Doug: Welcome to another $1 Challenge, where Martinex1 will challenge you to feed your comics addiction on a strict budget. This is the first of two such posts -- we'll run ol' Mike S.'s other submission in just one week.
Mike S.: Here is a simple question… has the color of a comic cover ever caused you to buy it? For me, I know the answer has been “yes.” So I have ravaged my collection and offer these covers for you to choose in a game of “If I Had a Buck”.
I think colorists are underrated in the impact of comic art. I really enjoy looking at original comic line art like the samples Doug has shared from various IDW offerings. When I see those pencils and inks and imagine how they might look in finished form, colored and printed, sometimes my expectations are met and exceeded with the actual production and sometimes the finished work falls flat.
Speaking for myself, I am attracted to certain aspects of coloring on cover art. Here are some things that attract me:
- Secondary colors. Superhero comic characters (particularly heroes) tend to bathe in the primary colors. So many costumes are heavy in blues and reds. When a cover instead emphasizes oranges and purples and greens and pinks, they stand out. I think you will see some of that below.
- Monotones. Less color is sometimes more. I like when a single color floods the landscape or fills the cover; those books always attract me. In Moon Knight’s first series, many covers limited the color use. I think that is because the hero’s costume is essentially black and white, and too much garishness around it caused the figure to “disappear”. A graphic designer might need to comment, but whatever the reason the effect was dramatic.
- Tying all elements together. When the logo and corner box all match the cover color scheme, it seems like coherent art. I believe that when John Byrne designed the famous Alpha Flight #3 cover (with Aurora in a background of black and white rods) he wanted the logo and marketing points to be in black and white also; instead they were colored yellow. orange, and pink. Mistake or not, I think complete consistency helps.
- Pastels. I noticed that I enjoy pastel colors in contrast to bold solid colors. DC seemed to master this technique. Aquaman in the late ‘60s used a nice color palette that offered varied hues. DC’s coloring at the time seemed more experimental.
- Unexpected choices. I originally saw the Mike Zeck art for the Captain America issue (below) in black and white form. I expected it to be a nighttime or stormy scene (because of the cloud and the dreariness and bleakness of the action). When I saw the actual cover, I was taken aback. It was not dark greys and deep sea blues like I expected. Instead, it was perhaps “dawn’s early light”. Nice. Plus the orange really contrasted well with Cap’s costume colors and the logo.
Unfortunately, I cannot find credits for who colored the twelve samples below. And I don’t want to assume that the interior colorist handled the cover art or that the penciler had any input to the color scheme (although that may be the case). So any input about that topic is appreciated.
What draws your eye to a comic on the stands? Is it all content or are there subtleties in color or technique that catch your fancy? Make your choices from below, and if you have any comments about particular storylines, artists, layouts, and design please share that as well. I appreciate all commentary (and it only costs you an imaginary dollar). I’ll throw in some dialogue balloons for free.
Aquaman #37. Cover Price $0.12. Aquaman: “Hang on Ariel! I see Mickey, he’ll know what to do!”
Avengers #85. Cover Price $0.15. Wanda: “Why does that say ‘Sinister’? What kind of strange alternate world is this”?
Captain America #224. Cover Price $0.35. Cap: “BLUUURFFFF!”
Defenders #103. Cover Price $0.60. Casper: “Will you be my friend”?
Doom Patrol #119. Cover Price $0.12. Robotman: “If he steals my mind, there’s really not much left!”
Flash #286. Cover Price $0.40. Flash: “I taste lemons, cherries and oranges! Curse you Fruit Stripe Zebra!”
Iron Man #152. Cover Price $0.50. Iron Man: “Shhhh!”
Metal Men #33. Cover Price $0.12. Iron: “That headline’s a little on the nose, isn’t it?”
Moon Knight #3. Cover Price $0.50. Freddie Mercury (off panel): “Super powers always fighting. But Mona Lisa keeps on smiling”
Namor, The Sub-Mariner #8. Cover Price $1.00. Head: “When they said ‘Floating Head Cover’, I had something else in mind entirely”.
Teen Titans #14. Cover Price $0.12. Robin: “I know smoking will be the death of me”.
X-Men #138. Cover Price $0.50. Cyclops: “I haven’t washed my civvies since Muir Island!”