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“…Primitive Lyricism…” PEOPLE! Sometimes Gil’s Gone!

John Kane

Gil Kane died on 31 January in the year 2000 A.D.

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Time enough has now passed that although I still feel the loss of his gargantuan talents I am past the garment rending and hair pulling stage. I will never be beyond the celebrating his work stage though. So what follows is a brief visual burst of Gil Kane’s genius from the ’80s. After all ACTIONs speak louder than words and Gil was a man of great experience…

“So I know the one quality that I’m always trying to push through in my work is grace and power. Sort of primitive lyricism that I’ve been capable of. I thought that that’s the one quality that sort of saved me and permeated my work and gave me any kind of legitimate status…the thing that I had going for me was that the only thing I wanted to express essentially was the sentimental fall with grace and power, and I try to do that with every drawing I ever did.” Gil Kane
Gil Kane: Art And Interviews by Daniel Herman (Hermes Press, 2002)

Superman was created by Jerry Siegel & Joe Shuster

 

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KANE: I liked those stories.
Gil Kane on the GilWolf™’ Superman comics
Gil Kane: Art And Interviews by Daniel Herman (Hermes Press, 2002)

Gil Kane (1926 – 2000)

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Hopefully, this being the anniversary of Gil Kane’s passing, The Internet is alive with chat about this man with élan. After all last time on I Will Make You Care About Gil Kane Before Death Claims Me I was more than likely getting all teary-eyed about the fact no one seemed to talk about Gentleman Gil much these days.  Serendipitously I had read Charles Nicholl’s Guardian review of  Andrew Hadfield’s Edmund Spenser: A Life. Said review began:

“There is a rather deadly kind of literary fame which TS Eliot neatly defined as a “conspiracy of approval”. It condemns a writer” to be universally accepted; to be damned by the praise that quenches all desire to read the book; to be afflicted by the imputation of virtues which excite the least pleasure; and to be read only by historians and antiquaries”.
(Fairy Singer, Colonial Apparatchik by Charles Nicholl, The Guardian, 21/07/2012)

Although I can feel my face fair sodden by your salivations at the prospect of me going on about TS Eliot or Edmund Spenser I am, in fact, going to stop there because I think the point has been made. It’s a good point;  one all the better for not being mine. Is that’s what has happened to Gentleman Gil? Is he a victim of the “conspiracy of approval“? I don’t want that to happen here; in my series of wholly unbiased and never (never!) hyperbolic pieces on Gil Kane the idea will be be to arouse you to such a state that you might go and try some of his stuff. If you go, “Well, Gil Kane sure sounds good. Now, how about I dip my eyes in  some sweet, sweet Tony Daniel magic!” then I have failed.

Or as Johnny Cash put it somewhat more succinctly:

“Did you forget the folk singer so soon?
And did you forget my song?”

We are in fact a couple of posts into “Gil Happy!” already so we have avoided the whole here’s what I’ll be doing oh no I won’t rigmarole this time out.

There’ll be other stuff too but there will definitely be more Gil Kane and always, always more COMICS!!!

10 Responses to “ “…Primitive Lyricism…” PEOPLE! Sometimes Gil’s Gone! ”

  1. Amazing Spider-Man 103-104 are particularly gorgeous exemplars of Kane’s “tight but loose” style. His depictions of Spider-Man in costume are very dynamic but he really crushes Jonah’s histrionics and Gwen’s unbelievable grace.

    Now, show me a single static image in this comic. Oh, you can’t? Even in conversations JJJ is like the handsiest talker ever. The art really conveys his desperation!

    The man also delivers some of the most sublime casual foreground – background illustration. Peter and Gwen warming their hands over a perking coffee pot at Savage Land base camp is a great example of choosing when and where to provide ancillary detail. In other frames and other contexts – for example after the scene has clearly been set in JJJ’s office at the Bugle – the backgrounds become more absent or representational and this really allows the character “performance” to take up the entirety of your attention.

