Here’s a rerun of a Comics Comics classic – Klaus Janson colors. Gonna try and interview Mr. Janson soon. Hold on.
I’m trying to pull together a nice, well rounded article on Mr. Janson. But it’s just lots of notes at this point. So until I get it together, here are some fragments:
St. George by Klaus Janson. I’m just gonna write about the art. The story is unreadable. Awful. But the art is really interesting to me. This was after Janson’s Punisher run in the late ’80s. And long after his fabled run with Frank Miller on Daredevil and also on Dark Knight.
He was doing art and colors at this stage in his career. Pencils, inks, and colors. Well, color guides; he wasn’t making screens or cutting film. What’s interesting to me is the way Janson used the available palette at the time to get such rich “dark” colors. In St. George I like how he mixes and matches bright “block out” colors next to layered browns and greens. Plus there is something about the black panel gutters and margins that really adds to the mood.
Check out how different the mood is in an issue of Daredevil from years before. Black pages were uncommon then because most comics didn’t have the option of full bleed printing processes. The tone of the newsprint lightens the colors and makes the whole composition read differently than the examples above.
Janson was one of the few artists at Marvel who did his own colors. There is a real synthesis of his linework and the colors themselves. It’s a very sophisticated system for such a limited color process. In St. George, I can tell that he’s drawing for color. There are “open” containment lines and lots of elements in the backgrounds that are not delineated, I think, because Janson knows that he will color those elements accordingly. That is a very different thought process than most cartoonists who are strictly thinking in black and white.
Anyways, Janson’s comics stick out. I come across his St. George and Punisher comics a lot in bargain bins, and they’re always good. Solid drawing, solid color. Too bad the stories are inane garbage. Still, they’re worth a look. Janson seemed to understand what was possible in color comics. And he did this at a time when the processes were really changing. Pretty cool.