The Dress. For a little while there, in between one story and the next, the dress was all anyone seemed to be talking about --- or more specifically, a picture of a dress. Some people swore that the dress in the picture was white and gold; others felt certain it was blue and black. Color, which we tend to think of as a matter of fact, is really a matter of perception --- but, "it all depends how you look at it" is an unsatisfying answer to a question that nearly tore the internet in two.
Thankfully there are people whose whole business is color, among them the talented artists who color our comics, applying color theory to create space, time, mood, and emotion on the page. One such artist is Nathan Fairbairn, whose projects include Multiversity and Wonder Woman: The Trial of Diana Prince. Fairbairn was as confounded by the mysteries of The Dress as anyone, but as an expert in his field he had a better idea than most of us on how they might be decoded.
I'm sure more than one comic came out this week, but you wouldn't know that form my Twitter feed, where all anyone is talking about is Pax Americana, the latest chapter of Multiversity by Grant Morrison, Frank Quitely and Nathan Fairbairn. Using the old Charlton Comics characters that inspired Dave Gibbons and Alan "The Original Writer" Moore's classic graphic novel Watchmen, Pax Americana tells a story that is in turn inspired by Watchmen, creating a meticulously structured comic with layers so dense that it's blowing minds all across the comics scene.
And one of the most important parts about the comic is color. That's true of any comic printed in color, of course, but in this particular issue, color becomes a major theme, creating a backdrop for the story that's tied into ideas about spiral dynamics, something that's verbosely explained by the Question about three quarters of the way through the book.
If that sounds complicated, well, it is, and our own David Uzumeri is hard at work on annotations explaining it all. Until then, we're fortunate enough that Fairbairn has taken to his Tumblr to break down his coloring process and how he worked with Quitely to create the incredible visuals of Pax Americana.
This week, Marvel posted a few preview pages from its newly "remastered" first issue of Miracleman. Before the images were even officially released Wednesday, fans had gotten a hold of the new images and posted comparisons to the original black-and-white versions from the magazine Warrior, Eclipse Comics' original issues, and recolored versions from the original Eclipse collected edition.
It seems like any time the major publishers issue a high-profile reprint of a comic that's more than 25 years old, they consider it a necessity to recolor them. Maybe it is. Maybe old-fashioned colors are a turn-off to readers who are used to modern techniques. But I do wonder how much changing the colors changes the actual comic.
Open up a comic book and tell me the first thing you see. It isn't the story or the lettered; those elements of a comic book take time to read, digest, and comprehend. It's not the art, either. You can tell if art is dope or not at a glance, but you can't absorb any details without taking a break and really looking at a page...
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