Gil Kane (/dʒɪl keɪn/; born Eli Katz /kæts/; April 6, 1926 – January 31, 2000) was a Latvian-born American comics artist whose career spanned the 1940s to the 1990s and virtually every major comics company and character.
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.
Gil Kane at the 1976 San Diego Comic-Con.
April 6, 1926
|Died||January 31, 2000 (aged 73)|
Miami, Florida, United States
|Pseudonym(s)||Scott Edward, Gil Stack, Stack Til, Stacktil, Pen Star, Phil Martell|
|Awards||National Cartoonists Society Award, 1971, 1972, 1975, 1977|
Shazam Award, 1971
Inkpot Award 1975
Gil Kane was born Eli Katz on April 6, 1926, in Latvia to a Jewish family that immigrated 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.
In 1949, Kane began a longtime professional relationship with Julius Schwartz, an editor at National Comics, the future DC Comics. Kane drew stories for several DC series in the 1950s including All-Star Western and The Adventures of Rex the Wonder Dog.
In the late 1950s, freelancing for DC Comics precursor National Comics, Kane illustrated 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. Comics historian Les Daniels praised Kane's work on the character, stating "The design was part of an approach that emphasized grace as well as strength, an approach especially notable in Kane's flying scenes ... Green Lantern appeared to soar effortlessly across the cosmos." DC Comics writer and executive Paul Levitz noted in 2010 that Kane "modeled the Guardians on Israeli founding father David Ben-Gurion, even as the human figures in the cast tended to mimic Kane's own tall, elongated build." Kane and writer John Broome's stories for the Green Lantern series included transforming Hal Jordan's love interest, Carol Ferris, into the Star Sapphire in issue #16. Black Hand, a character featured prominently in the "Blackest Night" storyline in 2009-2010, debuted in issue #29 (June 1964) by Broome and Kane. The creative team created Guy Gardner in the story "Earth's Other Green Lantern!" in issue #59 (March 1968).
Kane similarly co-created an updated version of the Atom with writer Gardner Fox. Kane — who by 1960 was living in Jericho, New York, on Long Island — also drew the youthful superhero team the Teen Titans, a revival of Plastic Man, 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. Kane and Marv Wolfman created an origin for Wonder Girl in Teen Titans #22 (July–Aug. 1969) which introduced the character's new costume.
He briefly freelanced some Hulk stories in Marvel Comics' Tales to Astonish, first under the pseudonym Scott Edward and then in his own name, defying the practice in which DC artists moonlighting at Marvel used pseudonyms. He and writer/editor Stan Lee introduced the Abomination as an enemy of the Hulk in Tales to Astonish #90 (April 1967). Kane also 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. Kane's first Spider-Man storyline culminated in the death of supporting character George Stacy.
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. Kane and writer Gerry Conway transformed John Jameson, an incidental character in The Amazing Spider-Man series, into the Man-Wolf.
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.
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. Howard Chaykin served as Kane's assistant during the production of Blackmark and would call Kane "the most influential male" in his life.
During the 1970s and 1980s, Kane did character designs for various Hanna-Barbera and Ruby-Spears animated TV series including The Centurions which he co-created with Jack Kirby. In 1974 he contributed to redesigning the obscure Marvel Comics character the Cat into Tigra, and three years later created the newspaper daily comic strip Star Hawks with writer Ron Goulart. The 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! He drew the John Carter, Warlord of Mars series for Marvel beginning in June 1977.
Kane was one of the artists on the double-sized Justice League of America #200 (March 1982). and had a brief run on The Micronauts series in 1982  In the early 1980s, he shared regular art duties on the Superman feature in Action Comics with Curt Swan and contributed to the 1988 Superman animated TV series. The Brainiac character, a nemesis of Superman, was revised by Kane and Marv Wolfman in Action Comics #544 (June 1983). He was one of the contributors to the DC Challenge limited series in 1986. Kane was the artist on the early Green Lantern serial in the short-lived anthology Action Comics Weekly from issues #601–605 with writer James Owsley, and illustrated the Nightwing cover for issue #627 in 1988. He returned to drawing the Atom in the Sword of the Atom limited series, a collaboration with writer Jan Strnad. In 1989-1990 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 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. He was one of the many creators who contributed to the Superman: The Wedding Album one-shot wherein the title character married Lois Lane. He and his former apprentice Howard Chaykin worked together again on a three-part story for Batman: Legends of the Dark Knight #24-26 (Nov. 1991 - Jan. 1992) and the Superman: Distant Fires one-shot (1998).
