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Wein & Wrightson's Absolute Swamp Thing Coloured By José Villarrubia

One of the joys of following Promethea colourist José Villarrubia on Facebook is his regular takedown of modern colouring reprints of classic work. Common criticisms include not taking into account original paper absorption of ink as the original colourists did, losing subtleties of shade and shadow, and creating new colour schemes, deliberately or accidentally, that fights against the original intent. He has a special issue with comics published digitally that don't take into account what the printed process would have done to the colour scheme and how that was originally overcompensated for.

Well, it seems Villarrubia is going to be putting his money where his mouth is. He posts to Facebook "I have a big announcement to make! I have been asked to do the digital color restoration of Absolute Swamp Thing by Len Wein and Bernie Wrightson! It collects issues 1-13 in an oversized hardcover format. You can imagine how excited I am about this… It is a labor of love! I am following very faithfully the original colors by Wrightson himself, Glynis Wein and in the last issues by Nestor Redondo, Tajana Wood!"

DC Comics had previously published the Alan Moore/Steve Bissette/Rick Veitch/John Totleben run on Swamp Thing with a third Absolute volume, an oversized hardcover collection, though this was delayed due to the pandemic. Now it seems that DC Comics is going back to the original.

Indeed, Villarrubia had previously posted about these issues in question and how they looked in digital restoration, from the recent Deluxe reprint, He wrote in 2020. "The left one are the colors by Wrightson himself. The right how it's been recolored for the deluxe omnibus edition ($100)… Another baffling industry phenomenon is when series in which the color played an important role, enhancing the narrative, are recolored for no good reason at all… the new coloring is just harsh and literal and in effect flattens the image… PS: The original colors WERE by Wrightson. So someone had the brilliant idea to replace them for the deluxe 100 buck "definite" edition…"

Wein & Wrightson's Absolute Swamp Thing Coloured By José Villarrubia
Wein & Wrightson's Absolute Swamp Thing to be Coloured by José Villarrubia

It's rare that directly criticising something gets you given the chance to do it yourself, but it does happen. And this is one of those examples! Swamp Thing was created by writer Len Wein and artist Bernie Wrightson, and first appeared as a horror story in House of Secrets #92 in 1971 before returning in a solo series set in the DC Universe.  A swamp monster with a humanoid form, the character gained greater fame when revived by Alan Moore, with existing artists Steve Bissette and Rick Veitch, when he was revealed to not be a transformed human but a plant elemental.

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Rich JohnstonAbout Rich Johnston

Founder of Bleeding Cool. The longest-serving digital news reporter in the world, since 1992. Author of The Flying Friar, Holed Up, The Avengefuls, Doctor Who: Room With A Deja Vu, The Many Murders Of Miss Cranbourne, Chase Variant. Lives in South-West London, works from Blacks on Dean Street, shops at Piranha Comics. Father of two. Political cartoonist.
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