Wednesday, June 30, 2010

So How Was Your Day, Dear?

James Romberger writes that he no longer reads my blog because I’m not so swell to Helen Thomas; Don McGregor said (in other words) that he’s now reading me because he thinks what I write about Helen Thomas is the bee's knees; some yutz named Rick Olney, who a few people aren't so crazy about, sent me a thinly veiled threat because someone else wrote something about him (?); Gene Colan told me he loves me; and Harlan Ellison hugged me and tucked me into bed.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Gene Colan Art and Comics

I will soon be posting a number of Gene Colan pages as well as file copies of his comics for sale.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Adrienne Colan: A Fond Farewell

There’s nothing quite like a funeral to realign your priorities and make you appreciate what you have…and who you have. Today’s services for Adrienne Colan at King Solomon Memorial Park in Clifton, New Jersey (just miles from where Adrienne grew up) saw family and friends gather in her memory and to help her husband Gene and their children Nanci and Erik, as well as Adrienne’s brother Bruce, say goodbye.

A large crowd gathered. Gene was moved to see not only many relatives but also old friends attending, among them Bryan Headly, Walter Simonson, Danny Fingeroth, Michael Vassallo, Jim Reeber, and Leo Klein. As we buried Adrienne together in the ancient tradition, the weather cooperated and there was a sense of calm after the storm.

At Gene’s request, I spoke briefly about my old friend:
Adrienne and Gene have been my friends from the earliest moments of my career. It’s hard to even say one of their names without saying the other. It’s like saying Romeo and not following with Juliet… Adrienne and Gene. Gene and Adrienne. A half century together. A life time together.

The Torah tells us that before a neshamah is sent down into the body of a fetus, it’s determined who its mate will be. Indeed, that the two neshamot–the two souls—are part of a unity, part of a whole. We all saw that in Gene and Adrienne. I don’t believe I ever had a single conversation with either where the other’s name—to say nothing of the other’s interests and needs and feelings— didn’t come up.

I first met Gene as a boy at a comics convention in 1975. I was one of a million fans who would approach him in his career for a little doodle and he was only too happy to supply it. Years later, when I was looking to work with Gene on a project, I had to get past Adrienne. Boy, was she tough. She was so protective of Gene that I wasn’t sure if I’d ever get to work with this great artist. But that's when I saw where the strength of that team came from. A stellar career like Gene Colan’s doesn’t happen by itself. Talent is the absolutely necessary prerequisite without which nothing makes it, but you also have to be made of sturdy stuff. And Gene would be the first to tell you that all he wanted to do was draw. So Adrienne became his sturdy stuff. She was the bedrock. Gene is that rare combination of sublime artistry and absolute craftsmanship, but Adrienne was the engine.

I saw her influence on my own career as well. Eager for approval in my early days as a writer, I was hungry for the attention of folks like Gene and quick to send off early stories and seek blurbs for books. And Gene was only too happy to comply. But it was Adrienne who offered the validation. And not just once: I would hear from her often, when stories were flowing or on those occasions when nothing came forth. She wanted to why I wasn’t producing. And she would dissect my stories… and me in the process—but never in a way that made me uncomfortable. Hers was always an encouraging voice. After a conversation with Adrienne, I felt like I really was a terrific writer. She made me believe that I’d get somewhere because she believed it. Genuinely. And because she was no dummy. Adrienne was smart and insightful and cultured and well-read; she was full of opinions and drive and loved to share of herself and give you drive. She didn’t just do that for Gene—she did that for me. She did that for a lot of people.

In 1996 I performed a small kindness for Gene and Adrienne, but Adrienne never let me forget it. She acted as if this tiny act was the working of a saint. Her gratitude never diminished. I was family after that, let in on everything, the recipient of lavish baby gifts when my children were born… And the letters never stopped. The encouragement. Genuine, sincere, carefully considered words.

There are literally thousands of Adrienne Colan fans out there. You'll find them on the Internet. Seeking Gene, they met Adrienne at a convention or on the web and became attached to this powerful matriarch. I addressed these fans of hers in a column several days ago. I’d like to share some excerpts with you today:

The Adrienne Colan you met at conventions was the real McCoy. She was tough and funny and uncompromising; warm and intelligent and spiritual. And her sense of humor was splendid. I think that’s where we met—at that dark crossroads where everything was tragic-comic. Our friendship existed outside of my friendship with Gene; we corresponded for decades, sharing dreams and fears.

“I can take both sides of the debate,” she once wrote. “I believe in G-d and that Judaism, at its root, is the healthiest and happiest way for a Jew to live and safeguard oneself from dangerous, misleading …spiritually harmful things. But I also believe that there's a sickness that overtakes ‘religious’ people. There are many paths to G-d.

“[But] my Jewishness is something separate. My Jewishness is something I adore, feel enriched by. It makes me laugh inside and feel grateful for [it]. I feel like there's prime steak unseasoned, and then there's prime steak seasoned with salt & pepper and maybe a shmeer of fresh garlic! I bring to the table of life my Jewishness.”

