Or, the magic of Dave Baron's colors!
I certainly don’t pretend to be an artist; a fact that was called out famously in a Wall Street Journal article 15 years ago. Funny enough, my mother actually took issue with the opening of that article because at one point in my life, I DID pretend to be an artist. I figured out fairly early in life that I was better at talking about art whether in comics or otherwise, and here I am 25 years into a career in publicity. However, even in this job, I have also learned that the best thing I can do is get out of the way of the folks who DO make art, and let them speak for themselves. After all, my job is only to find them the platform to do so…
Well, I’ve said it before about this business: sometimes you get lucky. Sometimes, you get lucky more than once. Such is the case for me getting to work with David Baron for the GLADIATRIX announcement (as posted here in our newsletter a few weeks back) AND on some new stuff of mine from LIFEDEATH.
David has been, and remains, one of the top talents in the industry. I got lucky the first time having Dave handle colors when we were together on VIGILANTE over at DC. Then, we were together again on a little book called BATMAN BEYOND: HUSH BEYOND which, AHEM, wound up at the number 1 spot on the NY Times bestseller list for graphic novels. AHEM, (clears my throat).
Right from the start, I was ALWAYS so impressed with Dave’s color sense, but what I mainly loved about Dave’s work was his sense of story. He always seemed to find just the right approach to capture the mood and the feeling of a scene.
So, jump to ‘today’ and, as those of you who follow our newsletter know, I’m mainly focused on pencilling and inking my own stuff these days and with both GLADIATRIX and LIFEDEATH, I knew the colors were beyond critical to fully realizing these projects. So, when Dave said he was available, and interested, to work on both, well, picture Tim Robbins in SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION standing in the rain with his arms outstretched towards the heavens and that was pretty much my reaction (by the way, if you haven’t seen SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION and have no idea what I’m talking about…I’m sorry, but ….I just can’t help you. Ok, ok, go see it, it’s a great movie).
I’m going to turn this over to Dave and let him talk about his approach to the colors on my stuff. But first, I’ll just say this: being a great artist is all about the ability to execute. You can have the greatest idea for a drawing, painting, comic page, etc, in the universe and if you cannot execute that idea to full realization, your great idea is probably not going to amount to much. This is why artists spend years learning all the elements of their craft: anatomy, perspective, design and more, ALL so when one sits down at the board with a blank piece of paper in front of them and a FANTASTIC visual idea in their head, they can execute it so that other people can get it and that great idea can be properly shared.
I cannot ‘execute’ my ideas in color in a way that is really effective. That’s not to say I don’t color, or have never tried, it’s more that it’s just not an area that I am proficient in. So, when you bring someone like Dave on board, in many ways, you’re asking someone like him to execute that vision. But, in Dave’s case, he achieves far, far more than that. He makes magic, pure and simple. He far exceeds what I ever thought , or imagined, in my head. He makes me see the ‘movie’ out of these pages.
Ok, that’s enough out of me. So, without further ado, here’s Dave.
You can credit WWE superstar John Cena and his HBO MAX series PEACEMAKER for reconnecting me and Vigilante comic collaborator; John Stanisci.
The hit show use of the DC COMICS character Vigilante had John tagged me in a tweet that showcased a piece of artwork that we've done together. That got us on the path of rekindling an excellent working experience that was cut short. And lucky for me, he had a way to bring that experience back to life with two new projects, GLADIATRIX and LIFEDEATH.
With LIFEDEATH, John told me about this fantastic world he is building. He described it in such detail that I was able to imagine what I could bring to the story with my color mixing with John's energetic artwork.
John's artwork has a beautiful sense of depth and space. John has a great way of pouring emotion and movement into his work, pathing the way for color.
When I approach John's work, I look for the areas that I want to push and pull. What moments need to be subtle, and what moments need to scream Hollywood summer blockbuster. I want to follow his emotional cues with color that puts the reader on the edge of reality.
Many people ask me how do I go from coloring something THE COBBLESTONE CHRONICLES, a YA series, to something of such grand scale like LIFEDEATH? The answer is more straightforward than some might want to hear, but it is all about world-building. To bring the level of color and texture that supports the story. The amount of detail in color contrasts the story's art style and desired complexity.
For something like LIFEDEATH, we're looking to create a world full of contrasting textures, with light bouncing off of a city set in a burning world. The only way to pull off the vision when you hear something like that is to dive in headfirst, not worrying about overdoing anything.
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