Thursday, November 8, 2007

I Used to Color Comic Books

Really. I did. When I finished school in Arizona and had my advertising design degree in hand I made a few contacts in my hometown of West Plains. I sent my resume to a few places I knew of and a few places my sister Regina knew of. I had an interview scheduled almost upon arrival with a company that colored comic books using computers. I was hired right away and went to work in the layout department and spent most of my time scanning art boards that each contained one page that would eventually be a comic book page. The boards contained black and white ink drawings. It was my job to get the pages scanned, saved to the computer, and copies of each file made for the color separating department so they could add computer colors with the use of color guides. Of course any of us scanning the books took the time to read each page as we scanned!

From time to time I would be pulled to work in other departments as well. I spent some time in the stripping department making color keys, etc., learned to add color to the pages in the color separations department, and even spent some time in the proofing department looking over each completely colored page, checking for errors. Every single task was logged to determine the total amount of time spent in every department on each page.

Eventually a new department was formed for "creative color" in which those of us with creative abilities would enhance some of the pages further: adding special effects to backgrounds or using artistic skills to add highlights and shadows to more distinct characters on pages. Not every book colored at the company went through this department. This was my favorite department to be part of. Our favorite comic was DC's "Nightwing." We colored that book from issue one. We eagerly anticipated the arrival of the new issue every month. I didn't buy many of the comics we colored but I did buy every single issue of Nightwing during the time I worked there. I don't think I've read a single issue since leaving the company though. There were a few books that went through our creative department that we really got to spend some time making pages pop. Those were fun, although very time consuming. Every department's main concern was how fast we could turn around pages and books. Not the creative department. Our concern was how the page or character looked. Whereas Disney comic books could be colored in 30-45 minutes each, there were a few pages that we spent hours on.

I think the coolest thing about that job was being able to tell people "I color comic books." Occasionally companies would hire us to color their covers and those and "splash" or poster pages were highly coveted in our department. Sadly, we never did a Nightwing cover. But we were sent covers from "Major Bummer," "Decoy," "The Victorian," "Captain Gravity," and a few others.

Our department was not large, but a close-knit group of just a few. Our "fearless leader" Craig's favorite character is/was Batman so he earned the nickname of Batman during his employment as our immediate supervisor there. Greg was a small-in-stature young man with red hair and earned the nickname of "Robin." Jenny loved vampire stories, thus earning her the title "Vampira." That and she dressed up as Vampira for Halloween once. That was the year Craig dressed as Batman, Greg dressed as Robin and Lana made the best Joker ever! They gave me the nickname "Talon" due to my long nails and something about a change in personality during ping pong competitions on our breaks. I don't even know what they were talking about! There was a time for 3 months I had a severe sinus infection that just would not go away. During that time they referred to me as "Snot Queen." I much preferred Talon after that. There was one other employee, Sean. I don't recall that we had a nickname for him though.

I've done a little bit of freelance comic coloring in the time since I left the company, but it just isn't as enjoyable as it once was and the time spent on pages now seems so monotonous. My latest venture into freelance coloring can be found on my side bar: Warriors Creed.

Isn't it funny how I can go back now after all these years and still recognize which pages I did, and even some of Craig's and Lana's pages?

A page I colored from a special Nightwing/Huntress Crossover.

A cool page from "Decoy"

This is from "The Victorian." I just always liked how the boy's face turned out in panel 2.

The whole department was jealous when I landed this 2-page splash! Pages like this were so much fun! This ones' from "Captain Gravity"

A fun page from "Decoy"

The rest of these are covers I colored. Covers were the most coveted of all pages!

1 comment:

E said...

Uhhhh, my coloring NEVER looked like THAT! Pretty cool. =0)


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