UPDATE: Thanks to the corrections offered in the gentle manner that the Internet is known for, we’ve corrected the credits for the above weirdness — even if it was the wrong book, the coloring is still pants, however.

We were farting around on the Internet yesterday when we came across an art thread at Ivan Brandon’s forum that included the following shocking before and after. The original comparison is from a French art blog (well worth checking out on its own.) The work in question is THE INCAL AVANT L’INCAL by Jodorowsky and Moebius Janjetov. The first is from the original printing. The second is from the US Humanoids version, recolored by Fred Valerie Beltran, who is not a bad colorist or artist in his own right….but hideously inappropriate. What the hell happened to the delicate linework and shading that Janjetov included in the original? Wasn’t that part of how the art was SUPPOSED to look?

In addition, in an insulting move, naked ladies have been removed. (We’ve added the black bar, but you can see the uncensored versions at both links, as well as more examples of before and after.)

While computerized “modeled” coloring is the standard for today’s comics, it’s basically like giving a loaded revolver to a chimpanzee, as it so changes the underlying character of the art. As we flip through the comics we get these days, we’re struck over and over again by the darkness of the printing, the muddled look of the resulting art, and the idea that comics editors have moved to a system where the traditional penciler/inker/colorist team is being asked to produce painted work reminiscent of video games, which isn’t how the system was set up. It could work to produce great images, but that would require a lot of cooperation, time and vision — more than the present system seems to be set up for.


  1. Reminds me of hearing about the recoloured Marvel Moebius The Silver Surfer: Parable. I heard about the “darker, more dramatic” recolouring but never got a chance to see whether it worked or not.

  2. So, as a reader noticed, it’s not Moebius but also: it’s NOT Fred Beltran who collored this book. It was VALERIE Beltran… Maybe before writing an article you can get the facts right?

  3. Whoops sorry and sorry. My bad french and Humanoids lack of info on their website caused the confusion.

  4. The things humanoids have done with their reprint is atrocious. But the kiddies don’t like ‘ugly’ art!

  5. Doesn’t “Je parie que tu n’arrives pas” mean “I bet you can’t come”? Not “Bet you can’t handle her.” Or do I just fail to understand the idiom?

  6. Here, here … or hear, hear … whichever … Most comics are muddy and dark these days. But I’ve noticed that I can fall into that same trap. Something about computer coloring encourages people to go darker … grey, brown, black, purple … It’s almost as if we’re ubconsciously compensating for the screen’s glare in our eyes.

  7. BK

    If you’re out there…

    Did you know somebody with a really bad attitude is making posts using your name?

  8. BK:

    Before you post a snotty comment on a comics blog, shouldn’t you learn how to spell “COLORED” first?

  9. Aaaaand back to the point.

    Blame the Editor.
    They hired the colorist.
    They accepted the work or dictated what kind of style they wanted.

    Not that praise should be heaped on the colorist, I’m suggesting placing blame where blame is due (or at least spreading it out a bit). By all I’ve seen, their taste is in their mouth.


  10. Wow, that’s horrendous. Interestingly, Valerie Beltran also colored the DC/Humanoids edition of Jodorowsky & Moebius’ series The Incal, and her color is mostly OK there. Not as beautiful as the colors I’ve seen on Moebius stories where the colors aren’t redone, but decent. Not distracting, which is usually the best you can hope for with revisions like that. And the nudity is mostly left in, as far as I can tell. There’s one scene where the colorist makes an utterly half-assed attempt to draw a top on a girl who’s obviously supposed to be naked, but otherwise there’s plenty of untouched nudity — the character Animah NEVER puts any clothes on. Of course, that only makes the censorship gestures all the more puzzling. I mean, did they think they might market these obtuse, convoluted, raunchy sci-fi epics to little kids? I don’t really get the editorial decisions made by some of these companies.

  11. Can’t they just restore the coloring without actually re-choosing and re-coloring it? Why the hell would they cover up all those delicious lines…this is sorta reminiscent of why i never picked up the Kirby reprints from Image…they got the colors completely wrong.

  12. I’ve never been a big fan of the “modelled” computer painting style. Let’s clone a few Marie Severins & Tatjana Woods!

  13. I totally agree the original INCAL’s flat colouring suited the art and story far better than the Beltran “remake”, although Jodorowski seems fond of working with him…

  14. it would be interesting to know what assets they had to start with to do the reprint… Beyond the censoring, I would hazard to guess that they might have had to use scans of the comic…Which might have lead them down this path of coloring… And it looks like the line art has been re-built. Not to excuse it, but just a reason.

  15. Thank you for this! This overly-modelled computer coloring has been bugging the hell out of me for years now. It totally obliterates the linework. If that’s the artist’s intent, then great. It’s like Corben’s old airbrush stuff. But if it starts out with carefully-chosen black spotting and line weights based on more open areas for large blocks of subtle color, spewing hues all over it just destroys its aesthetics.

    I also think whenever Marvel or DC or somebody puts out an “archive” reprint of older stuff they need to tone down the garishness. What worked on cheap newsprint 30 or 40 years ago just doesn’t on pristine white, glossy paper. It looks oversaturated and carnival-esque. And if they decide to “update” it with a lot of color rendered shadows and the like, as Neal Adams did with his Batman books… yikes!

    The worst example was the number done on some reprints of Jack Kirby’s 40’s work… I forget from what company… where they computer airbrushed musculature onto some of the figures. It totally clashes with the antiquated art and even if it didn’t, it would have still looked poorly done. On old Kirby, it was a nightmare.

    And the example in this article is just ludicrously bad. They’ve totally wrecked the art. This isn’t Ted Turner colorizing “The Maltese Falcon,” this is Ted Turner computer-superimposing the Muppets and Diet Coke commercials onto it.

  16. The thing I dislike about most of the modern coloring is that they add shadows where no shadowing should be. They don’t seem to understand lighting and shadowing and whatnot. The pencillers and inkers do (at least more than the colorists) — why shouldn’t they follow what they do?

  17. “Doesn’t “Je parie que tu n’arrives pas” mean “I bet you can’t come”? Not “Bet you can’t handle her.” Or do I just fail to understand the idiom? ”

    Well, “J’arrive” is often used to indicate an orgasm, so your translation is likely accurate but doesn’t make much sense as a direct translation. It would need a slight retouch to make it make more sense, but the way they chose to go isn’t completely horrible.

    I haven’t purchased a single Humanoids book published in America because way back when the books were first appearing I keep hearing people complain about things that were changed and incorrect translations because they had read the French language versions. I’m happy to know I was justified in not spending my money on revisionist crap.

  18. Others have pointed out that DC/Humanoids used the same colorist, and coloring style, in the Moebius Incal volumes. I think it looks about as bad as the example here; especially the first few episodes of the story, where the coloring is so dark that you can barely see what’s going on.

  19. >>> ericshanower
    Indeed, you’re right, “Je parie que tu n’arrives pas” means something like “I bet you can’t come” (Not a sexual meaning)
    But in the comics, the bald man says “Je parie que tu n’y arrives pas” and the “y” changes the meaning to “I bet you won’t be able to do it” and thus “I bet you can’t handle her” is a quite good traduction.

  20. One gets the impression that what we are seeing are people who are still learning their craft. That is the state that they will be stuck in for quite a while as the various softwares created for computer coloring are constantly updated and must therefore, to a certain extent, be constantly re-learned. There is also the “Too Many Choices” phenomenon. Old style coloring was limited. Computerized coloring is limitless. The plethora of options available and the ability to travel down unexplored paths leads the artists into experiments that, some times, don’t work.