Monday, 30 March 2009

Gene Day

It's only old fans like me ( and presumably you ) who know the name of Gene Day these days. Which is a shame, for as anyone who watched his development from Star*Reach to Bizarre Adventures to Epic Illustrated to Master Of Kung-Fu knows, he was going to be one of the greats.

Howard Eugene Day was born in Canada in 1951. He worked with Cerebus The Aardvark's Dave Sim on various canadian underground publications, as well as a few of Skywald's horror books like Psycho & Nightmare. He also did a lot of strips for Mike Friedrich's Star*Reach & Imagine. Like this one:

And this one:

Gene got his big break in 1976, inking over Mike Zeck's breakdown's on Master Of Kung-Fu, then eventually becoming penciller on the strip by 1981. His style was incredibly dense, realistic & detailed, and his inking nearly as rich & photographic as Wally Wood's. Here's some classic Shang-Chi, showing Gene's absolute mastery of design:

Gene died in 1982, a victim of a coronary in his sleep, at the shockingly early age of 32, and because Master Of Kung-Fu will probably never be released in 'Essential' form, his work is more or less lost to both old & new fans. Which is a real shame as, if he'd lived, we'd be talking about him in the same breath as Neal Adams or Alex Ross.
I just found out while writing this, that there is an award in Gene's name, awarded to Canadian self-publishers of merit: A fitting tribute, but it's a pity he never got to see it.


  1. I didn't know Gene was dead. I just assumed he went off to work in films, or advertising, like so many others. shame. and, you're right, too, I think he's destined to be one of those greats who's only ever remembered fondly by a select few. always the bridesmaid, 'ey? unless, of course, the select few shout loud enough.

  2. Gene's work on Kung Fu is what got me sucked in. He was definitely underrated. Fans of Steranko and Gulacy should also enjoy his stuff if not already.

  3. Those Gene Day issues of Master Of Kung Fu are great.
    I seem to remember his death was quite controversial having just
    been removed from the title and put on Marvel’s Indiana Jones book
    (He was a few pages into #3 when he died I believe)
    32 is no age and even when i first heard the news when I was a
    teenager it just seemed shocking.
    Again I seem to remember reading some where that Moench and Day
    were set for a run on Batman having spoke to Dick Giordano over at
    DC about how unhappy they both were at that time at Marvel.
    (Ofcourse Moench did do I long run on the character even a couple of
    issues with Gene’s brother Dan, but it wasn’t quite the same)
    Just like to say i’m loving the blog having come across it via a link
    from Sean Phillip’s blog...great stuff

    Graham Hill

  4. Thanks, graham, stick around & tell yer friends as they say!
    I'm gonna have to figure out some way to get Marvel to do an Essential Shang-Chi. My bookshelf is crying out for it!

  5. From a rare 1982 radio interview (arranged by yours truly) with then-Marvel head Jim Shooter:

    "CB-Uh-huh. A couple more questions I want to ask you. What about Bill Sienckewicz and Gene Day? I’m wondering why they left?
    JS- Well, Gene never left. Gene, unfortunately, died last week.
    CB-We’re talking about Gene Day?
    JS-Yes, of a heart attack but uh…at the point when he died he was still doing a regular series for us, THE FURTHER ADVENTURES OF INDIANA JONES and quite a lot of other work besides. I know that Gene, like many other guys, was doing some work on the outside for independent, smaller publishers and like that."

  6. I recently purchased a set of mokf(36-122)off e-bay.And the artwork by Gene Day,on his own and also inking over Mike Zeck is still stunning to see.I remember being shocked over the announcement of his death in a mokf letter col.

  7. this is the 30 year of my brother Genes Death on Sept 23 2012

  8. go see his fan art page on facebook

  9. Gene, the best penciler an inker of the world.

  10. One of my all time favorite comic book I've ever read is issue 114 of MoKF

  11. Never heard of Gene before. His black and white work here reminds me of Brian Bolland. Excellent stuff.

  12. Sadly I don't think there's much of Gene's stuff out there still, Richard, but now that Marvel have managed to start reprinting MOKF, hopefully they'll get to his era.
    Needless to say, if you see his name on any reprints, snap 'em up, he never disappointed.