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CSBG Archive

365 Reasons to Love Comics #236

Another comics colorist is on the docket today! Can he sing with all the voices of the mountain? I don’t know, but he can paint with all the colors of the wind. And then some. (Listen with your archive, you will understand.)


236. Dave Stewart

Dave Stewart 4.jpg

I don’t know what I was thinking with the Pocahontas quotage in the header either, but no matter. Dave Stewart is my other favorite current comics colorist. I’ve encountered him a lot– probably because he seems to work on some of the best books being published. I’m going to hit the highlights as best I can.

What I like about Dave Stewart is that his work looks a little old-fashioned– everything comes across as the most beautiful Sunday comics page you’ve ever seen. He also throws in other neat touches, however; I love how he incorporates certain effects into the art, especially in some backgrounds when it looks like the color has been dabbed onto the page with a sponge.

Stewart tailors his colors to the artists he works with. Take, for instance, his work with Cliff Chiang on the overlooked Beware the Creeper mini from a few years ago. The colors are full and rich but not overly rendered or muddled, totally melded with the smooth, fluid art. There’s also his work on the underrated Arcudi-penned Doom Patrol run, where he worked mostly with Tan Eng Huat, though you can see his vibrant, Silver-Age-invoking colors with a guest artist in the latter image here:

Dave Stewart 1.JPGDave Stewart 10.JPG

(Creeper– words by Jason Hall, art by Cliff Chiang, letters by John Workman; Doom Patrol– words by John Arcudi, art by the late, great Seth Fisher, letters by the bodacious Bob Lappan.)

Dave’s also worked with Darwyn Cooke, most notably on the New Frontier series. It’s a period piece, so Stewart provides that hint by subduing the colors here ever so slightly. It provides a nice, old-timey feel without standing out too much. It also helps that Cooke’s cartooning is beautiful.

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Dave Stewart’s paired with Darwyn Cooke again on the currently-running Spirit series. As usual, my scans can’t do the colors justice, but check out the pic at the top of the post, and the one following here. It ranges from brilliantly vibrant to darker and moodier when necessary, but it gives the whole project a refreshingly animated feel. His angular separations are quite interesting, too.

Dave Stewart 9.JPG

He’s also using different effects to correspond with the art. The third issue takes place mostly in flashback, so to differentiate it from the present-day scenes, Cooke loosens up his linework, and Stewart changes coloring tactics. There’s cool geometric highlights, the colors sometimes go outside the lines… The visuals are stunning. The scans really don’t show how cool it is. Pick up the book and experience it for yourself!

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Look at the recent couple issues of Batman, with art by the fantastic J.H. Williams and colors by none other than Dave Stewart. He’s gone all out with his work in this comic. As Williams is drawing each of the principal characters in a different style, Stewart is coloring them each in a different style. Take the following images:

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The Knight and the Squire are fleshed out and colored like Ed McGuinness characters; the Chaykin-lookin’ dude is colored like a Chaykin drawing; the more old-fashioned guys have simpler, flatter colors; Batman is most wonderfully rendered of all, looking like he just stepped out of a painting. The coloring takes the art’s baton and runs with it, producing a fully-realized effect. Great work.

Dave Stewart has deservingly won a couple Eisners, and I expect to see him win a few more. He’s always using the tools he has in different ways with different artists to provide fresh looks at the comics page. I love his stuff. You can see more of his work in books like BPRD, the upcoming Umbrella Academy, and on the art on that Heroes show, where Tim Sale draws and Dave Stewart colors.


Flush it all away

August 24, 2007 at 4:56 pm

I had never heard of him before, but I dig the sepia-tinged look to his work. Looks very classic and vintage. On the New Frontiers davestewart8.jpg, I love how he rotates through his color palette, picking up colors from the background and moving them to the foreground in the next panel, and vice versa. Cool stuff.

His work with Cary Nord on Conan was a total revelation for me. Click for a quick sample.

He did the Conan coloring? That’s some beautiful work.

And I loved his work with Annie Lennox!

Hah! That joke never gets old!

Seriously though, Stewart’s an amazing colorist. Good choice for today’s spotlight.

as great as he is…Moose (the guy who has been coloring everything Green Lantern for 5 or years) is my favorite…they man makes his colors look so good that he no longer seems to be just a colorer… he is on the same level of the artist.He makes you notice the colors.

Yeah I was particularly blown away by the art in the current Batman story myself. The rest of the characters aren’t just done in a classic style. The Man of Bats is in four color, really classic style, the Austrinaut guy is done in a bit of a pulp style and Flying man or v-guy whatever, is (I think) in a bit of a super-gritty Frank Miller style. Not only that, but when Batman enters the scene the picture changes and all the other characters become a bit more like Batman. Batman, visually, owns the room.

If Stewart has even a hand in that, then yeah he is a reason to love comics.

That last pic of Batman reminds me of Pepe Moreno’s Digital Justice Batman

Stewart is a genius. He’s one of the few colorists whose name I notice in the credits, primarily because you can’t help but notice it when he does such beautiful, beautiful work. He’s making so much great art even greater at the moment.

From which comic did that Seth Fisher Doom Patrol came from? I never knew he had drawn the team!

Hunter (Pedro Bouça)

Yeah, Stewart’s totally awesome. I always notice a book with his name in the credits.

If Lynn Varley and Tatjana Wood don’t get included as reasons to love comics then there’s no justice!

From which comic did that Seth Fisher Doom Patrol came from? I never knew he had drawn the team!
Hunter (Pedro Bouça)

Fisher filled in for Tan Eng Huat on issues 13 and 14 of Doom Patrol, volume 3, which ran from 2001 to 2003. John Arcudi wrote the whole shebang.

Didn’t Dave Stewart color Jae Lee’s Inhumans art? That was some gorgeous work.

I’m actually learning something from this column this week! Really enjoyable thus far.

Dave Stewart is definitely a reason, various styles, all good. His work on BPRD is very good too, moody but never overbearingly dark which I would imagine to happen pretty quick with a series like that.

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