Tom Vincent on Modern Coloring
Tom Vincent's coloring credits include, amongst other things, Thanos Quest and a long run of Silver Surfer. I found his work on Thanos Quest utterly amazing.
From: firstname.lastname@example.org (tom vincent) Newsgroups: rec.arts.comics.misc Subject: Re: The best letters! Date: 19 Sep 1995 13:35:47 GMT Organization: Global One, Inc. Message-ID: <email@example.com> The subject was raised: how do colorists and letterers see computers- as a threat to their livelihood? I certainly do. I USED to paint full color, camera ready bluelines, and would average anywhere from 6-8 hours per page. Anyone that says it took less time was no doubt doing a lousey job at it (and there were quite a few lousey jobs done by people.) Eventually, I had to stop doing painted interior pages because it was simply too time consuming, and even WITH royalties I would often find that my hourly pay was LESS than minimum wage. This was espescially true on projects like Conan, which had limited sales. The only time it found producing full color art profitable was on THE THANOS QUEST, which sold thru two printings despite being on shitty paper. the problem with computerizing my work, is that it requires a capitial investment of anywhere from $7-14,000. Once the work is produced, and again, to do it right, it will take about the same amount of time that bluelines took, I will see a DECREASE in pay, because no royalties are offered. The only way around this is to open up a full shop like Olyoptics (probably the very best around, and the yardstick by which all others should be measured). Most of us don't have that kind of money to invest. The only other option is to crank it out, regardless of quality, which one very well known and established shop has been doing for a number of years. Having had my hard work ruthlessly butchered by these folks, I can tell you, thats not a viable alternative for any self respecting artist. I guess then, that I am indeed a part of a dying breed. Before long, all colors will be done by "shops", and there won't be a discernable difference between the work of a Matt Webb and a Tom Vincent, or a Bob Sharen and a John Kaliz, because we will cease to exist. As far as the price of comics going up if colorists and letterers got raises, that's a trojan horse if ever there was one. The reason your comics get more expensive falls more on the increased costs of paper, printing, shipping, postage, and the unmitigated greed of publishers. $40,000/ month contracts for pencillers don't help matters, either. --- Tom Vincent
Tom then replied to someone with some questions.
From: firstname.lastname@example.org (tom vincent) Newsgroups: rec.arts.comics.misc Subject: Re: The best letters! Date: 1995/09/20 Message-ID: <email@example.com> References: <firstname.lastname@example.org> <email@example.com> Organization: Global One, Inc. Mark Bernstein (markb@sipl4330a) wrote: : tom vincent (firstname.lastname@example.org) wrote: : : The subject was raised: how do colorists and letterers see computers- as a : : threat to their livelihood? : That was me, and thank you for the response. Actually, Mark, thank YOU for bringing it up. : Then, as I said before, I can certainly join you in opposing computerization : as a matter of philosophy. Unfortunately, that doesn't mean a damn thing : in the real world. Again, thank you. And, sadly, you're right. : : I USED to paint full color, camera ready bluelines, <snip> and even WITH : : royalties I would often find that my hourly pay was LESS than minimum wage. : So what do you do? How do you increase your productivity (i.e., decrease : your hours/page) and still do a job you can feel good about? What do you : regard as "doing it right"? After 11 years and 14,000 pages, I have resigned myself to the fact that good work takes time. I can try using bigger brushes, I suppose, but by and large the more complex the artwork is the longer it takes to color. Fans today demand complex artwork, as they demand complex coloring. I think both are a good thing, they just take time. As far as "doing it right", I guess I mean exploiting whatever process you are using to make the most out of it. Oliff has been doing that for years, both in painted bluelines and greylines, and later w/ computers. Electric Crayon does it with computers. I think I did it on THANOS QUEST, in which we (Ron Lim) and I made a concious choice to not ink in a lot of the backrounds and paint them instead to give the illusion of an animation cel. Back in the '70's, Peter Ledger painted a 2 issue series WARRIORS OF THE SHADOW REALM, which was absolutly gorgeous. He did it right. : : Once the work is produced, and again, to do it right, it will take about the : : same amount of time that bluelines took, I will see a DECREASE in pay, : : because no royalties are offered. : What are you comparing here? Are you saying that doing work on the : computer that's as good as what you used to do with fully-painted, : camera-ready bluelines would take just as long as those pages? That's : what I *think* I'm reading. That's what I meant. The benefit of reduced production time goes to the publisher, here, not the artist. : How does the hours/page factor compare for manual vs. computerized work : when you're talking about pages that aren't fully-painted? In the dats of 64 colors, I could do a page in about 30-40 min. When we went up to 121 colors, it took an hour, +-, and now at 16M, w/ unlit. effects, it takes about 3-4 (again, that's "doing it right"... see WOLVERINE POSTER BOOK,esp. the Sam Keith piece of Wolvie on the tree). : : As far as the price of comics going up if colorists and letterers got : : raises, that's a trojan horse if ever there was one. The reason your comics : : get more expensive falls more on the increased costs of paper, printing, : : shipping, postage, and the unmitigated greed of publishers. : : $40,000/ month contracts for pencillers don't help matters, either. : These two statements look contradictory to me, but that's probably because : my earlier post wasn't clear enough. I wasn't thinking in terms of a : small raise. I was thinking that prices might go up if (fantasizing here) : colorists and letterers were making roughly the same per/hour rate as : pencilers and inkers. I *do* realize that paper costs are the single : largest factor in comic price increases. : -- : Mark Bernstein : email@example.com I owe you a big apology here Mark, because upon rereading my comments, I note that there is an almost accusatory tone to them, which is due strictly to my lack of finesse with words. I do hope you understand that, while I have a tremendous amount of frustration on this particular subject, my frustration lies w/ the caste sysrem of comics creating and the short sightedness of publishers, not with you. Truth be told, I DON'T think colorists (or letterers) should make as much as pencillers, because after all, the penciller starts out w/ a blank page. A lot depends on him/her. Having said that, I DO think it's definitely out of line for a penciller to make $40,000/month while the colorist makes about $6-700. There is simply no excuse for that. Also, in cases like SPAWN or THANOS QUEST where the color plays such an important role in the overall art, I think the color artist is every bit (if not more) important than the inker, and is therefore deserving of equal pay and royalties (if not more). And it doesn't matter WHO the inker is, I feel confident in making this blanket statement. --- Tom Vincent firstname.lastname@example.org