Art of Color: Muntsa Vicente’s Vibrant Visions
Comics coloring has come a long way since the "four-color" process of yesteryear. As printing and technological innovations allow for greater artistic improvisation, colorists today are blessed with a wider palette, easier research, and the (deserved) recognition that they're an equal part of an artistic team.
Muntsa Vicente is one of the few colorists working in comics today who's able to evoke the limited color schemes of those old comics, without letting her own style be subsumed.
Take this splash page in Spidey Sundays for example:
Vicente is able to call back to early Spider-Man stories without simply copying the color scheme exactly. It's a part of the page, a vibrant reflection of how those stories felt like when they were read. The coloring feels like a blast from the past because with a few stark background colors, Vicente is able to evoke the focus those early stories had on individual objects and characters.
Vicente is able to direct your attention to the focal point of each scene, without stripping away the colors of the background. Take a look at the bottom left panel, where Brain and Bull (the antagonists) point towards Spidey in the top of the panel.
They're crooks from "our world" that escaped into the comic book world of Spider-Man, which turns them into anachronisms in Spidey's world. Note that they're the only ones wearing gray and black clothes, against a backwash of warmly-colored, vibrant background characters. They're colored like the real world, and they don't fit in the four-color world they've found themselves in.
Still, just because Vicente is evoking the past doesn't mean she's just placing Benday dots and moving on; she's evoking the past while still using modern techniques, making this modern comic feel as colorful and vibrant as those older comics attempted to be.
But Vicente's work can't just be boiled down to echoes of the past. Here's her version of the future in Private Eye #1:
The skyscrapers ooze a green color, one distinctly different from the shade of the rooftop garden. There's sickly green and verdant green, and the reader has no trouble telling them apart. The heavy greens on the page also set off the skyline, a beautiful pink-purple hue that calls back to half a dozen science fiction movies, or maybe just Los Angeles on a smoggy day. Then, right in the center is our hero, the paparazzo, colored in the only full white on the page.
More than just the coloring tricks she uses to make Marcos Martin's linework pop is just the simple feeling a reader gets looking at the page. It just looks futuristic, in the same way the Spidey page looked older. Vicente's control over the colors of an era is just staggering.
Moreover, her style is perfectly suited to her two most frequent collaborators, Marcos Martin and Javier Pulido, both artists who utilize strong figure work and composition, which balances well with Vicente's use of vibrant flats and color contrast.
Check out some more examples of Vicente's work below: