Silver Age Printing Technique: Getting It Right

The color dots, limited pallet and absorbent newsprint paper are just as important to the audience experience as the artist's intent.

image of Agent K art with simulated Silver Age ink and paper texture

Without the dots, ink gain and absorbent newsprint, the colors are louder than intended. This was discovered during the economic and technological shift of the 1980s, when publishers actually printed 64 colors on nicer paper. That's when the industry went with full digital color, effectively ending the four color process era of comics.

Sadly, Marvel and DC republish their pre-digital comics just like this. For more on how the physical material is just as important as the intellectual property and artist intent, check out John Hilgart's excellent article In Defense of Dots: The lost art of comic books.

Michael Gagne's restoration process for the Simon & Kirby romance comics (order from publisher) is also informative.

In short, "Enter...General Zaq!" wouldn't be the best action-packed contrast of old and new comics art without emulating Silver Age four color process techniques to the best of my abilities. Thanks for lighting the fire, John & Mike!

Source Material

Theory and examples of dot color
"In Defense of Dots: The lost art of comic books" by John Hilgart.
Michel Gagne's restoration of Simon/Kirby romance comics Single-handedly restored Simon & Kirby romance comics as a labor of love.
Photoshop technique for emulating old-school dot color
"Giving Artwork the 'Comic Book Look'" by Comicraft. More time-consuming than Photoshop's "Color Halftone" filter, but much better results. This technique uses CMYK channels, creating custom dot and rotation control with temporary grayscale to bitmap conversion.
"How To Color Like A Little Old Lady" by Les McClaine. Taking the Comicraft technique up a notch, adding texture and fade controls per channel.

David Marshall