Wednesday, September 1, 2010

New Readers Vs Old Coloring

From now on... you may call me Nostradapierre. Using my fantastic Canadian power of precognition, I will make this prediction.

At some point in time, Marvel/DC will re-color their older comics to make newer editions/TPBs/etc in an attempt to please new readers.... or sell the same book once more to some of their older readers.

Why do I say this? There are a couple of reasons.

Whenever I try to introduce someone new to the great comics of yesteryear... I hear one complaint over and over again.

The coloring sux.

Yes it breaks my heart whenever I hear those words. But it would seem that pretty much anything colored before the Image Age... anything colored before the colors started being done with the computer... anything colored before the early 90’s is seen as poorly colored.

I can almost... almost... understand. But not really.

I grew up reading black and white comics... so the colors never bothered me since there wasn’t any color in the comics I read. Although I did prefer my black and white comics to the color ones published by Marvel or DC. Not because of the coloring... but quite simply because the printing was better. We somehow had a better print quality then the US version of the same comics.

But I am always surprised at how most people cannot seem to see past the colors and see or appreciate the great work done by the likes of Byrne, Cockrum, Perez and many others.

The easiest way I found to bypass that aversion to the way that old comics were colored is to introduce new readers to the black and white version of them comics, either with my old comics, or brand new Marvel Essentials or DC Showcases.


But I suspect that at some point... Marvel will come to the same conclusion and will recolor their older comics... and DC will quickly follow Marvel’s lead IF it proves successful.

Already... Marvel is somewhat doing that on some of their TPBs. Look at some of their Marvel Premiere HCs, or the most recent Dark Phoenix Saga HC, or their newer edition of their Marvel Masterworks TPBs. Already they are changing the coloring on the covers or back covers. They also re-colored the Golden Age stories in their recent Marvel 70th anniversary editions.


Mark my word... it is only a matter of time until they come up with newer re-mastered/re-colored/whatever they will call them new editions. Or as some would call it....The George Lucas Special Edition Syndrome. ;)

And you will be VERY tempted in some cases to get some of them newer editions EVEN IF you already own a previous edition.

Mark my word... you have been warned. ;)

Until next time.

- Pierre

6 comments:

BrittReid said...

Remember when Ted Turner started the trend of "colorizing" b&w movies because younger audiences didn't want to watch b&w flix?
You'll note the practice has largely been abandoned.

If old comics are properly prepped for repro and printed on non-blindingly-white stock, there's no reason not to retain the old coloring.
Problem is, they're usually not prepared properly and/or printed on paper so white your eyes hurt after reading!

Reno said...

I agree with BrittReid. I think it's more on the way comics were printed back then that turns off younger readers. I used to think that Don Newton's Charlton work was sub par, but when I saw them reprinted in Back Issue magazine, they were as good as the ones he did for DC.

MattComix said...

The problem with black and white..well there's really no problem with it so much as the simple fact that the art itself was designed to be "left open" for color so it's not shaded in a way an artist would do knowing it was going to be black and white.

Some cases of recolors are really quite awesome. I was really thrilled with recoloring work Dark Horse did for Marvel issues of Conan in Conan Chronicles and also what Marvel did for Kirby's Tales of Asgard.

Both are a near perfect marriage of the benefits of modern coloring without making things muddy and dark like it's sunset 24 hours a day.

I think with the old colors what will put people off is just that due to limitations of print the heroes would look fine but then the average citizen in a background shot is wearing an orange business suit or an entire cityscape is done in yellow. Or sometimes colors on an entire book would print really washed out.

Now reading comics back in the day this would bother me but never enough to be totally put off especially if the art was good. So I can see it being odd for a modern reader but at the same time I think they should be a bit more willing to put themselves in the time-frame for a bit when they read older stuff.

lukeblast said...

I resisted picking up Essentials for the longest time because I claimed I would be missing the color... then I picked one up as an experiment and found that if anything, I enjoyed the comics more than I would have otherwise. The simple fact (for me, at least) is that most of the older coloring jobs aren't that great anyway, and at a certain point time wears on those colors to the point that they can actually detract from my reading experience.

And computer coloring isn't foolproof anyway, and some updated colors in TPBs that completely miss the mark. My Avengers: Celestial Madonna trade is simply godawful, as colors called out on the page are completely different, and randomly change from panel to panel. I enjoyed the storyline a lot more in the Essentials because I wasn't cringing at the green Swordsman being blue, Scarlet Witch having bare legs instead of leggings, blue-skinned Kree colored as Caucasians, and numerous other flaws.

JimShelley said...

@lukeblast - you know - that's a really good point! I also find that in some cases, the Essentials allow you to concentrate more on the details of the artwork too. It wasn't till I picked up the Metamorpho Showcase that I realized how good Ramona Fradon was!

Pierre Villeneuve said...

Thanks for all the comments guys... some great comments in there. I might expand on som eof them comments in a future blog as a follow-up to this one.

As for the Essentials/B&W artwork... it is as close as we can get to seeing the original artwork.

So in some cases... if the artwork was "ruined" by poor coloring... seeing it in B&W allows us to see the artowrk with a different view/perception.

But some artist need some color to puch-up their artwork.

It depends on the artist I guess.

Enough for now.... Wil have to write a follow-up to this Blog I guess. ;)

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