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Well, as we were just saying, colorists are an integral part of the comics creation process, more responsible fore the look of a book than anyone else, really in the modern production process. And yet one con does not think that colorists are worthy to be listed as guests for their show. Or that’s what colorist Jordie Bellaire (Captain Marvel, etc etc ) found out when asking one show to be listed as a guest:

Dear Convention whose name will be spared,

Refusal of professional colorists to be listed as guests at your convention is extremely ignorant.

Your archaic view of creatives is part of what keeps jobs of this industry undervalued. Congratulations, you’ve officially locked out a great percentage of talented, friendly, hard working creatives who would originally have had great interest in attending your convention.

Your one sentence, “this is not a colorists thing”, was surely the most pigheaded and dismissive thing I’ve been told since I began professional coloring. This is a seriously small-minded view of the way things work. Let me explain why:

Colorists make or break a book: Colorists are extremely essential to the medium of colored comics. I don’t think I need to explain to most any fan, the value of a colorist like Laura Martin or Dave Stewart. Colorists create form for figures and their environments, mood, tone and “Effects” like, blurring, flares, glows, color holds, etc. If any of this is done badly or doesn’t give clarity to an artist’s work, the artwork fails.

There’s more in the link.

Colorist Matt Wilson(Wonder Woman) was also blanked by the same con, prompting the #coloristappreciationday tag on twitter. Because they can make or break a book like matchsticks.

The no colorist policy does seem a bit ridiculous. Are you saying Laura Martin and Dave Stewart aren’t fit to be listed as convention guests? Or heck, Jordie Bellaire and Matt Wilson.

We’ve reached out to the Con in question for their side of the story.


  1. “This is not a colorists thing” – if the name of this convention gets out, LMK, so I can not attend it pls. Maybe they should only be allowed to sell B & W comics there.

    — Eva Hopkins, CBG Fan Favorite colorist 2007 (a/k/a the Laura Martin award)

  2. Such a non story. Has anyone, ever, made the decision to attend or not attend a con based on the guest attendance of a colorist?

    That is, in no way, meant to denigrate the crucial work they do but the reality is that nobody buys books because they were edited by X, people go to conventions to meet celebs and artists and writers and outside of the comic bubble, the convention going public could care less if they are listed or not. That’s just reality.

  3. Inkers used to be stars, but then Wizard came to dominate the comics dialog for a decade, before the Internet made them irrelevant. They refused to promote inkers as stars, and people kinda forgot about them. I grew up worshipping the work of Terry Austin and Klaus Janson.

    Colorists are the new inkers. Readers may not understand how important colorists and inkers are to the process, but we creators should let the readers know. Bad inks and color can destroy a book. Great inking and color can save mediocre pencils. If I know and trust my colorist, it affects how I draw. Just like I’ll play basketball differently if I know I can pass the ball to a teammate in the clinch.

  4. Dear Convention Grownups:
    You had no right to discrimate against these colorists who started
    with their careers by coloring in their coloring books in their elementary school life?!? I was also snubbed by you, being that your
    convention performace committee, did not know that I have an intellectual disability, called Asperger’s, who could pass for non-disabled very easily.



    who started with th

  5. Colorists are crucial and awards are given out for their skills. I have seen several colorists sell prints of their work at shows, talk on panels, and give advice to newcomers. Unless the show is bursting at the seams, or if they are extremely broke, I can’t understand why they’d turn away comic professionals — be it colorists, letterers, editors, writers, whatever. If they can make it to your show then be happy.

    I know the industry is going through some *good times* with all the movies and public awareness of comics, but are we at a stage where we can cherry-pick *professionals* like this? If anything, we should be celebrating while the high tide raises all boats. I’m sure the convention has their reasons, but on the face of it this won’t sit well with many in the industry.

  6. Alex: A non-story? Then you must obviously not be a true fan of comics, because anyone who is would quickly point out the difference between dynamic coloring in a book and ho-hum coloring of a lesser book.

    As for DangerWoman: I think they overlooked your marvelous grasp on grammar and punctuation.

    Gene Ha is right. Colorists deserve as much credit as anyone in a book. They absolutely make or break a title.

    It’s only a matter of time before the wind leaves the sails of the comic industry (again), so why not appreciate all aspects of it and not snub those who have a hand at making the industry better?