And so to Adrienne, I say goodbye for now. And I say thank you for many years of meaningful friendship. And I beg of you mechilla—forgiveness for anything that I did that hurt you. In the end, we are many things, and some of them are sad. But some of them are grand.

So goodbye Adrienne...Until we meet again.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Don McGregor: Good Things from Bad

As we prepare for tomorrow's funeral, I had a wonderful, warm chat with Don McGregor this evening, who called when he heard the news. Don and I have never met but I've been aware of his work forever. His excellant plots on some of my favorite comicbook runs can only be described as breakthough, and he was even more fun to speak with over the phone.

One of Don's stories described a script that he'd given Gene Colan to pencil many years ago--a script which included a tragic scene with a child.

"It must have been around midnight," Don recalled. "Gene called me and said, 'Don, I just can't do it. It's just too tragic--too upsetting.' Try as he might, he said he just couldn't draw something like that; that I'd just have to change the plot. And the book was due the next day. I broke into a cold sweat. I argued with him for maybe 15 minutes and then I finally threw my hands up. 'I just don't know what to do!' I said. And that's when Gene started to laugh. 'I drew it exactly the way you wanted it,' he said. 'I was just teasing.'"

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Wednesday, June 23, 2010

A Day Without Adrienne

Spent time helping make funeral arrangements, talking to old friends. Friday we have closure.

Adrienne Colan and I used to exchange photos of our dogs (does that make me gay?) Here's mine today, exhausted from her haircut this evening, which I understood, haircuts having been some of the worst experiences of my life.

In high school, Tom Roberts used to phone me every Monday with, "Guess who hates you this week?" Three decades later, I discover that artist Mike Pascale has taken over that job.

And at Yahoo, the "Clifford Meth kicked me off the Gene Colan Group Because I'm Too Brick Stupid to Deserve An Opinion" Group will be forming later this week.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

My Friend Adrienne Colan

Ten years ago today we buried my father. Today, I helped my pal get ready to bury his wife. And then, at the end of the day, I made room for a few words about my friend Adrienne Colan.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Adrienne Colan, wife of Gene Colan, Passes

Adrienne Colan passed away last night or sometime this morning. We do not have all of the details yet.

Erik Colan broke the news to Gene about 20 minutes ago and then Gene and I spoke. All things considered, he is holding up well.

Note added at 4:55 pm: The medical examiner has not yet determined the day nor the cause of Adrienne Colan's death. She was found at her home.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Got Meth?

A photo from the recent Aardwolf Publishing party. That's Peppi Marchello (The Good Rats) in the middle, and Richard Manitoba (aka Handsome Dick of The Dictators) on the right.

Good Night Chuck

"It's not a game for old men," I told my disappointed 15-year-old after we both watched, probably for the last time, former UFC light-heavyweight champion Chuck Liddell hit the canvas. Liddell (age 40) just suffered what I suspect is his final humiliating defeat, this time at the hands of gentleman Rich Franklin, the former UFC middle weight champion. There were five (5) seconds left in the first round when The Iceman took it on the chin, then again in the head on his way down, and was pronouced out.

Good Rats: Taking it To Parsippany

When I was 17 in 1978, sneaking into Dizzy Duncan's in Parsippany to see The Good Rats play was the highlight of the week. And if you caught a rubber rat that night? Hog heaven.

Tonight the Rats returned to Parsippany after a long absence. Not surprisingly, lots of old fans turned out and called out their favorite Rat tune requests. But one gal in the audience looked up at the lineup and remarked, "That isn't the Good Rats!"

"Hey lady," Peppi Marchello responded from the stage. "For 40 years, I have always been The Good Rats."

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Pork Rage

Thousands of pigs are expected to protest at the White House tomorrow against recent comparisons to former correspondent Helen Thomas. "Pigs aren't vicious," said one of the organizers. "They just like to root around in their own shit and eat it."

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Beauty Is Skin Deep...

But ugly is to the bone. That's the word from Hollywood producer Richard Saperstein who turned down Helen Thomas for both the part of The Wicked Witch and the leader of the Monkey People in his proposed remake of "The Wizard of Oz". Sources say Thomas (pictured here without makeup) offered to sleep with the producer's dog in exchange for a part in the proposed $90MM remake, but upon hearing the news Saperstein's beloved family pet (who, insiders say lacks a SAG card be will be cast, nonetheless, as Toto) rolled over and played dead.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Gene Colan Goes Home. Sort Of.

Gene Colan can't return to his home because he is too good of a man. Going home means his wife will have to leave. So Gene continues to reside in a hospital/recovery facility in NY City despite the fact that he's recovered from his injuries.

But Erik Colan, Gene's son, visits every day and takes Gene out and about. And now Erik has begun a series of video interviews with his dad, who turns 84 soon. This first video brings Gene to the streets he grew up on.