Colleen Doran

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Colleen Doran
Doran at the 2016 New York Comic Con
Area(s)Writer, Penciller, Inker, Letterer, Colourist
Notable works
Sandman, The Amazing Spider-Man, A Distant Soil, Orbiter, The Legion of Superheroes, The Book of Lost Souls
S.H.I.E.L.D. #4 variant cover. An example of Colleen Doran's art for Marvel Comics

Colleen Doran is an American writer-artist and cartoonist. She illustrated hundreds of comics, graphic novels, books and magazines, including the autobiographical graphic novel of Marvel Comics editor and writer Stan Lee entitled Amazing Fantastic Incredible Stan Lee, which became a New York Times bestseller.[1] She adapted and did the art for the short story "Troll Bridge" by Neil Gaiman, which also became a "New York Times" bestseller.[2] Her books have received Eisner, Harvey, and International Horror Guild Awards.

She illustrated the works of Neil Gaiman, Alan Moore, Warren Ellis, Joe R. Lansdale, Anne Rice, J. Michael Straczynski, Peter David and Tori Amos.

Notable credits include: The Sandman, Wonder Woman, Legion of Superheroes, Teen Titans, The Vampire Diaries comics,[3] Walt Disney's Beauty and the Beast, and her space opera series, A Distant Soil.[4]

She was one of two people listed among the top 25 female comic creators of all-time in both the writer and artist categories, ranking #7 among artists and #21 among writers.[5] Comics Alliance listed Doran as one of twelve women cartoonists deserving of lifetime achievement recognition.[6]

Early work[edit]

At age five, Doran won an art contest sponsored by the Walt Disney Company. Doran created her comic book series, A Distant Soil, at age twelve.[7]

Doran landed her first work for an advertising agency at age fifteen.[8] She attended Christopher Newport University and the Art Institute of Pittsburgh and used her professional works for curriculum credit. Science fiction artist Frank Kelly Freas was her mentor, and she apprenticed with him in the early 1980s.[9][10]

She broke into the comic book industry when still a teenager, scouted by Tom Long for his fanzine Graphic Showcase.[11] Long hired Doran to draw a revival of the 1940s character Miss Fury. Underage Doran quit the assignment due to its adult content.[8][12] She also contributed illustrations to the Hugo Award nominated fanzine Lan's Lantern.[13]

A Distant Soil was published in fanzines as early as 1979, then scouted by The Donning Company Starblaze imprint before it was contracted by WaRP Graphics. Doran left the company after nine issues due to an acrimonious dispute with WaRP,[14] which attempted to claim copyright and trademark on her work.[15][16][17] The WaRP version of the story has never been reprinted despite its unusual all-pencil style, and Doran's ownership of the publishing rights.


Doran discarded the 300 pages of work she did at Warp, and rewrote and redrew the entire A Distant Soil story from scratch, first with Donning, then as a self-publisher. A 1000-page long-form comics narrative, it has been published by Image Comics since 1996. It sold more than 700,000 copies in multiple printings.[18] The production archives were destroyed by the printer, and an extensive restoration process brought the series back to publication in 2013.[8]

Doran was scouted by Keith Giffen to work at DC Comics after he saw her work in the Legion of Superheroes fanzine Interlac.[19][20] They went on to become frequent collaborators at DC on The Legion of Superheroes projects, Justice League 3001, and the series Reign of the Zodiac. Her art also appeared in Amethyst, Princess of Gemworld #12, multiple issues of Who's Who in the DC Universe and Who's Who in the Legion of Superheroes, Superman: Man of Steel Gallery, Christmas with the DC Superheroes, Captain Atom, Star Trek, and Hawkman Annual. She did art for several Teen Titans and Wonder Woman projects.[21]

She illustrated portions of the "Dream Country" and "A Game of You" story arcs in Neil Gaiman's The Sandman series.[22][23] The character Thessaly in Neil Gaiman's Sandman is based on Doran.[24] Other Vertigo appearances include Shade, The Changing Man, Lucifer (DC Comics), Transmetropolitan and the original graphic novel Orbiter (comics) written by Warren Ellis.

