Monday, September 2, 2013

All Star Squadron Annual #2 cover fun!

So I was scanning art recently, and was reminded of this situation-- where I did a cover and then started over because I was bothered by how it turned out. My memory is a bit hazy, but I am thinking this was  perhaps drawn from a rough sketch supplied by DC, perhaps by Ed Hannigan? I have great respect for Ed, if this was the case, and I drew many covers in 1984-1985 from Ed's cover roughs, but I occasionally had a hard time when an idea would "fight" me. Regardless of the sketch source, this one is clearly publishable, though the flow of it bothered me.

If this had happened today, I would have been tempted to just redraw a few elements and move the rest around in Photoshop to get what I wanted. In 1982 or 1983, I just light-boxed the first one, flopping the main villain from left to right, and lined up the heroes on one side, with the villains on the other. When satisfied, I put a sheet of tracing paper over the cover and pulled out the Design brand markers to draw a color rough, and get dizzy from the marker fumes.

 I wasn't officially paid as a colorist on these covers, but in 90 percent of them, I did a color guide. I suppose this was given to the colorist to follow or not. It wasn't until I worked on Superman that I was allowed to officially color my covers, after a few botched color jobs by others who misinterpreted my guides. At the time, comic colorists were generally trained to use great contrast, and bright color, for the most part. The subtlety of Jack Adler or Stan Goldberg and Marie Severin of the 1960's was mostly gone. Having drawn the images, I knew what I wanted, and also knew that much of what I liked came from inkers who colored their own work, like Klaus Janson and Tom Palmer, at Marvel. Klaus' work on Daredevil was so eye-opening to most of us working in that time, that we all wondered why we couldn't get that level of color on our books. Well, the important thing was that an artist understands the work he or she draws, and while not all have a great color sense, many do.

But comics has always been assembly-line work, and the thinking is that if you are a penciller, you should use your time pencilling, not coloring, or even inking. (forget wanting to write!)

So, in honor of Labor Day, I salute all the comic creators who fought to climb out of their niches to also write, ink, color, publish, edit, whatever. Our generation of creators helped to break the assembly line, but we also broke the notion that comics were "just a job."

All Star Squadron, and all related characters are trademark and copyright 2013 by DC Entertainment. Used here for educational purposes.