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Should Black and White Comics Get Colored?

Black? White? Or read all over.

 Printing technology couldn't keep up with Little Nemo in his day.
 Printing technology couldn't keep up with Little Nemo in his day.

I’ve been having a good time fielding questions from the community in my Almost Otaku column at Anime Vice, so I figured, hey, why not try at Comic Vine? Thus, I put the challenge to you maniacs. Come up with a good comics-related question and I’ll answer it, here. Send me PM. I’m up for handling all questions... within reason.

Damswedon gets +1000 XP points of courage for asking the inaugural question…

Damswedon: I have a very simple question "Do you think Black and White comics should ever be coloured?"  I was watching an interview of Alan Moore where he said he thinks the original B+W versions of V for Vendetta are the best. This is because there is no shading in the art, It is all black ink on white background, this means that the only shades of grey in the book is found in the text. 

This question reminds me of the very fortunate opportunity I had a couple years back to visit the Masters of American Comics exhibit when it was on display at the Milwaukee art museum. The collection had original pieces of art from a diverse sample of artists, including Jack Kirby, E.C. Segar, Charles Schulz, Milton Caniff, Chester Gould and even Chris Ware. What made this exhibit especially intriguing was that it soundly answered a question I’d had about whether modern artists could have existed in decades past. Even though the original Windsor McCay LITTLE NEMO IN SLUMBERLAND pages were over a century old, they looked like they were drawn today. That’s when I realized that draftsmanship and line hasn’t changed much over the years, but printing technologies have improved in astronomic increments. == TEASER ==

This doesn't need color.     
This doesn't need color.   

Considering that early comics were reproduced with methods about as crude as pressing playdough on the pages, I can see why creators would want to rebuild the bridge between the original art and what’s presented to the audience. But it’s not a one-size-fits all, to be sure. I think of Brian Bolland’s sumptuous ink work in DREDD VS. DEATH and can’t imagine color improving the experience. In fact, I figure it might diminish it. On the other hand, sometimes the color fits the art just right, even if the creators themselves are dissatisfied with it . I personally prefer the original coloring of THE KILLING JOKE over the revision it’s gotten. Even though the original colors might be garish by some people's standards, I think they fit the perfectly fit the feverish, hallucinatory feel of the story.  

So, to answer your question, there cases when it works and there are cases when ti doesn't. It just comes down to the specifics of the work.

Anyway, keep the questions coming everybody. Send me a PM and I’ll eventually answer it, here.

Tom Pinchuk’s the writer of HYBRID BASTARDS! &  UNIMAGINABLE . Order them on Amazon   here   &     here .