Gil Kane at the 1976 San Diego Comic-Con.
April 6, 1926
|Died||January 31, 2000
Florida, United States
|Pseudonym(s)||Scott Edward, Gil Stack, Stack Til, Stacktil, Pen Star, Phil Martell|
|Notable works||Green Lantern
|Awards||National Cartoonists Society Award, 1971, 1972, 1975, 1977
Shazam Award, 1971
Kane co-created the modern-day versions of the superheroes Green Lantern and the Atom for DC Comics, and co-created Iron Fist with Roy Thomas for Marvel Comics. He was involved in such major storylines as that of The Amazing Spider-Man #96–98, which, at the behest of the U.S. Department of Health, Education, and Welfare, bucked the then-prevalent Comics Code Authority to depict drug abuse, and ultimately spurred an update of the Code. Kane additionally pioneered an early graphic novel prototype, His Name is...Savage, in 1968, and a seminal graphic novel, Blackmark, in 1971.
Early life and career
Gil Kane was born Eli Katz on April 6, 1926, in Latvia to a Jewish family that emigrated to the U.S. in 1929, settling in Brooklyn, New York City. His father was a struggling poultry merchant. Kane attended high school at Manhattan's School of Industrial Art, but left in his senior year when he saw an opportunity to work at MLJ Comics (later Archie Comics). He recalled in a 1996 interview,
[F]rom the time I was 15, I was going up to the comics offices. ... My first job came the next year at 16. During my summer vacation [between years of high school], I went up and got a job working at MLJ in 1942.... I was in my last year in high school [when I left]. I was 16 and I'd already started my last year but I'd already gotten my job the summer before at MLJ, so I didn't want to give up my job. I quit school in the last grade.
Until being fired after three weeks, Kane worked in production, "putting borders on pages. The letterers would only put in the lettering, not the balloons, so I would put in the borders, balloons, and I'd finish up artwork — whatever had to be done on a lesser scale." Within "a couple of days" of being let go, "I got a job with Jack Binder's agency. Jack Binder had a loft on Fifth Avenue and it just looked like an internment camp. There must have been 50 or 60 guys up there, all at drawing tables. You had to account for the paper that you took." Kane began penciling professionally there, but, "They weren't terribly happy with what I was doing. But when I was rehired by MLJ three weeks later, not only did they put me back into the production department and give me an increase, they gave me my first job, which was 'Inspector Bentley of Scotland Yard' in Pep Comics, and then they gave me a whole issue of The Shield and Dusty, one of their leading books". He would also do spot illustrations for other studios.
His earliest known credit is inking Carl Hubbell on the six-page Scarlet Avenger superhero story "The Counterfeit Money Code" in MLJ's Zip Comics #14 (cover-dated May 1941), on which he signed the name "Gil Kane." Other early credits include some issues of the company's Pep Comics, sometimes under pseudonyms including Stack Til and Stacktil, and, in conjunction with artist Pen Shumaker, Pen Star. He even used his birth name on rare occasions, including on at least one story each in the Temerson / Helnit / Continental publishing group's Terrific Comics and Cat-Man Comics.
In 1944 he did his first work for the future Marvel Comics, as one of two inkers on the 28-page "The Spawn of Death" in the wartime kid-gang comic Young Allies #11 (March 1944), and the future DC Comics, as the uncredited ghost artist for Jack Kirby on the Sandman superhero story "Courage a la Carte" in Adventure Comics #91 (May 1944). That same year Kane either was drafted or enlisted in the Army and served in the World War II Pacific theater of operations. After 19 months in the service, he returned to in December 1945.All-American Publications editor Sheldon Mayer hired him in 1947, for a stint that lasted six months. He contributed again to the "Sandman" feature in Adventure Comics and, as penciler Gil Stack and inker Phil Martel, to the "Wildcat" feature in Sensation Comics. Around this time, he said, he "worked with director Garson Kanin when he was involved in TV," drawing storyboards.
