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 What is Valiant color art?

I enjoy collecting all forms of Valiant original art including prelims, pencil & inked pages, and color pages. Valiant Comics in the early nineties stood out from other comics in many ways. The colors were vibrant with a hand painted technique that was developed by JayJay Jackson and Jim Shooter. I get a lot of questions about what is color art. Here's a description of the process by JayJay herself:

 The Valiant color art method by JayJay Jackson:

"This page is painted mainly with Dr Martins watercolor dyes on a smooth finish watercolor paper mounted to a heavier board. It has an acetate overlay with the lettering pasted on it that could be removed or just folded back. This is the "Valiant coloring method" which Jim Shooter and I developed and it differs dramatically from the way traditional comics were and are colored.

We reproduced the black & white inked page onto high-quality watercolor paper and securely mounted it to a heavier board to limit the wrinkling of the paper. The pages were then painted using a variety of media including airbrushing, color pencils, acrylic paint, inks, pasting on photos or reproductions, etc. Many innovative techniques. Dr Martins dyes were used for their brightness and ability to reproduce well.

The pages were color separated using a commercial laser scanner, making this type of painted color art the actual original used for printing, unlike more traditional comics in which the black & white art is scanned and colored using computers. It also differs from the "blueline" technique used for some trading cards and graphic novels, which has the black line art on a film overlay that sits above the painted color original. We used this coloring method at Valiant, Defiant, and at Milestone Comics."


Physical Valiant color art pages exist from around 1990-1995. This process was developed around 1990-1991 as Valiant began to publish titles that included Magnus Robot Fighter, Solar, Man of the Atom, Harbinger, and X-O Manowar. During the Unity crossover Valiant became to gain in popularity and increase market share. More titles were added such as Eternal Warrior, Archer & Armstrong, and Shadowman.

The Valiant artists and production crew became affectionately referred to as "Knob Row". Modeled after the Marvel Comics bullpen in the 1960's, Valiant's Knob Row would create comics in their New York City office space. Editorial would guide them in an assembly line fashion, penciling, inking, and coloring. Production methods were perfected and refined as veteran creators mentored up-and-coming artists. This continued till around 1995.

Acclaim Comics had bought the company in 1994 during a time of industry downturn and change. Production was changing too as coloring comics transitioned to computer. In some cases the color cover was still painted by hand and acted as a guide for computer coloring. Computer coloring is now the industry standard and offers a lot of benefits. However, gone are the days of hand painted original pages.
Valiant Color Art Examples:

Click thumbnails to view larger

Harbinger #4 page 5

Harbinger #12 page 12

Magnus Robot Fighter #0 page 6

Solar Man of the Atom #9 page 20

X-O Manowar #11 page 2 partial colors

Unity #0 page 14 colors

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