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CSBG Archive

365 Reasons to Love Comics #235

Now, it’s the colorists’ turn. It’s time they got their due! After all, the coloring is a major part of comics art, especially these days, now that it’s all done by geniuses with computers. Their art is meant to go unnoticed as well, but it completely defines the mood of a comic. They light the stage, and they work the color. I’m glad colorists are starting to get credited on the covers, now. After all, they’re artists, just like the pencillers and inkers.

So, up first: probably my favorite colorist working today. (Archive, as always, at the link.)


235. José Villarrubia

Villarrubia 5.JPG

Here’s where I face the difficulty of talking about coloring. I wasn’t an art major, I never took color theory. Words are my business. How much could I say besides “nice pallet” or “effective enhancement of the mood and emotion in a particular scene”? Well, I’ll do my best, as ever. Hah.

José Villarrubia is my favorite colorist in comics these days. It helps, I suppose, that he’s working with the best writers and artists in the business, guys like Alan Moore, Warren Ellis, Jae Lee, Danijel Zezelj, Paul Pope, and J.H. Williams. These are precise, intricate writers and inky, moody (there’s that word again) artists.

Villarrubia 1.JPGVillarrubia 2.JPG

Everything José colors has the feel of a painting, which makes sense, ’cause he’s got a great painting background. The best colorists are always great artists themselves who find themselves in a comics specialty. José is no different. He’s a painter, and a digital artist, both of which are extremely great professions to have if you’re adding color to comic books.

I adore his work on Desolation Jones with J.H. Williams. The caustic, biohazard orange; entire issues dropping into gray tones with splashes of red; the colors becoming defined by the setting and mood. It’s gorgeous work. My lousy scans can’t do it justice, but here goes:

Villarrubia 3.JPGVillarrubia 4.JPG

I’m afraid I’m keeping the column short tonight. So, to conclude: José Villarrubia is a terrific colorist who produces rich, expressive work that brings the art on the page fully alive. Comics are worth buying for his colors alone. He really deserves to win an Eisner.

Luckily, he’s done tons of interviews. Even luckier, a pile of them can be accessed from his Wiki page.


Yeah, now that you mention it, he DOES do great work.

Nice choice. I hope Bill Crabtree gets a look-in if your doing colourists.

Nice choice. Like yourself, I’m not overly informed about the field of colouring, so I’ll have to trust your judgement with these. It’d be cool if Dave Stewart or Jamie Grant got a look-in, though.

My favorite colorist is Morry Hollowell, but I’m a bit biased because I’m related to him.

Tom Fitzpatrick

August 24, 2007 at 3:49 am

Let’s not forget the legendary Lynn Varley of Elektra Lives Again and 300 and Ronin, and the Dark Knight Returns.

Gorgeous colouring!

There are a ton of great colorists in the business today. With the relatively recent developments in printing, paper, and computer enhancements, colorists have become more akin to painters. In years past, they had to use zip-tone to get any gradual shading. Without that, they really just filled in the areas like my kids do in their coloring books.

I DO have an art background, and I can that the colorist now plays an intrigal part in hte art presented on the page. Try and look at the page without colors. Seriously. Many of the books today just won’t look right in B&W. Much of the detail is in the coloring.

I honestly believe that today’s colorist often (not always) deserves as much credit as the penciler & inker.

I’ve always like Laura Martin. Very strong, consistent work. Excellently portrays super-heroes in the best colors possible.

Even with my monitor crapping out and giving everything a blue tinge, these colours still look good. Makes me wish for more Desolation Jones though.

Jose Villarrubia

August 31, 2007 at 12:46 pm

Thank you for your kind write up Bill. I am thrilled you like my work and gladdens my heart to see your response to it. I am currently working on several projects that I hope you’ll like. I am keeping a blog at my myspace page, where you can see what I am up to. Next time you see me in a convention, come by and I will make a color sketch for you. Prosmise.

[…] Since Promethea, Williams has worked on a few different projects, and I’m going to share my favorite with you. First, there’s Desolation Jones with writer Warren Ellis and colorist José Villarrubia. A super-crusty noir tale, Williams makes the reader feel every blow that Jones gives or takes, every sore inflicted on every body. Through a combination of Ellis’ clever script, Villarrubia’s rich colors, Todd Klein’s magnificent letters, and Williams’ nuanced, gorgeous art, I fell for this book, hard. […]

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