Colleen Doran (born July 24, 1964) is an American writer/artist, film conceptual artist, and cartoonist. She has illustrated hundreds of comics, graphic novels, books and magazines, and dozens of stories and articles, including works written by Neil Gaiman, Clive Barker, Anne Rice, J. Michael Straczynski, Peter David and Tori Amos, including The Sandman, Wonder Woman, Legion of Superheroes, Teen Titans, Walt Disney's Beauty and the Beast, and her own fantasy series, A Distant Soil.

Early life[edit | edit source]

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

Career[edit | edit source]

She landed her first professional assignment for an advertising agency at age fifteen. While still in college, she was a full-time professional artist who was able to add her professional work to her college art curriculum for credit. Overwhelmed with assignments, she left college early.

She broke into the comic book industry when still a teenager, in the 1980s. A Distant Soil was published in fanzones before moving to Wendy and Richard Pini's WaRP Graphics, publishers of Elfquest. Doran left the company due to an acrimonious dispute with WaRP, which attempted to claim creation, and full copyright/trademark ownership of her work. The company later dropped these claims and signed a full release for the property to Doran. The WaRP version of the story has never been reprinted, despite its unusual all-pencil style, although Colleen Doran did reprint a short Distant Soil story that had appeared in a WaRP anthology.

After leaving WaRP, Colleen went on to completely rewrite and redraw the entire A Distant Soil series from scratch, self-publishing it for some years before moving on to Image Comics where it is now in multiple printings as a series of graphic novels. The first volume had four printings, and it is now in its third collected volume. It has sold, collectively, more than 700,000 copies. The story centers on a young girl who is born heir to an alien religious dynasty, and explores issues of politics, gender identity and tolerance. Its strong characterization and unique art style has inspired the Young American Library Association to profile the book in their quarterly journal, and it has been nominated for the Spectrum Award for Best Science Fiction in the Other category in 2001.

Doran's more recent comics-art projects included The Book of Lost Souls, a modern fantasy written by J. Michael Straczynski and published by Marvel's Icon imprint. Gone to Amerikay, a graphic novel drawn by Doran and written by Derek McCulloch from DC/Vertigo. Doran also illustrated best-selling young adult novelist Barry Lyga's first graphic novel, Mangaman, for Houghton Mifflin, in 2011. She will complete the long awaited Stealth Tribes graphic novel with Warren Ellis for Vertigo in 2013, and has signed to illustrate and adapt another graphic novel for Dark Horse, adapting the work of a New York Times bestselling author. She is also illustrating portions of Alex DeCampi's Ashes, and an upcoming segment of Aces, a webcomic anthology.

Honors[edit | edit source]

The character Thessaly in Neil Gaiman's Sandman is based on Doran, and she illustrated two issues of that series (#20 and #34) in the early 1990s. She is also 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, and The Cartoonist, a 2009 documentary film on the life and work of Jeff Smith, creator of Bone.

Doran was selected to give a series of lectures on Manga at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington D.C. in 2006.

Awards[edit | edit source]

  • Chesley Award Nominee
  • Eisner Award Nominee
  • Comics' Buyer's Guide Award Favorite Colorist Nominee
  • Delphi Institute Grant Award
  • American Representative Japan/America Manga Seminar, Tokyo
  • Guest of Honor, San Diego Comic Con
  • American Library Association 2002 featured speaker
  • Spectrum Award Nominee
  • Women Cartoonist's Hall of Fame, 2007, Friends of Lulu
  • International Horror Guild Award: The Nightmare Factory (anthology) 2008, Best Illustrated Narrative

Exhibitions[edit | edit source]

  • Four Color Images Gallery, New York, NY
  • Kunstlerhaus, Stuttgart, Germany
  • Porto, Portugal
  • "She Draws Comics", Secession Gallery, Vienna, Austria
  • Gijon Cultural Center, Gijon, Spain
  • San Francisco Cartoon Art Museum, San Francisco, CA
  • Museum of Cartoon Art, Rye Brook, New York
  • "20 Years of Sandman" Gallery Nucleus, 2008
  • "Out of Sequence: Underrepresented Voices in American Comics", Krannert Art Museum; Laboratory of Art and Ideas at Belmar

Professional organizations[edit | edit source]

  • American Society of Portrait Artists
  • Association of Science Fiction and Fantasy Artists
  • National Cartoonists Society

Bibliography[edit | edit source]

Comics[edit | edit source]

Illustration[edit | edit source]

Sources[edit | edit source]

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