  7. As a comic penciler, inker, and colorist, I will say that coloring is just as hard work, and just as creative as the rest of my processes. Penciling requires the ability to form figures and set up the initial imagery. Inking requires a very steady hand that can clearly define what was most times, under-defined in the pencil version. And coloring requires an understanding of lighting and colors, a way of using those colors to set the emotion and final stylization of the page. It’s something I’ve had to work at just like any other aspect, and it takes as much time, creativity, and effort as it would for me to ink or pencil. And if you look at most colorists’ drawings, they’re usually really amazing. You need to have an understanding of figures before you can color them properly. So to insult them by saying they’re coloring like you would in coloring books, is as stupid as insulting a master painter for being an elementary student with finger paints.

  8. Jordie Bellaire was at Thought Bubble this year and her stall was AMAZING.

    I went to a convention recently where Phil Jimenez was doing sketches, but then ANDY LANNING was inking his work afterwards – and it was brilliant! Working together, the sketches they put together were just incredible. Inkers and colourists are fascinating, in my opinion, and there are several whose names will get me to try a comic I wouldn’t otherwise be interested in.

  9. Perhaps they were afraid that allowing colorists would give them fewer chairs for retired mid-card professional wrestlers, Playboy Playmates of the ’80s, or Taylor Dayne. You know; the real staple guests of comic conventions.

    (Note: I have nothing against Dayne personally. She’s just the most incongruous personality that I’ve ever seen at a show. Middle of the afternoon on a Saturday in Chicago; not one person in the line.)

  10. No one would complain if they were keeping out racists, so how is keeping out colorists any different?

    (Kidding, folks, kidding. Please don’t make all my comics gray!)

    The person who assumed that no one would be influenced to go to a convention by the listing of a colorist assumes wrongly. The presence of an historically influential colorist like Tatjana Wood or Steve Oliff would be, for me, a strong added attraction at a con. Coloring rarely if ever makes a work on its own, but it can solidify and greatly enhance a work when done well, or kill it when done badly. Aspiring creators (who are a significant portion of the convention audience) should want to go to a convention where quality colorists are explaining their craft.

  11. From the google images I just scanned through, I wouldn’t call Jordie Bellaire’s coloring dynamic. It’s barely a step beyond flats.

  12. Colorists create “Effects” like, blurring, flares, glows, color holds, etc? So that’s who to blame.

  13. This is sad. My brother draws and ink and put the color. It’s a hell of job. Too bad we still have such ridiculous minds out there.

  14. If “barely a step beyond flats” is what you call “fantastic… subtle color” then I bet paint-by-number pics must impress the hell out of you.

  15. My original post pointed out the irony in her statement. Your reply began the insults. Short term memory is shit, or just back-peddling?

  16. How many black and white books sell every month in comparison to colored books? That being said colorists are the cinematographers and special fx artists of the comic creative process. Also Id love to know which con this was and who the promoter is?

  17. If you thought that was an insult Mike, you’ve got an incredibly thin skin. I stated a fact, you have no eye for color or subtly of color palette. There’s no irony in your statement, there’s insulting a profesional, talented, highly regarded colorist for the sake of being a dick. Because you get off on it, simple. You added nothing to the conversation.

  18. “colorists are… more responsible fore [sic] the look of a book than anyone else, really in the modern production process”

    While I agree with the overall sentiment of this post, this particular statement is one of the most absurd things I’ve read about comics in days, maybe weeks. I’m not sure I’d rank colorists above letterers in that chart (at least before the advent of computer lettering using off-the-shelf fonts), and ranking either of them above pencillers, writers and inkers is just crazy talk.

  19. Well, if he was a colorist or whatever. It would not have been the colorist’s fault for the snub.

    It was clearly a shoddy promoter’s fault in this instance. There are a few handful of promoters who have no idea what they are doing! [And I am not saying it is all of them. Don’t get me wrong here, there are good promoters regardless!] But sometimes, you just have shoddy promoters who’d rather have someone who have never written/drawn/colored/etcetera in an artist’s alley section then someone who’s done it professionally. VERY UNFORTUNATE!

    And yes, not all comic book convention promoters are considered “equal”. Well, reading this story….even more so!

  20. Hey Jamal, here’s the definition of irony: so we’re on the same page. Definition 2a is what we’re working with here. It’s IRONIC that she is talking about quality colorists working hard to enhance the line work when in fact the picture at the beginning of the article is simply color flats with ONE use of a two-tone gradient and a couple soft, low-opacity brush dots over some stars in the background. Those are facts. You’re remarks towards me are both assuming and attempts at being condescending. But my skin thickness is perfectly fine, I won’t lose sleep over your opinion on the quality colors and the ability of others to perceive them. I’ve seen your attempts at coloring and don’t hold your opinion on the matter with any weight. Your line work has always kicked ass; I’d hear your opinion on that subject any day.

