For America's number-one comic book company, digital prepress technologies are "off like a bat out of hell," but DC has not given the green light for a complete CTP conversion—yet.
"ABOUT 1986 or so, an engineer friend of mine who designs water tanks called me up and said, 'You have to come over and see my new computer and what it can do,' " recalls Bob Rozakis, executive director of production for DC Comics, New York City. "He was drawing on the screen and printing it out in color. I said, 'If the computer can tell the printer how to do this, there has to be a way to color comic books the same way.' "
hat evening of computer tinkering launched a digital revolution in pop-art production that, 10 years later, is nearing full realization as DC Comics considers taking all of its 90 monthly titles to a CTP workflow. But fully computerized comic book production is not a sure thing: Although the company has reaped color and productivity benefits from digital technologies, DC remains cautious about making any moves that might jeopardize its reputation for overall artistry.
When Rozakis first decided to digitize DC's comic book production workflow, he began to research computerized coloring programs. "I had a variety of companies come in and tell me, 'Well, if you can get your artists to close up the lines, if you can get them to do this, if you can get them to do that,' " he recounts. "I kept saying to them, 'Well, no, our artists aren't going to change. Here's my artwork, make this work.' "
Then, Rozakis found Graphic Color Works, based in Ireland, which had figured out how to color line art "by basically plugging the holes in the lines with color so that you can hit the fill and fill in the areas at once," he explains. By 1988, utilizing Graphic Color Works' technology, DC was able to set up three computer systems to color comics in-house.