Silver Age of Comic Books
In the late 1950s, freelancing for DC Comics precursor National Comics, Kane illustrated seminal works in what fans and historians call the Silver Age of Comic Books, creating character designs for the modern-day version of the 1940s superhero Green Lantern, for which he pencilled most of the first 75 issues of the reimagined character's comic. He similarly co-created an updated version of the Atom. Kane — who by 1960 was living in Jericho, New York, on Long Island — also drew the youthful superhero team the Teen Titans and, in the late 1960s, such short-lived titles as Hawk and Dove and the licensed-character comic Captain Action, based on the action figure. He briefly freelanced some Hulk stories in Marvel Comics' Tales to Astonish, under the pseudonym Scott Edward.
Eschewing that pen name, Kane freelanced in the 1960s for Tower Comics' T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents, a superhero/espionage title, as well as the "Tiger Boy" strip for Harvey Comics. Kane then found a home at Marvel, eventually becoming the regular penciller for The Amazing Spider-Man, succeeding John Romita in the early 1970s, and becoming the company's preeminent cover artist through that decade.
During that run, he and editor-writer Stan Lee produced in 1971 a three-issue story arc in The Amazing Spider-Man #96-98 (May–July 1971) that marked the first challenge to the industry's self-regulating Comics Code Authority since its inception in 1954. The Code forbade mention of drugs, even in a negative context. However, Lee and Kane created an anti-drug storyline conceived at the behest of the U.S. Department of Health, Education, and Welfare, and upon not receiving Code Authority approval, Marvel published the issues without the Code seal on their covers. The comics met with such positive reception and high sales that the industry's self-censorship was undercut, and the Code soon afterward was revamped. Another landmark in Kane's Spider-Man run was the arc "The Night Gwen Stacy Died" in issues #121-122 (June–July 1973), in which Spider-Man's girlfriend Gwen Stacy, as well as the long-time villain Green Goblin were killed, an unusual occurrence at the time.
With writer Roy Thomas, Kane helped revise the Marvel Comics version of Captain Marvel, and revamped a preexisting character as Adam Warlock. Kane and Thomas co-created the martial arts superhero Iron Fist, and Morbius the Living Vampire.
Gerry Conway, Kane's collaborator on the death-of-Gwen-Stacy storyline and elsewhere, described Kane in 2009 as
...a marvelous draftsman and an idiosyncratic storyteller. I quickly learned that working with him Marvel-style (that's when a writer gives the artist a plot and the artist breaks down the story, panel by panel and page by page) could sometimes result in lopsided storytelling; the first two-thirds of a story would be leisurely paced, and the last third would be hellbent-for-leather as Gil tried to make up for loose storytelling in the first half [sic]. So after doing a few stories with him in my usual loosely plotted style, I began giving him tighter plots, indicating where the story had to be by such-and-such a page. He seemed to prefer this, and I'm generally happier with the later stories we did together than the first few.
Pioneering new formats
Kane's side projects include two long works that he conceived, plotted and illustrated, with scripting by Archie Goodwin (writing under the pseudonym of Robert Franklin): His Name is... Savage (Adventure House Press, 1968), a self-published, 40-page, magazine-format comics novel; and Blackmark (1971), a science-fiction/sword-and-sorcery paperback published by Bantam Books and one of the earliest examples of the graphic novel, a term not in general use at the time.
During the 1970s and 1980s, Kane did character designs for various Hanna-Barbera and Ruby-Spears animated TV series. In 1974 he contributed to redesigning the obscure Marvel Comics character the Cat into Tigra, and three years later created the newspaper comic strip Star Hawks with writer Ron Goulart. The daily strip, which ran through 1981, was known for its experimental use of a two-tier format during the first years. During this decade he also illustrated paperback and record-album covers, drew model box art, and co-wrote, with John Jakes, the 1980 novel Excalibur!
In the early 1980s, he shared regular art duties on Superman with Curt Swan, and also contributed to the 1988 Superman animated TV series. In 1989 Kane illustrated a comic-book adaptation of Richard Wagner's mythological opera epic The Ring of the Nibelung.
During the following decade, Kane drew for publishers including Topps Comics, for which he illustrated a miniseries adaptation of the film Jurassic Park; Malibu Comics, for which he and writer Steven D. Grant created the superhero Edge for a 1994-95 miniseries; Awesome Entertainment, in which he illustrated Alan Moore's four-page Kid Thunder story "Judgment Day: 1868" in Judgment Day Alpha #1 (June 1997); and DC, for which he drew several Superman stories. As well during that decade, he designed the set of the 1997 Santa Monica Playhouse production of the play Lovely!.
