GIL KANE: Master of the Form

A BIRTHDAY CELEBRATION: A look at the vibrant, dynamic world of GIL KANE.

(UPDATED 4/6/21: This piece was first published in 2014 as part of a weekly serialization of Arlen Schumer’s The Silver Age of Comic Book Art. Kane was born 95 years ago on April 6, 1926, so it’s a perfect time to re-present it. Oh, and for the TOP 13 GIL KANE SPIDER-MAN STORIES, click here.)

Arlen’s The Silver Age of Comic Book Art is revised and back in print, a lustrously illustrated hardcover, coffee-table book. This is a volume filled with gorgeous illutrations, commentary and historical tidbits.

Across nine weeks we’re serializing excerpts from nine chapters, shining a deserving spotlight on greats like Ditko, Kirby, Adams and more.

Chapter 1 was Carmine Infantino. Chapter 2, Steve Ditko. Chapter 3, Jack Kirby.

(Oh, and info on ordering the book is below! — Dan):

02.KANE GL 106-107 ASR

By ARLEN SCHUMER

If the human figure is the foundation of comic book drawing — indeed, of all drawing — then its epiphany is found in the distinctive, dynamic style of Gil Kane (1926-2000), one that matured demonstrably during lengthy runs on a pair of DC Silver Age superheroes, Green Lantern and The Atom. Kane’s figurework was both a primer on structural anatomy and musculature, and a lifelong quest to bring his characters to life, by endowing them with all the grace and lyricism his drawing prowess could muster.

03.KANE Atom 108-109 ASR

When he began to illustrate for Marvel in 1966 (the first mainstream comic book artist to simultaneously work for both major publishers without using a pseudonym), Kane paid homage to his mentor Jack Kirby by incorporating all of Kirby’s new dynamism into Kane’s own idiosyncratic style. This caused a quantum developmental leap in Kane’s own artistry, which he fed back to the field in two unlikely vehicles: a Grade-B superhero for Marvel and a toy-based superhero for DC. They were the blueprint all his post-Silver Age work would follow: concentration on the innate potential of the human form to inspire, while constantly refining figures, layouts and panel compositions for maximum power, movement and fluidity.

05.KANE Kirby 112-113 ASR

In addition to being one of comic book art’s greatest illustrators, Kane was one of its most intellectual, articulate spokesmen, a thinking man’s artist, outspoken and opinionated on topics directly — and tangentially — related to comic book art, its history and his place in it. “The thing with comics,” Kane said, “is that they ultimately present a series of aesthetic problems, and the only thing I recognize is that I spent my whole life trying to resolve them.”

04.KANE Covers 110-111 ASR

NEXT: JOE KUBERT. Click here.

To order a signed hardcover from Arlen directly, hit up www.arlenschumer.com. There are also links to Archway Publishing (an offshoot of Simon & Schuster) for the unsigned hardcover and an e-book edition.

•SILVER AGE front cover-72dpi

MORE

— The TOP 13 GIL KANE SPIDER-MAN Stories – RANKED. Click here.

— 13 GROOVY BATGIRL PAGES: A GIL KANE Birthday Celebration. Click here.

Author: 13th Dimension

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3 Comments

    • I have this book, and I love it, but I am bothered by the fact that half of the chapters are presented with extremely low-res images. It was a foul-up in the digital-to-press process, I guess. I actually called the publisher, and they said I must have a version printed overseas (???) and they were not responsible for replacing it. Bummer.

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  1. I met Gil Kane years ago and I told him that his real life appearance looked exactly like how he would draw a picture of himself. In the flesh, he really was a three dimensional, typical Gil Kane face. He let out a big laugh after hearing this. On a side note, I have a friend who also collects old comic books. His wife looks just like a Gil Kane-drawn Carol Ferris, with brunette hair.

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  1. 13 COVERS: A GIL KANE Birthday Celebration | 13th Dimension, Comics, Creators, Culture - […] In years past, we’ve highlighted the Atom, Green Lantern, Spider-Man and Superman. (And for an overview of Kane’s career,…

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