Hello Revuers! We are back with anther segment of Coloring Between the Lines. This time with the uber talented (and apparently uber intelligent since she’s also a mechanical engineer) Megan Wilson. You have seen her color work on covers for such titles as The Life After. You’ve seen her fantastic work on interiors in such titles as Gwenpool Holiday special and of course Patsy Walker AKA Hellcat! We here at Deja.Revue are thrilled she was willing to sacrifice her very valuable time to answer such burning questions as: Where do you buy burritos at. If you find these sorts of questions to be riveting then this interview is for you!
Hello Megan, Thanks for agreeing to this interview!
• How long have you been a colorist?
I started learning to color sometime mid-2012 and my first published work came out about ~6 months later, so about 3 years? The volume of work I’ve done over that time is super low though because up until recently it was really just sporadic covers, one mini-series, and a few short anthology pieces. So yeah, from that perspective, I’m still very new!
• Was it what you wanted to be when you were a kid?
As a small kid? An astronaut! Sometime in high school I wanted to be a mechanical engineer so I went to undergrad & grad school for that and now work full time at GE doing aerodynamics. I suppose in some sense that still leaves the door open to being an astronaut someday!
• What’s the first comic book series you really got into?
Early 2012 was the first time I went to a comic shop. Manhattan Projects came out shortly thereafter and I have to credit that book as the one that got me hooked.
• Do you prefer superhero comics or other genres?
Oh wow, I’m all over the place. I don’t really stick to specific genres and will read pretty much anything. I follow books more so on line/color art style & story quality.
• Who is your favorite superhero?
Oh yay, an easy question! Hellcat! There are a bunch of other superhero runs that I really love, but I have to admit I don’t commit to characters for the long haul / beyond specific runs.
• What’s your favorite series that’s not a superhero series?
Off the top of my head… CHEW, since I was just thinking about how much I’m going to miss that book when it ends!
• What is your process like for coloring?
Hah, it’s not very exciting. Read script. Wait for pages to come in. Panic as the schedule start to compress, ha! Because the time I have limited time available to color due to my engineering work (and I’m still working on my speed!), I have to work ahead on pages as become available. So I send groups of however many pages I get to my flatter as soon as I get them and start working on them as soon as they come back. It’s not ideal and I’d much prefer to have the full issue available so I could see all of the line art and have to make fewer blind guesses and have less rework, but unfortunately for me thats not a reality right now!
Ok, but back to flatters. It takes me an embarrassingly long time to flat a page myself… I won’t tell you how long. Flatters are wizards. Once I get flats back, I hide that layer, meaning I can’t see his/her colors but can still make selections off of it. I get too confused about what I’m doing if that layer is visible. I drop my own colors in on a new layer, then just render and add any needed color holds. I don’t really use any fancy effects; the overwhelming majority of my work is cel shading.
• How do you choose a color palette?
I should probably say something that sounds smart here, but uh, the truth is that I kind of go more by gut and less by plan. I suspect this is might be frowned upon. I guess in general there are a few things I tend to do regarding palettes. I really like clean, crisp colors. I use browns and grays very rarely. And I try to keep black out of my colors (I color in CMYK).
I don’t currently make pre-planned palettes for a book so it’s a little bit of a free for all in general. I’ll go scene by scene, starting with a high-level concept or thing I want to emphasize and then just work backwards from there. Again, since I’m usually working on pages without having all of the art available, I make a best guess and do a first pass through everything as I get pages, and then I’ll go back through everything and tweak the palettes scene by scene until I’m I think they make sense, are distinct and transition ok.
• What’s your favorite project you’ve ever worked on?
The safest guess: whatever I’m currently working on. I think (hope) I’m still on a pretty steep learning curve, so I usually dislike my prior work pretty quickly! So right now the answer is PATSY WALKER AKA HELLCAT. Plus of course, Kate Leth’s writing & Brittney Williams’ line art are really fun to play off of and the reaction to the book has been pretty exciting, so all of that definitely helps too!
