RICH INTERVIEW: Chris McAuley Colorist for Malek Reigning Devil

First Comics News: What first got you involved in a career in comics?

Chris McAuley: When talking to 2000AD artist Glenn Fabry he suggested that I give comic book art ‘a go’. A few months later (and after having written a few Dredd stories for 2000AD Fanzine – Sector13) I started to work with 2000AD’s colorist John Charles. He gave me a Dredd Story to work on doing flatting – The Long Game. Eventually, I was doing Roy of the Rovers Book 3, Sinister Dexter, and a multitude of indie comics.

1stWhen coloring Malek’s sword why were shades of green used?

Chris: Shades of Green was used to denote an ethereal quality to the sword. I came up with the idea that as his weapons killed folks from hell and heaven they would have that supernatural quality to them. The editor Phoebe Xavier was happy with this design choice and we ran with it.

1st: In “Malek Reigning Devil” do you get to decide the color scheme or are you told what colors to use

Chris: With some of the comics I work on for 123 Go! Publications I can decide the colors for the secondary colors of the environment. Malek himself had a color scheme crafted by his creator Jeffrey Haas. When working on Marvel illustrator Russ Leach’s Only Death Can Save Us title, he had rough color schemes mapped out for the enemies and sidekicks. I played around with them to see if I could get the best results. Working with Established characters like Dredd, the scheme is absolute, you can’t have Dredd in a pink helmet for example!

1stDoes a colorist do more than just color in pages?

Chris: The primary role of coloring is to try and bring the reader further into the world and environment of the narrative. Effective coloring can add to the ‘storytelling’ with cooler and warmer shades being used to help the reader naturally rest their eyes on elements of importance in the panels.

1stWhat does inking pencils do to make them look better?

Chris: Depending on the penciler, the linker may find themselves redefining some anatomy or generally bringing overall magic to the panels. Take Jim Lee’s work for instance – high detailed and realized pencils, the inker has to make the choice whether to smooth over the links or keep the rough, edgy nature Lee has crafted. I’ve worked on some projects where the pencils are little more than a guideline for the character so there’s a lot more work to do. The role can be summed up as – an artist who often outlines, finalizes, interprets, and retraces the original image bringing the panel to a completed state.

1st: Why do you enjoy working with video games and which one was the best you ever played?

Chris: My interest in video games started when I was 7 or 8 in the ’90s. The UK microcomputers offered a range of high quality and affordable titles and I had quite a collection. Moving then to the NES and Megadrive, I was blown away by the sound, visuals, and addictive nature that most cartridges had. As well as comic art I am also a programmer, that’s the core aspect of game development I am most interested in. I code for retro systems like the C64, NES, and Megadrive. I also have a successful column in Arcade Attack magazine where I show folks how to code for the Gameboy. Professionally I work in the Unreal and Unity game engines. These are incredibly powerful and versatile. The ‘best game ever’ or the one I frequently revisit would be Streets of Rage 2, its action-packed with atmospheric sprites and a powerful soundtrack.

1stWould you like to work on a Doctor Who comic and why?

Chris: I was lucky enough to work on some practice Doctor Who pages for Russ Leach last year. I love the show and have been a fan since the 90’s watching re-runs on the BBC. When you are a fan of a franchise its always a dream to work on it. Doctor Who has always promoted positive social values and is constantly about change so it keeps its relevancy. Those are special traits and why its the longest-running sci-fi show in the world!

1stWhich people have helped or inspired your comics career the most?

Chris: I was very lucky to have the mentorship of Pat Mills and Neil Gaiman when I started out examining comics. I didn’t read a whole lot of them growing up – some Ninja Turtles and Thundercats mostly. They helped me get a handle on the ‘message’ of the narrative. Artistically, I was lucky enough to be under the wing of John Charles who is a master colorist, Brian Millar from the legendary Hi-Fi group, and recently Russ Leach, who is the ultimate encourager.

1st: What would you like to say to all your fans?

Chris: For anyone who enjoys my work, I say ‘Thanks for purchasing the comics I’ve been involved in, reviewing them and for reading/watching the interviews’. It’s really validating to get positive comments about something you enjoy doing. If you ever want to get involved in coloring comics, please drop me a line and I can show you how to get started.


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