Tripwire’s 101 Greatest Comic Artists Of All Time: No.54: Gil Kane

No.54: Gil Kane

Gil Kane was one of the key artists of the Silver and Bronze Ages, a penciller whose work in many ways defined those eras. His heavily dynamic art was capable of being both visceral and graceful – nothing fancy or particularly fussy, but exceptional in terms of storytelling, drama, emotion and framing. Words: Andrew Colman

photo courtesy of Alan Light

Constantly working throughout the 1960s and into the 70s, Kane’s work was always recognisably his, never quite fitting the house style of either Marvel or DC but certainly exactly what both companies were looking for in terms of their product leaping out at you on the newsstand.

Having worked in comics from the age of 15 onwards, Kane started at MLJ and Timely before gravitating to DC (then National) in the late 1940s. From there he formed a bond with Editor Julius Schwartz, staying at DC throughout the 1950s where he honed his illustrative skills on titles such as Rex the Wonder Dog, All-Star Western and Mystery in Space. By the end of the 1950s, Kane was tasked with drawing a refitted, science-fiction based version of Green Lantern in Showcase 22, bringing a great deal of flair to a character he would soon become synonymous with. Coupled with the updated iteration of The Flash, Green Lantern ushered in what became the Silver Age of comics, which revived a faded genre by overhauling super-heroes for the space age. Kane worked on Green Lantern’s own title for the next six years, bringing more and more sophistication to his art on what was a high-concept series. He also worked on other retooled properties such as The Atom, Plastic Man as well as The Teen Titans.

By the late 1960s Kane, who was always keen to be in constant work, moved over to Marvel Comics, where he ended up drawing many titles for the publisher. His status there grew rapidly, his art on the Amazing Spider-Man, a title he took over from John Romita, eliciting high praise. He went on to become the company’s pre-eminent cover artist at a time when he reached the pinnacle of his abilities – some of his artwork here, especially the “picture frame” covers he produced, were the best of that period. His best-known work at Marvel overall was for Amazing Spider-Man, including the non-code approved three parter which focused on drug use, and the two issue story featuring the death of Gwen Stacy and the Green Goblin – a real tour de force of brilliantly executed camera angles and filmic fight scenes. Other highlights were his work on Captain Marvel, Warlock, Marvel Team-Up, Iron Man and notably Daredevil, which showcased a particularly gritty effort from the artist, and one that stylistically informed Frank Miller’s take on the book.

  

Later in his career Kane diversified by working at other publishers, having already brought out his own self-published proto-graphic novel in 1968, the crime thriller His Name is…Savage, as well as Blackmark, in 1971. The two books were his effort to produce work where he could retain creators’ rights and character ownership, something that had been a sore point with him throughout his time at both DC and Marvel. Nevertheless, despite his commitments to other companies Kane would still produce art for the big two, along with myriad other projects.

A classicist who preferred old-fashioned strip-style story art, Gil Kane opted to steer clear of experimentation, aside perhaps from format. But then his genius lay within the form itself, his art very much calibrated to the comic medium, his consistency all the more remarkable considering how prolific he was. An artist’s artist, and they certainly don’t make ‘em like that anymore.

Here’s links through to the other entries in our 101 Greatest so far as well

Tripwire’s 101 Greatest Comic Artists Of All Time: No.55: Michael Zulli

Tripwire’s 101 Greatest Comic Artists Of All Time: No.56: John Romita

Tripwire’s 101 Greatest Comic Artists Of All Time: No.57: Joe Maneely

 

 

Tripwire’s 101 Greatest Comic Artists Of All Time: No.58: Marshall Rogers

Tripwire’s 101 Greatest Comic Artists Of All Time: No.59: John Severin

 