Doran's premiere at Marvel Comics was in 1986, Swords of the Swashbucklers #9 and 11, with issue 11 having the dubious distinction of being one of the books confiscated in the 1986 Friendly Franks "obscene" comics raid that precipitated the formation of the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund.[25][26] Swords of the Swashbucklers was eventually excluded from the prosecution proceedings.[27]

Doran worked on other projects at Marvel including The Guardians of the Galaxy Annual #3, The Silver Surfer, Marvel Fanfare, Excalibur #28, Captain America: Drug Wars, Amazing Spider-Man, Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man, a Power Pack mini-series, Handbook of the Marvel Universe, Mutant X, X-Factor, Marvel Girl Comics, and X-Men Millennial Visions for which she wrote and drew an entry. She also worked in the Special Projects Department on promotional, educational, and greeting card art, sometimes working directly with Stan Lee.[28][29][30]

At Marvel Comics' Epic division, she worked on Clive Barker's Nightbreed #21 and #22 as interior and cover artist, and Clive Barker's Hellraiser #5 and #14, as artist and colorist.

Doran was a web columnist for Wizard Magazine in the early 1990s, and illustrated Super Idol for Warren Ellis in 2001, an early webcomics format experiment at Artbomb.[31]

Doran is featured in the films Ringers (a documentary about The Lord of the Rings fans), Scenes From the Small Press: Colleen Doran by Rich Henn, Sex, Lies and Superheroes, the documentary The Cartoonist about Bone creator Jeff Smith,[32] and Captured Ghosts, a documentary about writer Warren Ellis.[33] She was also featured in the Dec. 12, 2011 episode of "Stalked: Someone's Watching," a Discovery ID television series that profiles stalking incidents, focusing on interviews with victims.[34]

Doran worked as a creator rights activist and as a lobbyist in Washington D.C., and served on the advocacy committee of the Graphic Artists Guild. Lecture venues include the Smithsonian Institution, The Singapore Writers Festival, the Comics Masterclass in Sydney, Australia, and the Maryland Institute College of Art.[35] She spoke at CREATE: Protecting Creativity from the Ground Up at the Newseum in Washington DC, with Congresswoman Marsha Blackburn, Rick Carnes President of the Songwriters Guild of America, musician Suzanne Vega, and other artists and technology policy specialists.[35]


Doran illustrated young adult novelist Barry Lyga's first graphic novel for Houghton Mifflin, Mangaman in 2011.[36][37]

Gone to Amerikay, a graphic novel drawn by Doran and written by Derek McCulloch, was released in 2012 from DC/Vertigo. It is a "multi-generational Irish saga."[38][39] Gone to Amerikay themed cover art was featured in the St. Patrick's Day edition of the Irish Echo, which was then presented to President Barack Obama by Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness of Northern Ireland. An excerpt from Gone to Amerikay was chosen for inclusion in The Best American Comics 2013.[40]

Doran produced cover art for The Walking Dead #1 (2015, Image Comics), Red Sonja (Dynamite, 2014), Marvel's S.H.I.E.L.D. #4 (2015), and Squirrel Girl #7 (2016). For DC Comics, she wrote and drew stories for The Vampire Diaries (2014), based on the TV show, and art for Justice League 3001 #6, 9 and 10 (2015-2016). For IDW's Womanthology (2012), she contributed biographical essays about classic cartoonists Rose O'Neill and Ethel Hays.

In 2015, she illustrated the autobiography Amazing Fantastic Incredible Stan Lee, co-written by Lee and Peter David.[29]

With Alan Moore, she did the art for Big Nemo,[41] a dystopian sequel to Winsor McCay's Little Nemo in Slumberland, as a webcomic for the Electricomics app.[42][43]

She did the art for an adaptation of Neil Gaiman's short story "Troll Bridge" as a graphic novel for Dark Horse, released in October 2016.[44][45] She also worked on issues of Faith and X-O Manowar for Valiant Comics.[46] She produced work for the adaptation of Neil Gaiman's American Gods.[47] She is the artist for the series Finality with Warren Ellis at Line Webtoon.[48]

In 2019, Dark Horse Comics published Doran's adaptation of Neil Gaiman's "Snow, Glass, Apples" which was described by "The Comics Journal" as a work which "...solidifies her place as one of the greatest cartoonists of her generation."[49]


Awards and honors[edit]

