FW Presents: Showcase Gene Colan: WONDER WOMAN

Continuing the latest feature within FW Presents, Ryan Daly brings you another SHOWCASE GENE COLAN. This time, Ryan welcomes Angela from the Wonder Woman: Warrior For Peace podcast to review "A Bold New Direction for Wonder Woman" an insert preview by Gene Colan and Roy Thomas that originally appeared in DC COMICS PRESENTS #41.

Throughout his life, Gene Colan brought his truly unique art style to the pages of Batman, The Tomb of Dracula, Iron Man, Wonder Woman, The Avengers, Howard the Duck, Doctor Strange, The Spectre, and so many others. What issues will Ryan chronicle on this podcast? You'll have to tune in to find out!

Let us know what you think! Leave a comment or send an email to: RDalyPodcast@gmail.com.

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Intro: Gene Colan interview from "The Men Without Fear"; "The Vampire Hunters" by Wojciech Kilar.

Additional music: "I'm Coming Out" by Diana Ross.

Thanks for listening!

8 responses to “FW Presents: Showcase Gene Colan: WONDER WOMAN

  1. Wow, that was a speedy arrival for the second episode, thanks Ryan, and cheers Angela, for being such a fab guest. I was reading the Wonder Woman book when this preview of the new direction arrived, and as a fan of Thomas and Colan, I liked it. I recall that the fan press also made a bit of a thing about Romeo Tanghal inking… well, he was the embellisher on mega-hit New Teen Titans at that time.

    The Colan art was a lovely shock to the system after what must have been a decade of the pleasant, but predictable, Jose Delbo visuals, often inked by Vinnie Colletta. The compositions with the unexpected angles, the sense of heft in frames such as page four, panel one – this was great stuff. Heck, the whole issue was blessed with stunning art, what with Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez [PBHN) pencilling the Superman/Joker strip. As for Colan and Tanghal’s Hermes and Mercury, oh my goodness!

    Even Colan, though, couldn’t make that new chest logo look good – by all means, DC, have a marketable, trademark-able symbol, but keep it to the cover and splash masthead, don’t wreck a classic costume. The idea that Diana would dump a symbol that would, by this time, have meaning in the DC Universe for something that’s basically a piece of advertising is ridiculous – This is Wonder Woman, not Booster Gold. I do like that Diana says it might grow on her, while a stoney-faced Hippolyta says to ‘wear the new halter for a time at least, for the good it may do’, hinting that she realises it’s a monstrosity. And that DC might do an about-turn on the whole idea.

    MAGIC LASSO CORNER! The lasso costume change wasn’t introduced to line up with the TV series, it debuted in the comics in 1974, the year before Lynda Carter took on the part. And the lariat was still being used to command folk to do stuff right through the Silver and Bronze Age.

    The bracelet binding also maintained through Diana’s pre-Crisis career, this wasn’t Thomas going retro.

    I hated the Hikataeia (Diana doing the wrong thing because someone randomly said a prayer on her doorstep) and blinding herself (she seriously couldn’t think of another way to beat Medusa?). But I agree that Colan’s arrival put Wonder Woman on the road to a consistently great run, even if most of it was by Dan Mishkin – as you said, Ryan – and Don Heck.

    Thanks to Angela for the background of the WW Foundation, I’ve wondered what became of it.

    If I could have any page of artwork from this story I’d plump for p10. No reason…

  2. Fun show! I bought this comic off the stands. I remember DC was running lots of house ads promoting this new direction. I was buying Wonder Woman at the time…for the Huntress back-ups! Yes, I’m one of those guys. I did enjoy the shot in the arm Thomas and Colan gave the strip, and it felt more “back to basics” to me even then, because this opening bit honestly could have come from season 1 of the TV show, which did capture a lot of the Golden Age WW feel…minus the kinkier Marston elements.

    I do agree with Martin that a lot of artists struggled with the WW at first. It did tend to make Diana’s breasts seem smaller, as by that point her eagle’s wings usually looked like a striped yellow bra. JLGL (PBHN) in his style guide artwork (which debuted right after this in 1982) and Perez seemed to have the best handle on making it work.

