Monday, July 30, 2012

The Gray Ghost!

This is a fascinating image of Lee Falk's The Phantom, colored in the gray color Falk originally intended before the realities of publishing forced brighter hues upon him.

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  1. I like it better!

    ..and I will NOT be Googling the magazine title for more info!

  2. No kidding! Googling can be dangerous. I wish too that Phantom could've been gray. It makes tons more sense than purple or red or green.

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  3. The "purple" came about by accident.
    The "gray" in the original Phantom color scheme was not a black screen.
    (Although it's probably a black screen on that cover, which used finer screens than interior pages or newspaper comic strips.)
    It's a combination of 25% Yellow, 25% Cyan (a medium blue), and 25% Magenta.
    Yellow, Cyan, and Magenta are three of the four inks used in standard printing (Black is the fourth).
    Since Y is the last color applied, and the 25% screen is the last Y screen created (The sequence is 100% [or solid Y], 50% Y, then 25%), sometimes the 25% screen was left out due to tight deadlines or negligence, producing a light purple from using the 25% Magenta and 25% Cyan.
    (Leaving out the 25% Yellow also resulted in people looking sunburned, since Caucasian skin in comics is 25%Y/25%M)
    By increasing the Magenta screen to 50%, as someone at the newspaper syndicate ordered, you get "Phantom purple".

    The three-color gray was also known in comics as "Batman gray".
    While covers had Batman's gray created with a black screen, the interiors used the three-color gray because the screens were coarser and paper wasn't as good as cover stock.
    That's why Adam West's Batman costume initially had a purplish cast to it (satirized in the "Legends of the Dark Knight" ep of Batman the Animated Series)
    The comics the art director was given had interior pages minus the 25% yellow plate.
    And the light purple looked kooler on color tv!
    It was corrected as the tv series went on, probably at DC's insistence.

  4. Great stuff Britt. Thanks. But why then is he Green in some places in the world and Red in others?

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  5. "But why then is he Green in some places in the world and Red in others?"

    In a number of cases, the Phantom stories in those foreign reprints were dailies, which had no color reference!
    IIRC, the dailies and Sundays were independent storylines for a long time.
    Don't know if they still are, none of the papers I read carry the strip.

  6. Love the original gray look too. Amazing how much things can change due to unexpected technical issues (printing limitations in this case).


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