Kevin Boury writes a response to my message about the colorizing of Moe, Larry and Curly...
Mark, Mark, Mark...I can only imagine your furor if someone went back and changed the entire color scheme of, say, New Gods
#1 to make it more appealing to today's youth. While they are at it, how about some new backgrounds for Groo #20 so that there won't be as
many people in the crowd shots to distract today's readers with their shorter attention spans?
I've got it... Let's rewrite It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World to make the jokes more relevant to today's younger markets. And
then we'll add some digital performers, like Brittney, to some shots so the kids will pay to see their hottest stars in a cameo role. Ooh, laser
beams. What that movie needs is laser beams. Howzabout instead of a group of palm trees, the lasers make a big "W" in the sky and then a lot of cool
effects and some smoke and change the soundtrack to Jessica Simpson. Or better yet...It's a Mad, Mad, Mad. Mad World with the Kids from
American Idol. I am sure you would have no problem with that.
Or when they start to colorize The Dick Van Dyke Show so that today's children will be enticed to watch it. Too bad they
can't just watch it for the writing and the acting. That's why I did.
Taking the last of these "suggestions" first: I'm not sure anyone has suggested that colorizing The Dick Van Dyke Show will
attract consumers who were avoiding it just because it was black-and-white. Once upon a time in the Great Colorization Debate, that kind of notion
was batted around but I don't think anyone is currently colorizing old films with that as a motive. Rather, the idea now seems to be that
colorization can create a kind of variant edition. Remarketing what you've already marketed is a big thing in many industries these days but nowhere
more than in home video. You know...they put out your favorite movie on DVD and you buy it. Then a few years later, they put out the new, improved
version with the better transfer, audio commentary, documentary on "the making of..." and deleted footage. That gives them the chance to get you to
buy it again, plus they can proclaim a "new" $29.99 event which might snag consumers who haven't bought the old version which is now marked down to
$9.99, anyway. Colorizing, by and large, is a way of offering a new incarnation of something you already own.
I now have all the episodes of The Dick Van Dyke Show on DVD in their pristine, black-and-white state. I don't think they'd make
much more money by releasing colorized versions but if they did, I don't see how this harms me. I ain't gonna buy 'em. The only way I can see myself
objecting is if (a) the colorized versions replace the originals and make them hard to acquire or (b) if Carl Reiner and Dick Van Dyke
raise a stink. I doubt either of these will happen. If it's done, it will probably be done with their consent...and if they aren't outraged, why
should I be?
When someone discusses altering a piece of creative work, I think you have to go on a case-by-case basis and ask what aspects of the
work should be sacred. Then you have to consider whether it's being done well or not. Your Mad World example sounds lousy to me, just as you
intended. Recoloring New Gods #1 sounds like a wonderful idea. Jack Kirby hated the way it was colored in the first place. Obviously, if
someone recolored the book and made it worse, that would be bad but I don't think that's an argument for not recoloring it at all. To me, insisting
it should be just the way it was in 1970 is like saying that if you reprint a novel, you shouldn't fix the typos. Moreover, if you reprinted New
Gods today, you'd almost certainly be printing on whiter paper with brighter inks and a wider palette, and the old color scheme might look even
worse than it did originally. So it's not going to be faithful to the original either way, which is often the case when you transfer work from one
medium to another.
As for your suggestion of altering Groo, that's an easy call. Sergio Aragonés drew that material and he owns it. So
whether or not to make the change is his decision, and I don't see that anyone else's opinion even enters into it.
For the most part, I like to see things as originally intended and I doubt I'll buy the colorized version of anything unless some
colorizer creates something very special. In the meantime, since colorized versions don't seem to be knocking the originals out of existence, I don't
see the process as the threat that some once thought it was. If it's done and it's done badly, it's just a bad repackaging that I don't have to buy
or even look at. It's like when they did that color, shot-for-shot remake of Psycho that most of us ignored. It didn't diminish the original
one bit and probably, somewhere, there was someone who really enjoyed it. If someone gets a bang out of seeing the Stooges in color, I say let 'em
enjoy themselves. My big gripe is still that it raises the price.