ROBOTECH is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year and mourning the loss of of its producer and biggest cheerleader, Carl Macek.
Robotech/Macross #1 cover, Comico 1984
ROBOTECH was a big reason for the success of Comico in its heyday and is a blog all unto itself but before ROBOTECH became the successful franchise that it still is we published a comic book based on ROBOTECH’s original source material, the very popular Anime series MACROSS.
We were big fans of Anime having grown up watching classics like 8Th-Man, Gigantor, Astro Boy, Prince Planet, Marine Boy, Speed Racer, and Kimba the White Lion. We wanted to maintain the luster and integrity of the original.
Our vision was to produce the pages using images taken from the actual video. When this proved to be an impossible option we decided that we would create the pages using a technique similar to that of genuine animation cels.
Carl Macek’s wife Svea Stauch provided the pencils. Phil LaSorda and I inked all of the main characters which included all of the aircraft, spaceships and robots. The inks were done on a separate overlay that was later lettered then photographed as a positive transparency. This was an important layer of the final art since it would hold the black line separate from all the color work just as we would in the grey-line and blue-line systems that I have written about in earlier True Color blogs.
The backgrounds were all transfered to a different layer and painted much like the backgrounds in an animation cel.
Between the line art and the background paintings was a layer of clear acetate. All three layers were aligned to each other with registration marks. The clear film was then attached to the back of the line art and painted from behind with animation cel paint mimicking the flat look of cel production. After it dried, the layer was then removed from the line art layer and then attached over the more heavily rendered, painted backgrounds.
The two color layers would be separated by the color separator as one piece then the black line layer would be added. This all created the dimensional effect that the original animation cels had while preventing the black line from suffering from registration problems in the print process.
Macross 6 Line Art & Matt
This system, though it produced the intended results, was painstaking and required a small army of extra hands to chip in to get the work finished. Macross #1 would be the only time we used this technique. When Macross became ROBOTECH with issue #2 it was clear that the only way we would be able to produce a ROBOTECH issue every 2 weeks, which was our intended schedule, was to use flat color.
Macross 6 Cel & Prod
Our experimentation with all of the various techniques for producing color for comics proved that we respected the individual requirements of each property that we published. We were never content to produce a line of cookie-cutter comics.
Macross 6 Mount & Print
I like to think that our readers appreciated this and that the creators who worked with us understood that our priority was the integrity of their work. This provided us with the opportunity to work with many talented comic creators and made it easier for us to attract other licensed properties.
Today, nearly all color for comics is produced digitally. One thing I have discovered about creating comics digitally is that every creator has their own special technique to achieve a desired result. There is no real right or wrong way to produce quality comics.
That’s good for us at CO2 Comics because we love to experiment and we love to tap into our own experiences from the good old days. Our priority is still the integrity of the work and it will always be regardless if we are producing comics for the internet , digital readers or print.
In the next few days we will be announcing our first print project from CO2 Comics. It is big, bold and beautiful and has required a fair amount of experimenting to produce the product that we have been hoping for.
I promise this one will have people talking for years.
Making Comics Because I Want To