Anyone who knows me is aware that I have a big soft spot in my heart for Archie comics, so it shouldn't be a surprise that the first color guides I bought were for Archie Comics. I think I have 6 so far, and 5 of those are for Archie titles – some old and two from the late 1990s, and those use the "expanded color palette" that has more variations of the CMY colors, and brings in screens of black, as well. At some point in the future I'll talk more about those colors, but for now I'm going to stick to the classic look of 64-colors (if you don't know what I'm talking about, go back to part one of this series, or read the article in Marvel Age #13: "How to Color Comics the Marvel Way").
Editorial Input on Color Guides
But back to Archie. I love the company's work and I find their simple color guides as a PERFECT starting point for my own efforts (you'll see my own that in an upcoming article when I actually use new digital tools to attempt recreating the original colors of an Archie comic from the 1960s). But, the colors are simple.
Superhero and horror comics had much more sophisticated coloring, and therefore more editorial input. As I said last time, superhero comic color guides are more expensive, typically running about $50 - $100 per page (that's not to say you can't find a few bargains out there, but they are more infrequent). A little hunting got me an interesting find: an 8-page back-up story in the Marvel Comic, The Champions #4 (March 1976), colored by Janice Cohen for about $83.
Unlike the Archie color guides I have shared with you, this color guide is on standard 8.5 x 11 inch letter size copies, which provides a nice big work area for notes and guidance. Unfortunately, I'm not sure who wrote them: Writer, Artist, Editor? If I ever find out I'll update this article.
Take a look at the editorial comments for a behind-the-scenes look at the production of this story (incidentally, I have not yet obtained this comic so I cannot provide you with a scan of it in its printed form; I'll also update that when I can).
Color Guide for Champions #4 (March 1976)
On this page, notice now her skin tones are marked as Y4R3B3.
The use of the number 4 is very surprising because that is part of the "expanded" color palette that (even without adding black (as I'll discuss in a future article) more than doubles the color options from 64 to 125. As noted in the previous article, the letter/number combo represents a specific dot intensity (i.e., fill percentage). In this formula, 4=70%, making her skin tone:
|B3||Blue [cyan]||50%||This will print as:|
The normal skin tone for a black character would be: YR3B2. I'm going to go into this a lot more next time, as I dive into the very important (and illusive) topic of Skin Color.
But on this page (and others) her skin tone is crossed out with pencil marks.
Also, take a look at how someone wrote "OK" on the bed color and blue background in the last panel.
|Story and art © 1976 Marvel Comics Group|
NOTE: This color guide is presented for the scholarly purpose of discussing how comics were colored in the past. Its fair-use inclusion here recognizes that the underlying story and artwork are the copyrighted property of Marvel Comics.
Next up: Retro Coloring 06: Skin Color