Dollars and Sense

From this month in 2008, Arlo receives a revelation. I said we were going to talk about colorization of the Arlo & Janis comic strip. Contrary to not long ago, newspapers can print color comics seven days a week if they so choose, not just the traditional Sunday funnies. Many papers still publish the Monday through Saturday strips in black and white, as God intended, but many print comic strips in color every day. I personally color the Sunday A&J comics. The original is drawn on white paper with India ink, as in olden days, but then I scan it and color a digital version in Photoshop. Easy peasy. The technical process is the same for the daily strips (Monday through Saturday), except I do not actually color them. Black and white digital copies of the daily originals are sent to the syndicate offices in Kansas City where someone else colors them, presumably in Photoshop, or something like it. I do not send any instructions; I leave it to the poor minion upon whom the task falls to choose colors. I guess this got started, because I am so old-school. There was a time when colorization of the dailies simply did not seem important. (“Oh, it’s a fad! It’ll pass! Who colors dailies!?”) I’m telling you all this for a reason, but I’m not going to tell you the reason just yet.
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47 thoughts on “Dollars and Sense

  1. The worst crime Ted Turner ever committed was to colorize many of the old, classic, black and white movies. Some things are just meant to be in shades of grey. The daily comics is (are?) one of them.

  2. I just remembered. Back in the good old days, the Milwaukee Journal printed the comics in what they called the “Green Sheet.” It was a separate, 4 page, section with comics and other light entertainment and it was done on green paper. So you would have had a colorized A&J and not even known it.

  3. Strip colorization used to be dominated by Reed-Brennan (located in Florida) and the frequency of silly and obvious color errors was legendary. Things do seem to have improved over the years. There’s still a problem when the artist, working in black and white, fills a region with black that, when the rest of the strip is colorized, really should be red or some other color.

  4. My favorite pet peeve with colorization of B&W orginal strips is when the original uses solid black for obviously red objects. Nothing the colorist can do, but in the final product those red hearts designating love or infatuation now look like black hearts of hate or ill will.

  5. Colorization — no opinion here. Previous thread has lots of interesting stuff. I’m with Debbe, hating cold weather with a Capital H. I am fairly warm in the house but am anxiously waiting for a fuel oil delivery promised for today. I carelessly almost ran out of it! And although the awful storm is over, power stayed on, and sun is shining brightly, the thermometer at my back steps reads 2 degrees above zero!

    Jackie and Ghost, I hope you feel much better soon. What a bummer to get sick; the last thing you need. Is your appetite back, Jackie? At all?

    Must eat lunch now; will let you know when the oil truck gets here.

  6. Thanks for answering my question about coloring the strips. I suspected that you did the Sunday as the gag was really sold by the backgrounds being the same on the small and large. I have seen some papers with color weekdays, which I am in favor of – anything to keep (or hopefully grow) circulation is welcome. Given the number of papers shrinking physical size and number of pages, I think the color helps attract readers to a medium they are less familiar with.

  7. sandcastler™
    on 05 Jan 2018 at 8:39 am #

    Old Bear, thanks for the ‘wisdom highlights.’ I may use it, giving you full credit.

    Don’t blame me – I stole it.(Uh – borrowed) credit “A. Nonny Mouse”

    Growing Old:
    Of course I talk to myself; sometimes I need expert advice.

  8. Old Bear,

    I will just attribute ‘wisdom highlights’ to the mumblings of an ole grizzly. 😉

    My thought on color. Black and white are colors.

  9. Sideburns, the finished print may be in two colors, but the artist makes his effort in only one. Whether it is ink, charcoal, or oil, the artist applies only one hue in varying tone on a surface that may be plain or could be unprepared and not uniform. Black-and-white monochrome photography of course is only a single medium with various levels photochemically reduced, often to zero value.

    If you drew with both ends of a markup pencil blue/red, that could be bichrome. Or an oil work where black shapes are overlaid with zinc, without blending, could be bichrome in black-and-white, without reference to the tone of wash applied beforehand.

    Hugs can be magical in lending strength to someone who is temporarily weak. And should be used freely in this regard.

  10. Sorry my mind just wandered off — now it’s back. The truck did come with the fuel and I am so relieved! I didn’t get to speak to the driver; I feel so sorry for him being outdoors in this awful cold and blowing snow, too.

  11. Wind chill factor got up to 0 F about noon today. It had not been that high since late afternoon on December 26th! Clearly, we are better off than those in the far north, but 11.75 complete days in a row with negative wind chill gets unpleasant quickly here in IL.

  12. I like color. So I have no problem with daily comics in color and black and white films being colorized. My only problem is figuring out which films have been colorized because when I remember them, I usually remember them in color. That sounds weird, I know. Just another instance of the mind playing tricks on you, I guess, and further proof that memory is not reliable (as anyone taking witness reports will tell you).

  13. Wore a ‘NASA Rogue’ T-shirt today. Was asked by a nice lady what is Program Rogue? I explained that it was the NASA Deep State program. She and her cart flew off down aisle seven.

    God Speed, John Young.

