Thursday, 25 November 2010


Art by Walter Simonson.  Images copyright MARVEL COMICS

What a difference colour makes.  Not convinced?  Take a look at these
basic, flat-coloured examples of JACK KIRBYVINCE COLLETTA
THOR stories from the TALES Of ASGARD 1984 Special (Vol. 2, No.1).
Alongside are the newly coloured, multi-hued MATT MILLA pages from the
hard-cover edition of the same tales.  (First available as a 6-part mini-series.)
The pages are given a whole new dimension, enabling them to go toe-to-toe
with many contemporary offerings available in comics shops today.

Not wishing to labour the comparison, but the difference is similar
to that of an old POPEYE or BETTY BOOP cartoon compared to the
almost 3D effect of the animation in WHO FRAMED ROGER RABBIT?
Last year, I bought the computer-coloured reprint of MARVEL COMICS
#1 and the effect was the same.  The pages seem to have become imbued
with a vitality lacking in their original printing and don't appear quite as
dated in contrast to more modern presentations.

A while ago, the U.K. mag AVENGERS UNITED reprinted the Tales of
Asgard series in its original form, and it was generally met with an indifferent,
sometimes even hostile reaction.  It seems that kids of today have been spoiled
by the photo-realistic, more complex colour-art in contemporary stories, and
couldn't quite take to the four-coloured classics of yesterday.  I'm pretty sure
that, had MARVEL/PANINI been able to present the Matt Milla versions
(which hadn't yet been done), the response would've been more positive.

I think it can only be a matter of time before Marvel start colouring all
their stories from yesteryear in this same fashion and then re-presenting
them as 'definitive versions'  in deluxe, hardcovered volumes.  As I said, it
certainly gives them a whole new dimension and might help them to appeal
to younger readers not yet steeped in the company's glorious history who
seem to have an aversion to older material.  (Hard as it is to believe.)

ISBN # 9780-7851-3921-8

The Complete TALES OF ASGARD is available now from all good
comic shops (and has been for some time).  And here, for completists,
is the cover to the original 1968 TOA Special.  (Vol. 1, No. 1.)

Art by Jack Kirby & Frank Giacoia


Anonymous said...

All of the examples are ugly. The originals because the printers lost all of Collatta's fine-lined inking. The new ones because, well, they are just all-round bad.

Kid said...

You may not like the colour scheme perhaps, but the Matt Milla pages give the artwork a whole new, almost 3D dimension in my opinion. (Similar to "Who Killed Roger Rabbit?)

NP said...

I don't generally like 'realistic' colouring, but these examples are good - they bring the pages to life and limit the damage done by Vince Colleta's rushed, scratchy inking. They somehow look like a cross between Kirby and Frank Hampson! A tentative 'Yes' from me.

joe bloke said...

I kinda like the new pages, but ONLY kinda like. there's no denying that Milla's good at what he does, and undoubtably his colours will make the work more accessable to newer readers, but I feel about these pretty much how I felt when they released the tarted up Star Wars films: " yeah, it's pretty, but I prefer the originals."

but that might well be because I'm an old fart.

cerebus660 said...

TBH I think the re-colouring loses some of the original work's charm. The colourists back then ( especially Marie Severin ) worked wonders with the four-colour system, designed for the cheap newsprint paper of the day. That's probably just nostalgia talking, but I really think a lot of modern computer colouring is overly fussy and self-indulgent.

Kid said...

I think that the original printings are hard to beat. There was something about the paper they were printed on and the "dot" colour which (when it wasn't too out of register) had a magical quality. The MARVEL MASTERWORKS volumes, with their shiny paper and perfect-register printing, although very nice, seem to lack the charm of the originals.

However, it can't be denied that, to a modern audience, when the classic stories are reprinted on the better quality paper used today, they look kind of "flat" compared to more contemporary work. Matt Milla's colouring on these Asgard tales has at least given them a feeling of depth and substance, although I do find myself wishing that he had worked his magic following (in the main) the original colour schemes.

Anonymous said...

I'm an old fart too (46) and I love this guy's colouring. As Kid says, it brings these classic tales bang up to date in a very attractive manner.

Most computer colouring in Marvel & DC comics that you see nowadays looks like garish 1980s style airbrush work which combined with the dreadfully low standard of comic book art that Marvel & DC are content to put out make for comics that are just plain unreadable (to old farts like me). The Panini purchasing post puberts who hated the T.O.A. stuff will probably only read comics for a few years unlike us old crumblies who had the likes of Infantino, Kane, Ditko and Kirby et al to brighten up our childhoods. Matt Milla Rules!

Don Alsafi said...

I'll have to add my voice to those who think the new recoloring is superb! I discovered your blog while researching the issue for a discussion on my own blog. Good stuff!

Kid said...

Thanks, Don. Your own blog is featured in my blog list so that folk can click on and visit whenever they like.

Lorenzo said...

No offence Kid, but I think that anyone who believes these butt-ugly computer-coloured versions are superior to the original flat-coloured ones is at worst, insane, and at best, blinder than Matt Murdock!

Imho, recolouring these classic comics is akin to Turner colourising old black and white movies back in the '90s. And to say that "Well, gee, when they got reprinted on Baxter paper, they looked a bit crap, so this is WAY better" is one of the most risible justifications for what I believe amounts to artistic vandalism that I've ever heard. What's wrong with reprinting them (in register, mind!) on a good-quality NEWSPRINT stock?

Other than that "small niggle", and the fact that I doubt we're ever going to agree about Stan Lee's true worth, or lack thereof, as a "creative powerhouse" at Marvel, I enjoy your writing, & I really enjoy seeing the versions of Marvel comics as they were repackaged in the UK.

Excelsior! :-)

Kid said...

I'm neither insane, nor blind, L, and I think the newer colouring is better-suited for a new audience. I like looking at the original stories in their original printings, but they seem to lack something when reprinted on the kind of paper used nowadays. Perhaps a compromise would work, wherein the original colour scheme was followed, but there was a suggestion of the depth that new colouring gives these stories. Frankly, I'm amazed that anybody can look at the sample pages here and not appreciate what the new colouring adds to Kirby's work, but I don't feel the need to cast doubt on the sanity or visual ability of anyone who has a different opinion to me on the matter.

And, having seen the colourised version of 'It's A Wonderful Life', I think they did a wonderful job. What's wrong with having the best of both worlds? You can always turn down the colour on your TV set if you prefer the b&w version. (As it happens, I've got both of them on DVD.)

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