In recent years, comics have begun crediting “separations” by such entities as Digital Chameleon. What does the separator do and how does it relate to the colorist? Who did it before they began crediting it?
I’ve noticed the colorists have begun getting higher credit listing than the letterers. Is that because the industry has begun considering the color artists more important?
— Glenn Simpson (email@example.com)
…I was curious as to what software the comic book industry uses for its logos and coloring? I believe that Photoshop is used for coloring, but are the logos hand-rendered?
— Daryl (firstname.lastname@example.org)
…I was wondering what the evolution of the 4 color coloring process was in the comics industry? How were comics originally colored? And how are they colored now? Also, how does an individual become a colorist in the comics field?
— Mike Cruz (email@example.com)
…I’m creating a proposal for Image. My question is how do I go about printing my comic accurately. I’m an artist who has a Mac computer and uses Photo Shop to color my creation. Is that what they use in the industry?
— Wes Harris (firstname.lastname@example.org)
For most of the first fifty years of the comic book business, the coloring was done on photographically created copies of the art. When the technology of photocopying machines improved, the color guides were then done on plain paper copies. In both cases, the color palette was limited to 25%, 50% and 100% screens of red, yellow, and blue plus combinations thereof, for a total of 64 possible colors.
Once colored, these guides were marked (with such codes as “R2B2” which meant a 25% Red 25% Blue combination) and were sent to the color separator. Said separator, which for much of comics history was Chemical Color Plate in Connecticut, would make nine acetate prints of the original art, one for each percentage of each color. Using the colored stat as a guide, areas on the acetates would be filled in with an opaque paint to correspond to the color(s) necessary. Once completed, the acetates would be photographed, screened, and combined to create the printing plates for each of the three colors. These would then be used to print the books at Spartan Printing in Illinois.
In the 70s, ace artist Murphy Anderson and his son started Visual Concepts, and offered color separation services as well, adding a 70% tone to the mix (and thereby increasing the palette to 128 colors). DC utilized the services of Visual Concepts, particularly on the “upscale” offset-printed books coming from the Ronalds Printing plant in Montreal.
A more complete recounting of the history can be found in the archive of my old columns, five parts beginning on August 21, 2000 (http://www.silverbulletcomicbooks.com/bobro/96684120072585.htm).
Anyway, in the mid-80s DC had a head of Production named Rozakis who saw an early paintbrush program on a computer and thought, “Why can’t we use something like this to color the comics?” He foresaw a day when colorists would toss out their dyes and brushes and colored pencils and would be coloring the pages right on the computer screen and that those electronic files would be used to generate the printing plates. After much research and working with a variety of suppliers, he pushed DC (and ultimately the rest of the industry) into the electronic age.
Today colorists have a virtually infinite number of colors to use – and some of them try to use every one – and electronic files travel from colorist to publisher to printer. There are a variety of programs being used, but they all must be compatible to what the printer ultimately needs to create the printing plates. Now, four and a half years after I left DC, the industry continues to adapt and improve on what it does and can do. The result is in the look of the books.
This is probably a common question, most likely asked over and over by young inspiring artists and the whole comic fandom. But I’m interested in seeing if my work is worthy to be published by a comic book publishing company. So I was wondering if you could point me in the right direction with addresses, e-mail, info (apart from the common “keep drawing and keep writing” that is always encouraged) so I can get my name and my work out there. I know there are tons of artists; both good and bad, but I was hoping for a little help in the right direction. It’s always worth a shot.
— John Midgley (email@example.com)
Your best bet to get your work seen and evaluated by the publishers is to catch up with them at one or another of the major conventions where they are doing portfolio reviews. Most of them also have websites, so you can check there for information about submitting samples. Many of today’s hot artists got their start doing work for smaller publishers, often for little if any money. If you’ve got the financial freedom (i.e. a day job that pays the rent) to pursue that route, go for it.
Not a question so much as a comment. First of all I can’t believe that you’ve forgotten that Peter Parker’s first girlfriend was Betty Brant. I know you are and were more of a DC kind of guy but you ARE the Answer Man!
The second matter at hand; the obvious answer as to how to cook the perfect fillet mignon? Why, perfectly (of course).
Well, as I pointed out in the addendum to the column two weeks ago, I was roundly chastised for forgetting Betty Brant. Thanks for the answer to the cooking question; those pesky folks at Spoof Central are back with a new one, however…
Okay, buster, if you aren’t going to answer cheap cookery questions, field this baby: How many superheroes have been caught in the lavatory?”
— Alfonso Crept (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Caught by whom? Their significant others? Great Aunt Hilda? Strangers? Nosy reporters? And for that matter, caught doing WHAT?
A comment on some of the letters regarding disguises and Superman/Clark Kent: In the comics, at least in the modern age, Clark is always depicted as Superman with glasses and that makes you say, “Why can’t they figure it out?”
