Thursday, 18 February 2016


Original colour scheme.  Images copyright MARVEL COMICS

Amongst my overlarge and heaving collection of cataclysmic comic curiosities, I've got well-over 90 MARVEL MASTERWORKS volumes, 17 MARVEL OMNIBUS editions, and more than 40 reprint books featuring classic Marvel tales from the 1960s & '70s.  I just can't stop buying them, even ones I've already got on my bookshelves.

New colour scheme by Andy Yanchus

Here's the problem:  When Marvel first issued their Masterworks series back in the late 1980s, they weren't quite so 'archival' in nature, seldom (if at all) following the colour schemes of their initial comicbook printings.  As the years wore on however, it was decided to make these valiant volumes more faithful to their original publications, and, consequently, they were then coloured in accordance with how they had first been unleashed on the comic-buying public.

Original colour scheme

So, when a new edition with more accurate reproduction of linework and colouring was released, I'd buy it, figuring to replace the earlier, less faithful volumes.  Thing is, some of the colouring on those early books is, in many instances, more atmospheric and effective than the original comic printing.  Consequently, I can't bear to part with them.  While the 'purist' in me craves having stories as faithful to their initial appearance as is humanly possible, the reader in me enjoys seeing the recoloured stories with their more varied and interesting colour palettes.

New colour scheme by Andy Yanchus

I've included a few examples to show just what I'm talking about from the first printings of SPIDER-MAN, DOCTOR STRANGE, and IRON MAN hardcover MASTERWORKS, and the more recent softcover editions which replicate the original colouring.  As you can see, the recoloured versions have more depth, gradation in tones, and are far more atmospheric in mood.

Original colour scheme

The Spider-Man/Tinkerer splash page in particular is stunning, and amply demonstrates just how crucial colouring can be to the end result.  As I said, it's great to have archive editions of how these stories first appeared back in the '60s, but the recoloured versions are classics in their own right which I just couldn't part with. This way, I have the absolute best of both worlds.

New colour scheme by Andy Yanchus

Which versions do you prefer?  Or do you think it doesn't much matter which way they're coloured?  If you have an opinion on the subject, feel free to share your views in the comments section.  


Phil said...

New one, new one, old one. I like my comics bright and colorful unless you are talking the Spirit. Also you have a nice sounding collection there. Wish I had room. I bought a bookshelf and my wife made me take it now the books are triple stacked on top of each other. Go figure.

Kid said...

That's only a fraction of my overall collection, Phil. I've got loads of books and comics - far too many to easily count. And I salute your bravery - not too many men would publicly admit that their wife is the boss. Just as well nobody reads this blog, eh?

Rip Jagger said...

I'm with you on these new coloring techniques adding zing to vintage artwork. It gives a heft to pages which left to their original guidelines can fade away in the glare of a pure white page, something they were not originally designed for.

Rip Off

Kid said...

Y'know, Rip, I even like the later computer colouring Marvel did on early tales. Did you see the recoloured Tales Of Asgard series, or Amazing Fantasy #15 and The Avengers #1 recoloured mags? I thought they looked great.

Anonymous said...

Those Dr. Strange pages reminds me of the paperback-sized volume of Ditko Dr. Strange stories that I bought back in December 1978 - they were in colour but I can't remember what the colour was like. To be honest I didn't care, it was just great to read the original Dr. strange stories which I'd never seen before.

Kid said...

I've got that book myself, CJ, but haven't looked at it in years (so I can't remember what the colour was like either). There's a Dr. Strange Omnibus collection coming out soon which contains nothing but the Ditko stories, so no doubt you'll be buying a copy. Och, away with your digital nonsense - that's not real!

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