A strange device hums in a basement. A group of tough and plucky paper girls investigate. Boom! Something goes wrong with the device, and when they creep out of the basement and into the cool night air, they see the world around them has irrevocably changed…all thanks to the color artist. In this week’s Strip Panel Naked, the YouTube mini-comic masterclass hosted by Hass Otsmane-Elhaou, the focus is on Matt Wilson‘s color work in the incredible Image comic Paper Girls . The series has covered color in comics in the past, from the way color can be used as subtext to the ways shifts in color can change the entire nature of a comic, but this week takes a look at how Wilson actively participates in the narrative of the story through his color choices.
Written by Brian K. Vaughan and illustrated by Cliff Chiang, Paper Girls tells the story of a group of paper girls in the 80s who end up being thrust into a world of time travel, strange creatures, and violent action. “Matt Wilson has been making great coloring look effortless in so many of his books,” Otsmane-Elhaou explains in the intro to his video. “In Paper Girls, he particularly shines. And actually, quite a lot of the storytelling in that book rests on his shoulders.”
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Much of the early pages of the first issue are blue-toned and cool, but at a pivotal moment that all changes. “He’s got a palette he’s working to in this book…and in fact there are actually 18 consecutive pages where blue is the main color throughout” says Otsmane-Elhaou. Then cataclysmic events shake the world, and “the blue drops from the sky to be replaced by this [a pink sky]. By hammering home just how much of the world really is blue, it makes this pink pop even more.”
But that’s just one example of how Matt Wilson uses his color to impact the narrative. To see more, watch the full video below:
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