This tweet by colorist Matt Wilson was going around last week, and not only does it reinforce the importance of properly crediting colorists but it’s a pretty succinct summary of the esthetics of modern comics in one visual.

Comic art is really based around coloring now. Whether it’s the subtle duotone of an indie book, the video game-inspired modeled coloring of most superhero books, or the “European style” controlled palettes on display in so many Image books. It’s how young cartoonists create a look, its what fuels tumblr shares, and it’s as essential to the success of a comic as any other element. And in the case of deadline sensitive superhero books, rushed last minute coloring can do a lot deaden a art – and that’s not the fault of the colorist – they’re the end of the system for catch up and do what they have to to ship books on time.

I’d even argue that aside from a few VERY strong stylists (think Paul Pope or Mike Mignola) most younger cartoonists draw in a style that is based on prepping for the color, with the result that there is some homogenization out there. It’s painted art on a fast schedule. Which doesn’t mean it’s bad. Think how Fiona Staples’ coloring is so integral to Saga’s success.

We should pay more attention to coloring, learn how to talk about it and always credit the colorist.




  1. Unpopular opinion, but I think part of the issue is in the job title. “Colorist” brings up ideas of a person playing with crayons in a coloring book just sounds like a toddler does. I know its semantics, but words and job titles are powerful and convey preloaded images whether we like it or not.

    I kinda feel the job would be given more respect with a more adult sounding professional name. Same goes for letterers. Its really reductive if you stop to think about it when compared to “writer, artist and editor” which are established professions that carry a bit of weight and prestige with those titles.

  2. Colorists are absolutely doing the heavy lifting on today’s books. I’ve seen subpar art elevated with good colors. The colorist should be right up there with the penciler and the inker… and actually I think inking is becoming a lost art. It used to be a joke that inkers were just “tracers” but a lot of what’s in comics now really is just tracing over pencils with a Micron and letting the colorist carry the page.

  3. I think Joe makes a very good point. Perhaps “colour artist” might be a more useful term – or just credit the people who do the line art and the colour art together as “artists”, since the line between disciplines is often quite a blurry one.

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