror Of Dying Dreams, and the Dark Horse miniseries Predator: Hell & Hot Water. In the late 80’s Colan started working for Archie Comics.
In the early 90’s Gene Colan worked on the Archie Comics science-fiction miniseries Jughead's Time Police and the one-shot “To Riverdale and Back Again”. The 90’s also saw Colan’s return to Marvel where he collaborated with frequent partners Don McGregor on a Black Panther run in Marvel Comics Presents and Marv Wolfman on a new series of The Tomb of Dracula. In 1997 Colan had another eight issue stint on Daredevil.
In 1998 Colan and Wolfman collaborated on another Dracula title – the Dark Horse miniseries The Curse of Dracula. They extended their collaboration to work on the one-shot “Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Tales of the Slayers”.
Colan was inducted into the Will Eisner Comic Book Hall of Fame in 2005. In 2007 Gene Colan penciled the final issue of Blade vol. 4 (Blade #12, Oct. 2007). In the same year he also penciled a number of pages of the centenary issue of Daredevil vol. 2 (Daredevil #100, Oct. 2007). As late as 2009, Colan worked on Captain America #601 (Sep. 2009), winning the Eisner Award for Best Single Issue (with writer Ed Brubaker).
Gene Colan died on June 23, 2011, at the age of 84, following complications of cancer and liver disease.