Playing By Ear

I consider Mary Cagle to be my protegee.

She has interned for me, and worked on projects for me in a professional capacity. She frequently refers to me as her “comics dad.” I think that mentoring and apprenticing is a lost but important practice. I’ve had a lot of people mentor me as my career developed and I want to do the same for Mary.

I’ve always had a mental block when it came to color theory. My mind just shuts down. I lock up. I’m much more comfortable in the world of black and white with spot blacks that can anchor a page and make figures pop. For Mary this comes easily. She loves coloring. It is the dessert she dutifly swallows her vegitables to get. And I think that she has a pretty no brainer career ahead of her as a professional colorist if she wants it. Starting today she could fill up her working hours with professional coloring work. No doubt in my mind.

I hired her very recently to color a week of PvP. And she did to much fanfare. In fact the day I went back to my boring flat colors, my twitter feed was filled with comments like “Whelp! Scott’s back to coloring. boo.” And so I decided to try to mimic Mary’s colors. I’ve tried to put more time into shading figures and I’ve picked Mary’s brain and asked her to instruct me on her process.

And for the last week and a half people have been complimenting Mary for my colors. Whoops.

When I was a kid, my mother wanted me to take piano lessons so I did. But I wasn’t really interested and I hated reading sheet music. Much like color theory,I couldn’t wrap my head around it and my brain would just lock up. But I still had to perform these songs so I would ask the teacher to play them first and then mimic them. It’s called “playing by ear.”

Trust me when I tell you that I’m very much doing the same thing with my colors. I only know how to use about 2% of photoshop and Mary is educating me there. She’s teaching me some of her techniques of shading. She’s complimenting me when I do well, and sternly lecturing me when I do poorly (a good example was thurday’s strip where apparently I “went a little too far with the highlights”).

Mary, I know that people are complimenting you for colors that you think you did not work on, but believe me when I tell you that they are absolutely complimenting the right person . When it comes to color,  I am the student and you are the teacher.

But just when it comes to color.