Coloring Between the Lines: Matthew Wilson

Hello Revuers! Sorry for the absences a of late, but we are officially back. What better way to return than with an interview with one of the top colorists in the game today: Matthew Wilson! We appreciate Matthew for his time and are grateful to him for answering our questions. We hope you enjoy this interview as much as we do!

 

Hello Matt, Thanks for agreeing to this interview!

 

  • How long have you been a colorist?

I started coloring for Lee Loughridge’s coloring studio, Zylonol Studios in 2003. I first colored books under my own name, and colored less for Zylonol between 2007-2009.

 

  • Was it what you wanted to be when you were a kid?

No, not really. I liked to draw, paint, and sculpt as a kid and wanted to do any of those things when I grew up. I read comics as a kid, but never thought of coloring as a career I might have one day. I took a class on digital coloring for comics in college, and enjoyed it. I only began coloring comics as a job because Zylonol was located in the same town as my college and I applied to work there after I graduated. It was one of the only places locally that I thought I might like to work. One thing led to another and now it’s 13 years later and I’ve colored a lot of comic books.

 

  • What’s the first comic book series you really got into?

Hm. The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles collections they put out in the early 90’s. The colored collections, not the original black and white comics. I wasn’t aware of them until I saw the collections in a bookstore. Then, around the same time was the death of Superman, and then the creation of Image comics by a bunch of creators that I already liked from reading their previous work. Another early influence was Marvel and DC trading cards, because there was a card shop near my house that I could ride my bike to after school, and buy cards. Also, Batman The Animated Series was something else I was really in to as a kid.

 

  • Do you prefer superhero comics or other genres?

If I had to pick, I guess I’d pick other genres, but I like reading both superhero books and non-superhero books.

 

  • Who is your favorite superhero?

Hm, that’s a tough one. Probably Batman if I’m picking just one. Or maybe Spider-Man.

 

  • Who is your favorite non superhero character?

Hellboy, maybe? Or maybe John Constantine. Again, that’s tough.

 

  • What’s your favorite series that’s not a superhero series?

Hellboy or Hellblazer in terms of all-time favorite. More recently I’ve really enjoyed East of West, Lazarus, The Autumnlands, and Southern Bastards.

 

  • What is your process like for coloring?

Black and white pages come from the publisher, I give them to my flatter. He puts in flat colors so it’s easier for me to select areas to color. I then read the script and look over the pages to get an idea of how I want to color the issue. I tend to work on an entire scene at one time, if I can. I’ll set the palette for the scene. Then, I’ll color the backgrounds in all the pages, then go back and color all the characters in the pages.. Lastly I’ll do any of the glows or coloring of the lines for things like powers or explosions. I tend to spend about 1 to 2 hours on a page on average.

 

  • How do you choose a color palette?

I usually look for a story reason first. For example, is there an emotion I can help bring out in the color that will help better tell the story? Or do I need to indicate a particular time of day or a specific kind of lighting? I want to make sure the colors are servicing the story. Then I look at what the artist has given me to work with. Have they set up an interesting light source? Is there a clear indication of the time of day, or something in the environment that might suggest a certain color? Then I’ll also take other scenes in to consideration when picking the palette for the scene I’m working on. Like, what came before? What’s happening in the next scene? I like to have an obvious change in palette when the story changes scenes. So, for example, if we’re inside a laboratory in one scene, then we exit the lab to find it’s in the middle of a desert I want to make sure the lab and the desert don’t use similar palettes. And my choice for the lab palette will be very different if the story shows the next scene to be in the middle of the arctic or something, rather than a desert. So I like to know the context around each scene before deciding on a palette.

 

  • What’s your favorite project you’ve ever worked on?

That’s a tough question to answer because I work on so many that I’m probably forgetting an older one that I really enjoyed. And also, as I try to get better at coloring all the time, I tend to like my current projects more because I feel like I’m doing better work now than I did in the past. For example, I worked with Cliff Chiang on Wonder Woman for 3 years, and after that we moved to working on Paper Girls for the last 2 years. I like our work on Paper Girls much more than what I did on Wonder Woman, but that’s because it’s more current, and I believe I’ve gotten better at coloring. But yeah, some of my favorite projects recently are certainly Wonder Woman and Swamp Thing at DC. Daredevil and Black Widow, both with Chris Samnee at Marvel. The last few years of Thor with Russell Dauterman at Marvel. And many of my collaborations with Jamie McKelvie, including Phonogram, The Wicked + The Divine, and Young Avengers.

 

  • Do you have anything coming out soon that we should keep an eye out for?

There’s a series coming out at Image called Black Cloud that I think will be interesting. It’s written by Jason Latour and Ivan Brandon, with art by Greg Hinkle and colors by me. The premise of the story is allowing for some wildly varying visuals, and really pushing me in different directions depending on the scene.

 

  • Who are some of your favorite colorists in the industry today?