  14. Have been reading Bloom County 2017 from 2015 up to present. The arc leading up to Christmas 2017 is amazing, as is the Frank art. All done while the California fires burned around them and they twice evacuated.

    This is best read on Facebook not Gocomics. Breathed is doing this independently not held back by any contracts or censors. Or deadlines.

    I found it amazing and innovative. The Gocomics Darkside didn’t often seem to understand the concept based on their comments.

    Also began reading Rheta Grimsley Johnson online columns and excerpts from her books which prompted me to order all her books from Amazon. It is interesting that Jimmy is often there even when not specifically identified.

    Just as Rheta is here in Arlo and Janis and always will be.

  15. So just curious JJ: Someone above mentioned the colorization of movies, and certainly directors of B&W movies compensated (or one could say made brilliant use of) the medium they had. So my question to JJ is whether you have drawn any daily comics that explicitly took advantage of the expected B&W printing and which would have been (or was) ruined by color?

  16. I can remember watching many of the old movies in black and white but because they were shown over and over, the quality was quite poor. When colorization first came out, some of the original prints of movies were saved from disintegrating and today many of the Black and White movies look great. Personally I enjoyed the colorization, but there were times that the background was meant for black and white. However most walls in homes are usually white anyway

  17. Growing up in the 50’s, I never realized WW2 and Korea happened in color. All the news reels and movies of the times was in B&W. Anyone remember the Army production ‘The Big Picture? ‘

  18. The biggest problem with colorization is that most of the time the people neither know what color things should be, they don’t care. I once saw them colorize Stan Laurel with brown hair, and it’s well known that he was a redhead.

  19. The worst colorization story I’ve heard involves the old Fleischer cartoons. Apparently the company who owned them and licensed them for TV broadcast decided to colorize the old ones in the 1960’s. The way they did this before computerization was to send the original negatives to a foreign film lab and have the black and white film copied and colored. But in the process, they only colored about 1/4 th of the original film, turning the full animation into something resembling the made for tv cartoons of the time and destroying the original film to boot, preventing it ever being restored. Now that was a crime!

  20. One of Ted Turner’s rare bad ideas was to purchase movie catalogs with the hope of extending the original copyright by colorizing the print and creating a new product. He still ended up OK, from all reports, but this was a slight misstep along the way.

    It has been a while, so I have forgotten if this actually happened or was only a derisive joke by latenight comedians. The Turner process had given Ol’ Blue Eyes, that’s Frank to his friends, brown eyes instead.

    My fondness for black-and-white photography, still or motion, is the crisp lines and lighting tricks that are dulled by the added color layers in the stock; or dazzled out of awareness to the eye from distracting color. But the instability of old filmstock has already been mentioned. I would add that sometimes the restoration in B/W sometimes results in a ‘flattening’ of the image, just like the colorization of the 1980’s. But recovering any of the image is better than losing it altogether.

  21. Morphy, I’d rather watch 10 minutes of spotty, grainy silent Buster Keaton than 2 hours of HD, 3D modern so-called comedy. But for silent film restoration Kino-Lorber is tops. And the Criterion Collection is right up there for other films. Barnes and Noble often has the Criterion Collection at 50 percent off list price too, which is well worth it.

  22. Mark, thanks for passing over my redundant stammer above. Some are better than others. I recognized Criterion credited on TCM, maybe from awhile ago. But hadn’t made the connection at Barnes and Noble, thanks. More recently it seems they have mentioned ongoing projects affiliated with American Film Institute and or one of the California film schools.

  23. Mark, thanks for the link. I see Buster bubbles up on the various pages, must be a favorite. Or google followed the mention here. Aside, you know I haven’t noticed that kind of suggestive tracking nearly as much this last shopping season. I wonder if public pressure changed the tactics, or if my local settings have cut into it.

    I also saw Love with the Proper Stranger prominent on the homepage. I think I have that one DVR’d from sometime last year and still haven’t watched it. Natalee Wood and Steve McQueen is a pairing I think I will enjoy. Hope I haven’t let fall off the other end of the list.

  24. Indeed, Janis. Eliminate bra; eliminate unsightly bra strap. Q.E.D. PDQ. DVP.

    Jeff Foxworthy may have said it best:

    If you’ve ever worn a strapless dress with a bra that isn’t…you may be a redneck.

  25. Or your mama wore your sheer chiffon evening blouse and watered silk floor length skirt to dine with the Captain’s Table on the cruise with only a black bra under?

    When I asked why? Why did you not wear the camisole part?? Why a bra?

    It was black like the blouse she rep!ied.

  26. Growing Old

    Why do I have to press one for English when you’re just going to transfer me to someone I can’t understand anyway?

    B’ugs Debbe & Mizz Charlotte

  27. Called Debbe yesterday. She is sick with pleurisy and had fallen on slick floor Ian had waxed and mopped. She sounded awful.

    Don’t just pray. Think of something funny or interesting or entertaining that she’d laugh at and enjoy. We need to lift her spirits and give her a boost.

    I am negligent myself in that.

    Love you Debbe. Get better honey.