    I seem to remember reading Colan wasn’t too happy working on Wonder Woman for whatever reason. He didn’t hang around very long, unfortunately, and the art kind of just drifted back to solid but mediocre journeyman work, for the most part, until Crisis hit the reset button.

    It was nice to hear a new voice on the network, and I will definitely be checking Angela’s show out. I appreciated the history on the Wonder Woman Foundation. I first read about it in Les Daniel’s Wonder Woman History book, and then in that great Back Issue article she mentioned. It’s a shame it didn’t last any longer than it did, though.

    I love your Dr. Psycho as Max Lord theory, Ryan. But either way, I’m psyched for the film. Toy Fair gave us a bit of an idea of what Kristin Wiig may look like as a pseudo Cheetah, but the fashion doll that was shown only listed her as “Barbara Minerva’. She does have a Cheetah-pattern skirt. So still no idea if she’ll turn into a were-cheetah, or wear cheetah pajamas like the original.


  3. Fun show Ryan, and nice to hear Angela back on the network.

    Gene Colan does seem like an odd choice for WW, but of course the work is still beautiful. Not being able to rely on deep shadows and flowing capes, Colan’s grasp of anatomy, perspective, and page design are front and center.

    Man did I love those free sample books DC did back in the day!

  4. I’ve read this story, but I don’t recall if I still own a copy, and I’m not passionate enough about it to go digging. I’d happily buy a collection of the Thomas/Colan run, if only to see that mistreated Prevue quasi-cover finally employed as an actual one like it deserves. I don’t recall it anywhere near as readily as Wonder Woman #288’s, because I’m simply not exposed to it as often, but I think it’s clearly the superior of the two. Colan only lasted until #305, so you could do a 6.5 issue initial collection and get all of Silver Swan and “Judgment in Infinity,” regardless of whether sales warranted a second or third trade to finish out his run. Worth a shot, DC!

    Recommend Warrior for Peace’s January episode to new listeners, as it’s sort of a giant size annual that makes up for and explains the show’s lost year with a wide array of material missed in Angela’s absence. She’s also got entries coming up on The Marvel Handbook.

    You guys are definitely needling me to get back to producing Diana Prince as the New Wonder Woman by shading her ’90s stories. That decade’s material is what made me a fan, and the William Messner-Loebs run is finally getting collected in trade. But then I was unimpressed with The Hiketeia and Rucka’s run in total, so there’s mutual assured offense on that course.

    I still haven’t seen Bloodlines (triple irony in that statement.) As Jason “J.D.” Dean said, “The extreme always seems to make an impression,” but he was going to murder his girlfriend and the student body of Westerberg High. Hey Greg, Dragon Shiryū says “hai!” The Max Lord neck snap is also “iconic.”

    After the Sekowsky/Giordano Diane Prince period, aside from the odd Mike Nasser story, the art was pleasantly anonymous on the book until Colan (and went all to Heck for the remainder of Vol. 1.) Romeo Tanghal didn’t have as strong a presence as his usual, but I do think he firmed up Colan here better than on most of his other super-hero work in the ’80s. I guess there must have been some pushback on Colan since they got Ross Andru on covers so quickly, and it was a big mistake to advertise the run as generic Bronze Age fare. It’s a shame the more eye-catching contemporary style covers didn’t kick in until Colan was about done.

    The DC Bullet was so perfect, while the Wonder Woman symbol was so polished first draft. When I was a retailer, and people knew Wonder Woman was my favorite hero, folks getting me WW stuff became a thing. I was Jeff and she was my frog. I can’t image ever turning on merchandise with the Superman shield, but i definitely got sick of what to a Texan read as watered-down Whataburger gear. The diamond S-shield evolved out of the original downward-pointing triangle over many years, with great distinction and communication of what it represents. Given that it’s just a stylized bat, the Batman symbol is still strong and instantly recognizable. The double-W is just… two Ws with a vague allusion to scant feathers. I think Wonder Woman needed a cleaner eagle symbol that slyly incorporated the W-shape rather than the reverse, and shouldn’t have so doggedly pursued the dull W for so long. It also looks pretty lame on the bustier. I thought the New 52 design was snazzier, but the movie symbol definitely is the best option to date.

