"Dots All Folks!" Progress: Silver Age Pages Complete (Thanks to My Own Newsprint!)
My older four-color process emulations used Google-discovered scans of blank aged paper as backgrounds. I’ve tried Photoshopping them to match actual old comics, but nothing worked. Then it hit me: why not scan my own blank newsprint? I tried 10 years ago, but my beat-up scanner couldn’t retain the unique newsprint texture. The scanner I bought last week handled it just fine. Luckily I still have 20+ year-old blank newsprint lying around my studio.
The classic pages are represented here with the new blank newsprint background images.
Silver Age Pages Complete!
I really enjoyed mimicking the look of my childhood comics. Compared to the real thing, my efforts came up short, but hopefully look different enough from the modern panels to tell the story. I’m not trying to make the classic pages look stupid. Any smug artist can exaggerate color dots to emphasize everything wrong with pre-digital printing. I’m trying to make an honest, accurate side-by-side comparison of the two eras…in the same story.
Time to start coloring the modern pages…ugh.
"Dots All Folks!" Progress Report: Why I Spend So Much Time on Silver Age Printing Technique
The left picture, page 10 of “Dots All Folks!”, uses 64-color pallet with no four color process dots on a solid white background. Without the dots, ink gain and absorbent newsprint, the colors are louder than intended. This was discovered during the economic and technological shift of the 1980s, when publishers actually printed 64 colors on nicer paper. That’s when the industry went with full digital color, effectively ending the four color process era of comics.
Sadly, Marvel and DC republish their pre-digital comics just like this. For more on how the physical material is just as important as the intellectual property and artist intent, check out John Hilgart’s excellent article In Defense of Dots: The lost art of comic books.
In short, “Dots All Folks” wouldn’t be the best action-packed contrast of old and new comics art without emulating Silver Age four color process techniques to the best of my abilities. Thanks for lighting the fire, John & Mike!
"Dots All Folks!" Progress Report: Pages 8-10
Art for the color holds of the remaining pages is too big for my scanner. My new tabloid scanner’s supposed to arrive tomorrow. Not wanting to waste another good drawing night, I flat-colored pages 8 and 9 and finished page 10 (no color holds). The 64-color pallet emulation’s a tough process, especially this time of night after a long day. Zzzzzz…
"Dots All Folks!" Progress Report: Page 6
Coloring in this style takes me about 2-3 hours per page. Flattening goes quickly, but making decisions with only 64 colors is tough (especially when adding the color holds). Energy bursts are also a challenge. I’m heavily referencing my 1960s Marvel collection. Once the artistic decisions are made, applying the “color dots by channels” effect takes about 20 minutes.