Though his last full comic during his lifetime was Awesome's 40-page Judgment Day: Aftermath #1 (March 1998) — written by Moore and featuring the characters and teams Glory, Spacehunter, Youngblood and others in individual tales — his final narrative works, all for DC, were penciling the two-page "Antibiotics: The Killers That Save Lives" in Celebrate the Century: Super Heroes Stamp Album #5 (1999); portions of seven pages and the cover, all shared with humor artist Sergio Aragones, of DC's Fan Boy #2 (April 1999); and a two-page pastiche of 1970s Hostess Fruit Pie superhero ads, "The Star Sheriffs", in Green Lantern Secret Files #2 (Sept. 1999). His last published comics art during his lifetime was a one-page illustration in Dark Horse Comics' Sin City: Hell and Back #4 (Oct. 1999). Posthumously published was his final completed work, the two-issue Green Lantern / Atom story in Legends of the DC Universe #28-29 (May–June 2000); and four years later, the final issue, drawn in the mid-1990s, of Malibu's planned four-issue miniseries Edge, as part of the iBooks hardcover collection The Last Heroes.
Death and legacy
He remained active as an artist until his death on January 31, 2000, in Miami, Florida from complications of lymphoma. He was survived by his second wife, Elaine; as well as a son and two stepchildren, Scott, Eric and Beverly. For a time the family lived in Wilton, Connecticut. His final home was Aventura, Florida.
An homage to Kane and to writer John Broome appears in In Darkest Night, a novelization of the Justice League animated series. The book refers to the Kane/Broome Institute for Space Studies in Coast City. In the Superman The Animated Series episode "In Brightest Day", Gil's Resturantie is named for him. The Broome Kane Galaxy in Green Lantern: Emerald Knights is named for him and John Broome. Writer Alan Moore made Kane a character in "Awesome's Judgment Day: Aftermath," which Kane illustrated.
While he was alive, Kane was made the lead character in writer Mike Friedrich's story "His Name Is... Kane" (a play on Kane's His Name Is... Savage) in DC Comics' supernatural anthology House of Mystery #180 (June 1969). In the 6 1/2-page tale, penciled by Kane and inked by Wally Wood, frustrated comic-book artist Gil Kane kills his House of Mystery editor, Joe Orlando. Orlando, also an artist, and Friedrich exact revenge by drawing Kane into artwork that is then framed and mounted in the house.
Awards and exhibitions
Kane received numerous awards over the years, including the 1971, 1972, and 1975 National Cartoonists Society Awards for Comic Books: Story, and the group's Newspaper Strip: Story Strip Award for 1977 for Star Hawks.
He also received the comic book industry's Shazam Award for Special Recognition in 1971 "for Blackmark, his paperback comics novel". Kane was named to both the Eisner Award Hall of Fame and the Harvey Award Jack Kirby Hall of Fame in 1997.
