Sometimes you find moving and poignant moments in the places you least expect it
It was the last day of NYCC. And on a whim, on my way out my I suggested to my daughter Alyx that we might take in the retrospective on gene Colan going on in one of the side rooms. I have always been a great fan of the great Gene Colan. I always thought of him as more than just an artist.
I had always seen him as a consummate story teller. He did more with shadow and light to create the full range of human emotion than perhaps any comic artist in the history of the medium. For you younger readers who may not be familiar with gene’s work, I strongly urge you to check out any reprints you can get your hands on.
He was perhaps most famous for his work on Tomb Of Dracula, Iron Man and Daredevil but he was highly prolific and those titles represent only the tip of the iceberg. Along with Jack Kirby and Curt Swan, Gene was a giant.
What really drew me to the panel was the fact that Don McGregor was speaking. I had always loved his work on Killraven in Amazing Adventures. He had created truly three dimensional characters with all the beauty and warts that flesh is heir to. His run on Amazing Adventures was very much ahead of it’s time and stands up today as a thoughtful and deeply textured science fiction epic. Frankly I wanted to see if Don was as…human…as his writing.
The panel was not crowded. There may have been 50 or 60 of us there. Mostly “old timers’ like me. A few younger fans were there as well. But that intimacy only added to what was to follow from a remarkable man.
I am here to tell you that Don McGregor may be the MOST human being I have come across in decades. He spoke for some time about his close friend, Gene Colan, telling more than a few funny stories. There was nothing maudlin or self pitying in his recollections. On the contrary, Mr. McGregor allowed those of us in the room to celebrate his friend’s life and work in a very intimate way. He gave us all a gift. Don made us feel as if we are also friends of Gene. I do know this. Mr. Colan was a very fortunate man to have a friend like Don.
It was impossible not to see the deep feeling Don has for Gene and if he was able to stay clear eyed, he was about the only one. Let me just say there wasn’t a dry eye in the house. In fact Alyx (jaded college student that she is) had a good cry with him after the presentation and he was genuinely moved by my daughter’s empathy.
As you start to get older you can’t get away from the fact that you are going to lose people who you love. There is no getting around this fact. It is one of the more bittersweet aspects of life I think. There is a special poignancy when it is the loss of a FRIEND. We choose our friends with great care, especially those we share a lifetime with. If you are lucky, you have one friend like that. I am doubly blessed that I have two.
Listening to Don remember his friend made me realize all over again just how dear my old friends are to me…and that one day one of us will be leaving that close knit circle.
So thank you Don.
Thank you for sharing your humanity and memories of your friend.
Thank you for moving my child to tears.
Thank you for reminding me of how precious my friends are to me.
And thank you for being so damned human.