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Recolouring the Dark Knight
March 28, 2013 8:07 AM   Subscribe

Batman: Year One recoloured, from original art to colour guide and final artwork as compared to the original comic.
posted by MartinWisse (32 comments total) 8 users marked this as a favorite

 
DC Failed Marketing Campaign:

"Batman's parents are still dead. BUT NOW IN COLOUR!"
posted by Fizz at 8:09 AM on March 28, 2013 [1 favorite]


I wish they'd put out a B+W edition, because the pencils and ink can absolutely stand on their own. But the recoloring is pretty good, at least compared to, say, the Flex Mentallo trade or the few pages I saw from the Sandman recolor.
posted by griphus at 8:11 AM on March 28, 2013


It helps that they got the same colourist to do it.

IDW does put out those huge big b&w original art editions of various classic stories, including Frank Miller's Daredevil: Born Again, so there is hope for Batman: Year One to get the same treatment.
posted by MartinWisse at 8:17 AM on March 28, 2013


Recoloring can utterly ruin stuff... This at least seems to stay close to the spirit of the original.

I wish they'd put out a B+W edition

In the UK in the 80s, where Black and white was more common, Totan pugh out the Alan Moore Swamp Thing run in black and white - it was gorgeous.
posted by Artw at 8:19 AM on March 28, 2013


Talking to Kathryn Symes, ’2000AD’s’ ‘Reprographics Droid’
posted by Artw at 8:20 AM on March 28, 2013


Huh. The painted colors are a lovely greenish-teal-grey, but the final print seems heavier on the bold purples. I REALLY like the greenish one without the inked lines. I overlaid the lines onto the colors of the middle panel; you can take a look here.
posted by Greg Nog at 8:21 AM on March 28, 2013 [9 favorites]


In the UK in the 80s, where Black and white was more common, Totan pugh out the Alan Moore Swamp Thing run in black and white - it was gorgeous.

They also released some Neal Adams Batman trades in B&W that made the jump pretty well.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 8:25 AM on March 28, 2013


Also, there's a real pulp-y feel that the original offset printing lent to the comic that is lost with the smooth recoloring. But I guess the entire point to the recoloring is to remove stuff like that.
posted by griphus at 8:26 AM on March 28, 2013


I love Batman: Year One.

I once gave it to a girlfriend to read and she gave it back and she was like, "That was really, really stupid."

I was crushed, but also in love. She dumped me a couple months later.

That's my story, folks.
posted by kbanas at 8:26 AM on March 28, 2013 [11 favorites]


I guess I'm in the minority, but I find the recolored stuff on bright white paper a little garish and almost eye-melting in comparison to the originally printed books. The cheap newsprint paper color takes the edge off. I wish when they reprint old comics that they'd just take pictures of the original printed books and print those.
posted by MegoSteve at 8:26 AM on March 28, 2013 [3 favorites]


The Four Color Process blog is awesome, and does a great job of showing how colorists had to show a great deal of creativity to work around the limitations of the media.
posted by 1970s Antihero at 8:35 AM on March 28, 2013 [3 favorites]


Also, upon reading the link, wow. I didn't know that's how the coloring was done but it totally makes sense - I've always loved the "painted" look the Year One trade has, and I guess there's a reason it came out like that. It complements Mazzucchelli's art perfectly.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 8:39 AM on March 28, 2013


This is interesting, thanks for posting it. Comic book coloring is a little bit of mystery to me. In the linked article, the color plate for the 2005 reprint, it looks so rough and far off the printed page, do they shoot from that and do color seps? Or is that just a guide and someone makes notes of the pantone or whatever colors for when it comes time to mix up the ink?

I was looking for the quote and can't find it, but I believe Steranko is on record somewhere saying that the best editions of his mind-bending work for the Nick Fury comics are the original printings. He said he drew and colored with that type of reproduction in mind. When they first started reprinting stuff on fancy paper in the 1980's, there was some heinous stuff around with bright, bold, flat colors slapped on the shiny paper.

For certain artists, you can't beat the IDW Artist's editions. Except for Tarzan volume, they haven't done anything by DC. I don't know if that has to do with licensing or lack of available original art. But let's see some Kaluta Shadow stuff in that format and Wrightson's Swamp Thing thank you very much.
posted by marxchivist at 8:48 AM on March 28, 2013 [2 favorites]


IDW does put out those huge big b&w original art editions of various classic stories, including Frank Miller's Daredevil: Born Again

This made me all excited, and then I saw it runs for $125 and now I am sad.

I knew I should have gotten around to getting rich during the '90's.
posted by Zed at 9:16 AM on March 28, 2013 [4 favorites]


DC loves recoloring Batman comics. The remastered version of The Killing Joke is a lot less visually interesting, and Neal Adams ruined the collections of his comics with recolorings.

Other recolorings.
posted by painquale at 9:56 AM on March 28, 2013


I'd add the Watchmen recoloring to the hall of shame - so many unneeded gradients and blurs.

