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 Gil Kane  (1926 - 2000)

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Lived/Active: New York/Florida      Known for: comic book artist

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Scott Edwards is primarily known as Gil Kane

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Gil Kane
from Auction House Records.
The Avengers #134 Human Torch and Mad Thinker Cover Original Art (Marvel, 1975).
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Eli  Katz, who worked under the name Gil Kane and in a few instances Scott Edwards, was a comic book artist whose career spanned the 1940s to 1990s and 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.

In 1997, he was inducted into both the Will Eisner Comic Book Hall of Fame and the Harvey Award Jack Kirby Hall of Fame.

Kane was born to a Jewish family that emigrated to the U.S. in 1929, settling in Brooklyn, New York City.  When he was in junior high school, he 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 of operations.  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 freelanced for DC Comics. There he contributed to seminal works in what fans and historians call the Silver Age of comic books, when he illustrated a number of revitalized superhero titles (loosely based on 1940s characters) — most notably Green Lantern, for which he pencilled most of the first 75 issues, and also the Atom.  Kane also drew the youthful superhero team the Teen Titans, and in the late 1960s tackled such short-lived titles such as Hawk and Dove, and the licensed-character comic Captain Action, based on the action figure.  He briefly freelanced some Hulk stories in Marvel Comics' Tales to Astonish, under the pseudonym Scott Edwards.

Due to financial setbacks at the time, Kane began accepting as many art assignments as possible, and with the increased workload often had to hire fellow artists to finish his rough pencil artwork.  Eschewing the Scott Edwards pseudonym, Kane 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, a position that helped him achieve financial stability.[citation needed]

During that run, he and editor-writer Stan Lee produced in 1971 a landmark three-issue story arc in The Amazing Spider-Man #96-98) 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 critical acclaim and high sales that the industry's self-censorship was undercut, and the Code was soon afterward 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 fiancée 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.

Gerry 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. 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 a pseudonymous 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 (ISBN 1-56097-456-7) 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.

Sometime in the late 1960s, Kane temporarily acquired the publishing rights to Robert E. Howard's pulp magazine barbarian, Conan, with the intent of reviving the character in a magazine format, à la Savage.  However, he was unable to gain financing for the project, and the rights reverted to the Howard estate.  When Marvel Comics licensed the character in 1970, writer Roy Thomas initially considered having either Kane or John Buscema draw the comic book, and Kane actively campaigned for the assignment, but editor Lee considered Kane too valuable as the company's premiere cover artist to allow him to devote large amounts of time to a commercially uncertain project.  Kane would later provide art for the Conan comic book, which by then was one of Marvel's hits.

During the 1970s and 1980s, Kane did character designs for various Hanna-Barbera and Ruby-Spears animated TV series.  In 1977, he created the newspaper comic strip Star Hawks with writer Ron Goulart.  The daily strip, which ran through 1981, was known for its experimental use of a two-tier format during the first years.  In the early 1980s, he shared regular art duties on Superman with Curt Swan, and also contributed to the 1988 Superman animated TV series.  In 1989 Kane illustrated a comic-book adaptation of Richard Wagner's mythological opera epic The Ring of the Nibelung.

He remained active as an artist until his death of complications from lymphoma.  He was survived by his second wife, Elaine; children Scott, Eric and Beverly; and two granddaughters. His final home, where he was buried, was Aventura, Florida.

Kane received numerous awards over the years, including the 1971, 1972, and 1975 National Cartoonists Society Awards for Best Story Comic Book, and the group's Story Comic 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".  Kane was named to both the Eisner Award Hall of Fame and the Harvey Award Jack Kirby Hall of Fame in 1997.

Wikipedia: Gil Kane

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