Thius is the first of a few new categories we’re rolling out this year. In an attempt to further explore the craft of comics creation, we decided to set our staff loose on the colorists who help bring so many of the comics we enjoy to life. The nominations covered all sorts of styles and approaches, from the painterly work of Dean White through the flat, technicolor flourishes of Lee Loughridge, even touching on the artist who choose to color their own work like Jason Latour and D’Israeli. While most of the competition was tight, our #1 spot was a landslide win. Read on to see how your favorites ranked!
3. Dave Stewart
(Mark Tweedale) I consider Dave Stewart one of the pillars of the Hellboy Universe. He’s so essential to holding all those many titles together, I simply can’t imagine it without him, especially with so many different artists working on the books. Stewart’s work keeps the whole line feeling consistent (even as he tailors his approach to each artist).
But the work that stands out the most in 2015 for me is his colors on “Rumble”. This is a larger than life world, and the colors practically explode off the page, pushed to a level of caricature even. Frankly, sometimes it’s overwhelming… because it’s supposed to be. Bobbi, the viewpoint character for most of the story so far, spends a lot of the time overwhelmed, and whenever things settle back to normality, the colors relax with him. Issue 6 dealt with death, and without diminishing the color language Stewart had established in the first arc, he was able to swing back and forth between these two extremes invisibly. You feel the emotional effect of the transition without it calling attention to itself. It’s just enough to make the reader feel the same something wrong that the characters are feeling.
I can’t wait to see these contrasts explored further in the book next year.
2. Matt Wilson
(Matt Garcia) Matt Wilson loves color. The saturation of it, the vibrancy of it, the way it pops off the page (or the screen). Even at the moodiest moments or the darkest scenes of the books he’s working on, his palette energizes the page, helps the reader connect more with the story, and makes the book become more prominent in your memory. Years of experience have honed in his skills to hit home the emotions and the excitement, the drama and the engagement for all the books he’s working on. At the same time, he’s demonstrated remarkable restraint, holding himself to a handful of colors for each project; adding tone and texture and lighting, but never letting it become too overwhelming or distracting to what’s happening.
As always, in 2015, Matt Wilson’s name was everywhere. He’s continued his work with Jason Aaron and Russell Dauterman with “The Mighty Thor,” a huge fantasy epic bristling with energy and excitement. He did a Deadpool book and a Wolverine story. Superstar artists like Cliff Chiang turn to him to help bring stuff like “Paper Girls” to life, and not many people can capture so well that four-in-the-morning tint or help sell that reckless unnerving, breathless terror that book demands. His work on “The Wicked + The Divine” will probably be the cornerstone of his legacy, and for good reason because the emotions, spectacle, and drama he draws out from each and every page is so constantly assured and professional and effective, its beauty and skill practically get taken for granted. In an industry where desaturated aesthetics still seem to be the go-to norm, especially for superhero comics (maybe it makes the books seem more “serious” or “gritty” or something), Wilson’s bright hues and clear love and understanding of color are exuberant and welcome.
1. Jordie Bellaire
(Alice W. Castle) Honestly, was this any surprise? Jordie Bellaire was the colourist that opened my eyes to the fact that colour art was genuinely important and incredibly diverse aspect of the creation of comics. Her work is instantly recognisable no matter the artist she is working with, but never in a way that distracts from the art itself. While she’s most known for a warm, autumnal palette her work on “ZERO”, on “Manhattan Projects”, on “Moon Knight” and on “Magneto” show an amazing versatility in how she is able to bring pencils to life through colour. Sometimes it feels like Jordie colours all of my favourite comics, but that makes sense when she is one of the greatest colourists working in the industry.Continued below
Mike Romeo – I was so glad to see how this new category went over. We got a really diverse set of responses from everyone, and the top three listed above really did earn a lot of votes. This makes me hopeful that maybe next year we can introduce a letterer category!
Brian Salvatore – I still think Marcelo Maiolo deserved a spot, but you really can’t quibble with the names on this list. Coloring has become an aspect of comics making that went from being virtually ignored to something that gets celebrated in year end polls like this. That’s a great sign of a fan base getting more interested in, and knowledgeable about, how things are made. I can’t imagine not being happy with that.