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SF Chron moves to color comics

Received a note that the San Francisco Chronicle is moving to a full color daily comics. The paper let readers vote on which strips should run in color first. The top vote getters were: Pearls Before Swine, Doonesbury, Bizarro, Lio and Non Sequitur. I’m not sure I understand why the paper is announcing it’s moving to color, yet holding a contest for which ones should go first. My quick Google search didn’t yield any information. If you know about what’s going with the comics and the Chron, post it in the comments.

Community Comments

#1 Scott Metzger
March/3/2010
@ 11:34 am

I was just talking to my coworker the other day about all of this. Last week was when they “teased” the readers with those few strips in color. And Monday was the first day the entire page was in color.

The comics look great in color but I didn’t see the point in the “contest” to see which ones would be the first to be printed in color. Just roll ’em out in color.

#2 Karyl Miller
March/3/2010
@ 12:16 pm

Comics are pretty and all in color, but they’re not funnier and it’s extra work for the artist. Grumble grumble.

#3 dave nelson
March/3/2010
@ 12:55 pm

Cool. When I was at the Quad-City Times in the early 90’s, we had an artist who spent at least half their time coloring the daily comics by hand, using zipatones. Those were the days…

#4 Stacy Curtis
March/3/2010
@ 12:56 pm

Wonder how great the printing of the SF Chronicle is? The first time the color comics page is off-registered, the readers will be treated with a full-page version of “The Magic Eye.”

I would’ve thought that with papers struggling as much as they are, color daily comics wouldn’t even be a consideration, they’d be a luxury and waste of money.

#5 Jerry Dowling
March/3/2010
@ 1:33 pm

I hope they do a better job of coloring these strips than The Cincinnati Enquirer does on Fridays. Some of them are ruined by their overuse of the colors, specifically Zits, Frazz, The Dinette Set, and Pearls Before Swine. They don’t seem to pay attention to legibility or detail.
And to top it off, they are in a tabloid format which results in a couple being flattened or squeezed out of proportion.

#6 dave nelson
March/3/2010
@ 1:34 pm

It’s a really fancy new press, Stacy, which is why they changed their whole format a year or two ago. What I don’t know, is who colors the daily comics? 15 years ago, the Syndicates didn’t because almost nobody needed it.

#7 Clay Jones
March/3/2010
@ 1:34 pm

Papers don’t actually color the strips themselves. There’s a firm in Florida that does all the work for the syndicates and the newspapers get what’s sent to them.

#8 Stacy Curtis
March/3/2010
@ 2:24 pm

I think the strips get colored by American Color or Reed Brennan or whoever is doing it these days.

I also think some creators (or their assistants) color their own strips.

Either way, it seems ridiculous to pay for color for something so small and something that was created to run black and white.

#9 Anne Hambrock
March/3/2010
@ 3:07 pm

Some creators choose to do their color dailies themselves. Brilliant Mind of Edison Lee is one of those.

Our local paper has been running color comics 7 days a week for over 4 years. As the colorist for Edison, this has been invaluable to me so that I can see everyday how the color is coming out in print and what happens to a strip when the registration is off.

John is a purist and would rather the strip was in black and white for all days except Sunday, but providing daily color was actually one of the provisions in his syndication contract. With that being the case, we felt that by producing the color in house we could at least have a measure of creative control.

#10 Darryl Heine
March/3/2010
@ 4:30 pm

Will Peanuts 1990’s Classics be in color? The SF Examiner might still run Peanuts 1963 and 1990’s strips in B&W.

#11 Donna Barstow
March/3/2010
@ 9:10 pm

So does that mean that you color Edison Lee (I’m not familiar with it) yourself, and the artist doesn’t, Anne?

Daily News had all the cartoons in tabloid format in color for several years, and I thought it was a treat, even though it wasn’t my paper. Now they’re in b/w.

Online, color is power, that’s for sure.

#12 Anne Hambrock
March/3/2010
@ 9:21 pm

Yes Donna, it means I do the color rather than the artist. That said, I happen to be married to the artist :-) so I do get some feedback.

Also, there will be the occasional strip that he does himself because he has a really specific idea about how he wants it to look. And, in the early days, when he had to assemble the sales kit, he did all the color for that so I had a direction to start from.

I agree that online, color is indeed power, and I color the strips with that very firmly in mind. Someone once mentioned on another thread here that color on a computer has light behind it whereas color in a newspaper does not. I took note of that comment and have tried to walk that line so the color looks equally good in both environments.

I enjoy my contribution to the strip and take a lot of pride in it.

#13 Tom Racine
March/4/2010
@ 1:34 am

Keep in mind that Anne does that inbetween professional harp gigs, full time mom, and professional Irish Step Dancing. (I made that last part up, but there’s probably something like that in there!) If there’s a question about straddling the line between online and print coloring and the subtleties therein, Anne’s the master.

It is an interesting point, though…do color comics have any impact on the general public? Do they sell more papers? Would that money be better served going to adding more B&W comics instead? With many of the new presses, adding color doesn’t really add THAT much cost, but it’d be interesting to see a breakdown.

#14 Tom Racine
March/4/2010
@ 1:36 am

….and not to be too self-serving, I interviewed the two of them way back in episode 43, but there’s a lot of coloring talk in there from Anne:

http://talltalefeatures.com/2009/08/17/episode-43-john-and-anne-hambrock/

#15 Ted Dawson
March/4/2010
@ 8:26 am

I remember when Reed-Brennan was challenged about their claim that Colorized comics help sell newspapers. They had no data to prove that and had to remove the claim from their website.

A decade ago, Reed-Brennan (owned by King Features) was charging papers over a hundred dollars per page for color. None of this goes to the cartoonists. But, at least they don’t charge cartoonists for their services like American Color does.

#16 dave nelson
March/4/2010
@ 9:21 am

When I was at the Times (’92), we tried to sell our coloring services to other papers, but back then most presses couldn’t handle the registration, nor did they want to give up the valuable color units.

The more I read these comments, the more I think the average reader just doesn’t care about color or even having comics at all …

#17 Mark McComas
March/10/2010
@ 4:43 pm

I remember going to Washington D.C. on a class bus trip in middle school (circa ’66-’67) and being amazed that one of the Washington newspapers ran the comics in color daily–maybe it was just one color–it was a long time ago. Anyway, I used to deliver the GRIT paper and wondered why, though they published the Sunday Funnies three days early, they were not in color. The GRIT was in Williamport, PA then, and was a tabloid. If it still is around in printed form, it is a PARADE style tabloid published in Kansas.

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