Probably my all time favorite is Dave Stewart. His work is what inspired me to keep getting better when I was first starting out. Currently, I’m always amazed when I see something colored by Bettie Breitweiser, Jordie Bellaire, Tamra Bonvillain, Nathan Fairbairn, Jordan Boyd, Nolan Woodard, Frank Martin, Dave McCaig, Nick Filardi, Kelly Fitzpatrick…. And probably just as many names that I’m forgetting. Honestly, there’s SO many good colorists doing interesting work now. Not to mention artists that are fantastic at coloring themselves like Jen Bartel and Kris Anka and Ryan Browne.

 

  • Is there anyone you draw inspiration from?

Just about everyone I mentioned in the last answer, for sure. In terms of art history, or more historical influences, I’ve always been partial to impressionist painters. My earliest influence on how powerful of a tool that color palettes could be was the Rouen Cathedral series of paintings by Claude Monet. Another artist I like to cite in these kinds of answers is Japanese artist Hiroshi Yoshida. He was a 20th century painter and printmaker. His prints were amazing.

 

  • I’ve personally really enjoyed your work on The Wicked and the Divine, especially how your color art is an intricate part of the story telling. How did you build the aesthetic for that book?

A lot of discussion with the rest of the creative team, building on work we had done together as a team on previous works, and trial and error with different ideas for depicting the god’s abilities and performances. We set out knowing we wanted it to look like something “more” than a typical depiction of superhero powers. So pushing things further than I might go on a superhero book was important. We passed a lot of inspiration images back and forth from things like fashion photography and music videos. The fact that the gods are pop stars meant we took a lot of influence from pop culture. Overall, I’m still using the same framework of how I approach coloring a book, but for this book the pieces I bolt on to that framework just happen to be a bit more neon and glow-y.

 

  • In issue 8 of the wicked and the divine your color work is used as a visual aide for the reader, how did you come up with that idea?

That was one of the hardest issues of coloring I’ve ever done. Not because the technical aspects of coloring took me any longer than other books. But the conceptual part was very time consuming. I came up with new palettes on every page, and sometimes in every panel of the page. Trying to figure out how to convey the experience Laura was going through while being influenced by Dio’s powers was a big challenge. One of the biggest ways we could help the reader “feel” what Laura was feeling was how the pages are colored. Things like the tempo of the party and her experience were noted in the script, and I had to try and make sure the colors matched that tempo. Higher contrast, more saturated when the tempo sped up. And then less saturated and intense when the tempo slowed down. This was another instance of using contrasting palettes to really sell each scene. The pages before and after the party are intentionally less saturated and a bit duller in terms of color. That way, when the party scene starts and I use a bunch of saturated colors, they seem even more saturated and brighter because the previous scenes were so dull.

 

 

  • You have worked with the team of Gillen and McKelvie and with Waid and Samnee on a couple of series’ now, what’s it like to have that level of understanding built with the other members of a creative team?

Long term collaborations are great, because we’re able to really understand each other. Kieron can write to Jamie or my strengths and know we’ll pull off the idea he’s trying to convey. For my part, it means the artist and I can work out exactly how to set up the files to get the best result. Like, any time Jamie draws a god’s crazy power it’s usually on a separate layer so I can easily experiment with it in color. The same goes for Russell’s art on Thor. Each issue we learn something, and as you do dozens of issues together all that accumulated knowledge builds up and makes the process easier and gives us great opportunities to experiment. Working with the same artists for so long also lets us grow and evolve as artists, because we can try different things based on what we liked or didn’t like in our past work. How Jamie or Russell or Samnee are drawing the current issues of our projects has evolved from how they drew earlier issues. And I’ve subtly changed how I color them too. From issue to issue it may be hard to spot, but over time we’re always changing our approach in little ways.

 

  • You have a very distinctive visual style, how did you cultivate that aesthetic?

I have no idea, honestly! I did not set out to cultivate this style. And I’m not even sure I could telly what my “style” is. I kind of feel like I don’t have one, but I hear people say they recognize my colors, so I must have something people identify. But, like most artists, the style is probably a result of the influences I consume and how those influences get pieced together in to the art that I make.

 

  • Burritos or coneys?

I probably like burritos more but I definitely eat more hotdogs.

 

  • Where’s your favorite place to pick up a burrito or a coney when you’re at cons?

JJ’s Red Hots in Charlotte, North Carolina is my favorite hotdog place.

 

  • What’s your favorite convention?

Heroes Con in Charlotte, North Carolina.

 

  • What would be your dream collaboration?

I don’t really have one, I don’t think. I get to work on so many different projects every year, with so many different collaborators that I’m kept busy and fulfilled, which doesn’t leave me much time to dream about future collaborations.

 

  • If you weren’t a comic book artist what would be your career?

A park ranger!

 

  • What’s the biggest difference between working for the big two and on your indie titles?

Some small technical things on certain books, but creatively I’m given a lot of freedom regardless of if the book is work for hire for the big 2 or a creator owned book.

 

  • Who are some of your favorite artists to work with?

All of my regular collaborators like Jamie McKelvie, Cliff Chiang, Chris Samnee, Russell Dauterman, and Kris Anka. I did a bunch of Secret Avengers issues with Michael Walsh and they were a ton of fun to do. Greg Hinkle, who I’m coloring on the upcoming Black Cloud is an amazing artist that’s incredibly fun to color.

 

  • Who are some of your favorite writers to work with?

