TOP TEN: THE FORTY-NINERS
THE FORTY-NINERS is wanted for murder! It killed two of my monitors. One of them died as I was uploading the last pages to Wildstorm – I had to call my editor Scott Dunbier to make sure the files got there, because I couldn’t see anything on my computer to check it myself!
Gene introduced me to comic book colorist exemplar Alex Sinclair at the 2001 San Diego Comicon. We got a tour of Wildstorm’s offices. Unbeknownst to me at the time (mostly because I’m dense), Gene already had it in his head to make me into a colorist. Silly Gene!
Around the end of 2002, I started coloring THE FORTY-NINERS. I had taken a Photoshop class in 1993, and by 2002 I was using it for cover design at a print-on-demand publisher. I was tragically bored at that dreary, dreary office job, and I quit in 2003, foolishly assuming that coloring was some sort of real job. On Monday, August 4th of that year, I started my life as a “full-time” professional comic book colorist. I sat down at the computer after breakfast, and stopped for lunch on the back deck with my wife Ellen and one year-old son. I picked blueberries in the back yard for our dessert. Life is good.
To the right is the first bit of conceptual art I got from Gene, and possibly the first thing I had colored–albeit very simply–since 1994 (for a comic called Exile Earth, but more on that later).
Below is the image I put together for the stamp seen on the box containing Leni’s Besensteil on page 20. It’s the old Comics Code Authority seal of approval – in German! We comic artists love our visual jokes and homages.
Unfairly uncredited in the book is my wife Ellen Starr Lyon. Ellen is a very talented oil painter, and she wrestled with watercolors for the sake of moving the pages along at a quicker pace, laying down some background and character ink-washes. I discussed her being credited with me as a colorist very early on in the process, and I guess I assumed that was all settled, and forgot about it. When the hardcover edition was published and I saw her name was not there, I pointed it out but clearly didn’t put a fine enough point on it, because her name is also not in the trade paperback edition. Grrr. I’m going to see what I can do about future editions.
So, clearly I had almost no idea what I was doing on this book, both as a colorist and as a professional. I mean, colored a third of it on a 13″ monitor with a mouse! Yeesh.
Even my amateur sensibilities and lack of know-how couldn’t ruin another Moore/Ha masterpiece, though: it won the Eisner award for 2005’s Best Graphic Album (New). I went to the 2006 San Diego Comicon despite the expense, and wound up viewing the awards ceremony with the audience rather than sitting at the guest/nominees tables because I wasn’t on the stupid guest list–though technically I wasn’t nominated. That’s what I get for not being more assertive: I missed out on the guests-only dinner tables and had to settle for the audience’s finger-food buffet of weak-sauced meatballs and bread!
Did I mention this thing took about 2 years to finish? Because it did.
I think I got the hang of it about half way through–just in time for the vampire brothel sequence!