The only time that glasses ever worked was in the Superman movies. Christopher Reeve pulled it off by changing the way he stood and carried himself as Clark versus Superman. This is most evident in the scene in the first movie where he is considering revealing his identity to Lois. He takes off the glasses, straightens up, and removes that befuddled look from his face and is now Superman.
— Gabriel Garcia (email@example.com)
You’re right. That one scene did make it seem possible that people could be fooled. But even so, people who knew Clark well would certainly have noticed the “strong resemblance” to the Man of Steel.
And speaking of disguises, we’re back to the questions that started the discussion…
Let me re-phrase my question from a previous column, since I think it was misinterpreted: Since disguises like Superman’s glasses and Batgirl’s mask actually work in the DC Universe, how did her brother recognize Barbara Gordon?
— Glenn Simpson (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Because it was a necessary plot point and that’s the way I wrote the story.
Your recent column mentioned the joking on LOIS & CLARK about Lois’ inability to recognize Clark without his glasses. What always bothered me most about that series was that Clark wore glasses when he first arrived in Metropolis at the start of the pilot, but didn’t get the idea to become Superman until much later in that episode. What’s the point of wearing glasses before he had a secret identity?
— Bob Buethe (email@example.com)
Regarding the gentleman who thought a 50s horror movie was the “clear inspiration” for the Hulk, based on the fact a man turns to a monster through scientific experiments, has it occurred to him that they both might be based on “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde”?
As always, love the column. (And, by the by, I’m a CTY alum from the early 80s!)
— Jonathan Miller (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Bob, back when you were The Answer Man at DC, Julie Schwartz said in answer to this question that Krypto is a “Weisinger Spaniel.”
That Julie, such a wag!
Did you know you got a mention in this month’s free online Borderline magazine(http://www.borderlinemagazine.co.uk) in an article about graphic novels that SHOULD be?
“SHOULD BE COLLECTED BUT PROBABLY NEVER WILL
5. ‘MAZING MAN
Because it was the sweetest, funniest (JLI excepted – and yes, DC, more Giffen/DeMatteis JLI collections would be welcomed, to accompany the new miniseries) super-hero book ever written. Even Frank Miller was a fan. Bob Rozakis and Stephen DeStefano’s finest hour. Sadly a ‘Mazing Man trade would probably only sell about three copies. And two of them would be to me (and the other one would be to me – Co-Ed).”
— Daniel Fish (email@example.com)
I’m sure it would sell more than three copies but the powers-that-be at DC don’t think it would sell enough to be worthwhile. Time to start the groundswell movement…
With all the talk of doppelgangers the last couple of weeks, something came to mind. This may have been brought up already but ASTRO CITY is chock full of “tributes” Samaritan = Superman, Winged Victory = Wonder Woman, Confessor & Alter Boy = Batman & Robin, The Hanged Man = The Spectre, MPH = The Flash, etc. Plus, AC is a heck of a read.
— Blue Burke (SCStingRays2002@yahoo.com)
I’d just like to point out that John Wells missed at least one Marvel Treasury – 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY by Jack Kirby, which was then spun out into a short-lived regular comic, wherein debuted the magnificent Machine Man!
— Mike Lee (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Just thought I’d tack on my two cents about the tabloid editions. There was also a BATTLESTAR GALACTICA adaptation in the larger format. It must have been terribly over-printed or just passed over at the time as I have seen more of it at cons and shops over the years than the others combined! Interestingly enough it has uncorrected art which features a black character being drawn and colored white! Artist Ernie Colon apologized for this in an interview about the project years ago. Apparently he had not been given enough reference on the actors. There also exists a single (very thick!) volume reprinting the entire six issue STAR WARS adaptation.
Bob, was it you that pointed out in a Legion digest issue that there were bonus feature pages created for a LEGION tabloid that were reprinted in a digest? Yet they have never been reproduced in actual comic book size! Being a collector of tabloids and digests (variety is the spice of life), I have had to giggle at the diorama cut-outs from the back of tabloids being reproduced in digest form. One SGT. ROCK DIGEST reprints one of them and the tiny size makes it perfect for your desktop, but nonetheless hilarious!
And I would also like to take the opportunity to thank you Bob for all your years of making DC comics great for all of us. I have a piece of Julius Schwartz’s stationary that you and he signed and sent me in response to a bet the two of you made over the number of requests you would receive. I have met Julie and had him re-autograph it and heard him tell the tale of how it came to be. I would love to add your autograph with his if ever the opportunity arose.
Once again, thanks, Answer Man!
— Wes Wescovich (email@example.com)
You’re welcome, Wes.
And all of you are welcome to send your comments and questions using the minty-green box below. You’re also invited to visit my daily Anything Goes Trivia at www.worldfamouscomics.com… and be back here next week for another installment questions, answers and commentary.