- Action Comics (Superman) #539-541, 544-546, 551-554 (1983–84), 642 (4-pages only) (1989), 715 (1995); (Green Lantern) #601-605 (1988)
- All-Star Western #3-4, 6, 8 (1970–71)
- Atari Force #3, 5 (1982–83)
- Atom #1-37 (1962–68)
- Batman #208 (1969)
- Batman: Legends of the Dark Knight #24-26 (1991–92)
- Blue Beetle #22 (1988)
- Captain Action #2-5 (1968–69)
- DC Challenge #4 (1986)
- DC Comics Presents (Rex the Wonder Dog) #35 (1981); (Superman & Shazam!) Annual #3 (1984)
- Detective Comics (Batman & Robin) #371, 374 (1968); (Elongated Man) #368, 370, 372-373 (1967–68); (Batgirl) #384-385, 388-389, 392-393, 396, 401, 406-407 (1969–71); (Robin) #390-391, 394, 398-399, 402-403 (1969–70); (Catwoman) #520 (1982)
- Doomsday Annual #1 (1995)
- Flash #195, 197-199 (1970)
- Forbidden Tales of Dark Mansion #13 (1973)
- Green Lantern, vol. 2, #1-61, 68-75 (1960–70), #156 (1982); (Green Lantern Corps) #177 (1984)
- Green Lantern Corps #223-224 (1988)
- Hawk and the Dove #3-5 (1968–69)
- House of Mystery #180, 184, 196 (1969–71); 253 (1977), 300 (1982)
- Justice League of America #200 (6-pages only)(1982)
- Legends of the DC Universe (Green Lantern & Atom) #28-29 (2000)
- Metal Men #30-31 (1968)
- Plastic Man #1 (1966)
- Power of Shazam! #14, 19 (this issue along with Joe Staton) (1996)
- Ring of the Nibelung #1-4 (miniseries) (1989–90)
- Secret Origins (Blue Beetle) #2; (Midnight) #28 (1986–88)
- Showcase (Green Lantern) #22-24; (Atom) #34-36 (1959–62)
- Static #31 (1996)
- Star Spangled War Stories #169 (1973)
- Strange Adventures (Adam Strange) #222 (1970)
- Superman, vol. 1, (Fabulous World of Krypton) #367, 375; (Superman 2021) #372 (1982)
- Superman, vol. 2, #99, 101-103 (1995)
- Superman: Blood of My Ancestors (along with John Buscema) (2003, posthumous)
- Superman: Distant Fires (1998)
- Superman: The Wedding Album (among other artists) (1996)
- Superman Special (annual series) #1-2 (1983–84)
- Sword of the Atom #1-4 (miniseries), Special #1-2 (1983)
- Tales of the Green Lantern Corps Annual #1 (1985)
- Talos of the Wilderness Sea (1986)
- Teen Titans #19, 22-24 (1969)
- Time Warp #2 (1979)
- Vigilante #12-13 (1984)
- Weird Mystery Tales #10 (1974)
- Weird Western Tales #15, 20 (1972–73)
- Witching Hour #12 (1970)
- World's Finest Comics (Green Arrow & Black Canary) #282-283; (Shazam!) #282 (1982)
- Amazing Spider-Man #89-92; 96-105; 120-124; 150; Annual #10 (1970–75), Annual #24 (1990)
- Astonishing Tales (Ka-Zar) #11,15 (1972)
- Captain America #145 (along with John Romita, Sr) (1972)
- Captain Marvel #17-21 (1969–70)
- Conan the Barbarian #17-18 (1972); #127-134 (1981–82)
- Creatures on the Loose (Gullivar Jones) #16-17 (1972)
- Daredevil #141, 146-148, 151 (1977–78)
- Deadly Hands of Kung Fu (Sons of the Tiger) #23 (1976)
- Fear (Morbius) #12 (1973)
- Ghost Rider #21 (1976)
- Giant-Size Conan #1-4 (1974–75)
- Inhumans #5-7 (1976)
- John Carter, Warlord of Mars #1-10 (1977–78)
- Journey into Mystery, vol. 2, #1-2 (1972)
- Jungle Action, vol. 2 (Black Panther) #9 (1974)
- Marvel Comics Presents (Two-Gun Kid) #116 (1992)
- Marvel Fanfare (Mowgli) #9-11 (1983)
- Marvel: Heroes & Legends #2 (1997)
- Marvel Premiere (Adam Warlock) #1-2; (Iron Fist) #15 (1972–74)
- Marvel Preview (Blackmark) #17 (1979)
- Marvel Team-Up (Spider-Man team-ups) #4-6, 13-14, 16-19, 23 (1972–74)
- Marvel Two-in-One (The Thing team-ups) #1-2 (1974)
- Micronauts #38, 40-45 (1982)
- Monsters Unleashed #3 (1973)
- Savage Sword of Conan #8, 47, 63-65, 67, 85-86 (1975–83)
- Savage Tales (Conan) #4 (along with Neal Adams) (1974)
- Scarlet Spider #1 (1995)
- Spider-Man #63 (1995)
- Tales of Suspense (Captain America) #88-91 (1967)
- Tales to Astonish (Hulk) #89-91 (1967)
- Thor #318 (1982)
- Vampire Tales (Morbius) #5 (1974)
- Warlock #1-5 (1972–73)
- Web of Spider-Man Annual #6 (1990)
- Werewolf by Night #11-12 (1975)
- What If? (Avengers) #3, (Spider-Man) #24 (1977–80)
- Martin, Douglas (February 3, 2000). "Gil Kane, Comic-Book Artist, Is Dead at 73". The New York Times. Archived from the original on February 13, 2009.