  21. Reading this and those replying we can clearly see why comics is, and will be forever more, in the ghetto.

  22. Like I said Mike, you weren’t being ironic, you were being a dick. My “attempts ” at coloring..that’s really funny. Being paid for it is hardly an attempt. Nice try though.

  23. I would like to know which con this is. Things change when people become aware. Just making it conversation does not give the people the power to refuse to go to these cons and worse, no chance for professionals to maybe explain to the owners what the real deal is…that comics are done by teams that need and rely on each essential person to make a complete product.

    I find at times some people just dont understand what we do for a living. I am willing to let them know.


  24. have to agree with the assertion that the colors applied to a book can make or break it. the story can be great, the artwork fantastic, but if the coloring is somehow “off” and doesn’t bring the work as a whole together, then it feels like something is missing. as for colorist at cons, one of my favorite (that’s right, i have more than one favorite) colorist is tom smith. whenever he’s appearing at a con, i always make a point of stopping by his table, saying hello, and throwing a little work his way. at the last nycc i had tom work on one of those blank variant covers on which i had several different artist whip up several different characters on the cover (ok, it was an avengers blank variant cover). tom did an amazing job. file under “small world dept”: jamal igle worked on the cover (he drew the vision). when i showed up at jamal’s table and showed him the finished product with tom’s colors, he absolutley loved it. having more colorist, inkers, and letterers attend cons is not only a good thing, it should be actively promoted.

  25. Out of curiosity, in what manner is the con refusing to “list colorists as guests”?

    It sounds like colorists are still able to appear at the show, get a table if they like, and any other pro could etc., and just that the con isn’t promoting them in any advertising (if they’re actually being denied buying table space or getting pro badges because they’re colorists, that’s another thing.) While I certainly think many colorists appearing at shows can, should, and deserve to be used to promote them, if this is a question of “we only have X amount of space on this postcard and so the people with the MOST name recognition get listed”, then yes, the promoter is going to list that TV star who guested in one episode of that one-season genre show over quite a number of more worthy comic professionals.

    If this is a case of the show refusing to list colorists as guests in their printed program or on their website, spots they pretty much have as much space as they want, then that is definitely something that should be changed. If their website has a list of Inkers, Pencilers, Writers who are guests, then not having one for colorists is an insulting omission.

  26. Mike–regardless of whether you’re being ironic or being a dick or whatever–

    “A step above flats”, by which I assume you’re meaning simple flat color, with no rendering effects whatsoever, no flares, no blurs, no cut-line shadows on the figures, is not a criticism. As a matter of fact, some (some!) of my favorite coloring is exactly that, flat simple color held in a solid line.

    The thing that makes a colorist good or bad is WHICH colors they choose to go in those flat spaces. If you’ve ever drawn something and then handed it off to a colorist, you know the sometimes-glorious, sometimes-horrific feeling of seeing it come back feeling entirely different than you imagined it.

    Some of the best coloring, in my opinion, is actually done in varying shades of one or two colors. But they have to be particularly effective colors.

    Your comment about Jordie Bellaire’s coloring skills–whether you like her work or not–being barely more than flats just betrays that you haven’t investigated what makes effective coloring. Don’t waste your energy on trying to prove Jamal wrong (he’s NOT wrong); put that energy into looking more closely at Jordie’s work on the Rocketeer, for example, and see WHY she’s choosing the colors she does and how difficult it is to create an effective mood for a page. And then try coloring a page yourself, just for the fun of it. If you’d like some black-and-white linework, I’m happy to pass on a tiff or two to you.

  27. Mike, it’s “a step above flats” because that’s what works with McKelvie’s lines. Jordie is a terrifically versatile colorist who knows exactly how to complement a given artist‘s style.

  28. One thing colorists do that’s really important in today’s world of double shipping is to give a title some aesthetic unity in spite of a rotating cast of pencillers and inkers.

  29. I’ve never really noticed coloring (which is how it should be), but I do notice colorists. Allred, Mulvihill, Oliff, Daigle-Leach are ones I’d actually seek out for autographs, and if they were selling color seps, I’d buy them!

    The same goes for letterers.

    If you need some insight, start with DC’s Guide:

    Written by Mark Chiarello and Todd Klein.

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