The great comics legend Gene Colan passed away yesterday at the age of 84, just days after the anniversary of his wife Adrienne’s death. I hesitate to eulogize him, afraid it’ll look like I’m trying to hitch myself to Gene’s legend, to validate myself in his shadow. I just want to use up a little corner of the internet, maybe take a few minutes of some readers’ time, to add to the sentiment of love and tribute to this amazing talent.
In the 1990s I was bored with most of what was coming out in comics, so instead of walking away from the shop empty-handed every Wednesday, I put my money toward reading old stories. Gene’s phenomenal run on Tomb of Dracula, with writer Marv Wolfman, wasn’t yet available in a collected form, but this was when you could find back issues pretty reliably. I got the first three issues of Tomb of Dracula one Wednesday, and for the next couple months, every week’s trip to the comic shop meant another few issues of the greatest horror series of the 1970s. The story and art were so good my appetite increased, more comics per trip, more trips per week. If my regular store, Excalibur Books and Comics on Portland’s Hawthorne Blvd., didn’t have a particular issue—a rare hurdle—I’d run to Future Dreams, or Things from Another World, and seldom had to go farther than that.