Saturday, May 9, 2015

Gil Kane, Costume Designer Extraordinaire

Doug: Feast your eyeballs on the sampling of the body of work of one Eli Katz -- known better to Bronze Age Babies as Gil Kane. Love him or loathe him (flying butts and nose upshots), the man designed two of the greatest superhero looks in the history of superhero lookdom. I'm speaking of course of the Silver Age versions of the Atom and Green Lantern. Among many others, he also had a hand in designing Tigra. Where do you think he ranks among the greats -- Kirby, Cockrum, Infantino, Romita?


Doug: And an apology for the Iron Fist image, clearly not by Mr. Kane. I could not for the life of me find an image by Kane of the K'un L'un Kid that was to my liking.


J.A. Morris said...

Success. I'm generally a fan of his costume designs, I'd say they hold up pretty well.

Abe Lucas said...

One of my first (and best) comic book moments ever was seeing GK's iconic cover to Green Lantern #123.

His designs definitely hold up for me.

Martinex1 said...

Success. His costume designs don't get tweaked much over the years. I think he designed Marvel's Captain Marvel redesign as well; I like that costume a lot. As far as ranking he would definitely be in the top 5 behind Kirby and Romita IMO but not sure where placed after that.

SteveDoesComics said...

I love Gil Kane. He was one of my favourite artists, when I was a boy. His work was just so elegant and stylised. I think my favourite work by him was his early work on Warlock which seemed perfect for his style. I'm assuming he also designed Warlock's costume, although I don't know that for sure.

Anonymous said...

I don't know if Kane designed Morbius' costume, but his depiction of the character from Amazing Spider-Man 100-102 (in a large size treasury edition) really blew me away as a kid.

The original Iron Fist costume is still the best; exotic, imposing and dynamic. I even bought one of the Bowen statues. There are many wonderful Kane covers in Iron Fist's run in Marvel Premiere.

Edo Bosnar said...

First, I have to take issue with your list of "greats" for costume design, i.e., Kirby, Cockrum, Infantino, Romita. While I agree that they were all notable costume designers, any list of greats in this regard should pretty much always be topped by Steve Ditko. He deserves the top ranking just for his design of one of the most iconic super-hero costumes ever, Spider-man's, and his almost as iconic redesign of Iron Man's armor.

But back to the topic at hand: given how big a fan of Kane's I am, this is a no-brainer for me. I love all of the costumes shown here, which all testify to his craft. I would also add his designs for the original looks of GL villains like Sinestro, Dr. Polaris, Goldface, or Evil Star. Also, I loved his redesign of his own costume for the Atom in the Sword of the Atom series, in which he just combined the original look with some classic comic-book barbarian flourishes.

Anonymous said...

Well, if you like big collars and plunging necklines, he's the best.

In all seriousness, I'd place him behind Kirby & Romita but still near the top. Edo, good point about Ditko, and might I add that I love the designs of Dr. Strange and the Question, too.

- Mike Loughlin

Edo Bosnar said...

Oh, yeah, Mike L., I just underscored Spidey and Iron Man because their costumes are so iconic (sorry for the overuse of the word). But yes, I love his designs for not just Dr. Strange and the Question, but also Green Goblin, Mysterio, the new Blue Beetle costume, Nightshade, both Captain Atom suits (at Charlton), Hawk & Dove, Shade, Prince Gavyn Starman, Speedball, etc. What I like is that his designs are usually really simple, yet very elegant. In fact, the same can be said of Gil Kane, big collars, plunging necklines and all.

Doug said...

"Among the greats" doesn't disqualify anyone from greatness, does it? While I appreciate the plug for Steve Ditko, I don't feel that by not mentioning him in my little group I've slighted the man's contributions. Usually Karen and I leave a little crack in the door for conversation. But I really don't appreciate being taken to task on it. "Among the greats"... Hopefully people don't think the four presidents on Mt. Rushmore are the only "greats".

And I will not give an inch on Jack Kirby as the greatest costume designer ever. It's nonsense to think anything else.

Sorry, but I got rubbed the wrong way and felt like a rebuttal was my prerogative.


Anonymous said...


I got excited seeing Ditko's name and in no way intended extending the conversation to be a different way of saying "you forgot..." Sorry if I took the conversation the wrong way and caused any annoyance.

And, as in many things that have to do with comics, no one beats the King.

- Mike Loughlin

Doug said...

Not a problem, Mike. My point was merely that there are many ways to make a statement.

Maybe people think I put in more time on these posts than I sometimes do. Often something is cobbled together quite quickly simply so that there'll be some amusement for our community.

Anyway, I visit back to Wednesday's SBTU post could provide a little interest in checking out the creators of some of our Top 10 Bronze Age characters.


Doug said...

"a" visit...

Anonymous said...

Success! Gil Kane was and still is one of my favourite artists not just in the Bronze Age but overall of any age. I'd rank him right up there with Dave Cockrum. His GL and Iron Fist costumes are two of my all time faves.

Kane seemed to favour form fitting skintight costumes. One would think there wouldn't be much variation but he was such a good artist the costumes he designed all looked great. The clean sharp lines of his art always appealed to me somehow.

- Mike 'upnostril shots rule!' from Trinidad & Tobago.

Edo Bosnar said...

Aw geez, Doug, you should know by now that pretty much any my comments are posted in a light-hearted spirit. No animosity intended, although I suppose the tone may have been a little internet-trollish, so I apologize.

By the way, here's another great Gil Kane costume design, one of the more recognizable of the 1970s that I can't believe all of us forgot. For me it just cements Kane as one of the masters in this category.

William said...

Gil Kane is definitely one of the top superhero/villain costume designers in comics history.

But when it comes to the best I have to agree with Mr. Edo Bosnar's pick of Steve Ditko. I was going to bring him up as well. (Great minds and all that).

Ditko is definitely my favorite costume designer. As mentioned he designed Spider-Man, (who sports the best superhero costume of all time). My other favorites are Iron Man, Captain Atom (the silver arms look), New Blue Beetle, and Hawk & Dove, with an honorable mention for the Creeper, just for the over the top weirdness of it all. And lets not forget all the classic villains he designed such as the Green Goblin, Electro, Doc Ock, Mysterio, Kraven, Dormamu, and etc.

I'm also going to throw Wally Wood into the conversation, just for his redesign of Daredevil's costume. For the time it was an extremely bold choice. There weren't a lot of characters running around in monochrome costumes. (Plus he looked like the Devil). I'm surprised Stan even approved it. But it has stood the test of time and proven to be one of the most iconic superhero looks of all time. DD still wears that exact costume to this day. There's just no way to improve on it. For me, that look is pretty much tied with Spider-Man for best costume ever.

pete doree said...

Gil was wonderful, case closed. Even today, if I come across a story of his I've never seen before, I know I'm not gonna be disappointed.
Can I put in a vote for two of the best costume designers that never get mentioned in this area? Gray Morrow and Howard Chaykin. Look at things like Iron-Wolf, Sword Of Sorcery, Edge Of Chaos, or Orion. Even the background characters have visually interesting looks.

jeirich said...

I thought Kane was probably at his best in the Star Hawks strip.

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