    I named my blog and podcast after Diana Prince, and will always argue for the full restoration of the identity. It’s what connects her to western culture and forces her integration into it. Her professional/romantic relationship with Steve Trevor hinges upon it, and the military intelligence angle provides vastly better story fodder than the pampered monarchical ambassador one. I grew up in a toxic Trevor environment and applauded his omission for years, but the more educated I became on Wonder Woman history, the more vital he became to the core premise. Steve Trevor is as central to her lore as Lois Lane is to Superman’s, and without them you’re doing it wrong.

    Whenever Rob complains about wanting less Atlantis in his Aquaman stories, I’m very ditto with regard to Themyscira and the Amazons. Paradise Island is better as a utopian ideal than a setting that usually brings out the worst elements of the mythos.

    The bondage weakness… sigh. If that’s your kink, you’re within your rights to explore it in Wonder Woman comics. I’m a comic book fan, so to me it’s a tiresome crutch. “Yellow” has subtextual value, but it’s clearly more text, and I prefer my Green Lantern stories without the handicap.

    Dr. Psycho is my favorite Wonder Woman villain, so I don’t want him stuck in 1984 as a later act reveal. It’s the same reason in reverse that I’m glad they’re using Barbara Minerva, the least interesting interpretation of The Cheetah. My hope and expectation is Patty Jenkins gets to use the goodwill from the first movie to make something more her own, and every indication so far is that I’ll be happier with this one as well.

  5. I thought for sure I got this book signed for Frank by Roy Thomas! Maybe it was the first actual issue of the Gene Colan WW I got a sig on.

    Like many, I wasn’t reading WW at the time. But I did buy DCCP and so I read this issue. And I was interested enough by the change in costume and the Colan art to pick up an issue now and then. This was nefore I started to collect things monthly. But I did get the first issue by Thomas/Colan and the three part Adjudicator story and a couple here and there. That was a big deal back then.

    Tanghal has a strong hand for Colan. Some panels don’t have the typical Colan elan that I am used to. But it is still beautiful.

    Thanks for another strong episode!

  6. Nice job, Ryan. Great to hear another new voice. I was a little disappointed that Milton Glaser was dismissed as “this guy.” Glaser is still one of the top graphic designers. You know his work. A literally iconic image if Bob Dylan; I Love New York; Brooklyn Brewery, etc. I think it was very bold for DC, meaning Jeanette Kahn, so hire not only an outsider, but such a distinguished one. I think Glaser also designed the DC bullet that was in use then.
    I got this preview, but it didn’t strike me enough to buy the regular title. I hadn’t been buying it for many, many months at that point. Trying to re-create now what I may have been thinking then, I believe that I was not interested in a “back to basics” approach. I had been a Wonder Woman reader through; Diana working at the U.N., Diana training to be an astronaut, Diana vaguely something else; Wonder Woman trying to prove herself to the JLA; Wonder Woman on Earth-2 in WWII; Wonder Woman back in current continuity; Steve Trevor dead, Steve Howard alive; Steve Howard dead, alternate-dimension Steve Trevor alive; Diana quitting being Wonder Woman; Diana losing her position as Wonder Woman; and a constant stream of supporting characters who never were able to establish themselves in any memorable way.
    Gene’s art was not enough to make me want to read the book, but the page of Wonder Woman changing into her new top was something that somehow lodged itself in my memory. I love how Colan drew her modestly turning he back to change.
    The new symbol was not something I was enthusiastic about. I can clearly understand the need for it , though. Just yesterday I saw a young girl wearing a Wonder Woman branded shirt. I can’t recall the exact design, but I was struck by how vivid and distinct the logo was. That is a very effective logo! But only in two dimensions. As a top, a bodice, a bustier, or whatever it is exactly that Diana wears, it is less effective because of her chest. The “Ws” can sit like a shield on top of her garment, which is sort of how it looks in that final panel, or it can try to contour to her body, which really isn’t the point. The original design of the wings did that well without calling too much attention to what is underneath. It’s been many decades now, though. Which artists do you think have done the best job in depicting the logo on her costume?

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