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Marissa Louise: Colorist Extraordinaire

Updated: Jan 24, 2020

Marissa Louise has been coloring in the comic book industry for over years. Coming from a background in fine arts, she is one of the most gifted artist in the medium. Her range from bright YA magic comics (SPELL ON WHEELS) to darker books such (HEX WIVES and ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK) make her one of the most versatile colorists working in comics.

Her work on the newly launched FAIRLADY, blew me away and instantly made me a fan. True fans of the comic book medium know how essential a colorist is to a book. They help set the mood with their darker tones and bright colors. With the leaps and bounds that technology has taken, color artists have been churning out some of the most exquisite and mind blowing work that has ever been seen in comics. 

Marissa is currently working on HEX WIVES (Vertigo/DC), FAIRLADY (Image), GRUMBLE (Albatross) and much more. To follow her work you can find her on Twitter (@marissadraws).

COMIC LOUNGE: When did your love for the comic book medium begin?

MARISSA LOUISE: I've been reading comics since around 1988, I think. It's hard for me to get an exact date because I was really young. I pretty enthusiastic about any form of media and it's potential. But comics has a lot of special characteristics, like the way time works in it, that makes it extra special.

CL: What prompted you to start a career in comics?

ML: I went to school for art and wanted to make art for a living. I bounced around a lot of different careers until I landed, fortunately, in comics. Had I known coloring was a field earlier I certainly would have started earlier!

CL: What about coloring drew you to that side of the business?

ML: As I mentioned I went to school for art, specifically for painting. I think painters are drawn to the nuance of light and color. The way different colors vibrate together or the way light breaks over different surfaces or create different moods really excites me. I love that I get to work with that all the time with coloring!

CL: Coloring, in my opinion, is one of the most essential parts of a comic. It sets the mood in ways you can't do with a black and white book. How do you approach each book when deciding the color palette for specific scenes?

ML: Like you mentioned, I try to set the mood and guide the eye. When I'm trying to figure out palettes I think of what has evoked that emotion from me in the past. My work is best when I get a lot of time to stare out of the window or walk some where and observe light and color.  Some general rules are, if things are meant to be more exciting I increase the hue contrast. If they are meant to be calmer I'll do more analogous colors. If they are meant to stark I like to do analogous accented. When I have free time I just mess around putting different colors together and see what can happen. I also read Art Forum and look at a lot of art.

CL: What tools do you primarily use for your work?

ML: I use photoshop, it has all the production end of things I need and it has the art tools I need.

CL: Are there any other mediums you like to work in?

ML: I was trained in oil painting and I absolutely love it! But it's hard to set up a studio for oil painting if you aren't doing it regularly. I also love gouache! It's a great medium to experiment with. I'm teaching myself watercolor. 

CL: Do you have any desire to do anything else in comics, such as penciling or writing?

ML: I have a few short stories I want to make, but outside of that I wouldn't want to do any of those things for a career. None of that excites me the way light does. 

CL: I discovered you work for the first time on FAIRLADY. The color palettes you used were amazing. Are there any books you're currently working on that you can talk about or tease?

ML: Sure! One of my favorite things to work on right now is GRUMBLE. It's put out through Albatross. We had a cross over with Goon on free comic book day. INVASION FROM PLANET WRESTLETOPIA was picked up by Starburns, so they will be putting that out now. It was really exciting to get to color Goon! I think Stranger Things was just announced. I have a few books I can't talk about yet. 

CL: Are there any dream projects that you would like to work on?

ML: I like to treat every project like a dream project and find the exciting things about that project! Everything

has something special and I try to draw that out.

CL: What does being an artist mean to you?

ML: I think art has incredible power to touch people's hearts. I do my best to do that!

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