James Harvey’s Colors Breathe New Life Into Frank Miller’s Art
Frank Miller is unarguably a legend in the comics industry, and in his own way was responsible for changing the direction of American superhero comics in the mid-'80s with his work on classic characters like Daredevil and Batman. However, Miller's recent output has been met with derision and outright mockery by some fans who see him as well past his prime.
James Harvey of Masterplasty and Bartkira sees things differently, and claims that Miller is as good as he ever was; DC just doesn't know how to color his art to get the most out of it. In a blog post last week, Harvey shared some examples of what he would do if he were Miller's colorist.
In his blog post, Harvey states:
In January of this year I tried out to be a colourist for Frank Miller at DC. Not because being a colourist for the comics has always been my dream, or because I’m the world’s biggest Frank Miller fan, but because I kept seeing some pretty awesome drawings of his being critically savaged. He’s a good artist, but people were talking as if these recent drawings were the scrawlings of a lunatic. I felt like I needed to step in.
Harvey reports that, though DC was positive about his work, it plans to stick with its current colorist for Miller. According to recent credits for books including Dark Knight Universe Presents: The Atom, that colorist is Alex Sinclair, who usually works with much more "realistic" artists such as J.G. Jones and Ivan Reis.
Sinclair's colors on Frank Miller's work also strives towards realism, but it seems clear that his attempts to capture the correct lighting and shadow only serve to hide the dynamism of Miller's art. In Harvey's recolored works, the colors are flat, bold, and pop off the page, reminding you why Frank Miller earned his status as a legendary artist.
The blog post also goes into the evolution of Miller's colors, which were provided for a long time by his now ex-wife Lynn Varley. Harvey cites their work on The Dark Knight Strikes Again as a turning point for Miller's work in many fans eyes, with Varley's experiments in digital coloring proving ultimately unsuccessful.
The whole blog post is an extremely interesting look into the differences a colorist can make, and how pairing a good artist with a good colorist doesn't necessarily result in a good finished product if their styles are out of sync.
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