A lot of people celebrated Jack Kirby’s birthday on Friday by posting a lot of his art, and it is always pleasant to page through galleries of the King. One thing that I did notice on all this art was how stunning (to me anyway) the original “limited” coloring looks.
Marvel has often recolored a lot of classic work for reprints, which I understandd must be done at times, and Kirby’s Thor comics were recolored for a reprint series in the modern, “modeled” manner, and some people liked it, which I guess it does look more up to date, but for me it’s…blech.
The recolored version, to my eye, completely obliterates the detail in the art and saps its energy. Plus, poop-brown color palette…why? AND the knockout color of Thor in the new version just make that little detail in the art harder to see.
This cover was a more faithful attempt, but even the yellowed old version still has more subtlety in the color grading!
ln this one, shading Thor’s outstretched hand once again removes the impact of his pose; and I far prefer the psychedelic Galactus to the “realistic” version. I know I’ve moaned about this before, but some art just isn’t meant for modeling. Although they had what we’d think of as incredibly primitive coloring methods—64 colors and hand separating them into the cyan, magenta and yellow plates. The colorist on Thor isn’t even known, but whoever he or she was, it was intuitive and really understood Kirby’s art. Modeled color works, but I think there’s a reason why so many of the most popular comics use duotone, limited palettes or the more European style of flat areas of color. I’m terrible at articulating what I like about color, but I do know sometimes less is more.
Or maybe I’m the only one. Thoughts?
Heidi MacDonald is the founder and editor in chief of The Beat. In the past, she worked for Disney, DC Comics, Fox and Publishers Weekly. She can be heard regularly on the More To Come Podcast. She likes coffee, cats and noble struggle.