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April 4, 2010

Inside Comics: Why Coloring?

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Written by: jeffbalke

I’ve been asked at different cons and signings, “Why did you choose to color over being an artist?”  How much do artists, colorists, inkers, and writers make?  What is the best way to get my work out there for people to see?  These are the top three questions I hear mostly at conventions and signings.  All great questions with fairly simple answers.

When people want to start in the industry, they want to do IT ALL!  Write, illustrate, ink, and color.  Well, NO!  It doesn’t work that way (usually).  One thing I was told a long time ago was to pick what I really wanted to do in the industry and make that quality strong.  Because like a lot of other people, I wanted to do two different things.  Illustrate and color.  Mostly I wanted to illustrate.  Since as far back as I can remember, I’ve been doodling on anything and everything.  Then, in I think ’93, I was introduced to comics, and I fell in love.  Did I know I wanted to make a career out of it? No. But I wanted to try illustrating that way.  So I started doodling the traditional Spider-Man, X-Men characters, Superman, Flash, and so on, and received a lot of great comments.  At Warren High School (my old high school) the teachers and classmates gave me a glass display to post my artwork in.  It was amazing! I loved that!  Later down the road after I graduated, I was invited back by the art teachers to show the art classes “how to draw the comic book way,” and not from a packet.  Just a few years after that, I stumbled upon a site called Myspace!  Yeah, you may have heard of it.  I started posting some of my line art up there.  Had some pretty good and not so good responses.  Then one day, a comic book artist asked if I had any colored work that I could post.  I quickly colored up my first piece (which was of Spider-Man).

Now the comments were coming in a little bit nicer and more steady.  So I kept up with the coloring and vwa-la.  Here I am and I’m loving every second of it!  So I guess all in all, to answer the question about how to get your work out there…I’d use either Myspace, Facebook, DeviantArt or whatever site you have.  Just start posting.  Even if you think your stuff isn’t good (which I hear all the time), don’t sell yourself short, just post it!  You may meet people to give you pointers.  Then you grow from there.  It’s almost like starting from scratch with your career, but it’s totally worth every minute of it.  AND it’s what YOU want to do!

As for how much money everyone makes, there really isn’t a definite answer.  It totally all depends on who you work for, what books you’re working on, how popular they are, if you can make your deadlines, and so on.  Maybe years ago, that was a little easier to really pin point, but it’s totally different now.

I know before I’ve covered the majority of all that, but I just wanted to go into a little more detail.  So now, I’m going to put the question out to you: WHAT DO YOU WANT TO KNOW about?  Hit me up with some questions, and I’ll be more than happy to either write about it in a column OR just comment on them in the comments.  I’m curious about what you want to know.

Click here for previous installments of Inside Comics!

PLUS, check out my website for more info about the convention season and signings and a whole bunch of other stuff.


Jeff Balke



  1. Aron White

    Beautiful stuff, sir!

    I’d like to know…how does one go about finding a sequential artist when they don’t know ANY artists at all? I can write, but I can’t draw. Well…”stick figure” comics aren’t very exciting to read. haha!

    • Thanks Aron
      HAHA..a great site to check out is DigitalWebbing.com. They’re great! There’s a place on the site where you can post who you are looking for and even to look for work yourself in the industry! I’ve gotten a few jobs from there in the past. I’d start there. But honestly, just post who you’re looking for on any website (ie: Facebook, myspace, twitter etc.). But I’d try Digital Webbing. The guy in charge, ED is amazing and he runs a great site (I think).

  2. Billy

    Good inside info JB (and that Doc Strange: The Oath sketch cover rules!!! Thanks):)

    • HA..thanks man! I appreciate it. It looks like sometime in the near future, I’m going to be coloring a couple of covers with markers and not with Photoshop (like I usually would). SHAWEET! It will take a little more time..but the end result should look amazing!

  3. very cool and informative Jeff!

    • Thank you very much! =)

  4. As someone who has been working his tail off on his own stuff, I have been having to do it all. I would LOVE to concentrate on pencils! With any luck, this year, as things get a little bigger, I can do just that.

    Nice article!

    • Yeah its sometimes a pain in the butt to be honest. Its mostly just posting work on facebook, twitter, myspace or where ever and getting your name out there for others to see. Because there are TONS of people out there who are looking to be concrete in ONE thing rather than doing it all. I wanted to do both illustrate and color, but I’m glad I had the opportunity to just color. Then I can hone in on my stronger side “the force” =)

  5. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Comic Attack. Comic Attack said: Inside Comics: Why become a professional colorist? https://comicattack.net/2010/04/26393/ #comics #comicbooks […]

  6. Aron White

    Cool! Thanks, Jeff!

  7. So the bottom line it don’t be afraid to get your stuff out there!!

    In a future column I’d like to know more about how the colorist works with the artist in coloring their work. Is it a step by step thing or does the colorist just do it all and say “here you go!” How much say does a penciler have in how their work is colored?

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