Interview With Matt Hollingsworth
(January 2007)

Late last year, I got in touch with Daredevil colourist Matt Hollingsworth to see if he'd be interested in answering questions submitted by fans. He kindly agreed and here is the Q&A. Many thanks to Mr. Hollingsworth for fitting this into his busy schedule.

Note: Interview is PG-13.

Kuljit Mithra: Thanks for doing this interview. I'll start with my question and then hand if off to the others:

So what brought you back to Daredevil? I know you had left to try your hand in Hollywood's CGI industry, so was it a case of you just missing the comics world?

Matt Hollingsworth: There's a bit of an explanation of how I cam back to DD specifically below. AS for returning to comics, I finished up on my seventh film, Surf's Up (out in June) and a year solid at Sony Pictures Imageworks and had no new work there so left. I got offers from 3 other studios to do some other film stuff, including work on the Iron Man film, but I felt that it was time to return to comics. There's a larger sense of ownership of the work in comics and more artistic pride and I'd been missing that. In FX, there are so many tweaks and so many hands on deck, that sometimes you don't recognize your own work. There's much more freedom in comics. So, I am back.

From "train":: Alex Maleev produced his art digitally. Michael Lark produces his art on paper. Do you favor one medium over the other?

Hollingsworth: This is not entirely true. Alex uses both analog and digital. I will not explain this to you, as it's his art and it's not my place. But, to think his stuff on DD was all digital is to misunderstand his approach.

As for favoring; no, I don't care how the art is produced. I would like to see analog art continue to survive and flourish, however. There's something about the actual pen or brush line that does not really have the same feel digitally. Someone may become happy with their digital art, but there's a difference. I was cleaning my place the other night and going through things and came upon this original page I have. It's from Aliens; Salvation, which I colored, and was penciled by Mignola and inked by Kevin Nowlan. I was looking at the linework by Kevin and was thinking to myself at that moment that I would be sad if this kind of thing stopped existing. This does not mean I dislike digital art. I love a lot of digital stuff. I just don't want one to go extinct because of the other.

From "Clayton Blind Love":: When setting the tone for the book, is the Brubaker/Lark approach much different than the Bendis/Maleev approach? Is it supposed to be same tone or should there be a difference?

Hollingsworth: Fuck man, I don't know. I've colored tons of people for years on different books. The tone varies book to book for everything. DD itself is a book that I personally think should kind of be a bit more moody. However, that does NOT mean grey. It may have its saturated moments, but it should essentially not be colored the same way as Eternals, which I use much more saturated colors on usually. DD might be saturated at points, but it's more likely to be of a limited palette. The tone is different with these different teams, sure.

"Clayton Blind Love": Are you back on board to provide a successful formula that obviously worked with the Bendis/Maleev run or do you have something new to offer with the current team?

Hollingsworth: No, you misunderstand the situation here. I have worked with both Ed Brubaker and Michael Lark many times before. Long ago and repeatedly over time. We like working together and the time came around where the new colorist, Frank D'Armata, was leaving the book. From what I was told, he had too much work and left on his own. And Ed and I had already been trading e-mails about work stuff. I was coming back into comics and contacted Ed to ask if he had stuff he was working on that he might wanna work on together. I liked working with Ed before, so was checking in not for DD, but just generally to work together again. And then this came about like 2 months later and we'd been continuing contacts, so there you have it. Ed and I worked on Catwoman together for something like 25 issues. I lose count, but it was a while. And Michael and I were on Gotham Central for a few issues, and a 100 odd page Batman book, Batman Nine Lives.

"Clayton Blind Love": Was it tricky working with Tim Sale on Daredevil: Yellow because of his color blindness? Was that even a factor on the book?

Hollingsworth: No, it wasn't a factor. Tim is another guy I have worked with repeatedly over the years. We get along great. And with us, it's always the language of storytelling. We talk story. A certain mood should be conveyed. If he's not seeing it exactly the same, he's still seeing the storytelling. He's not blind, he's color blind.

