The Man Who Colours Nexus
Unusually, Steven contacted me to talk about the Nexus newspaper. He had seen an article (well, a rant really) I’d written on this site about the lack of respect given to artists who don’t fit the mould of whatever’s judged to be cool in comics at the moment, and thought I might be interested in giving some publicity to the Nexus newspaper.
It’s not often colourists – or anyone else for that matter – contact you in this way, and truthfully I did not know that the Nexus newspaper existed. I’ve been a huge fan of Baron and Rude’s creation since Nexus first appeared in the 1980s, and to be frank anything I could do to encourage people to look at their work I was happy to do. While thinking about this, it occurred to me that although colourists are given credit for their work these days, we don’t really know that much about what they do, so I asked Steven if he’d mind me talking to him about what he does. This led, sadly as it so often does, to me lining up a few other colourists over the next few months to talk to. These days colouring isn’t as simple as it once was, and the colourist’s job can range from relatively simple (see Scott Adams talking about how he colours Dilbert) to being almost the “second director” on a title – adding everything from depth, shading to complex backgrounds. Steven was kind enough to answer my questions via the medium of email.
Many colorists seem to start doing something else – drawing painting et cetera. What’s your background?
I have a background in graphic design, illustration, music and filmmaking. Mostly self-taught. Being colourist for Steve is my first “pro” gig, but I have a few little indie books that I’ve worked on as well. I’ve always drawn comics since I was a kid but didn’t try to make a go of it until a couple years ago.
I assume that you are principally a digital colourist. Would you mind just running through the kind of equipment that you use?
I use a Surface Pro 3 with Photoshop with Kyle T. Webster brushes. Occasionally I dip into Clip Studio Paint (with Frenden brushes) as well. I find Clip Studio Paint is much better than Photoshop for digital painting, but I still prefer Photoshop for colouring.
How did you get to work on the Nexus newspaper?
Steve held a talent search last year looking for a colourist… and I didn’t get the job! A couple months later, I received an email asking if I would do another page as a second tryout (Which I did immediately.) and that’s how I got the job! When opportunities like that present themselves, you have to jump on them!
I’m interested in your influences, both artistically and from a colourist point of view.
As far as comics go, my influences tend to be more on the illustration or painting side of things. I got into colouring as I already knew Photoshop from my graphic design background and just used it to colour my own artwork at first. I don’t buy that many comics anymore (Which happens when you have bills and kids and a mortgage, etc…) so I can’t name that many colorists. Dave Stewart, Laura Martin, Jordie Bellaire and Laura Allred are the ones I know off the top of my head. They all do great work. As far as comic artists I admire, that’s a long, long list.
Is there an artist whose work you would particularly like to colour?
Maybe if Laura Allred came down with the flu and she needed some help with a few of Mike’s pages..! JH Williams III is pretty great. But I’d be happy to colour just about anybody, there are lots of great artists working today.
What’s the experience of colouring the Nexus newspaper been like?
Working on the Nexus newspaper” has been great, it’s like getting paid to go to the art school I never had! Steve is really great about sharing the wealth of knowledge he’s accumulated over the course of his career, which has been awesome. I’m learning a lot about colour and how to use it, as opposed to what I was doing before I worked on Nexus, which was a more straightforward colouring/lighting approach. Steve likes to use colour emotionally a lot, which I think separates Nexus from other comics, which are coloured more to look like stills from a movie. Which is totally fine, but comics can do more than that.
What comics did you read growing up? Were you a Marvel or a DC fan?
I was a huge Marvel fan growing up. I didn’t get into DC until post-Crisis when John Byrne left Marvel and started doing Man Of Steel/Superman. One of my favourite books to pick up as a kid was Marvel Tales, which at the time was reprinting Lee/Romita era Amazing Spider-Man. Out of all my old comics, those are the ones I enjoy going back to the most.
I’m guessing that you have personal other projects going – would you like to tell us about them?
I have a graphic novel that I drew and coloured about a year ago called, Alexandra Forever. I also post stuff I do for fun on my website (http://stevenlegge73.wixsite.com/srl73), including Company 666 which is a WWII/Horror comic that I’ve been doing when I find the time.
Is there anything you expected me to ask you that I didn’t?
I’ve been sitting on this for two days but I couldn’t think of a question that I would like to be asked of me other than something about getting more work.
Ok – if you need a colourist, now you know what to do! Steven is modest – check out the video for Alexandra Forever below and then go to his site and the Alexandra site to see some excellent work and the first part of the Alexandra Forever GN.