Olyoptics Timeline - 1978

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1978

Byron next hired me to color the story “Croatoan” for “The Illustrated Harlan Ellison”. This story was also published in Heavy Metal. (Which turned out to be the only coloring I’ve ever done for Heavy Metal.)

  Byron contracted Howard Chaykin for his next adaptation project, Alfred Bester’s “The Stars my Destination”. To finish the project on time, Howard needed a color assistant (he is slightly color blind), so Byron flew me from Manchester , California (population 450) to New York (population 12 million) to work with him. It was the first time I’d ever been to the East Coast, and it was a real education.

  Since the pay was minimal ($15 per day, no matter how many hours we worked), Howard showed me the ropes of Manhattan , and set me up renting his mother’s spare bedroom out in Queens for $75 a month. (Besides teaching me how to get a job done, Howard took me to good restaurants, taught me about tipping cabbies, and generally took me in under his wing, for which I will be forever grateful.) After 4 months, when our job was ending, he took me to DC and Marvel to find work. DC didn’t have any use for a full-colorist at that time, but Marvel had a brand new project that was perfect.

  The Incredible Hulk starring Bill Bixby and Lou Ferrigno was a hit on TV, so Marvel decided to take their Black & White Rampaging Hulk magazine, and make it full color. They were calling it a “Marvel Super Color Magazine”.

  My first work for Marvel was a Conan map of Hyborea, and Bill Sienkiewicz’s first Moon Knight backup story from The Hulk #13. I colored them both in my bedroom at Mrs. Chaykin’s.

  Rick Marshall and Ralph Macchio (his assistant at the time) were very pleased with what I turned in, and I soon had a 56 page bi-monthly book to color. I returned to Northern California , and my coloring career was off and running.

  The process we were using was a variation on the blueline system using two photostats printed on a special, supposedly non-shrinking plastic paper. I colored one using water based felt pens, Q-tips, airbrush and Cel-vinyl animation paints, and the other was used for the black plate and special effects. I called it “The Double-print Black system”, but I have no idea what they officially called it.

  For the next two years I colored the Hulk and Moon Knight, until the TV show was cancelled, which led to the cancellation of the magazine as well.

 

 

A Side Bar

  One of the things that was always a strength for me is that very few people had much experience doing full color on photostat paper. Photostats are black and white line art copies on a semi-slick photo paper. Ad markers don’t work on it very well, colored pencil won’t stick, and occasionally nothing will besides acrylic paint, which you have to be careful with, so as not to obscure the line art. The best things to use are water soluble felt pens and Dr. Martin’s dyes, either airbrushed or painted on. The transparent colors allow the black to show through. If you purposely want to obscure the line art for a special effect, then you just use opaque paint. Some of my earliest color assignments had to be done on photostat paper, so I had a bit of experience, and had developed my own special techniques for it.

  On the Shadowjack story, I turned in my work, and Gray Morrow didn’t like some of what I had done, so he tried to “fix” it using Alcohol markers. He really didn’t know much about working on that strange surface, and it just completely screwed things up. Byron called me in a panic, and sent the pages back for me to fix Gray’s “fixes”. The job looked good in the end, and Byron was grateful to me for saving it. He also always had a soft spot for airbrush, which I’ve used throughout my career.

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