Again, my regulars are great: Kieron Gillen, Jason Aaron, Brian K Vaughan, Mark Waid. Coloring Star-Lord is the first time I’ve worked with Chip Zdarsky, and he’s been really enjoyable to work with. I only worked with Matt Fraction once, on a Mandarin annual, but he put a lot of thought in to the color when writing that story and that was an enjoyable assignment.

 

  • Who’s your favorite character to color?

Hard to say, as I’m more in to storytelling with palettes than I am in to coloring a specific character. Thor has been fun because it’s been pretty much a straight up fantasy book with some sci-fi visuals. So that’s allowed me to do some really fun and wildly varied palettes. I can say for sure that I often hate coloring red costumes, and I usually don’t like coloring shiny metal. So, I guess it’s good I don’t work on Iron Man!

 

  • What would be a dream series for you to work on?

Black Widow, and I already did it! I enjoy spy stories, so that was a lot of fun to help create the look of one in the latest run of Black Widow. I’ve never worked on a Batman book, and would like to do that one day. But I’d probably want to do some kind of stand alone Elseworlds type story where it’s Batman in the 1920’s or something. And another answer I could give would be anything Hellboy. But I’d never want to try and fill Dave Stewart’s shoes.

 

  • As the comic book industry moves more digital do you feel like there’s been a shift in the industry to recognize the importance of Color Artist?

Yes, but not really because of the trends toward digital. I think the art of coloring is becoming more appreciated as it matures. Digital coloring isn’t that old, it’s only been around a few decades at this point. And the tools we’re using to color have really only become widely accessible even more recently than that. So you’ve got the tools getting better together with the colorists, and artist that color themselves, getting better at using those tools and the result is coloring is getting better and better. A lot of the traditional inking techniques were developed to convey information that older coloring methods could not. Hatching for shading and showing volume in a shape, things like that. Now, there isn’t anything that color can’t convey, and artists have responded to that by sometimes making less marks in black and white and leaving it up to the color to convey those elements of the art. So the role of the colorist has grown more important as their ability to bring substantive additions to the page and the story has grown.

 

Thank you for your time Matt, I’ve enjoyed talking to you. Looking forward to your great work in the future.

 

 

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New Comic Book Day top 5: Oct. 12th

Hello Revuers! Tomorrow marks a fantastic New Comic Book Day. It’s the best day of the week in my opinion. I’m looking forward to many titles but for this segment, as always, I have narrowed it down to my top 5. Two titles are from DC, two are from Image and one title is from Marvel. If you agree or don’t agree wit my picks let me know in the comment section below. I love hearing each week what our readers are picking up! Without further delay let’s jump right in.

 

5: Supergirl #2

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Supergirl #2 comes to us from the creative team of writer Steve Orlando and artist Brian Ching. This issues sees Supergirl clash with Cyborg Superman who was revealed at the end of issue 1 of Supergirl. Supergirl #2 was a vast improvement on the Rebirth special issue of Supergirl, and I look for issue 2 to continue this trend. The reveal of Cyborg Superman at the end of issue one was a surprise and sets up an interesting antagonist for Supergirl to face off against. The art by Brian Ching was superb, building a world that’s aesthetically pleasing and unique. The variant covers by Bengal have been some of my favorite variant cover work to date. I can’t wait to pick up issue 2 tomorrow.

 

4: Southern Cross #8

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Southern Cross #8 is written by Becky Cloonan with art from Andy Belanger. This series from Image comics has been consistently one of the best series’ they put out. I love the genre bending the story explores. Is this series Sci-Fi? Is it horror? A little of both? The driving mystery of the series keeps the reader coming back for more and more. This issue sees the continuation of the story arc ‘ROMULUS’ The second story arc of the series. I don’t want to go into too much detail and spoil the first arc for you so I’ll just say this. Spaceship. Paranormal activity. Government conspiracy. All of the covers are by the spectacular Becky Cloonan, who is just as talented of an artist as she is a writer. If you haven’t read this series yet, so yourself a favor and pick up the first trade (it’s only $9.99!). Read it, and then go buy the new issues.

 

3: Great Lakes Avengers

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I was a pretty big fan of the origianl volume of the Great Lakes Avengers, so when Marvel announced that a new series featuring the GLA would be part of their (newest) NOW! initiative I was excited. The series comes from writer Zac Gorman and artist Will Robinson. The story shows that the GLA have been reinstated as members of the Avengers and have been moved to a new headquarters in Detroit. Detroit is about 3 hours away from where I live so that’s kind of exciting for me (I know, I’m a huge nerd).  IT looks like all of the original members are back except maybe Squirrel Girl (who is seen in cut out form in the cover). I’m sure that this new series will follow in the humorous tradition of the previous volume.

 

2: All-Star Batman #3

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All-Star Batman is written by Batman scribe Scott Snyder, with art by John Romita Jr and features some of the best color work in any comic book series on the shelves today, from Dean White. At the close of the last issue we see that even those that Batman trusts the most have turned on him. It’s one thing when it’s Two Face and some bounty hunters you have to worry about, but what will Batman do now that even the police are after him? This road trip with one of his most deadly enemies has turned out to be quite the handful. I dare say that this series is one of the top series’ in the stellar Rebirth initiative by Dc Comics. I think it benefits a lot from being on the traditional once a month schedule as opposed to the twice monthly pace of most of DC’s big titles. This once a month schedule allows Snyder to take his time developing the story. The art by Romita JR. doesn’t feel rushed at all, but rather sweeping and grandiose. As I mentioned before the color work by Dean White is next level work. Truly an All-Star creative team for All-Star Batman.

