Olyoptics Timeline - 1992
The Image Era Changes Comic Color
This is a fact. No comic line ever shook up the comic industry as much as Image. The industry changed fundamentally during the Image heyday. The look and feel of comics, the distribution system, and the financial stakes all got changed. And computers were right in the thick of it.
High quality computer color became a part of the Image look. Beginning with Todd McFarlane’s Spawn, Mark Silvestri’s Cyberforce, Sam Kieth’s the Maxx, and Erik Larsen’s Savage Dragon, the color became one of the stars of the show. At one point Olyoptics was coloring and/or separating 70% of the Image line of comics. Eventually it got to be too much for us to keep up with, so several of the Image studios set up their own coloring departments. Top Cow, Wildstorm, and Extreme all had their own in house color departments, so they could have complete control. It was also because each of the artists who owned those studios was often late, and needed a dedicated coloring department to turn their books around quickly.
This is where a fundamental split in the coloring industry began.
The original owner of the Kaleidoscope software, Kenny Giordano, had been burned a couple of times in business, and tried to expand too much, only to have it all implode. They ended up losing the rights to their own software. Ken Giordano’s son, Khouri had written the program when he was 17. It was filled with programming quirks that only Khouri understood. Since Khouri was mad at how his father had been treated in the deals, he wouldn’t write code for the new owners. The only way Mary Codd and Victor Barrett, who now owned the software could add new features was by starting to build the code from the ground up. They couldn’t afford that, so they just kept marketing it as long as they could, with little cosmetic changes.
The Codd/Barrett system was what Olyoptics used. All of the spin-off companies from Olyoptics, IHOC, Electric Pickle, and Android Images used Codd/Barrett software. Almost all the Image guys used Photoshop from Adobe.
In those days the Codd/Barret software cost $5,000 per workstation for the software, but the computers were relatively inexpensive IBM clones. They didn’t need very powerful processors, and used a vector-based system that made small files, which were easy to store and modem.
Photoshop uses a bitmapped system that requires lots of memory and processing power. The Photoshop software was relatively inexpensive ($500), but at that time memory was about $50 per megabyte and you really need at least 64 megabytes of RAM, which meant spending thousands of dollars just for memory. Photoshop was not initially available on the IBM. Translations between the two systems were difficult. Most people had either one or the other system, but not both.
Olyoptics was slow to make the shift to Photoshop, but Codd/Barret went out of business, so there was no alternative. Photoshop is now the industry standard for art and coloring software.
To my knowledge, all comic book coloring is now done with Photoshop. The last Codd/Barrett holdout was IHOC’s Abel Mouton and Reuben Rude, who used it to color Erik Larsen’s Savage Dragon up to issue #100. From #100 on, Reuben will be coloring it by himself in Photoshop.