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    Gene Colan: What I’ve Learned

    GENE COLAN, 79, SILVER AGE SUPERSTAR
    Interview by Joseph Askins

    Have you ever seen “Bullitt”? It’s got that great car chase scene. I’d never seen anything like that in comics. Maybe one or two panels, but I wanted to do something like that for seven pages. So I did, and of course I got all jammed up at the end of the book. Stan was a little angry about that, angry enough to let me know it was foolish. Naturally, we got a lot of mail about that one, and it was all on the plus side. People loved it.

    It wouldn’t have taken much for me to get into film. I understood the work that went into movies — the rooms, the angles, the composition, the things filmmakers did to make the scene look authentic. The movie screen was like a comic book panel to me.

    The stuff today, it’s mostly science fiction. I’m not interested in that. Give me a frightening story, something with atmosphere – shadows, fog, cemeteries, lightning – maybe then I’d be interested.

    I wish I had inked more, but it required a lot more work than I was willing to give.

    You’re better off not knowing the ending to a story. I never in my whole career have read the whole story first before starting to draw. I never liked that feeling. It’s threatening. I don’t want to begin on the first page knowing that the sixth page is going to be a problem.

    Sometimes your artwork looks terrible at night, but then you wake up in the morning and it’s like it’s all fixed. There’s a little magic in that.

    I loved “Terry and the Pirates” — Milton Caniff’s shadowing and the heaviness of his characters. They were firmly in front of you. They had weight. I’d wait for my father to come home from work, come up from the subway carrying the New York Sun under his arm, because I couldn’t wait to read “Dickey Dare.”

    Iron Man was easy. He had no real facial structure, just this thing on his head. I’d try to indicate some sort of nose, but I never really finished it off.

    Just tell a good story and compose your scenes in a way that draw the reader in. Make the reader feel like he has been there, or that he’s there right now, inside the story.

    It’s hard on the family life. You have children, you have a wife, but you’ve also got deadlines, or you’re traveling. Sometimes it was miserable for my wife, because she wanted to go do things together but couldn’t because I wasn’t around. It wasn’t easy.

    What drove me to stay in the business was the fact that I could draw every day. Every day I had the opportunity to improve, and I was being paid to fulfill my desires.

    Be patient. There are small changes that come in your abilities, but sometimes it feels like you’re watching the hands of the clock.
    Tell me a story and leave the illustrating up to me. That’s all I ask.You get a bad reputation in this business when you start telling people what to do.

    Posted by Tim Leong on April 1st, 2006 filed in Story Archive |

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