    I don’t know if you’ve mentioned it before but one of my favorite Kane “effects” (art choices) is when he displays the passage of time in one panel by depicting multiple individuals within that panel. Typically an anchoring headshot, a couple full body depictions, and a loose 1/3 (like a head and a hand). He’s showing the different principals doing different things and by the far right side of the panel he’s also delivered the next scene setter.

    He does it like three times in 103 and it never fails to impress me.

    Sidebar: Who knew Roy Thomas would foretell the decline of print media so early?

    Anyhow, keep preaching, brother.

  2. @J_Smitty: Hey, thanks for that good craft stuff. I don’t have any Kane Spidey and I see now I need to renedy that real quick. You really brought back misty water colour memories of reading them when I was a kid. Sweet!

    Of course, it did cross my mind to write something as incisive, perceptive and all around educational as the words you penned but in the end, after much thought, I plumped for a panel of Superman chastising a bewildered elephant.

    I think History will vindicate me. Cheers!

  3. I don’t think you have to wait for history, my friend. Your stuff moved me to post my blahblah so the battle has been won already.

  4. Consider your work done, Mr. Kane. Say … you wouldn’t be a relation, by any chance? Anyway, I grew up with that wonderful Gil Kane art. Nobody else could do an up-the-nose shot the way Kane could, and nobody has since. I was fascinated by his distinctive style and bought everything I could find of his. And I don’t mind HVC either, though since he’s not yet expired, you may not have QUITE the sentimental attachment. Anyway, keep at it, sir. Your work is very entertaining and I always enjoy just about anything you review.

  5. So if Scott Dunbier wandered into this thread, which Kane project would we nominate for the Artist’s Edition treatment?

    I’ve fond memories of the Sword of the Atom specials, but I haven’t taken a close look at them in a while.

  6. I’ve always liked how Gil Kane drew the Hulk. So ugly.

  7. @Pete: Hey, cheers. I’m glad you like The Gil, we’ll work on the HVC thing together; you’ll love him in the end. Or hate me. One of the two!

    @kag: Well, they did (are doing?) that Kane Spidey one so that’s covered. Me, I’d go for THE RING as it’s one Kane felt good about and, I think it was the culmination of both his art and his personal sensibilities. Or HIS NAME IS…SAVAGE because of its significance.

    Anyone else got ideas Scott Dunbier could steal to line his own velvety pockets?

    I’ve had a look at SoTA recently and it’s awesome. Who doesn’t love the Atom on a battle frog while Norman Maile.., sorry, Norman Brawler ambles about documenting the fantastic nonsense for posterity.

    @Mike Loughlin: True and yet did you know that Stan Lee hated Kane’s Hulk work because it looked too effeminate? Terrible taste in women that man.

    Thanks all, as ever!

  8. Nice allusion to “Hard to Handle” in the write-up.

    You have some great samples here. I will admit that back in the late 70s / early 80s, I did not enjoy Gil Kane’s work. There was something about the way he drew faces, the lines he used, that hit me wrong. I was more a fan of the smooth look that John Byrne and George Perez used.

    Somehow I have matured in some of my views. Gil Kane did indeed create incredibly dynamic pages while giving clear and uncluttered presentations of action.

  9. Gil’s Spidey stories, creating the Abomination, his 80s Superman and don’t forget his fantastic run on Daredevil with Jim Shooter circa the DD vol.1 #140-151 mark…I could go on and on!

    Good blog, Sav!

  10. @Jim Sheridan: Cheers! It was the Otis one of course. Yeah, Gil Kane’s work is prettttty weird when you stop and look at it. Perez never sent me; I recognise his talents but it just wasn’t happening for me. That’s a pretty neat summation of Gil’s appeal there too!

    @McRonson: Feel free to go on, sir. Never get tired of hearing about Gil’s Good Stuff. Hey, I’d forgot about his DD stuff. Have to hunt that up. Thanks!

    Apologies for the delayed replies – I have been out and about a bit this week. Stuff to sort etc. Probably no post this week either. It’s okay, even though I’m British it isn’t my teeth. Until next time, friends of all nations!

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