Gil Kane Essay Essay, Research Paper
Eli Katz was born in Latvia on April 6, 1926. His family emigrated to New York in 1929, while
he was still 3 years old. An avid reader of comics and pulps, gil broke into the comic field in
1941 as an assistant in the Jack Binder shop erasing pencils and eventually became an inker
and penciler while still there
Also during this time he began drawing comics for MLJ, the publishers of Archie. He drew
the Scarlet Avenger for almost two years at MLJ and at the same time free-lanced at Street
and Smith, Quality, Holyoke and then Timely Comics as well.
He worked for Joe Simon and Jack Kirby during 1943-44, and here he said he learned many
things from Kirby.
Then he made a career move that would mark his future in comics and inextricably tie his name to the field. That
move was to begin working for DC National shortly before going into the army in 1944.
When he returned home he went back to DC, illustrating whatever characters they gave him. He drew Wildcat and
the Sandman and still he free-lanced at other companies as well. There was barely a company that didn’t benefit
from his services during this period.
click the art to see a larger image of this panel
All through the fifties, Gil continued to free-lance work, but through out this time he maintained a steady paycheck
working at DC, illustrating everything from mysteries and science fiction to Rex the Wonder Dog and his favorites,
Gil was one of those versatile artists whose career was not
particularly disturbed by the comic witch-hunt of the period
and the subsequent forming of the Comics Code Authority in
1954. He continued working steadily and was on hand when
the next big moment in comics would arrive.
During this period that he would gain his recognition
however. In 1956 DC editor Julius Schwartz let artists Joe
Kubert and Carmine Infantino revive the golden age
character, the Flash. Immediately thereafter, Jack Kirby
introduced the Challengers of the Unknown, followed by
several other new super heroes, including Adam Strange in
Showcase Comics #17, illustrated by Gil Kane.
The character proved to be very popular and was given his own regular feature in Mystery in Space – BUT
DRAWN BY CARMINE INFANTINO! Somehow, Gil had not retained the character, an oddity at DC.
Then he helped to re-introduce another golden age
character. The Green Lantern first re- appeared in
Showcase #22. He was very simply, a smash! Not long after
Green Lantern appeared in his three issue run of Showcase
(#’s 22-24), he appeared on the newsstands in his own title,
and Gil illustrated the covers and the interiors. It was to
become one of the most popular books of the silver age era.
A couple of years later, Gil helped re-introduce another
golden age super hero – the Atom – in Showcase #34. He had
another hit on his hands and began illustrating another
character in his own title. Gil was now the lead artist on two
super hero comic titles, and still he drew sci-fi and fantasy
stories for DC. Finally however Gil had “burned out” on the
DC titles and began doing free-lance work at Tower Comics for Thunder Agents, and over at King for Flash
Gordon. He also started working at Marvel again.
Then he left DC doing his last regular Green Lantern with issue #61 coming back for #’s 68-75. He would not be
associated with this title again for about ten years. His last issue of the Atom is #38.
He stayed at Marvel for a period doing the Hulk, Conan, Captain Marvel, Spider-Man, Captain America, the
Avengers and many others. He produced work of such high quality at this time that it was obvious that Gil had
become one of the masters of the comic field, and many began to emulate his stylized interpretation of the comic
medium. Dave Cockrum’s artwork for the New X-Men is one of the most obvious examples of this emulation.
In 1971, Gil wrote and illustrated what would be recognized
as the first Graphic novel. Titled Blackmark, the sci-fantasy
epic was a financial disaster, but it was a critical success.
He also created the Morbius villain in Spider-Man #101, and
Iron Fist in Marvel Premiere. Iron Fist was an interesting
creation as it preceded the martial arts explosion of the
middle seventies due to the popularity of Bruce Lee’s and
Jackie Chan’s films.
After leaving Marvel Gil created and drew the Starhawks
comic strip for almost five years, maintaining an absence
from comic books.
He came back to DC doing all sorts of comic titles, not being identified with any particular character at this time.
Then he moved out to California, becoming closely associated with the development of cartoons for
Hanna-Barbera. During the last five years, he has re-entered the comic book field doing a book here and there, but
his greatest contribution today is his constant appearances at comic book conventions around the country.