Kane collaborated with writer Mark Waid on The Life Story of the Flash graphic novel. 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 Aragonés, of DC's Fanboy #2 (April 1999); and a two-page pastiche of 1970s Hostess Fruit Pie superhero ads, "The Star Sheriffs", in Green Lantern Secret Files and Origins #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.
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, where he was drama chairman of the Wilton Arts Council. 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. 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 Comics' 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 six-and-a-half-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.
Kane's work has been extensively reprinted. Marvel Comics released Marvel Visionaries Gil Kane in 2002 and DC Comics published Adventures of Superman: Gil Kane in 2013. IDW Publishing released an "artist's edition", a reproduction of the original art, of Kane's Spider-Man work in 2012.
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" and was given an Inkpot Award in 1975. Kane was named to both the Eisner Award Hall of Fame and the Harvey Award Jack Kirby Hall of Fame in 1997.
With work by artists Gil Kane, Carmine Infantino, and Alex Toth and writer Robert Kanigher, among others, All-Star Western would run for ten years.CS1 maint: Extra text: authors list (link)
Stan Lee needed a villain who could stand up to the Hulk ... Working with artist Gil Kane, he proudly presented the Abomination.CS1 maint: Extra text: authors list (link)
As a result of Marvel's successful stand, the Comics Code had begun to look just a little foolish. Some of its more ridiculous restrictions were abandoned because of Lee's decision.
| Strange Adventures artist
| Mystery in Space artist
| Green Lantern artist
| The Atom artist
John Romita Sr.
| The Amazing Spider-Man artist
John Romita Sr.
The Abomination (Emil Blonsky) is a fictional supervillain appearing in American comic books published by Marvel Comics. The character first appeared in Tales to Astonish #90 (April 1967), and was created by writer Stan Lee and artist Gil Kane, to be the rival of the Hulk.
Debuting in the Silver Age of Comic Books, the Abomination has been featured in other Marvel-endorsed products such as arcade and video games, animated television series, merchandise such as action figures and trading cards, and the 2008 Marvel Cinematic Universe film The Incredible Hulk where he was portrayed by Tim Roth.
In 2009, the Abomination was ranked as IGN's 54th Greatest Comic Book Villain of All Time.Brute (Reed Richards)
Brute is a fictional character appearing in American comic books published by Marvel Comics. He is Counter-Earth's version of Mister Fantastic.Bug-Eyed Bandit
Bug-Eyed Bandit is the name of two fictional supervillains appearing in American comic books published by DC Comics.
The Bug-Eyed Bandit made her live appearance on the first season of The Flash as a female version of the character named Brie Larvan played by Emily Kinney. She also appeared in an episode of the third season of Arrow.Evil Star
Evil Star is the name of two supervillains appearing in DC Comics publications.Gog (Marvel Comics)
Gog is a fictional character, a comic book supervillain appearing in American comic books published by Marvel Comics.Goldface
Goldface is a DC Comics fictional character, originally a foe of Green Lantern (Hal Jordan) and later The Flash. He is the ex-husband of Blacksmith.Green Goblin Reborn!
"Green Goblin Reborn!" is a 1971 Marvel Comics story arc which features Spider-Man fighting against his arch enemy Norman Osborn, the Green Goblin. This arc was published in The Amazing Spider-Man #96-98 (May–July 1971) and was plotted and written by Stan Lee, with art by penciler Gil Kane and inker John Romita Sr. It is recognized as the first mainstream comic publication which portrayed and condemned drug abuse since the formation of the Comics Code Authority, and in time led to the revision of the Code's rigidity.Human Fly (comics)
The Human Fly is the name of two fictional characters appearing in American comic books published by Marvel Comics. One is a super-villain that was an occasional antagonist of Spider-Man, and the other a superhero. Additionally, Human Fly was the title of a short-lived series in the late 1950s reprinting some of Fox's Blue Beetle strips from the 1940s. It was published by Super Comics.Jean Loring
Jean Loring is a fictional character in comic books published by DC Comics, formerly associated with superhero the Atom for whom she was a supporting character and primary love interest. She first appeared in Showcase #34 (October 1961), created by writer Gardner Fox and artist Gil Kane. The character appeared continually in minor roles until the 2004 storyline Identity Crisis, in which she suffered a mental breakdown and murdered Sue Dibny, wife of the Elongated Man. This would later lead Loring to assume the mantle of the supervillain Eclipso.