 

1: Reborn

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The big guns are out for Reborn, a new series from Image comics written by Mark Millar with art by Greg Capullo. The general plot deals with the idea: Where do I go after I die? In this series you go to a place that’s not heaven or hell, but rather a place where you have to fight to survive. A place where you have to make a reckoning with everyone you ever wronged or treated nicely. The story sounds interesting and I trust Mark Millar will do a magnificent job. What really intrigues me is the art by Greg Capullo. This is the first comic book project for Capullo since his legendary run on the New 52 Batman with Scott Snyder. I am excited to see the world that he create for the readers. One of his strongest area is in character design (he designed the current Batman look), so I am curious what he will do having free reign over an environment. Not having any limitations should produce some incredible work from the comic book veteran. All in all this series has me intrigued.

 

So there you have it! Did your most anticipated books make the cut? Tell us in the comments below. We would also love to see your list of most anticipated comics!

 

-Andrew

 

 

Covers of the Week: Oct. 5th

Hello Revuers! It’s time for another installment on Covers of the Week. This segment is where I pick my favorite regular cover and variant cover of the week. This week there were many covers I could have picked but in the end I settled on just two. My favorite regular cover and my favorite variant cover. Now, when I choose my favorite covers it doesn’t have to be from a series I’m reading, but rather just my favorite cover in general. Let’s get to it:

 

My favorite regular cover this week is:

Godzilla Rage Across Time #2

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Since the Godzilla franchise moved to IDW, the series has featured a plethora of amazing covers. This new series Godzilla Rage Against Time by writers Chris Mowry and Kahlil Schweitze and artist Tadd Galusha is no exception. This cover by Bob Eggleton features Godzilla eating pillars from mount Olympias. The almost painted quality of the cover is beautiful. It’s really his attention to detail on Godzilla’s skin that makes this cover stand out. The muted color palette adds to the cover. All in all a solid cover by a fantastic artist.

 

My favorite variant cover is:

Jessica Jones #1

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This variant cover by David Aja is for the newest volume of Jessica Jones (was called Alias, but was changed so it wouldn’t be confused with the TV show from the early 2000’s. Also to line up with the Netflix show Jessica Jones). I really love the story this cover tells. You can get a sense of who Jessica Jones is just by studying the cover. The tri-color palette is perfect for the series as it has more of a noir feel to it than most of the other series’ that MArvel is producing. The light splattering of red looks like blood splatters and adds a nice effect.The series its’ self brings back the original creators with writer Brian Michael Bendis and artist Michael Gaydos. The first volume was published on Marvel’s MAX imprint. The MAX imprint featured more mature content than Marvel’s main line. While this newest volume of Jessica Jones was more mature than most of Marvel’s current lineup it still was quite toned down from the first volume. I would still recommend picking it up though.

 

Was your favorite cover on the list? If not tell me what your favorite of the week was in the comment section below!

Coloring Between the Lines: Megan Wilson

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!

 

 

Coloring Between the Lines: Marissa Louise

Hello Revuers! Its time for another segment of Coloring Between the Lines where we interview a Color Artist that’s making an impact in the industry. This month we have the uber talented Marissa Louise. You may recognize her style from her works on such titles as Semiautomagic, Escape From New York, Robocop, Headspace, and many more. Marissa was gracious enough to spend some of her valuable time answering questions for us! For that we are very appreciative. Now without further delay:

 

  • How long have you been a colorist?

It can be a kind of funny number to quantify, but I started working towards in when I was 30. I was a flatter for some great people for the first year and a half. That’s how I learned photoshop. Prior to that I was doing art with gold & hand made oil paints. Lemme tell you, photoshop is a lot faster.

  • Was it what you wanted to be when you were a kid?

If I had known it was an option I would have been all over it! But I didn’t, so I wanted to be a mortician, the work is steady but the paycheck is stiff, or a biologist. I have dyscalcula, you know Dracula’s more irritating sibling, so I thought I could do all the maths for those jobs.

I spent a lot of time copying the drawings out of comics. Some where in the cracks of my old house there are loads of drawings of Ghost Rider and Wolverine.

  • What’s the first comic book series you really got into?

Hmm. That’s tough because I have a terrible memory and remembering things from 1988 is really hard! But I think it was probably Malibu’s Ferret. I think I liked how mean the women were to him. But it was also just goofy stuff with cool coloring. Other than that I really like Ranma ½ I would get it at the Japanese market. Or I’d get Hellboy or Oh My Goddess! and a lot of other Dark Horse books from the library. I loved Mike Mignola’s Bram Stoker’s Dracula.

When I was in college I got quite a few of the old EC books. Those are all really wonderful. I got a little more into rah rah woman stuff then too. Like Tits & Clits or Twisted Sisters. Along with wild zines kids were making at Pratt to really screw around with the physicality of a book.

