Just did a 3 pg research paper on one of my favorite color artist, Marte Gracia. I actually got a one on one interview with him to do it to!! even though I felt a little bad because he's behind on coloring Hercules but he's working through it.... but here it is...
After a great interview, I found out a lot of useful information about comic book colorist, Marte Gracia. Gracia was born in Mexico, in 1980. He grew up reading comics and decided that it was what he wanted to do as a profession. Overall he’s a great artist drawing and color wise, but in the professional world he’s known as the colorist Martegod from comic art studio, Studio F. Just recently, in February, Gracia parted ways with a studio founded by Francisco Ruiz Velasco, called Studio F, to pursue comics on his own. He says, “we decided to split up Studio F at that moment,“ “we are all still friends and hang out for movies and stuff, we just don't work at the same place.” Just to give a brief history on studio F; Velasco is an amazing artist who, at the time was working on the “Battlegods” series. He called names like Edgar Delgado, Gracias’ mentor, who was doing some local publishing in Mexico and the studio began to grow color wise. He says that those were the “Golden years.” More titles were asked to be done by them so more hands were needed. Ironically, the studio was on Pintores Mexicanos street, which means “Mexican Painters.” They sold the house where the studio was located, though, and relocated somewhere else in Monterrey, Mexico. The old studio is now a Starbucks. When Marte Gracia entered the studio, he says, “The first day I went to the studio I was really nervous because there was so many OVERTALENTED dudes there and I respect all of them, I took the tablet with my shaky hands and colored a page from VENOM#2,”” that was my first assignment.” His first assignments professionally began in April 2003, but before that he had art published locally for a couple of years. He remembers going back home having done his first pro-stuff and being totally geeked out because comics are what he’s been wanting to do for so long and his chance had finally come. Since then, Gracia has done work for Dark horse, Top Cow, Windstorm, and Marvel Comics. Some of the titles he’s work on include, Venom, Marvel team up, X-men: Age of Apocalypse, New X-men, Wraith Born, New Warriors, Darkness, and more including his current colors on the Hercules series.
I asked Marte gracia a couple of questions regarding his techniques and beliefs about coloring for sequential art and he gave me some very valuable information. For starters, I asked him about technique. What his preferred technique was and how he applied it. His preferred technique is selection cuts because he feels that the style is dynamic and fast. Many different, great effects can be created with just a few clicks. Also, at the same time, coloring is not just about technique. It is about achieving the image in your head. Letting the colors work for the drawing. Whether it’s through selection cuts, hard cuts, or soft cuts, there’s nothing better than knowing the basic fundamentals of values and color theory. When you really study and know this, your technique comes natural and makes everything work.
Gracia also believes that there is no good or bad image because everything is subjective. I asked him what does he look for in a good or bad image. He says, “Personally I just FEEL the goodness in a finished piece, it feels round and complete, it feels good to complete an image and it actually looks like what you had in mind. It’s easy to read, it's eye candy. When you simply flip a page without caring of how its colored or when you don’t notice a cover in the shelves.. That is a bad image.” I agree as well. Yes, I think that coloring is definitely appropriate for story telling, but I feel like it should pop out to a read as soon as they see it on a shelf. It should help bring the reader in and want to read the story. So then I asked if colors should just appeal to the eye of if they serve a different purpose. “You are trying to communicate something with a comic book, so coloring has to work to achieve that, so coloring is serving a superior purpose.
Then you have to choose if you do it poorly, understanding coloring as a lesser element in comic books OR you can choose to do your best on every single page and give the reader the ride of his life.” This also applies to the difference between a good and bad colorist. Gracia mentions that, “What separates a good colorist of a bad colorist is your view to the whole thing a comic book is.” “You can choose words to say something meaningful or you can just say something just empty and gray, coloring is just the same. You need to decide what you will say with coloring.” Most comic book artist these days, believe that in comics detail is the key. Attention to every single fabric and fold of a cloth gets the big bucks and makes you a star in comics. Having the artist and the colorist compete in the image over how much detail they can put in an image. The only problem is that it gets distracting. When the artist and colorist are competing for attention, the message in the image itself gets lost and it because a showdown between who’s better than the two. Gracia makes a good point when he says that the colors should work along with the pencils to create a story. The fact that you can either choose to tell a bland story by trying to look cool, or choose to tell an awesome story by taking your color theory studies and value studies and applying them the best way you know how to clearly show a reader what it is you are trying to say.
I finally ask him who were some of his influences on coloring in general. Of course he mentioned some of the artists of Studio F because working with such awesome talent for a little less than five years would make it extremely hard for a person not to grow in what they like to do. He also mentioned Hieronymus Bosch above all, who was a Flemish painter in the 15th century, Justin Ponsor, who’s soft cuts and painterly style in today’s comic industry gets his point across, and Rembrandt one of the painters from the 16th century who, because of the way he portrayed lighting, influence art as we know it today.
Speaking with Marte Gracia was definitely a learning experience and I hope to be as good as him as far as his views and skill at what he does. I’m definitely going to try to apply the stuff he mentioned and, even though I feel like I want to grow more as a penciller, try to become a great colorist as well.