  • Wizard World Hall of Legends 2017 [50]
  • Great Graphic Novels for Teens 2017 Nominee Non-Fiction: Amazing Fantastic Incredible Stan Lee, Stan Lee, Peter David, Colleen Doran, Young Adult Library Services Association 2017 [51]
  • The Best American Comics 2013: Gone to Amerikay excerpt, Derek McCulloch and Colleen Doran,[40] Houghton Mifflin [52]
  • Hugo Award Nominee: Chicks Dig Comics, Best Related Work 2013 (Group Nomination)[53]
  • Great Graphic Novels for Teens Fiction: Mangaman 2012, Young Adult Library Services Association[54]
  • Best Adult Books for Teens: Gone to Amerikay, Derek McCulloch and Colleen Doran, School Library Journal 2012[55]
  • Eisner Award Winner: Tori Amos Comic Book Tattoo (anthology) 2009, Best Anthology (Group Award)[56]
  • Harvey Award Winner: Tori Amos Comic Book Tattoo (anthology) 2009, Best Anthology (Group Award)[57]
  • International Horror Guild Award: The Nightmare Factory (anthology) 2008, Best Illustrated Narrative (Group Award)[58]
  • Eisner Award Winner: Best Archival Collection/Project Comic Books, Absolute Sandman ,Vol 1 (Group Award)[59]
  • Women Cartoonist's Hall of Fame, 2007, Friends of Lulu [60]
  • Artist In Residence, Smithsonian Institution May 6–14, 2006 "Capricious Comics", Freer/Sackler Galleries, The Smithsonian Museums of Asian Art[61][62]
  • Comics Buyer's Guide Fan Award Top Ten Nominee: Favorite Penciler, Favorite Inker, Favorite Cover Artist, Favorite Comic Book A Distant Soil 2004 [63]
  • Chesley Award Nominee, Monochrome Work Unpublished 2002[64]
  • American Library Association 2002 featured speaker[65]
  • Gaylactic Spectrum Award Nominee, A Distant Soil, Best Other Work 2001[66]
  • Guest of Honor, San Diego Comic Con 1998
  • 3rd Annual Japan-US Manga Symposium, Tokyo 1996, Tezuka Productions[67]
  • Eisner Award Nominee: Sandman, Best Serialized story 1993 (Group Nomination)[68]
  • Eisner Award Winner: Sandman, Best Continuing Series 1993 (Group Award)[68]
  • Eisner Award Winner: Sandman, Best Continuing Series 1992 (Group Award) [69]
  • Eisner Award Nominee: Sandman: Dream Country, Best Graphic Album Reprint 1992 (Group Nomination) [69]
  • Dori Seda Award Nominee: Most Promising New Female Cartoonist 1988[70]

Notable works[edit]