  • Do you prefer superhero comics or other genres?

I like them all! For me the pieces need to make sense with the whole. I tend not to prefer comics that are trying to be movies, since they are fundamentally different forms. But I love Squirrel Girl as much as I love Roman Muradov’s Yellow Zine. I love early Spider-Woman as much as I love Pete Tom’s books! Georgia Webber does really great things with the form and Justin Ponsor/David Marquez draw the human form stunningly. Sunny is a really amazing comic.

  • Who is your favorite superhero?

I really liked early Jessica Drew (Spider-Woman). She really tried to help everyone out at her day job and her night job. I think the costume is just stunning. Catwoman is classic, though she may not count as a superhero. I really like what the Squirrel Girl team is doing. Does Zodiac Starforce count as superheros? They are really great characters. I feel like I have a piece of each of them in me.

I really love Empowered. The drawing is genius and I really love the way Adam gracefully pulls the viewer’s eyes to Emp’s face. Cankor is really amazing if you haven’t found that. It’s printed by Matthew G Allison, you have to find him at a con to get it.

  • Who is your favorite non superhero character?

Urd. She’s from Oh My Goddess!, she is all about chaos and playing with cute mice!

  • What’s your favorite series that’s not a superhero series?

I listed quite a few, but I can list more: Nutmeg, Hopeless Savage, Tekkonkinkreet, American Born Chinese, Lady Killer, Shutter, The Big Book of series, my friend Jon Rivera did some really cool comics while we were in college called Heartbreak.

  • What is your process like for coloring?

I’ll either flat it myself or send it to a flatter. I prefer to print out my scripts. I just have a hard time marking them up or testing ideas in the margin if they are digital. So I highlight those with different markers for time of day/color notes/environmental notes. Annote ideas in the margins if I have time. Then hopefully I have all the pages. I like to do the hardest parts first then I build everything off of that.

So right now I’m working on a battle scene. After that is colored I will color the preceding & following pages to amp up & release the tension.

Different books require different rendering styles. So I have a really hard time switching between books. It’s like if you’re speaking Spanish then someone asks you a question in German. Who knows what will come out of your mouth!

Once I turn in pages I do edits.

If you follow my twitter you’ll know I’m trying the Pomodoro technique now! I track all my time and take quick breaks. It has been really wonderful!

  • How do you choose a color palette?

Same as any other problem. Identify the parameters first. Identify the locations, clothes & emotion’s you’ll need. From those parameters make sure the palette has enough contrasting colors. You want 0%-75% grey value in a variety of warms & cools. I’m still playing with different techniques like creating color wheels based off two colors or just mixing out colors like I would on a paint palette. And of course there is always good old fashioned borrowing. I like to borrow from John Watkiss, Leonor Fini, Peter Hailey, Delacroix, Gericault, Ingres, and basically whatever I can get my eyeballs on.

  • What’s your favorite project you’ve ever worked on?

Ooh. That’s a toughie! I’ve really enjoyed a lot of the projects I’ve worked on. But I think Broken World was extra great because I got to do a lot of story telling in the color. The team worked really closely to enable that. Semiautomagic was great because Alex really let me go wild and of course, Jerry is a great artist. I’m still really proud of a lot of Escape From New York. The licensor wanted the coloring to be very desaturated to match the look of the film. I think I was able to do a lot with restricted palettes.

  • Do you have anything coming out soon that we should keep an eye out for?

Yes! But some of it I can’t tell you about yet. If you haven’t picked up Mystery Girl, I really insist you do. All of you out there! Paul Tobin was able to take some amazing and strange writing risks with it. Alberto’s drawing is great. I’m getting to do cool things with color. The series I have over at Stela is pretty cool. Hopefully the penciller, Tony Talbert, and I will get to work together more in the future. We really feed off each other. We’re trying to get Deadhorse going again and Miranda Mercury! Those are super cool indie books. I love them both.

I also have a Kickstarter for Semiautomagic that will be coming up next month so keep a look out for that!

I am also writing essays for Women Write About Comics. Those are slow going though, since coloring deadlines come first.

And of course my non profit, Joon, is always doing cool things! We’re holding a fundraiser in February and lots of cool events at Emerald City and other conventions throughout the year.

  • Who are some of your favorite colorists in the industry today?

Talk about your loaded questions! I’ll list some, it won’t be everyone because I have a terrible memory: My mentors Nolan Woodard & Bill Crabtree are both stunning. Justin Ponsor, Tamra Bonvillain, Kelly Fitzpatrick’s work on Bombshells with Sandy Jarrell was really exceptional! Bettie Brietweiser on Velvet, Sloane Leong, Shari Chankhamma, Paulina Ganucheau, SainaSix is mostly an illustrator but she does comics & has a great color sense. I’ve been trying to convince Jen Bartel to color, but I think she’s mostly going to stick to only coloring herself. Paul Reinwand is another person who colors themself & has a great color sense. I sort of veered away from coloring only people here, but I’m trying to list people that your audience may not have seen much of yet.

  • Is there anyone you draw inspiration from?

