The artist Ernie Colón has passed away at the age of 88. He leaves behind a staggering body of work that stretched across several genres. In case you’re not familiar with his art, here is a look back at his career.
Started Out in Comics
Born in Puerto Rico, Colón was raised in New York, where he began his career as a letterer for Harvey Comics. It was also at Harvey where he met his longtime collaborator Sid Jacobson, as well as where Colón did uncredited artwork for titles like Richie Rich and Casper the Friendly Ghost.
The first work he created under his own name was for Wham-O, the toy company. It was a two-page comic called “Kaleidoscope of Fear,” made for Wham-O Giant Comics #1 in 1967. After that, he worked for a number of titles for other companies, including superhero stories and horror comics. He also adapted Battlestar Galactica with Roger McKenzie for Marvel.
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Ernie Colón and the Big Names in Comics
In the early 80s, Ernie Colón moved to DC, where he was able to create his own stories. Some of these stories included Arak, Son of Thunder, which he co-created with Roy Thomas. Starting in 1981, this series focused on Arak, a Native American hero who is raised by Vikings. Two years later, Colón would create Amethyst: Princess of Gemworld with writers Dan Mishkin and Gary Cohn. Amethyst, the teenage heroine, finds out she’s actually the lost heiress of the titular Gemworld and then her adventures begin. The original Amethyst series ran for about 3 years in the mid-80s and after that, Amethyst appeared ever-so-often in other characters’ stories. Finally in 2012, DC rebooted Amethyst for the Sword of Sorcery series, which has since ended. In addition to making his own works, Colón served as an editor for DC on titles like The Flash and Wonder Woman.
Colón left DC for Marvel in the late 80s, where he worked on projects like their science-fiction series Ax. He also drew the Bullwinkle and Rocky series for Star Comics, Marvel’s imprint aimed at younger readers.
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Colón’s Art in Recent Years
After leaving Marvel in the early 90s, Colón mostly worked for smaller comic companies, which included a return to Harvey. There, he worked on projects like a Beetlejuice comic and a New Kids on the Block series that I almost certainly owned. He also drew the Spycat comic strip for Weekly World News until the tabloid folded in 2007.
But Colón’s work also went beyond comics in later years. He and Jacobson drew an illustrated version of the 9/11 Commission Report, for example. They followed that with a number of other non-fiction graphic novels, including works on Che Guevara and Anne Frank. Ernie Colón also reunited with his Amethyst co-creator Dan Mishkin for a graphic novel about the Warren Commission, the committee that investigated the assassination of John F. Kennedy. His most recent work was The Torture Report another collaboration with Jacobsen illustrating the Senate’s report on the United States’ use of torture in the post-9/11 wars.
Survived by his family, according to his Facebook page, Colón kept creating into his 80s, saying “No idea what else I would be doing, since I would draw even when not paid for it.”
Salomé Gonstad is a freelance writer who grew up in the swampy wilds of south Alabama. She now splits her time between the Appalachian wilds (of Alabama) and the considerably more refined streets of New York City. When she's not yelling about pop culture on the internet, she's working on a supernatural thriller about her hometown. Also, we're pretty sure she's a werewolf.