Tuesday, 19 November 2019

Tom Thug - in colour for the first time (1986)

It seems hard to believe now but there was a time when most pages in British comics were printed in black and white. Colour printing was an expensive luxury, usually restricted to the covers and (if you were lucky) a few interior pages. Things started to change significantly in the 1980s, presumably as colour printing became more economical to use. Even then, although my first mainstream work appeared in 1983 it would be three years before I did a full colour strip for a comic.

Here's my first published full colour page. A Tom Thug strip that appeared on the back cover of Oink! No.8 (cover dated 9th to 22nd August 1986). It was a bit of an honour to be given the back page of a comic so I was very pleased with that. 

I'd done a bit of colour work before when I was working as Mike Higgs' assistant on his Learn with Moonbird books in 1983/84 but they were single illustrations for children's books. This was the first time I'd been let loose on a comic strip in colour. 

After inking the linework with a Rapidograph I coloured it with Dr.Martins watercolour inks and Faber-Castel pencils. Looking at it now, the colouring is quite crude in places but it suited the rawness that Oink! was about. I'd improve as time went on, but I wish Photoshop had been around back then because I prefer colouring digitally far more than with a brush. (And I think my digital colouring is far better than my hand colouring ever was.) 

I did all my own lettering too. Each balloon had to be done on patch paper (sticky back paper), cut out to the required shape, and stuck onto a clear acetate overlay. 

Anyway, so there you have it. My first full colour comic strip. Yep, the story has some crude elements too, but again that was part of the remit for Oink! Incidentally, Tom's last line was changed by the editor. My original version had him saying "bog" instead of "sink". Yes, even Oink! had its limits. 


Manic Man said...

nice work ^_^

now, I have a bit of a mixed view on colouring.. I like a lot of hand colouring and while I have seen some great digital colouring (and some effects which would have been EXTREMELY hard by hand, but easy on computer,.. I find the not always 100% flat colours and .. don't know, some details in hand colouring can be more appealing.

But that said, there are many effects so much easier on computer, you don't have to worry about screwing up and ruining the work etc.. With my little bit and pieces,.. well.. I think it kinda turned out I was never really aught to hold a pencil (or pen) right.. Even at school, my drawing was okay, but writing was a mess and when I did and could do neat writing, it REALLY hurt my hand a lot.. after paying some attention to some people a while back, I noticed that I wasn't really holding my pencils/pens right, so it came out more sloppy and neat stuff hurt.. kinda weird.. I tried to learn a correct way but.. yeah.. not great.. and for drawing, it's fine but drawing is very much mood based.. Hand inking is almost out of the question for me as is hand colouring a lot of the time.. so I know tons of great reasons for digital inking and colouring.. but.. I don't know, sometimes doesn't quite give the same effect..

that said, like I said, that was nice work. I quite liked that colouring ^_^

Lew Stringer said...

Thanks Ryan. I improved as I went on, although towards the end of the 1990s I couldn't get the Bristol Board I wanted (they stopped making it) so had to settle for another type that absorbed the inks too quickly and made them patchy in places. I was so pleased to move to digital colouring. I still pencil and ink traditionally though.