Oh yeah. Everything. I keep my window open while I work so I can watch the light change across the building. When I was in NYC there was this green factory outside my window. I loved all the different greens it would become throughout the year. And the strange reflected light it would create. I love animals and fashion. Of course painting! Since that’s what I went to school for.

  • I’ve personally really enjoyed your work on Escape From New York. How did you pick out the palette for that book?

Thanks! I really like that book. When I was testing out they wanted the book to be very desaturated. So I made a full range of greys without black in them. So a warm set of greys, cool set of greys, tan set of greys, more blue set of greys. Then a set of semi desaturated blues and reds. Then a lot of the color on that book is what is called induced color. Tricking the eye into seeing yellows and blues when it is mostly grey.

The exception to that is Florida. The way the script was written it was very clear that Chris wanted Florida to look opulent & have tropical colors. So I look at Floridian murals & animals to develop that over the top palette.

  • I also really enjoy your Cover art work as well on Titles such as D4ve. What are some of the unique challenges between coloring Covers and whole Issues?

Covers have got to scream at you from the shelf. And they have to scream in more charming ways than the other covers. So I try to create palettes that are high contrast, but also interesting. I want something that gives the viewer an immediate emotional kick.

  • Burritos or coneys?

Always coneys.

  •  Where’s your favorite place to pick up a burrito when you’re at cons

My shameful confession is that I haven’t had a burrito in since I was 27. Yikes! I am hoping this year is the one where I get to change that.

  • What’s your favorite convention?

Heroes and Emerald CIty are both amazing! I haven’t been to many around the country. So I don’t have the most refined opinion on this.

  • What would be your dream collaboration?

I mentioned before I’d love to work with Tony Talbert again on something. It’d be really stellar to get Alex de Campi writing a Barbarella sort of thing for us. That would get really weird really fast and I think it would be really fun! I would absolutely cherish working with Trungles on something. Doing mermaid story with Anna Sahrling-Hamm or Jessi Sheron. Working with Vanessa Del Ray on a Vampirella comic would be cool. I’d really love to do anything at all with Wilfredo Torres or Tradd Moore. If I could get James F Wright to write a licensed Elvira comic that would be amazing!

  • If you weren’t a comic book artist what would be your career?

I think I’d probably have to go back to fabrication.

  • What’s the biggest difference between working for the big two and on your indie titles?

They have inverse relationships of time and money. I really enjoy the freedom of indie titles, but big two have much larger marketing reach. On a lot of indie stuff in my experience you get more time & less oversight, but also less money. The unfortunate side of that is you need to take on more projects to make ends meet, so you don’t always get to use the extra time effectively.

  • Who’s your favorite character to color?

Oh gee. I guess I don’t really have one. Every character and artist has special things about them. It’s very easy for me to find things I love. I’m very thankful to be a colorist.

  • What would be a dream series for you to work on?

It’s kind of weird, but really, I would freak out if I worked on a licensed Elvira comic. Especially if I got to work with Cassandra Peterson. She is a huge idol for me. And she is one of the sweetest people I’ve ever met! This would be ideal for me because it would be campy, sexy, scary, psychedelic and funny. That dagger isn’t just for show, you know.

  • Thank you for your time Marissa, I’ve enjoyed talking to you. Looking forward to your great work in the future.

Thanks for having me!

If you would like to check out more of her work you can visit her website, Twitter, or her Facebook

And if you would like to purchase some of her work ask your LCS about any of the titles mentioned above, or check out Comixology

Coloring Between The Lines: Jason Lewis

Hello Revuers! When I came up with the idea for this segment I had no idea how big of a success it would be. I am truly excited to see that others care about great color in their comics!Being a Color Artist can be an overlooked profession, however in recent times a lot of progress for the recognizing of Color Artist has been made. This feature will continue to add another voice to the clamor and appreciation for excellent color in our comics.

This month we have the very talented Jason Lewis. You might recognize him from Morning Glories, Drive, or Hell Yeah. He has a very distinctive and strong palette. We here at Deja.Revue are grateful to Jason for sacrificing his time to answer our questions.

If you want to check out some of his work check out his Tumblr: lewisjasonr.tumblr.com

Or his twitter: @lewisjasonr

 

  • Hello Jason, thanks for agreeing to this interview! How long have you been a colorist?

About seven years.

 

  • Was it what you wanted to be when you were a kid?

Being a freelance comic colorist really didn’t exist when I was a kid. Up until the mid 90’s coloring a comic was a job of the publisher’s production department. Back in the really early days the printer would sometimes choose the colors.

When all the independent publishers rose to prominence and computer coloring became a thing in the 90’s, each company had their own in-house coloring department. From there people broke off and formed their own coloring houses like Liquid and Digital Chameleon. When Crossgen and few other indies imploded in the early 00’s the market became flooded with untethered colorists and for the most part the coloring houses went away. So in the long history of comics the freelance colorist has only come into being in the last 15 years or so.

I wanted to be a comic artist as a kid, but when I got to college I realized I wasn’t quick enough and was too dependent on reference to make it as a penciller. Instead, I trained to be an illustrator. I also studied desktop publishing and after graduation I found work as a graphic designer.

