Tuesday, August 11, 2009

On the Origins of Adam Austin

An excerpt from my forthcoming THE INVINCIBLE GENE COLAN (Marvel Entertainment):

By the mid-Sixties, both DC and Marvel were vying for exclusivity of Gene's talent. This led to Colan using the pseudonym “Adam Austin” on some of his Marvel work. Legend has it that Stan Lee, who had a penchant for alliteration, invented Colan's nom de plume--after all, Adam Austin was so Peter Parker-like. But Adrienne Colan sets the record straight:

"At the time, I was pregnant with our son Erik," Adrienne recalls. "Gene and I both loved the name Adam and we were considering naming our baby that. But then Gene decided on Erik. So when we felt we needed a name that would allow Gene to work for both DC and Marvel without either finding out, I suggested Adam Austin and that's what we went with.

"Part of the dilemma for Gene was trying to make a living. Gene was trying to hold onto his freelance status by keeping the knowledge that he was working for both DC and Marvel away from each other. Went over like a lead balloon. First crack in our plan was a call from Dean Mullaney. 'Hi Gene. Don't bother trying to fool me with that Adam Austin bit--I'd know your work anywhere just based on your panel design and composition.'

"The Second crack in our plan—and the death knell, so to speak—was when Gene was leaving DC one afternoon having just delivered a job. As he neared the elevator, who should be getting off the elevator? Martin Goodman! 'Hi Gene!' he said. The end!

"Stan [Lee] called the next day and offered Gene a $5 per page raise to come over exclusively. Although unplanned, it was exactly what Gene was praying for. He was dying to work for Marvel."

Adam Austin made his Marvel super-hero debut in Tales to Astonish #70 when he introduced the Sub-Mariner strip to the book.

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