Hallowe’en Countdown VI, Day 24

« I love the scents of winter! For me, it’s all about the feeling you get when you smell pumpkin spice, cinnamon, nutmeg, gingerbread and spruce. » — Taylor Swift

It occurred to me, just the other day that I’d failed to feature, over the course of five and three-quarters countdowns, anything by Gene Colan. And this despite the fact that I’ve always enjoyed his work and his undeniable adroitness within the horror genre.

Still, I decided to sidestep the obvious touchstone, his monumental run on The Tomb of Dracula, and opted instead for another of his big series at Marvel: Howard the Duck.

I was a fervent fan of the series as a kid, but I honestly haven’t returned to it in decades. Which is not to say that I’ve forgotten it. There’s no doubt that I should give it a fresh look — I’d probably get more of Steve Gerber‘s jokes than I did as a twelve-year-old — but in the interim, let’s focus on a couple of pertinent issues.

This is Howard the Duck no. 6 (Nov. 1976, Marvel); cover pencils by Gene Colan, inks by the recently departed Tom Palmer (1941-2022).
Colan’s style meshes surprisingly well with Mr. Gerber‘s madcap comedy… he plays it straight, and that’s why it clicks. Savvy move.
I wasn’t sure about Steve Leialoha‘s appropriateness as a Colan inker at the time, but I really don’t see what I could have objected to.
Let’s see, what have we here? The Addams Family, Shelley’s Frankenstein, gothic romances, Nathaniel Hawthorne, religious sects… in this case the reverend Sun Myung Moon‘s Unification Church, better known as The Moonies

I won’t leave you in suspense! On to the following issue…

This is Howard the Duck no. 7 (Dec. 1976, Marvel); pencils by Colan, inks by Palmer.

And that’s it! Steve Gerber had a refreshing knack for subverting and upending the Marvel formula: instead of some drawn-out, epic standoff, Howard disposes of the threat — a threat worth two cover features! — in a couple of panels, then the story moves on… to another range of targets.

– RG

3 thoughts on “Hallowe’en Countdown VI, Day 24

  1. Neal Umphred October 24, 2022 / 19:32

    I liked Colan’s art for a while but not a very long while. I never liked Howard nor did I understand anyone else’s fascination with him. I thought it was due to my immaturity at the time, but it’s decades later and I still don’t get it.

    Oh, well—as someone once famous once said, “So it goes . . .”


    • gasp65 October 24, 2022 / 21:40

      Oh, Colan wasn’t for everyone, to be sure. But with the right inker (and it took genuine, compatible talent to do his pencils justice), his work could really sing. His Batman in the 1980s, for instance, inked by Klaus Janson, Tony DeZuniga and Alfredo Alcala, was a career high point. It didn’t hurt that the scripts were pretty top-notch, too.

      And Howard? I’ll have to reread them and see how I feel about them now. It may have just been a product of its time that the ensuing years have not treated well… such as, for instance, Bloom County.


      • Neal Umphred October 24, 2022 / 22:21

        Just looked at a few pages of Colan’s Batman on the internet and they do look much better than his normal stuff. Checked our local to see if they had any of the Colan Batman books and they do but only on ebook. I will check with a friend and see if he has any I can look at.

        Bloom County never moved me in any direction.


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