From "Darediva": How has the colorist's job changed over the past few years with the advances in digital art? With which methods/programs have you worked during your run with Daredevil? Not asking for state secrets, just general interest.

From "EightiesCartoon": I was wondering if Matt could give a breakdown of his technique from start to finish and list the tools and/or computer programmes he uses?

Hollingsworth: Start to finish? Er. Fuck man, that would be pages and pages.

I receive my pages via FTP on the computer. Grab them, then hand them off to a flatter who traces the page out with random colors. I then use these so I don't have to trace stuff, but then change all of the colors. I wash entire scenes with a dominant light. I then paint the page, adding shading and whatnot. It's all Photoshop at this point and has been for the last ten years. My approach was greatly affected by my two years working in film. I left comics in 2004 to go work on visual effects for feature films in LA, and I learned a lot of new stuff. I did a lot of texture painting and sat around matte painters, so naturally it affected my approach. After returning to comics in the summer of 2006, I found that my approach had shifted a lot. I had to get used to printing again and had some issues that were awful. But after that, I've settled into a bit more textured and painted approach. I did manual painting in the old days, so I like this more painted approach.

From "Forrest": First, DD: Yellow is by far my favorite comic coloring work EVER!

What issue/arc contains your favorite coloring work in comics?

Hollingsworth: I have no idea. I've colored maybe 20,000 or so pages. I like a lot of the books I've worked on over the years; Preacher, Daredevil, Hellboy, Grendel Tales, Gotham Central, Catwoman, Tom Strong, Hellblazer, The Filth, Alias.

"Forrest": Are there any characters, pencillers, and/or inkers who you can't wait to work with?

Hollingsworth: No, not really. There are a lot of guys out there who are great. I'd like to work with Jae Lee someday. As for characters, I don't really care about characters that much. I'd much rather work with a great artist and writer on a crap character than on a great character with a crap artist and writer.

"Forrest": Is there any old school issue that you would love to recolor from the original pencils and inks, using today's coloring technology?

Hollingsworth: No.

"Forrest": Red or Yellow?

Hollingsworth: Green.

From "David Wallace": How much do you rely on direction from pencillers when colouring their art? Did Alex Maleev or the current team of Gaudiano & Lark have a very definite idea of how they wanted their coloured pages to look, or did they give you a lot of leeway in setting the tone and colour pallette for a given scene? I'm interested to know how closely you work with the artists who provide the original linework, and what kind of boundaries might be set for your work before you get a chance to add your input.

Have you ever really surprised an artist with the approach you've taken to colouring their original black-and-white art (either positively or negatively!)?

Hollingsworth: Depends. Generally, the guys I work with like my approach and usually leave me to it. Afterwards, they sometimes nudge a bit if they had something different in mind, but we're on the same page 99% of the time. I'm usually not given any direction ahead of time besides what it might say in the script about time of day or whatnot. Sometimes someone has s specific idea and they let me know. Yes, I've surprised people sometimes and hope it's been positive. They come back to me to work with them again, so seems to be good.

From "Dimetre": I'm curious about how long you work on an issue. And how many projects you can take on in a month? What other books do you work on? If you are freelance, can you work for companies other than Marvel? Where did you learn your craft? Are there any teachers you recommend?

Hollingsworth: I usually have a week or so on an issue. Sometimes a bit longer. I can do 3 or 4 books a month but prefer to do 2 or 3. I like more days off these days than when I was younger. I'm currently on Daredevil, Iron Fist and The Eternals, all for Marvel. Yes, I can work for other companies, but I currently am not. I learned how to paint and about comics in general at The Kubert School. I later learned a bunch of stuff at a school for visual effects for film, called Gnomon School for Visual Effects, then learned even more while working in film, as mentioned above. No, I cannot recommend any teachers. You have to find a good teacher on your own. You'll know when you find a good one. Good luck!

(c) Kuljit Mithra 2007
Daredevil:The Man Without Fear

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