Tripwire’s 101 Greatest Comic Artists Of All Time: No.60: Alex Toth

Tripwire’s 101 Greatest Comic Artists Of All Time: No.61: Brian Bolland

Tripwire’s 101 Greatest Comic Artists Of All Time: No.62: David Mazzuchelli

Tripwire’s 101 Greatest Comic Artists Of All Time: No.63 Reed Crandall

Tripwire’s 101 Greatest Comic Artists Of All Time: No.64 Harry Anderson

Tripwire’s 101 Greatest Comic Artists Of All Time: No.65 Nick Cardy

Tripwire’s 101 Greatest Comic Artists Of All Time: No.66 Matt Wagner

Tripwire’s 101 Greatest Comic Artists Of All Time: No.67 Bryan Hitch

Tripwire’s 101 Greatest Comic Artists Of All Time: No.68 Shawn Martinbrough

Tripwire’s 101 Greatest Comic Artists Of All Time: No.69 Al Feldstein

Tripwire’s 101 Greatest Comic Artists Of All Time: No.70 Nestor Redondo

Tripwire’s 101 Greatest Comic Artists Of All Time: No.71 Tarpe Mills

Tripwire’s 101 Greatest Comic Artists Of All Time: No.72 Eduardo Risso

 

Tripwire’s 101 Greatest Comic Artists Of All Time: No.73 JH Williams III

 

Tripwire’s 101 Greatest Comic Artists Of All Time: No.74 Irv Novick

Tripwire’s 101 Greatest Comic Artists Of All Time: No.75 Dan Zolnerowich

Tripwire’s 101 Greatest Comic Artists Of All Time: No.76 Gilbert Shelton

Tripwire’s 101 Greatest Comic Artists Of All Time: No.77 Tommy Lee Edwards

Tripwire’s 101 Greatest Comic Artists Of All Time: No.78: Sean Phillips

 

Tripwire’s 101 Greatest Comic Artists Of All Time: No.79: Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez

Tripwire’s 101 Greatest Comic Artists Of All Time: No.80: Dan DeCarlo

Tripwire’s 101 Greatest Comic Artists Of All Time: No.81: Marie Severin

Tripwire’s 101 Greatest Comic Artists Of All Time: No.82: John Paul Leon

Tripwire’s 101 Greatest Comic Artists Of All Time: No.83: Jim Lee

Tripwire’s 101 Greatest Comic Artists Of All Time: No.84: Denys Cowan

Tripwire’s 101 Greatest Comic Artists Of All Time: No.85: Ross Andru

Tripwire’s 101 Greatest Comic Artists Of All Time: No.86: Paul Gustavson

Tripwire’s 101 Greatest Comic Artists Of All Time: No.87: George Evans

Tripwire’s 101 Greatest Comic Artists Of All Time: No.88: Michael Golden

Tripwire’s 101 Greatest Comic Artists Of All Time: No.89: Matt Baker

Tripwire’s 101 Greatest Comic Artists Of All Time: No.90: Todd McFarlane

Tripwire’s 101 Greatest Comic Artists Of All Time: No.91: Fiona Staples

Tripwire’s 101 Greatest Comic Artists Of All Time: No.92: Carl Barks

Tripwire’s 101 Greatest Comic Artists Of All Time: No.93: Carmine Infantino

Tripwire’s 101 Greatest Comic Artists Of All Time: No.94: Alan Davis

Tripwire’s 101 Greatest Comic Artists Of All Time: No.95: CC Beck

Tripwire’s 101 Greatest Comic Artists Of All Time: No.96: Syd Shores

Tripwire’s 101 Greatest Comic Artists Of All Time: No.97: Bob Fujitani

Tripwire’s 101 Greatest Comic Artists Of All Time: No.98: Tim Sale

Tripwire’s 101 Greatest Comic Artists Of All Time: No.99: Jim Aparo

https://tripwiremagazine.co.uk/headlines/tripwires-101-greatest-comic-artists-of-all-time-no-100/

https://tripwiremagazine.co.uk/headlines/tripwires-101-greatest-comic-artists-of-all-time-no-101/

 

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No.54: Gil Kane Gil Kane was one of the key artists of the Silver and Bronze Ages, a penciller whose work in many ways defined those eras. His heavily dynamic art was capable of being both visceral and graceful – nothing fancy or particularly fussy, but exceptional in terms of storytelling, drama, emotion and framing.
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