Last Thursday another comic book legend was lost. The great and inimitable Gene Colan passed away at the age of 84.
Here at CO2 Comics , because recently we have been so focused on the legacy of the late Jack Kirby as can be seen on these two posts: The King and The Man and Father’s Day Tribute To Jack Kirby From His Son, we are a bit sensitive to the continued battles that creators have been having with both Marvel and DC over the ownership of rights of the many characters that make up the universes of both giant comic book companies.
Gene Colan is yet another of the many creators that has gone to the grave never having enjoyed a share of the full value of the riches provided to others by one of his creations. While Gene struggled with his health and the trials of daily living that befalls an aged freelance comic artist he watched unrewarded as Blade, the character he created with Marv Wolfman, made millions of dollars as a film franchise and helped solidify Marvel Entertainment as a viable film producer.
Gene’s outstanding work on Tomb of Dracula haunts me now as I realize that the long list of comic creators that gave us the best comic work imaginable, delivered by Marvel, DC and a host of defunct comics publishers, are destined to remain as undead as the vampires in his heralded work. Gene’s work, like that of others, will live forever and continue to fill the financial coffers of the parasitic publishers that sucked the creative juices from them with the merciless and unrewarding fangs of work-for-hire.
Where is the silver bullet, the cross and the wooden stake?
Who will be the Vampire Slayers?
The answer is and has always been the Independent comic publishers. The indies have offered the opportunity for creators to own their works since the days of the underground comix.
It is a tough risky battle against monster competition that is ruthless, resourceful and supported by a legion of zombie-like fans that kowtow to their every move. But it is a battle that must be fought and every day new opportunities to succeed become available. The internet, digital content, print on demand, web comics, new forms of distribution and social networking all aid in the war.
Creators, do not fall victim to the allure of working for the majors! Do not be sucked in by the opportunity to work on your favorite character and the immediate fix of a seemingly steady paycheck or be prepared to watch your work live in the realm of the undead when you are no longer needed or wanted.
The cursed DC reboot will launch another generation of creators who will offer their creative souls to make a mark on comics history. Will their new versions of classic characters, which are only being created to screw the heirs of the original creations, haunt them into the afterlife? Will we be watching films of Superman in 20-30 years that boast, “Created by Jim Lee,” a true bastardization of comics history?
Can we all agree to see a satanic hand challenging the history of this medium for the sake of profit and immortal ownership?
Read The Men of Tomorrow: Geeks, Gangsters, and the Birth of the Comic Book by Gerard Jones, a riveting history of the role of organized crime in the dawning days of comics, and pay close attention to the roots of the evils that have always existed in the comics industry.
Now is the opportunity to see things change and it is not going to be by a Stepford support of the same characters that we have, as fans, enjoyed to the point of nausea for the last 70 years. Demand new. Demand different. Demand fairness. These demands will ultimately lead you to new, independent, resources for comics and you will be impressed.
As for Gene Colan, Jack Kirby, and the throngs of other late, great, comic creators, it is up to us to remember them and make sure that they are credited for their greatness and their contribution to the industry because if we don’t, history will repeat itself, and there will be another generation of lost souls and undead comic creators.
Rest in Peace, Gene Colan, I’ll remember you, your contributions and the joy that your work brought to my life.
Making Comics Becuse I Want To