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“Remastering” old work – kosher or not?

by  in Comic News Comment
“Remastering” old work – kosher or not?

So BatN linked to a blog at PopCultureShock about the new version of The Killing Joke that came out last week.  For 18 bucks, you get Brian Bolland recoloring his original art.  See more below.

 

I don’t really have that much of an opinion about this.  I already own The Killing Joke, so I’m not shelling out a chunk of change for a few extras.  I certainly like the original version more, especially the Joker reveal on this page, which popped off the page in the first version but is strangely muted in the second, but it’s Bolland’s art, so he can do what he wants.

So the question becomes not whether he can do it, but should he do it?  Brian brought this up, I think, when it was revealed that DC screwed around a bit with Infinite Crisis.  Bolland didn’t change much in terms of what he drew, with the exception of dropping the yellow oval from Batman’s chest, which has some people calling it a “Greedo shoots first” moment.  I know this has been done for centuries, with artists doing several different versions of one idea (there are, what, three or four “official” versions of “The Scream”?) and going back and reworking stuff because they’re unhappy with it.  I’m not saying Bolland is doing anything revolutionary, but I always wonder if, once something has been published, creators should go back and say, “This is how I would have done it!”  I’m not even sure what the rationale for this is.  Lucas has said he couldn’t do what he wanted given the technology in 1977.  It’s a lame excuse, but at least it’s an excuse.  So could Bolland not color this in the new way 20 years ago?  Did DC stop him?  The guy who posted these calls the original “gaudy,” and maybe DC wanted something that looked, I don’t know, comic-booky.  I think that’s part of The Killing Joke‘s weird charm, personally (if you can call it that).  This new version, from what I’ve seen (at the second link are two more page-by-page comparisons), looks much flatter.  It no longer dazzles, and anything that makes Bolland’s art murkier, even if it’s coloring by the artist himself, is not a good thing.

But that’s my opinion.  What say you about “remastering” stuff?  There’s a wide spectrum of stuff that could be called “remastered,” of course, from new paper stock to new coloring to actually changing dialogue and artwork.  In the comments about those Steranko double-paged spreads, someone mentioned that modern recoloring ruined them.  So it’s not always a good thing.  I’m sure you could simply take them case by case and say sometimes it’s good and sometimes it’s not, but in general, is going back and making something “better” a good thing or not?  Let your cyber-voice be heard!

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