When the economy crashed and ate my graphic design career I suddenly had a bunch of time on my hands. I decided to get back into painting and revamp my illustration portfolio (I never really cared for graphic design, honestly), but all my old painting supplies where in storage at my parents place and I didn’t have enough cash to re-buy them. I did, however, have my computer and all the programs i used for graphic design. Rationing that whatever I painted I’d have to scan into the computer anyway I decided to investigate how to cut out the middle man and learn how to paint with Photoshop. I used an Amazon gift card I got for my birthday to buy the cheapest Wacom tablet I could find and a couple of basic books on computer coloring and got to it.

I got hooked instantly and began spending my days practicing and researching online how to color comics. Finally, I had found my place in the comic industry. I began networking with professional colorists and about four months after I bought that first Wacom tablet I found myself re-mastering old comics for Marvel full-time.

 

  • What’s the first comic book series you really got into?

The first comic I ever bought was an issue of Iron Man as a small child because I’d just seen Star Wars and I thought he looked like C-3PO. Shitty as it may be to some, the first Secret Wars from the 80’s will always be my favorite series.

 

  • Do you prefer superhero comics or other genres?

I like all comics, but Superheroes are where the real money is so I like Superheroes a lot.

 

  • Who is your favorite superhero?

Whoever they’re paying me to color currently.

 

  • What’s your favorite series that’s not a superhero series?

I dipped out of comics while I was in art school. They didn’t vibe with the arty, emo punk identity I was crafting for myself. I got a subscription to Wizard as a gift so I was always up on what was happening, but if it wasn’t for Sandman and then Preacher I wouldn’t have made the trip to the comic shop every month for years. So those two.

 

  • Whats your process like for coloring?

Wake up after taking a a three hour, unintentional nap. Check my email and social media to see what fresh, new hell the day has in store for me. Gab some coffee and stress about how i’m going to fit in basic life responsibilities with all my deadlines. Turn on music/podcasts/Netflix then work for the next 20 or so hours stopping briefly to attend to unavoidable biological necessities. Take a break to pet my cat and accidentally fall asleep for the next three hours. Repeat.

  • How do you choose a color palette?

First I find what ‘s there. What’s the environment? What time of day is it? What are the costume colors? Then I look at the script to figure out what the emotional core of a scene is. Is it a fight scene? If it’s a conversation what is at stake?

I don’t know if you’ve seen the Youtube video where they strip the music out of the end scene of ET, but it’s astounding how flat and boring it is without John Williams score. Comic coloring is like adding sound to a movie. We color in the emotion.

 

  • What’s your favorite project you’ve ever worked on?

The first issue of Hell Yeah. It’s a horrible abomination of embarrassing coloring by anyone’s standards, but at the time it was a younger me super stoked to have a gig coloring my first superhero book, just throwing it all out there like a hyperactive toddler who doesn’t know any better. All inspirations and whims where pursued to their upmost extreme, art and logic be damned! As an artist I’m super excited about whatever I’m currently coloring and suicidally embarrassed by stuff i did mere months ago, but Hell Yeah #1 always makes me smile. It’s like discovering a picture of yourself from 9th grade. You’re immortalized as 15 years of baddass attitude wrapped in awful haircuts and awkward clothes and you wouldn’t have it any other way.

 

  • Do you have anything coming out soon that we should keep an eye out for?

Drive. Mars Attacks. Brigands. Drive part 2. Other things I can’t mention yet. Stay tuned!

 

  • Who are some of your favorite colorists in the industry today?

My former mentor Dean White as my all-time favorite. He’s the the Jimi Hendrix of colorists. The shit he did on Uncanny X-Force is so next level that he made the rest of the industry look like they were coloring in black and white.

Outside of Dean my go too’s are Dave McCaig on Nextwave, Daniel Acuna on Uncanny Avengers, Justin Ponsor on the Miles Morales Spiderman, Laura Martin on the Joss Whedon X-Men and Val Staples on Incognito. Lately I’ve really dug Tomer Hanuka’s work on The Divine. Kristian Donaldson’s work on a book called Supermarket is a big influence on how I color Drive.

 

 

  • Is there anyone you draw inspiration from?

Painters mostly. Ron English, Jerome Witkin, JC Leynedecker, Drew Struzen, Malcolm T Liepke, Robert McGinnis and Phil Hale to name a few. Really I’m looking everywhere for inspiration. Mondo prints. Old movies. 80’s Skateboard Graphics, Heavy Metal album Covers, Video games. Advertising from the 60’s. Japanese toys. Fetish photography. Nature. Everywhere. The first season of that terrible show Hemlock Groove on Netflix has amazing color schemes. I’ve watched that season three times on mute. Amazing!

 

 

  • I’ve personally really enjoyed your work on Drive. How did you pick out the palette for that book?

My editor Justin told my when I signed on to approach the book like I was adapting the soundtrack instead of the movie. I’ve tried to go super impressionistic with the book and describe the emotion of the panels rather than how everything would look in nature.

 

Although out there by mainstream standards, Drive’s colors are pretty tame compared to what a lot of under, underground comic artists are doing. I think I assimilated a lot of that by osmosis when I lived in Portland and funneled it into Drive.

