Kane, Gil

Comic artist Gil Kane (born April 6, 1926 in Riga, Latvia, died January 31, 2000 in Flordida, USA) had a comic book art career spanning half a century, from the 1940s to the 1990s. One of his finest works was the comic strip Star Hawks.Born to a Jewish family that emigrated to the U.S. in 1929 and settled in Brooklyn, New York. When he was in junior high school, Kane collaborated on writing projects with Norman Podhoretz, later a prominent writer and editor. At the age of 16, while attending the School of Industrial Art (later named the High School of Art and Design), he began working in the comics studio system as an assistant, doing basic tasks such as drawing panel borders. During his 1942 summer vacation, Kane obtained a job at MLJ, working there for three weeks before being fired. As Kane recalled, "Within a couple of days 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 pencilling 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". Kane soon dropped out of school to work full-time. During the next several years, Kane drew for about a dozen studios and publishers including Timely Comics, a predecessor of Marvel Comics, and learned from such prominent artists as Jack Kirby and Joe Simon. He interrupted his career briefly to enlist in the Army during World War II, where he served in the Pacific theater. In the post-war years, on his return to comics, he used pseudonyms including Pen Star and Gil Stack before settling on Gil Kane. In the late 1950s, Kane, freelancing for DC Comics, helped to usher in the Silver Age of comic books when he became the chief artist for a series of new superhero titles loosely based on 1940s characters, notably Green Lantern and the Atom. He also continued to work for Marvel and illustrated many of Marvel's leading titles during the 1960s and '70s, becoming the company's preeminent cover artist for a time and serving as regular penciller during an important period on The Amazing Spider-Man in the early 1970s. During that run he drew a landmark three-issue story arc that marked the first challenge to the rigid Comics Code since its inception in 1954. The Code forbade any mention of drugs, even in a negative context. However, The Amazing Spider-Man #96-98 (1971), written by Stan Lee, showed the negative effects of drug abuse in a storyline conceived at the request of government drug-prevention authorities. The three issues were sold without the Comics Code approval, but met with such critical acclaim and high sales that the industry's self-censorship was undercut, and the Code was revamped. In addition, Kane drew the landmark story arc "The Night Gwen Stacy Died" in #121-122 (June-July 1973), in which Spider-Man's fiancŽe Gwen Stacy was killed, and helped create Marvel characters including Iron Fist and Morbius the Living Vampire. Kane's side projects include two long works that he conceived, plotted and illustrated, with scripting by Archie Goodwin: 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. Some historians consider the latter, sold in bookstores and related outlets rather than newsstands, as arguably the first American graphic novel, a term not in general use at the time; the back-cover blurb of the 30th-anniversary edition calls it, retroactively, "the very first American graphic novel." Whether or not this is so, Blackmark is, objectively, a 119-page story of comic-book art, with captions and word balloons, published in a traditional book format. It is also the first with an original heroic-adventure character, conceived expressly for this form. He received numerous awards over the years, including the 1971, 1972, and 1975 National Cartoonists Society Awards for Best Story Comic Book, and their Story Comic Strip Award for 1977 for Star Hawks. He also received the Shazam Award for Special Recognition in 1971 "for Blackmark, his paperback comics novel". To honor his more than five decades of achievement, Kane was named to both the Eisner Award Hall of Fame and the Harvey Award Jack Kirby Hall of Fame in 1997. During the 1970s and '80s, Kane did character designs for various Ruby-Spears Enterprises and Hanna-Barbera animated TV series. In 1977, he created the newspaper comic strip Star Hawks with writer Ron Goulart. The daily strip was known for its experimental use of a two-tier format during the first years. The strip ended in 1981. Gil Kane remained active as an artist right up until his death. He died in Florida of complications from cancer on January 31, 2000. He is survived by his second wife, Elaine, and children Scott, Eric and Beverly and two grandaughters. He is buried in Aventura, Florida. A tribute to Kane and writer John Broome appears in a novelization spinoff of the Justice League animated series, called In Darkest Night. The book refers to the Kane/Broome Institute For Space Studies in Coast City. Comicart.dk is proud to present you to a few great examples of Gil Kane's Star Hawks.