Pretty hard to imagine recoloring the early Sandman made it worse though.
posted by Artw at 9:58 AM on March 28, 2013


The Sandman recolor takes away the weird-ass color choices, although I do agree it does more justice to Kieth's art than the original.
posted by griphus at 10:01 AM on March 28, 2013


FWIW, Richmond Lewis is Mazzucchelli's wife.


If any book is worth $125, it's that Daredevil Artist Edition. Scroll down and check out the velium overlay on the cover of issue 227. There are several of those in there. It's a great book.
posted by The Hamms Bear at 10:02 AM on March 28, 2013


This is neat...my partner is a colorist (more of a "flatter," which is...something like a colorist, but a middle state of coloring) for DC and Valiant and other, independent comics and illustrated books, and the process is so cool to watch.
posted by xingcat at 10:10 AM on March 28, 2013


Kinda previously.
posted by themadthinker at 10:32 AM on March 28, 2013


While the re-coloring didn't take anything away from the original, I still prefer the original as it works perfectly well with the lower quality paper it was printed on. More of a 1930's feel to it, I guess...I remember getting these Year One comics when they came out and being really excited about how good they were, especially Mazzuchelli's art. It almost seemed like the perfect combination of art to story to mood (as established by the coloring, but also to Mazzuchelli's liberal use of black ink), and at 4 issues in the series it was the perfect length, too.

They just don't make 'em like that any more.
posted by motown missile at 11:38 AM on March 28, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'm with The Hamms Bear on the IDW Daredevil edition. While I have collected titles for 20+ years, mainly independents (think Dave McKean, Charles Burns, Paul Pope, Chester Brown, Art Spiegelman, Chris Ware, etc.) I rarely buy collected versions of individual issues I already have, especially DC/Marvel mainstream work ... but Miller and Mazzucchelli's seven-issue Daredevil series is one of the true highlights of both artists' work and the IDW book is a joy. The large scale scans of inked pages, the vellum overlays, the colour reference pages included in the back. Worth every buck. IMHO.
posted by buffalo at 3:31 PM on March 28, 2013


Other recolorings.

Wow. A lot of these could be used to illustrate the that you can do it doesn't mean you should: holy unnecessary gradients, Thor. The lighting wasn't super consistent in the original, but now it looks like every one of the Norse god's muscles is lighted with its own point light, which is completely distracting.
posted by Monday, stony Monday at 4:08 PM on March 28, 2013 [3 favorites]


Yeah, the most common way to "improve" a comic's color is to turn a flat wash into a gradient. Pretty much all of the examples mentioned above do it. Look at the Sandman recolor linked above, for instance. I like the new color choices, but wish they hadn't put in the gradients.

Gradients : comics :: lens flare : movies.
posted by painquale at 5:08 PM on March 28, 2013 [1 favorite]


Recoloring can utterly ruin stuff...

My (least) favorite example of this is when they rereleased the works of Mobius, recoloring and absolutely destroying his gorgeous art with 90s tone-deaf, airbrushed color.
posted by gregoryg at 5:34 PM on March 28, 2013 [4 favorites]


That Thor one is just awful... The new pallete flattens it and makes it bland while the gradients kill all the line work. Ugh.
posted by Artw at 5:37 PM on March 28, 2013


The Four Color Process blog is awesome, and does a great job of showing how colorists had to show a great deal of creativity to work around the limitations of the media.

Very interesting. I used to wonder about designing vector tracing software specifically for scanning comics. Seems pretty doable, and has the potential to really improve the quality of vintage e-comics without drastically altering the original look. Of course that was a few years ago, maybe somebody has done it by now..
posted by Chuckles at 9:12 PM on March 28, 2013


I've experimented with removing the color in photoshop to leave just the inks, vector tracing them, and recoloring them. It worked surprisingly well even though the line quality wasn't nearly as good as the original. More like a slightly more minimalist, stylized version.
posted by gregoryg at 12:40 AM on March 29, 2013


My (least) favorite example of this is when they rereleased the works of Mobius, recoloring and absolutely destroying his gorgeous art with 90s tone-deaf, airbrushed color.

Gah!!!

They should do Tintin next. I mean, can you imagine?
posted by sebastienbailard at 1:00 AM on March 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


My (least) favorite example of this is when they rereleased the works of Mobius, recoloring and absolutely destroying his gorgeous art with 90s tone-deaf, airbrushed color.

Holy shit, that's amazing. It's like someone doing a production of Hamlet where he shoots Claudius in the first act. Dang, man.
posted by Greg Nog at 9:47 AM on March 29, 2013


My (least) favorite example of this is when they rereleased the works of Mobius, recoloring and absolutely destroying his gorgeous art with 90s tone-deaf, airbrushed color.

Wow.
posted by homunculus at 1:14 PM on March 29, 2013


My exact thought process as I clicked the Mobius link:

"He's an incredible artist and his lines are objectively good and how could a shitty color job possi...oh god"
posted by griphus at 1:59 PM on March 29, 2013 [2 favorites]


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