Colleen Doran

Last updated
Colleen Doran
Doran at the 2016 New York Comic Con
Area(s)Writer, Penciller, Inker, Letterer, Colourist
Notable works
Sandman , The Amazing Spider-Man , A Distant Soil , Orbiter , The Legion of Superheroes , The Book of Lost Souls
S.H.I.E.L.D. #4 variant cover. An example of Colleen Doran's art for Marvel Comics SHIELD 4 variant cover.jpg
S.H.I.E.L.D. #4 variant cover. An example of Colleen Doran's art for Marvel Comics

Colleen Doran is an American writer-artist and cartoonist. She illustrated hundreds of comics, graphic novels, books and magazines, including the autobiographical graphic novel of Marvel Comics editor and writer Stan Lee entitled Amazing Fantastic Incredible Stan Lee, which became a New York Times bestseller. [1] She adapted and did the art for the short story "Troll Bridge" by Neil Gaiman, which also became a "New York Times" bestseller. [2] Her books have received Eisner, Harvey, and International Horror Guild Awards.


Her 2019 graphic novel adaptation of Neil Gaiman's short story Snow, Glass, Apples, is nominated for both the Bram Stoker Award for Superior Achievement in a Graphic Novel [3] and the Reuben Award from the National Cartoonist Society for Best Graphic Novel [4] .

She also illustrated the works of Alan Moore, Warren Ellis, Joe R. Lansdale, Anne Rice, J. Michael Straczynski, Peter David and Tori Amos.

Notable credits include: The Sandman , Wonder Woman , Legion of Superheroes , Teen Titans , The Vampire Diaries comics, [5] Walt Disney's Beauty and the Beast , and her space opera series, A Distant Soil . [6]

She was one of two people listed among the top 25 female comic creators of all-time in both the writer and artist categories, ranking #7 among artists and #21 among writers. [7] Comics Alliance listed Doran as one of twelve women cartoonists deserving of lifetime achievement recognition. [8]

Early work

At age five, Doran won an art contest sponsored by the Walt Disney Company. Doran created her comic book series, A Distant Soil, at age twelve. [9]

Doran landed her first work for an advertising agency at age fifteen. [10] She attended Christopher Newport University and the Art Institute of Pittsburgh and used her professional works for curriculum credit. Science fiction artist Frank Kelly Freas was her mentor, and she apprenticed with him in the early 1980s. [11] [12]

She broke into the comic book industry when still a teenager, scouted by Tom Long for his fanzine Graphic Showcase. [13] Long hired Doran to draw a revival of the 1940s character Miss Fury. Underage Doran quit the assignment due to its adult content. [10] [14] She also contributed illustrations to the Hugo Award nominated fanzine Lan's Lantern. [15]

A Distant Soil was published in fanzines as early as 1979, then scouted by The Donning Company Starblaze imprint before it was contracted by WaRP Graphics. Doran left the company after nine issues due to an acrimonious dispute with WaRP, [16] which attempted to claim copyright and trademark on her work. [17] [18] [19] The WaRP version of the story has never been reprinted despite its unusual all-pencil style, and Doran's ownership of the publishing rights.


Doran discarded the 300 pages of work she did at Warp, and rewrote and redrew the entire A Distant Soil story from scratch, first with Donning, then as a self-publisher. A 1000-page long-form comics narrative, it has been published by Image Comics since 1996. It sold more than 700,000 copies in multiple printings. [20] The production archives were destroyed by the printer, and an extensive restoration process brought the series back to publication in 2013. [10]

Doran was scouted by Keith Giffen to work at DC Comics after he saw her work in the Legion of Superheroes fanzine Interlac. [21] [22] They went on to become frequent collaborators at DC on The Legion of Superheroes projects, Justice League 3001, and the series Reign of the Zodiac. Her art also appeared in Amethyst, Princess of Gemworld #12, multiple issues of Who's Who in the DC Universe and Who's Who in the Legion of Superheroes, Superman: Man of Steel Gallery, Christmas with the DC Superheroes, Captain Atom, Star Trek, and Hawkman Annual. She did art for several Teen Titans and Wonder Woman projects. [23]

She illustrated portions of the "Dream Country" and "A Game of You" story arcs in Neil Gaiman's The Sandman series. [24] [25] The character Thessaly in Neil Gaiman's Sandman is based on Doran. [26] Other Vertigo appearances include Shade, The Changing Man, Lucifer (DC Comics), Transmetropolitan and the original graphic novel Orbiter (comics) written by Warren Ellis.

