Adrienne Roy, a popular colorist of the ’80s and beyond, has passed away, an email from her ex husband Tony Tollin informs us. She was only 57.
Adrienne was a fixture of the comics of the period, coloring many of DC’s best selling books including CRISIS ON INFINITE EARTHS — and always cutting a figure with her many tattoos and striking appearance — she was the centerfold of the first issue of Tattoo magazine — and as the obituary below alludes to, she was one of the most prominent female freelancers of her time. Though using the limited palette of the time, Roy excelled at storytelling and clarity, not crazy effects,
She was a class act, and I send my condolences to her friends and family.
Adrienne Roy, whose colorful storytelling was a fixture throughout two decades of Batman and other best-selling DC comic books, lost a year-long battle with cancer on December 14th.
The premier DC Comics colorist during the “Bronze Age of Comics” provided dramatic coloring and storytelling for nearly all of the company’s top titles, but is best remembered for her 15-year, 189-issue run on Batman, her 16-year, 202-issue run on the company’s flagship Detective Comics, and a 14-year tenure on The New Teen Titans, plus many years coloring other Bat-titles including Brave and the Bold, Robin, Batman and the Outsiders, Gotham Knights and Shadow of the Bat.
Though her initial Bat assignments were for legendary editor Julius Schwartz, she was recruited to color the entire Batman line by editor (later DC president) Paul Levitz, who explains, “Adrienne combined the ability of a set designer to create beauty with the ability of a lighting designer to create drama and storytelling focus, and wrapped it in a sweet professionalism. No wonder we editors chose her again and again, keeping her on favorite titles like Batman literally for decades.”
Adrienne Roy’s coloring enhanced the artwork of comicdom’s top artists, from Golden and Silver Age legends like Jack Kirby, Irv Novick, Gene Colan and Superman’s Curt Swan to modern greats like George Peréz, Jim Aparo, Don Newton, Keith Giffen and Todd McFarlane.
The Verona, NJ native was a veteran of science fiction, comics, Star Trek and horror film conventions, and was one of the first female comics fans to break into the ranks of New York comics professionals. After marrying and moving to Manhattan, she briefly assisted her husband, DC Comics staffer Anthony Tollin, on his own freelance work before being recruited for solo assignments by vice president/production manager Jack Adler, who recognized by her third story that she would soon be “DC’s best colorist.” Under the tutelage of Adler and DC president Sol Harrison, Roy quickly moved into the ranks of DC’s top freelancers, with continuing assignments on a variety of titles including Superman, Green Lantern, All-Star Comics (featuring the Justice Society), G.I. Combat, House of Mystery and Batman Family. She was also the regular colorist on DC’s World’s Greatest Super-Heroes and Batman syndicated newspaper strips.
“For more than a decade, it seemed like Adrienne Roy was coloring virtually every DC comic,” recalls inker and comics historian Jim Amash, “but in truth she was only coloring most of the top sellers, the titles that everyone was reading!” Adrienne was the only DC freelancer with her own desk in the company’s Manhattan offices, and was the first colorist signed by DC to exclusive, multi-year employment contracts.
Equally adept at superhero, humor, war and mystery/horror storytelling, Adrienne Roy was a fixture on Mike Grell’s Warlord and Marv Wolfman and George Peréz’s New Teen Titans, the first “Bronze Age” DC publications to make major inroads against the Marvel Comics sales juggernaut.
However, she quickly developed a special affinity for Batman after becoming regular colorist of Detective Comics in 1978. Later, as a new wave of Batmania swept the world with the release of Tim Burton’s blockbuster Batman films and an animated TV series, the single constant fixture on the Batman comic titles was Adrienne Roy, whose tenure as regular Bat-colorist continued through six editors and dozens of creative Bat-teams, totaling more than 600 Batman family comics including the blockbuster “Death of Robin” and “Knightfall” storylines. Her byline has appeared on more Batman credits than anyone except creator Bob Kane, a record that is unlikely to ever be equaled. “Adrienne made it easy to take her for granted because she was quiet, pleasant, reliable–never any fuss with her–and her work was always exemplary,” former Batman editor Dennis O’Neil recalls. “It¹s only in retrospect that I realize what a blessing she was to my editing.”
In addition to her own DC assignments, Adrienne co-colored many more DC series including Crisis on Infinite Earths, Justice League of America, Infinity, Inc., Flash Gordon, The Phantom, Doc Savage, The Shadow Strikes and Ragman with her husband, along with the U.S. Army’s P.S. Magazine (“the Preventive Maintenance Monthly”) and National Lampoon comic strips. She also painted several LP album covers.
A Magna Cum Laude fine art graduate of William Patterson University, Adrienne Roy was an early female pioneer in world of tattooing and body art, voted “Most Beautifully Tattooed Female” at the 1982 National Tattoo Convention and featured as the centerfold in the debut issue of Tattoo magazine.
“Adrienne was the personification of color, professionally and personally,” recalls former Batman assistant editor Jordan B. Gorfinkel. “She was talented. She was ebullient. Even her hair color and of course her tattoos were colorful. And there was her smile, so generous and genuine that I can picture it in my memory as if she were in front of me right now. In every way, she made four colors into an infinite rainbow.”
Adrienne lived her final years in Austin, TX, and is survived by her daughter Katrina Tollin of Austin, Texas; brother Normand Roy of Montclair, NJ; former husband and art partner Anthony Tollin of San Antonio, TX; and more than 50,000 pages of colorful comic book storytelling featuring the World’s Greatest Super-Heroes.
Donations may be made to the Hero Initiative (www.heroinitiative.org/), a tax-deductible charity supporting veteran comics professionals through hard times.
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.