Sunday, August 11, 2019

Remembering Ernie Colón

My first exposure to Ernie Colón’s art was in issues 1 thru 3 of Marvel’s Battlestar Galactica comic book, which was an adaptation of the TV series’ original 3-hour movie.

But it wasn’t until several years later and the coming of Amethyst: Princess of Gemworld that I truly began to appreciate his work.

Fueled by the popularity of the New Teen Titans, DC Comics was experiencing a creative renaissance at the time, taking chances on such projects as Camelot 3000 and Watchmen.

First published in 1983 by DC Comics, the 12-issue Amethyst maxi-series was written by Dan Mishkin and Gary Cohn, with art by Colón.

Featuring a female protagonist in the lead role, the series was ahead of its time. To my recollection the only other female characters starring in their own solo books back then were Wonder Woman (whose book was ever teetering towards cancellation) and Marvel’s Spider-Woman. She-Hulk’s book was canceled in 1982. The adage at the time was that no female character could succesfully support her own book.

The story of Amethyst revolved around a teenage girl named Amy Winston who discovers she is the orphaned princess of a magical land called Gemworld. Along the way she rallies the support of the other royal houses to defeat the sinister Dark Opal.

The series proved to be a wonderful showcase for Colón’s talents. Colón’s unique artwork imbued the stories with great charm and appeal, bringing Gemworld and its colorful characters to vibrant life.

 Below is Tom Ziuko's original color guide for the cover to issue #10.

Below is Tom Ziuko's original color guide for the cover to issue #12. 

Defying all expectations, the series proved successful enough that it was followed up by an Annual in 1984 and a short-lived monthly series in 1986.

I still feel a great fondness for Amethyst and her friends (Lord Topaz, Lady Turquoise, and Emmy, the young Princess Emerald), and would love to see the Amethyst series collected and get the full-color hardcover treatment the character and Colón’s artwork deserve.

Flash forward to the 1990’s.

I had the pleasure of meeting Ernie Colón in person while I was working at Valiant Comics. I remember him coming by the office to drop off pages of Magnus Robot Fighter.

The pages were gorgeous.

I hope Ernie Colón’s work will live on to entertain and inspire a new generation of readers and storytellers.