• Do you have anything coming out soon that we should keep an eye out for?
Yeah! In addition to HELLCAT, I have a secret small project that I think will be out this summer? It should be announced in a week or so, meaning I can’t say very much about it yet. What I can say is that it’s a reunion of the team from AND THEN EMILY WAS GONE (John Lees, Iain Laurie, and Colin Bell) with an all new story and the colors are entirely finished!
• Who are some of your favorite colorists in the industry today?
Oh gosh, this question is super hard because there are so many good colorists that I regularly follow. Too many! A few great examples are Matt Wilson, Rico Renzi, and Felipe Sobreiro.
• I’ve personally really enjoyed your work on Patsy Walker a.k.a. Hellcat. How did you pick out the palette for that book?
Ahh, thank you! And oops, I already somewhat spoiled my answer here when I exposed my lack of detailed planning on an earlier question, ha! For Patsy, I knew I wanted it to be really energetic and fun to fit with the vibe of the book. I had trouble deciding whether to lean more toward pastels or something a bit more bold, so I suppose it kind of ended up being a mix of both? Regarding my earlier comments about tending to avoid grays and keeping K out of my colors, this actually resulted in a few back in forth revisions for Ian because he is supposed to be goth and I kept just barely inching his clothes darker each time, ha! He’s probably still not super goth (sorry Kate, I tried!).
• I also really enjoy your Cover art work on titles like The Life After. What are some of the unique challenges between coloring Covers and whole Issues?
Ha, I sort of have a love/hate relationship with covers. Sometimes I know pretty quickly what I want to do with one and in that case they’re really fun to work on. Other times they will take me a really long time to figure out. One challenge with covers is that they don’t always have established context/characters since they’re done pretty far in advance and can end up being totally wide open in terms of what you can do, which can be a bit daunting. Plus I’m way worse about nitpicking on covers!
The challenge with interiors really lies in making sure the storytelling is clear, appealing and contributes to the narrative. Interiors are kind of like a puzzle: you have to consider things both in the context of the present mood/scene in addition to how it fits into the bigger story. You have to be willing to let go of things that look ok as a standalone idea but perhaps don’t work as well when you consider the issue or book as a whole.
• Did the older comics influence your choices? Or were you able to branch out a bit?
Hmm if so, none of it was really intentional. I don’t think the really old comics had any direct influence but there was probably some from the work Dave McCaig & John Rauch did on PATSY WALKER: HELLCAT (those guys are both great too!). I can see how my style in general may come off as a bit of a nod to the really old stuff though!
• Where’s your favorite place to pick up a burrito when you’re at cons
A place with a bar?
• What’s your favorite convention?
Heroes in Charlotte, NC! I try to go every year. I just wander around incognito & catch up with friends.
• If you weren’t a comic book artist what would be your career?
Should I assume leisurely wandering the world is not a realistic answer to this? If engineering is off limits too since that’s too easy of an answer, I suspect I’d probably still end up in a STEM field.
• What’s the biggest difference between working for the big two and on your indie titles?
I’m not sure I’m qualified to answer this! Its hard to generalize off of the handful of things I’ve done, plus every indy company that I’ve worked with is very different. I guess one notable difference is the presence of editors since on some indy projects there may not be one at all, but that’s definitely not true across the board.
• What would be a dream series for you to work on?
Oh gosh, I don’t know! Probably something a little bit off the norm and not super restrictive, which I think HELLCAT and EMILY both fit!
• Thank you for your time Megan, I’ve enjoyed talking to you. Looking forward to your great work in the future.
Thanks Andrew! Let’s do this again when I’m a little bit wiser! Ha!
If you would like to check out more of Megans work check out her Facebook, or her Twitter!
If you are interested in checking out some more of her work you can look it up here on comixology.
Don’t forget to ask your LCS about pre-ordernng Patsy Walker AKA Hellcat!