Jason Keith is one of those talents that makes you see past the art and peer into a world rich in depth and color. Taking nothing away from industry giants as Jim Lee, Todd McFarlane, who Jason has colored. His artistic ability adds another level of foundation to an already massive building. Join us, for a conversation with one of the best at coloring the world we love.
A conversation with Jason Keith…
Comic Watch: Jason, thank you so much for taking the time to talk with us at Comic Watch!
Jason Keith: Thank you, no problem.
CW: How are you enjoying the con so far?
JK: I’m having a great time so far. This is my second GalaxyCon Richmond in a row, and all signs point toward this being a bigger and better show.
CW: What was that one moment that got you into comics and you realized this is what to do, and what was your main influence?
JK: I saw Fathom #0 in Wizard magazine and JD Smith was coloring and it was when we were starting to get into the new era of digital coloring, and he was using both orange and blue light sources. I was able to see past Michael Turner’s art, and I was seeing these sunsets reflecting in the water and these levels of the ocean that JD Smith was coloring. It immediately caught my eye and I knew I had to look into how to become a digital colorist. This is too interesting to me, and at that time were at a shift from old to new, I believe around ’99, or maybe 2000.
CW: With working so with many iconic names in the industry, who stands out as your favorite and is there any stories that stick out with that person?
JK: I do a lot of Hidden Gem variant covers for Marvel with the Special Projects Editor, so I’ve colored as recently for Jim Lee. For me…I was born in 1982 so for me I came up with the ’90s X-Men from Jim Lee and now that I’m 38 and now I get to color a #1 Wolverine cover by Jim Lee. It was the greatest thing ever for me. I felt that after fifteen years of comics, I was like…what’s next? To finally get to color my childhood favorite artist, it felt fantastic. I’ve gotten to work with Jim Lee, I’ve colored George Perez a couple of times, Dale Keown on a lot of Hulk, my teenage self is merging with my 40-year-old self and it’s amazing. I’ve done stuff for Frank Cho, I’ve done Hidden Gem stuff for John Romita’s Daredevil, McFarlane’s Wolverine. It’s been just a blast getting to work with these folks.
CW: Can you take us through the process of how you get ready for a job? Do you dig into their backstory, does your current mood affect it, or do you have like a zen moment during the process?
JK: Now, you said zen out…deadlines are the opposite of zenning out *laughs*. What makes it worse is what is going on in your personal life, and it just eats up your time. Comics being a monthly job, being a colorist you get…ideally two weeks or if you doing a book and you have twenty pages to do it becomes a race…a marathon of sorts to get it done on time.
CW: With tackling some of the top icons in the industry, was it ever intimidating?
JK: When it comes to the team books where you have ten different characters like Avengers or when X-Men relaunched and they had the new designs. It gets daunting keeping up with those costume changes. It so much more easy when it’s a Hulk book! *laughs* You have a red character fighting a green character or when its Wolverine and you know what the costume is going to be, or maybe there’s no costume at all. *laughs*
CW: Hand versus digital… do you have a preference and is there any difference to your approach?
JK: Well, let’s talk about both. As a primarily digital colorist, I find it interesting to bring in actual physical textures. On my newest book from Ghost Rider last year I did a lot of acrylic and water painting first for textures, in particular, the Hell scenes I did a lot of oranges, yellows, and reds in actual paint, then scanned those in and manipulated but also left some of them pretty raw. I don’t have a preference when it comes to digital or traditional. I really like to hybrid approach. I think with computer color can be very clean which is sometimes really appropriate, like with superhero books, and with stuff like the hell scenes from Ghost Rider the traditional has a grittiness approach to it.
CW: Do you have any upcoming projects you can talk about with too many spoilers?
JK: All I can say is I’m currently working on Avengers and we got Moon Knight coming up in issue thirty-three. It’s going to be a whole new story arc. Jason Aaron is writing and it will center on Moon Knight and Iron Fist, we’re bringing in some new characters like last year we did a run with all the Ghost Riders, that lead into the new Ghost Rider series. I have a feeling that with Moon Knight showing up, there might be a new Moon Knight series. Look towards the Avengers for the characters who might be getting series and possibly different directions for them.
Coloring the industry one icon at a time, a discussion with Jason Keith.
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