Doran's premiere at Marvel Comics was in 1986, Swords of the Swashbucklers #9 and 11, with issue 11 having the dubious distinction of being one of the books confiscated in the 1986 Friendly Franks "obscene" comics raid that precipitated the formation of the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund. [27] [28] Swords of the Swashbucklers was eventually excluded from the prosecution proceedings. [29]

Doran worked on other projects at Marvel including The Guardians of the Galaxy Annual #3, The Silver Surfer, Marvel Fanfare, Excalibur #28, Captain America: Drug Wars, Amazing Spider-Man, Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man, a Power Pack mini-series, Handbook of the Marvel Universe, Mutant X, X-Factor, Marvel Girl Comics, and X-Men Millennial Visions for which she wrote and drew an entry. She also worked in the Special Projects Department on promotional, educational, and greeting card art, sometimes working directly with Stan Lee. [30] [31] [32]

At Marvel Comics' Epic division, she worked on Clive Barker's Nightbreed #21 and #22 as interior and cover artist, and Clive Barker's Hellraiser #5 and #14, as artist and colorist.

Doran was a web columnist for Wizard Magazine in the early 1990s, and illustrated Super Idol for Warren Ellis in 2001, an early webcomics format experiment at Artbomb. [33]

Doran is featured in the films Ringers (a documentary about The Lord of the Rings fans), Scenes From the Small Press: Colleen Doran by Rich Henn, Sex, Lies and Superheroes, the documentary The Cartoonist about Bone creator Jeff Smith, [34] and Captured Ghosts, a documentary about writer Warren Ellis. [35] She was also featured in the Dec. 12, 2011 episode of "Stalked: Someone's Watching," a Discovery ID television series that profiles stalking incidents, focusing on interviews with victims. [36]

Doran worked as a creator rights activist and as a lobbyist in Washington D.C., and served on the advocacy committee of the Graphic Artists Guild. Lecture venues include the Smithsonian Institution, The Singapore Writers Festival, the Comics Masterclass in Sydney, Australia, and the Maryland Institute College of Art. [37] She spoke at CREATE: Protecting Creativity from the Ground Up at the Newseum in Washington DC, with Congresswoman Marsha Blackburn, Rick Carnes President of the Songwriters Guild of America, musician Suzanne Vega, and other artists and technology policy specialists. [37]


Doran illustrated young adult novelist Barry Lyga's first graphic novel for Houghton Mifflin, Mangaman in 2011. [38] [39]

Gone to Amerikay, a graphic novel drawn by Doran and written by Derek McCulloch, was released in 2012 from DC/Vertigo. It is a "multi-generational Irish saga." [40] [41] Gone to Amerikay themed cover art was featured in the St. Patrick's Day edition of the Irish Echo , which was then presented to President Barack Obama by Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness of Northern Ireland. An excerpt from Gone to Amerikay was chosen for inclusion in The Best American Comics 2013. [42]

Doran produced cover art for The Walking Dead #1 (2015, Image Comics), Red Sonja (Dynamite, 2014), Marvel's S.H.I.E.L.D. #4 (2015), and Squirrel Girl #7 (2016). For DC Comics, she wrote and drew stories for The Vampire Diaries (2014), based on the TV show, and art for Justice League 3001 #6, 9 and 10 (2015-2016). For IDW's Womanthology (2012), she contributed biographical essays about classic cartoonists Rose O'Neill and Ethel Hays.

In 2015, she illustrated the autobiography Amazing Fantastic Incredible Stan Lee, co-written by Lee and Peter David. [31]

With Alan Moore, she did the art for Big Nemo, [43] a dystopian sequel to Winsor McCay's Little Nemo in Slumberland , as a webcomic for the Electricomics app. [44] [45]

She did the art for an adaptation of Neil Gaiman's short story "Troll Bridge" as a graphic novel for Dark Horse, released in October 2016. [46] [47] She also worked on issues of Faith and X-O Manowar for Valiant Comics. [48] She produced work for the adaptation of Neil Gaiman's American Gods. [49] She is the artist for the series Finality with Warren Ellis at Line Webtoon. [50]

In 2019, Dark Horse Comics published Doran's adaptation of Neil Gaiman's "Snow, Glass, Apples" which was described by "The Comics Journal" as a work which "...solidifies her place as one of the greatest cartoonists of her generation." [51] The Horror Writers Association nominated "Snow, Glass, Apples" for the Bram Stoker Superior Achievement in a Graphic Novel award for 2019. [52]


Awards and honors

Notable works


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