 

  • Did the movie heavily influence your choices? Or were you able to branch out a bit?

Enter The Void by Gasper Noe and Vertigo by Hitchcock were bigger influences on coloring Drive than it’s movie. There’s a few things here and there that I took from the movie, but for the most part I tried to go my own way with the book. The comic is based on the novel not the movie so a lot of that wouldn’t fit anyway.

 

  • Where’s your favorite place to pick up a burrito when you’re at cons

I always opt for cheapness and convenience when choosing my burrito, which is difficult because you’re always bleeding money in the ass-end of a strange town at cons. Chipotle and it’s bastard offspring Qdoba and Baja Fresh work the best. My favorite burrito however is the Talapia Supreme from La Bonita in Portland, OR.

 

  • What’s your favorite convention?

When I go to one of the big cons about 70% of the reason I’m there is to network. Emerald City and Heroes Con are the best for meeting other industry folks that I’ve found. Hanging out in the right hotel bar almost becomes as important as the con floor when you’re trying to meet the right people.

As far as enjoying a con recreationally I like the small, one day cons that have been popping up in tiny towns all over the place. There’s no celebrities, or creators you’ve heard of, just people in homemade costumes buying old toys and musty comics from mom and pop vendors that look to be one bad life decision removed from carnie folk. They remind me of the kind of ragtag cons I went to growing up in West Virginia. Just nerds hanging out with other nerds rejoicing in their nerditude , except now there are entire families of nerds in attendance.

  • What would be your dream collaboration?

Redoing the entire first Secret Wars from the 80’s with Frank Quitely on pencils. Realistically, Joe Eisma and I on a Spider-book or Marcio Takara on an X-book. Doing a Bat-book or revamping Strikeforce: Moritori with Brian Level would be fun. Reviving Nextwave: Agents of HATE with Juan Gedeon would be heavenly. I could keep going on like this forever…

  • If you weren’t a comic book artist what would be your career?

Punk musician or homeless man.

 

  • What’s the biggest difference between working for the big two and on your indie titles?

Things run smoother at the bigger companies. They give me the pages, tell me when they want them back and for the most part leave me alone to do what I do. After I hand the pages in I can expect my money within about 30 days. My editors are usually super busy so as long as everything looks good and is on time everyone is happy.

90% of self-publishing guys are nothing but headaches. They mean well, but spending money they don’t have for me to color their life long passion project which they unrealistically believe will launch them into comic stardom turns them into annoying stress monsters.

They’ll have arbitrary, unrealistic deadlines and demand a bunch of nitpicky corrections and send constant, nagging requests for updates, only  to realize they don’t have the money to pay me when I’m halfway through coloring their book.

Some times they’ll push for me to ape Dave Stewart (I love you, Dave!) rather than use my own coloring style. Often times they’ll add me on Facebook and send me 50 urgent update requests when I happen to post that I went outside that day, like some kind of unholy hybrid of needy, jealous girlfriend and overbearing truant officer.

The problem is that the little guys think that because they’re paying me what for them is a lot of money that, that makes them my boss. In reality I have many bosses. When deadlines loom and I have to prioritize I’m going to choose the entity which can provide me with more income in the future, which is always the bigger companies. No one likes to hear they’re number two. Even when things do go well with the self-publishing guys its rare that they ever get to a second issue, even if they had originally pitched me a 50 part mega-epic. It’s like they evaporate after that first issue.

  • What unique challenges does remastering have compared to coloring new titles?

None. That was what was great about them. I’d wake up at noon, pour a glass of Vanilla Coke, turn on some Slayer and color comics  I had as a child until the wee hours of the morning. If I could somehow incorporate playing Sega with Tony Hawk while getting a back rub from Debbie Gibson I would have been living out my ultimate 14-year-old fantasy life.

There were only 64 colors I could choose from, and out of those about a third were never used. My whole job was matching the colors to the scanned comic pages they sent me. It was sublime. If only it payed a little better and there was an inexhaustible supply of old comics to re-color I would have done that forever.

  • Who are some of your favorite artists to work with?

I prefer artists with more of an open style and minimal use of blacks. Too many heavy shadows, or hatching, or use of greyscale just gets in my way and often hampers my ability to color a page. It’s hard to find an artist with an unclutterd, clean style who also has a strong sense of structure without becoming cartoony. Mike Allred, Chris Samnee and my collaborator on Brigands, Nick Barber, are pretty close to ideal.

 

  • Who’s your favorite character to color?

Again, whoever I’m currently paid to color is my favorite. While doing warm ups I prefer to color female superheroes.

 

  • Thank you for your time Jason, I’ve enjoyed talking to you. Looking forward to your great work in the future.

No problem. Check out my Twitter: @lewisjasonr and my Tumblr lewisjasonr.tumblr.com. Now I’ve got to get back to work.

 

If you’d like to purchase some of Jason’s work you can check out his page on Comixology: https://www.comixology.com/Jason-Lewis/comics-creator/5533?ref=c2VhcmNoL2luZGV4L2Rlc2t0b3Avc2xpZGVyTGlzdC9jcmVhdG9yU2xpZGVy

Don’t forget to ask your local retailer about Drive.