A Friday Plea

We're having kind of a rough day here today. I won't bore you with details... work stuff, money stuff. It's been a long week. So, bottom line, the column I was working on isn't going up here tonight.

However, I just discovered I'm not having nearly as rough a week as Gene Colan.

Gene Colan, as I'm sure you are aware if you've been reading these Friday things of mine for any length of time, is the artist responsible for a great many of my very favorite comics.

Dr. Strange, Howard the Duck, and Tomb of Dracula in particular, as well as that magnificent 80s run on Batman and Detective in tandem with Doug Moench and Don Newton...

...and so on and so on and so on. I mean, Mr. Colan has drawn a lotta really great, classic stories.

Gene Colan is eighty-four years old, which is admittedly getting up there, but he's kept working steadily, doing a lot of fan commissions through his website as well as the occasional comics job, including the recent special issue of Captain America that was, oh yeah, nominated for an Eisner.

Unfortunately, Mr. Colan has been in poor health in recent months, losing sight in one eye and suffering from liver failure. However, he still was able to keep drawing, until he broke his shoulder on March 31.

A broken shoulder is no joke at Mr. Colan's age, and to make matters worse, it's the shoulder of his drawing arm. Which means the Colans' income pretty much dries up. Pension? Retirement benefits? Residuals or any other kind of ancillary income from the decades of comic-book work that's been reprinted so often? Sorry, you must be thinking of some other industry. Because Gene Colan's peak years in comics were during the take-the-crappy-deal-or-leave-it, work-made-for-hire era, he doesn't get any income from any of the properties -- like, say, Blade the vampire-slayer -- that he co-created or made famous.

Today Gene and his wife Adrienne are living mostly off income from fan commissions, any more of which Gene now is unable to draw with a broken shoulder.

Clifford Meth is organizing a charity auction with help from Stan Lee, Harlan Ellison, Walt Simonson, and others. You can see the details on that here. And I'll be posting updated information here as well, when there's some to be had.

In the meantime, if you want to do something to help financially NOW, there are some swell signed and numbered editions of The Invincible Gene Colan available from Aardwolf Publishing, here.

The income from the limited edition directly benefits the Colans. And you get an amazing art book, too.

I've often grumped that comics -- superhero comics, especially -- is a business that is astonishingly cruel to its pioneers and innovators. Look, Eisner awards and retrospectives and tributes are all very well, but right here we have a chance to actually show our appreciation in a way that will really mean something and genuinely make a difference in Gene Colan's quality of life. So let's take a minute and spend a few bucks on a guy that -- I'm almost certain -- probably has, at some point in his life, drawn a comics story that you liked a lot.

See you next week.

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