- Sedlmeier, Cory, ed. Marvel Masterworks: The Incredible Hulk Volume 2. Marvel Entertainment. p. 244.
- Herman, Daniel (2004)). Silver Age: The Second Generation of Comic Artists. Neshannock, Pennsylvania: Hermes Press. p. 68. ISBN 1-932563-64-4.
- "Interview with Gil Kane, Part I". The Comics Journal (186) (Online excerpts). April 1996. Archived from the original on February 7, 2009. Note: The New York Times obituary and the Hulk Marvel Masterworks capsule biography erroneously say he left school at age 15.
- Gil Kane at the Grand Comics Database
- Bails, Jerry; Ware, Hames, eds. "Kane, Gil". Who's Who of American Comic Books, 1928–1999. Archived from the original on March 16, 2013.
- "The Case of the Laughing Corpse" (Pen Star credit) at the Grand Comics Database
- Kane, Gil (Undated). "Gil Kane". National Cartoonists Society. Archived from the original on April 18, 2013. Retrieved April 18, 2013.
- Thomas, Roy (Autumn 1999). "Splitting the Atom". Alter Ego 3 (2). p. 12.
- While working for DC, Kane (and other artists) began to moonlight at Marvel, and needed to conceal their identities. See: Ro, Ronin. Tales to Astonish: Jack Kirby, Stan Lee and the American Comic Book Revolution, p. 92 (Bloomsbury, 2004); Scott Edward at the Grand Comics Database; and Evanier, Mark (April 14, 2008). "Why did some artists working for Marvel in the sixties use phony names?". P.O.V. Online (column). Archived from the original on November 24, 2009. Retrieved July 28, 2008.
- Gerry Conway quoted in Buchanan, Bruce, "Morbius the Living Vampire", Back Issue #36 (October 2009) p. 31
- Gil Kane at the Lambiek Comiclopedia. Retrieved March 21, 2011. Archived from the original on May 25, 2009.
- "Gil Kane on Jack Kirby". Jack Kirby Collector (21) (Online excerpts). October 1998. Archived from the original on 24 December 2010. Retrieved 16 March 2013.
- Cassell, Dewey (August 2006). "Talking About Tigra: From the Cat to Were-Woman". Back Issue (17) (TwoMorrows Publishing). pp. 26–33.
- "Kane, Gil: American artist, Eli Katz". Encyclopædia Britannica Book of the Year, 2001. Britannica.com. Archived from the original on February 11, 2009. Retrieved 2011-03-21.
- Holland, Steve (3 February 2000). "Gil Kane: Illustrator who revived America's comic heroes". The Guardian (UK). Archived from the original on 16 March 2013. Retrieved 16 March 2013.
- Oliver, Myrna (2 February 2000). "Gil Kane; Innovative Comic Book Artist". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on March 9, 2013. Retrieved 9 March 2013.
- Janulewicz, Tom (February 1, 2000). "Gil Kane, Space-Age Comic Book Artist, Dies". Space.com. Archived from the original on February 7, 2009.
- "Bullpen Bulletins," Marvel Comics cover-dated December 1974.
- "His Name Is... Kane" at the Grand Comics Database
- "NCS Awards > Division Awards". National Cartoonists Society. Archived from the original on April 18, 2013. Retrieved April 18, 2013.
- Hahn, Joel, ed. "1997 Will Eisner Comic Industry Award Nominees and Winners". Comic Book Awards Almanac. Archived from the original on November 14, 2010. Retrieved April 18, 2013.
- Hahn, "1997 Harvey Award Nominees and Winners"
- Herman, Daniel (2001). Gil Kane: The Art of the Comics. Neshannock, Pennsylvania: Hermes Press. ISBN 0-9710311-2-6.
- Herman, Daniel (2002). Gil Kane Art and Interviews. Neshannock, Pennsylvania: Hermes Press. ISBN 978-0-9710311-6-6.
|Green Lantern artist
John Romita, Sr.
|The Amazing Spider-Man artist
John Romita, Sr.