  • Amazing Fantastic Incredible Stan Lee (2015) original graphic novel artist ISBN 978-1501107726
  • Amazing Spider-Man #326 (1989)
  • Art of He-Man and Masters of the Universe (2015) Dark Horse Books, ISBN 1616555920
      • She-Ra Princess of Power DVD insert art (2006) A Navarre Corporation [71]
  • Art of Star Wars Galaxy, Vol 2. (1994) Berkeley Publishing Group, ISBN 978-1883313036
      • Star Wars Galaxy Magazine #4
      • Star Wars Galaxy 4 Trading Cards
      • Star Wars Galactic Files 2 Trading Cards[72]
      • Star Wars Clone Wars Trading Cards
  • Walt Disney's Beauty and the Beast: A Tale of Enchantment (1992) Disney Comics
  • The Book of Lost Souls (2005) Marvel Comics/Icon series artist issue #1-6
      • The Book of Lost Souls: Introductions All Around (2006) Marvel Comics compilation of comics issues 1-6 ISBN 978-0785119401
  • A Distant Soil graphic novel editions:
    • Late-1980s original color editions:
    • 1990s and on black and white reprints:
      • A Distant Soil: The Gathering Image Comics (1997) compilation of comic issues 1–13 ISBN 1-887279-51-2
      • A Distant Soil: The Ascendant Image Comics (1998) compilation of comic issues 15–25 ISBN 1-58240-018-0
      • A Distant Soil: The Aria Image Comics (2001) compilation of comic issues 26–31 ISBN 1-58240-201-9
      • A Distant Soil: Coda Image Comics (2005) compilation of comic issues 32–38 ISBN 1-58240-478-X hardcover, November 2005, ISBN 1-58240-525-5
    • 2013 and on Digital Remasters and new editions:
      • A Distant Soil: The Gathering TPB Volume I Image Comics/Shadowline (2013) digitally remastered compilation of issues 1–13 with new story content ISBN 978-1607067870
      • A Distant Soil: The Ascendant TPB Volume II Image Comics/Shadowline (2014) digitally remastered compilation of issues 14-25 with new story content ISBN 978-1607068341
  • Justice League 3001 #6,9,10 (2015-2016) DC Comics full issue and short stories
  • The Legion of Superheroes Vol 3 #27 (1986) DC Comics
      • Tales of the Legion of Superheroes #352 DC Comics
      • The Legion of Superheroes Vol 4 #31 (1992) and #100 (1996)DC Comics
      • The Legion of Superheroes Annual #5 (1994) #6 (1995) DC Comics
        • Who’s Who in the Legion of Super-Heroes #1-5, #7 (1988) DC Comics
        • Legionnaires #8 (1993) DC Comics
        • Valor #14–23 (1994/5) DC Comics
  • Teen Titans Spotlight #19 (1985) DC Comics
      • New Teen Titans Annual #4 (1988) DC Comics
        • The Teen Titans Omnibus #3 (2012) DC Comics 978-1401238452
  • Manga, Anime, Manhwa
      • Mangaman (2011) Houghton Mifflin original graphic novel artist ISBN 978-0547423159
      • Komacon - 2013 Image Comics/Shadowline writer original short story anthology ISBN 978-1607067641[74]
      • Robotech Art II (1987) Donning Co Publishers, primary illustrator ISBN 978-0898654172
        • Robotech Art II (1987) promotional poster art
      • Girl to Grrrl Manga: How to Draw the Hottest Shoujo Manga Impact Books, writer/artist
        • Manga Pro Superstar Impact Books. writer/artist
      • Manga Mania: How to Draw Japanese Comics Watson-Guptill art book illustrations
        • Anime Mania Watson-Guptill art book illustrations
      • Call Me Princess CPM Manga cover art
        • Aquarium CPM Manga cover
  • Anne Rice’s The Master of Rampling Gate: A Graphic Tale of Unspeakable Horror (1991) Innovation graphic novel adaptation ASIN B00SB53P62
  • Orbiter original graphic novel artist (2003) DC Comics/Wildstorm HC ISBN 978-1401200565
  • Sandman #20, #34 DC Comics/ Vertigo
      • Sandman Volume III: Dream Country (1995)(2010) DC Comics/Vertigo ISBN 978-1401229351
      • The Absolute Sandman Volume I (2006) DC Comics/Vertigo ISBN 978-1401210823
      • The Absolute Sandman Volume II (2007) DC Comics/Vertigo ISBN 978-1401210830
      • Sandman: A Gallery of Dreams (1994) DC Comics/Vertigo ASIN B002EAHJN0
      • The Death Gallery (1996) DC Comics/Vertigo
      • Sandman 20th Anniversary Poster (2008) [75]
      • Sandman Omnibus Volume 1 (2013) DC Comics/Vertigo ISBN 978-1401241889
      • Death: Deluxe Edition (2012) DC Comics/Vertigo ISBN 978-1401235482
      • Absolute Death (2009) DC Comics/Vertigo ISBN 978-1401224639
      • Vertigo Visions: Ten Years on the Edge (2003) Watson Guptill ISBN 978-0823056040
        • Lucifer #62 DC Comics/Vertigo
        • Lucifer: Volume 10: Morningstar (2006) DC Comics/Vertigo ISBN 978-1401210069
  • The Vampire Diaries #1,3 (writer) #6 (writer/artist) (2013) DC Comics
      • The Vampire Diaries (2014) DC Comics graphic novel compilation, writer artist anthology, pinup ISBN 978-1401248994
  • Wonder Woman #44, #49 DC Comics


  • Four Color Images Gallery, New York, NY
  • Kunstlerhaus, Stuttgart, Germany
  • Porto, Portugal
  • Secession Gallery, Vienna, Austria
  • Gijon Cultural Center, Gijon, Spain
  • San Francisco Cartoon Art Museum, San Francisco, CA
  • Museum of Cartoon Art, Rye Brook, New York
  • Gallery Nucleus: 20 Years of Sandman 2008[76]
  • Gallery Nucleus: A Handful of Dust, 25 Years of Sandman[77]
  • Krannert Art Museum; Out of Sequence: Underrepresented Voices in American Comics[78]
  • Laboratory of Art and Ideas at Belmar; Out of Sequence[79]


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External links[edit]