Jean Loring is a recurring character portraying Oliver Queen and his family’s lawyer on the television series Arrow played by Teryl Rothery.Katma Tui
Katma Tui is a comic book superhero, an extraterrestrial from the planet Korugar, and a member of the intergalactic police force known as the Green Lantern Corps.Medphyll
Medphyll is the name of a fictional character in the DC Comics. He is a member of the intergalactic police force known as the Green Lantern Corps. He is a respected member and one of the most experienced Green Lanterns. Medphyll is notable as a member of the Green Lantern Corps for having made brief appearances in other comic book series, such as Swamp Thing and Starman.Morbius, the Living Vampire
Morbius the Living Vampire, a.k.a. Dr. Michael Morbius, Ph.D., M.D., is a fictional character appearing in American comic books published by Marvel Comics. Created by writer Roy Thomas and originally designed by penciler Gil Kane, the character first appeared as an antagonist in The Amazing Spider-Man #101 (Oct. 1971).
Despite his initial status as one of Spider-Man's horror-based rogues, Morbius went on to become a brooding and gritty, albeit heroic and tragically flawed antihero in his own series and other titles. Morbius' true identity is that of a former award-winning biochemist named Michael Morbius, who is imbued with pseudo-vampiric superhuman abilities and physical traits stemming from a failed biochemical experiment which was intended to cure his rare blood disorder, as opposed to supernatural means, with the rest of his appearances featuring his struggles with his inhuman-like vampiric persona, his insatiable lust for human blood and his subsequent efforts to cure his horrific condition, along with his eventual stint as a brutal and nightmarish vigilante. The character has appeared in various animated shows and video games.
Jared Leto will portray the character in a live-action film adaptation set to be part of Sony's Marvel Universe.Savage Sword of Conan
The Savage Sword of Conan was a black-and-white magazine-format comic book series published beginning in 1974 by Curtis Magazines, an imprint of American company Marvel Comics, and then later by Marvel itself. Savage Sword of Conan starred Robert E. Howard's most famous creation, Conan the Barbarian, and has the distinction of being the longest-surviving title of the short-lived Curtis imprint.
As a "magazine", Savage Sword of Conan did not have to conform to the Comics Code Authority, making it a publication of choice for many illustrators. It soon became one of the most popular comic series of the 1970s and is now considered a cult classic. Roy Thomas was the editor and primary writer for the series' first few years (until issue 60), which featured art by illustrators such as Neal Adams, Dick Giordano, Barry Windsor-Smith, John Buscema, Alfredo Alcala, Jim Starlin, Al Milgrom, Pablo Marcos, and Walter Simonson. Painted covers were provided by such artists as Earl Norem, Bob Larkin, and Joe Jusko.
Savage Sword of Conan was published under the Curtis imprint until issue 60, when it became part of the Marvel Magazine Group. Stories from the comic were reprinted in the Marvel UK title of the same name. The original run of Savage Sword of Conan ran until issue #235 (July 1995).
Marvel Comics reacquired the publishing rights in 2018, and started a new run of Savage Sword of Conan beginning in February 2019.Star Hawks
Star Hawks was a comic strip created by Ron Goulart and Gil Kane, first published on October 3, 1977, that ran through May 2, 1981. It was written through April 1979 by Goulart, followed by Archie Goodwin, Roger McKenzie and Roger Stern. Comics veteran Gil Kane provided the artwork, with uncredited help (during a period of illness on Kane's part) from Ernie Colón and Howard Chaykin.
Kane received the National Cartoonist Society Story Comic Strip Award for 1977 for his work on the strip.Goulart also wrote two Star Hawks prose novels: Empire 99 and The Cyborg King.Stegron
Stegron the Dinosaur Man is a fictional supervillain appearing in American comic books published by Marvel Comics. Created by writer Len Wein and artist Gil Kane, the character first appeared in Marvel Team-Up #19 (March 1974).Stel
Stel is a fictional American comic book superhero, an extraterrestrial robot from the planet Grenda and a member of the intergalactic police force known as the Green Lantern Corps for space sector 3009. He first appeared in DC Comics' Green Lantern (vol. 2) #11 (March 1962), and was created by writer John Broome and artist Gil Kane.Thomas Kalmaku
Thomas "Pieface" Kalmaku is a fictional character, a supporting character associated with Green Lantern in comic books published by DC Comics. He was created by writer John Broome and penciler Gil Kane.Tomar-Re
Tomar-Re is a fictional DC Comics character, and a member of the Green Lantern Corps.
The character appeared in the 2011 Green Lantern film with his voice provided by Academy Award-Winner, Geoffrey Rush.Zamaron
The Zamarons are a fictional extraterrestrial race published by DC Comics. They were first introduced in Green Lantern #16 (October 1962), and were created by John Broome and Gil Kane.
|In other media|