STRANGE TALES Issue #155 Color Guide
STRANGE TALES Issue #155 Color Guide
Jim Steranko's work on Strange Tales and Nick Fury, Agent of SHIELD in the 1960s is considered some of the most groundbreaking in the history of comics, borrowing psychedelic and pop art influences from the tumultuous era, the previously unknown artist quickly rose to prominence and completely changed people's concepts what comic book art was, and could be. The color guides to issue #155 of Strange Tales provide a window into Steranko's stringent approach to his work and attention to every detail of his output, from pencils to inks, to scripting, right on down to the minutiae of plotting color guides. All of Steranko's work from this era is highly regarded, owning any original piece of these landmark issues will give the winning bidder not only bragging rights but also the responsibility of caretaking an important part of comics history.
When Jim Steranko burst onto the Marvel art scene in the Nick Fury stories beginning with Strange Tales #151, he brought with him a different style than Jack Kirby, although for the first few issues, he was listed as the inker to Kirby's penciling, as well as a co-writer and plotter with Roy Thomas on issue #154.
Then, with issue #155, Steranko took the full lead writing/plotting AND artistic duties of the book, showcasing his unique style and vision. This issue is key in the launch of the Steranko era, and in the development of Nick Fury, SHIELD, and HYDRA.
Being a perfectionist, Steranko historically did his own color guides as well, to ensure that the end-product reflected his full artistic vision. In the case of this issue, reports vary. Some Marvel databases report that Steranko also did the coloring for his stories beginning with this issue, whereas Steranko's art agent has reported that Jim recalls that he did not begin doing the coloring himself until issues in the #160s.
In either case, Silver Age story color guides are difficult to find as single pages, and rarely come up for sale as complete stories, much less for issues of this significance, by artists of this magnitude. Don't miss this chance to own a piece of Steranko and Nick Fury/SHIELD history.
What Are Color Guides?
Prior to the digital era, color guides were used to inform the printer on how to accurately print the colors of the comic book. These are ONE OF A KIND pieces of the production process of each comic book. Although they vary in size, most color guides were normal note-book paper sized photocopies of the comic book's original art, that were provided to the staff colorist, who would hand-color, water-color, or paint the color guides. The work was painstaking and required a high level of attention to detail, as well as consistency! Oftentimes a coding system of numbers and/or letters was used to indicate specific colors, shades, and information that was vital to ensuring the printer accurately printed the comic's coloration. These are sometimes drawn right onto the color guides themselves, and in some instances the colorists would mark them up on an acetate or rice paper overlay.
Color guides are a unique, one-of-a-kind collectible aspect of the production of a comic book, and as such they have historic value, because they provide insight into the studio and artist's vision of how the comic book should appear in print. Oftentimes the color guide colors are more vibrant and richer than the actual printed comic book, since colors often degraded when printed onto the cheap newsprint paper that comics were traditionally printed on. In addition, some of the nuances of shading and color gradation were sometimes more complex than the print house was able to recreate (or cared to take the time and effort to recreate) and so the color guides often have a truer sense of what the comic should look like, than the actual comic book itself.
In today's digital age, color guides are no longer used, and therefore, vintage color guides are garnering more interest from collectors who are looking for a unique piece of a particular comic book's history and production process to own.