Here's What It Really Looks Like When Classic Comics Get Recolored

Earlier today, Marvel unveiled its "remastered" edition of the 1977 comic adaptation of Star Wars. Many were unhappy to see the art of Howard Chaykin redone with a modern comic's color palette, including writer John Gholson, who took to Twitter to show how much a comic loses when it's recolored.


The thrust of Gholson's main argument is that, no matter how good a remastering of these classic comics can be, giving them the look of a modern comic book, any recoloring process, especially one that takes place without the guidance of the original color artist, is discounting the original work. Here are a few examples that Gholson used, ranging from re-coloured works he enjoyed (Marvel's Thor Omnibus by Walt Simonson) to ones he didn't (Brian Bolland's recolouring of The Killing Joke):

Although the "remastering" process gives these comics a modern look, it removes part of their original context, and in some cases, can alter specific artistic decisions that are important to the message of the story.

Removing the garish colours of The Killing Joke, especially, changes the tone of the book itself, even if muting the colors brings it in line with what you would see in a modern Bat-Family book. Another important point is that sometimes these remasters are done without the guidance or blessing of the original colorist, without acknowledgement of their original work, or even any apology for having their work changed by someone else. So it becomes a case of not just
removing the original context, the original artistic decisions made — but also wiping over an original artist's piece of work, sometimes without their behest.


Gholson perhaps puts it best, though. A colourist's work might be seen as disposable or interchangeable compared to a writer or a penciller, but that viewpoint is a great disrepect:


Sometimes things should be probably be best left alone.



Okay, but Brian Bolland did the art in the original Killing Joke and then decided he also wanted to do the colors for the remaster. Apparently, he asked the original colorist, John Higgins, to use muted colors and wasn't happy with the garish coloring that he did.

So, uh, The Killing Joke is more of a "Let me fix this" by the artist.