LAURA DEPUY: COLOURIST
interview with Laura DePuy by Christopher Butcher.
is the end of fame? 'Tis but to fill
A certain portion of uncertain paper."
Lord Byron. Don Juan. Stanza 218.
uncertain page hasn't been reached in the career of colourist extraordinaire
Laura DePuy. In fact, Laura is nearing the top of her game in the
industry, working on two of the most critically acclaimed books
on the stands, THE AUTHORITY and PLANETARY. Late in 1999, Laura
took on a new challenge, spearheading the colouring and colour design
of JLA: EARTH 2, an original hardcover graphic novel from DC Comics.
The book may well be the best selling comic, dollar wise, of 1999.
Working on these books, as well as being very involved in online
communities has made DePuy a name in comics, and with recognition
comes fame. But is fame all it's cracked up to be? Christopher Butcher
chats with Laura Depuy and finds out about fame, career choices,
and being Warren Ellis' "filthy assistant".
One year ago this month, you were interviewed by 'Sequential Tart'.
You had just started on AUTHORITY, and PLANETARY, for Wildstorm,
and Were helping out with a few other books like DIVINE RIGHT and
NIGHT TRIBES. What's the past year been like for you?
been a wild ride. I think I've learned more just by sharing ideas
with [Bryan] Hitch and [John] Cassaday than I had in my previous
years. It's been immensely challenging.
1999's been a big year for you, with AUTHORITY and PLANETARY being
some of the most talked about books in the industry. Not to mention
what was possibly the highest-grossing product of 1999, the JLA:
EARTH 2 HC, had your name on it as well. Do you feel you're more
think it's more like I'm more "seen" now. Not until the past year
or so has Wildstorm put the name of the colourist on the cover,
and that small change alone has made a huge difference. I'm noticing
a lot more commentary on the colour as related to the story than
I ever had before. It's very nice to be recognized for the work
that I do, to be famous is a bit much.
It's interesting, because I've found you have a very high-profile
for a colourist. People who only know the names of artists and writers
seem to know the name Laura Depuy.
and to be brutally honest, it bugs me a little. I consider colourists
like JD Smith and Brian Haberlin and Wildstorm's Tad Ehrlich and
Justin Ponsor to be the best around, among many others, but for
some reason I'm getting a lot of press. That is a cause of consternation.
very nice to be recognized for the work that I do, to be famous
is a bit much."
JD Smith, Brian Haberlin and company aren't online though... That
might make a difference.
you have an excellent point. What you and I see is mostly online
response to comics. Fans who aren't online aren't necessarily saying
the same things. Perhaps that's the discrepancy between fans' reactions
to me vs. say, Richard Isanove...? (whom I adore, by the way...)
That's interesting. Although, I have noticed it offline as well.
It's an interesting position to find yourself in.
And a little creepy. I'll have to tell a story about a store I visited
in my home town.
So a creepy homecoming story eh? To be honest, I don't think I want
that kind of fanfare. Ever.
either. :) I went in, completely unassuming, just looking for something
to read. When I was ready to leave, the owner asked if I wanted
to reserve a pull box. I said no, I live in San Diego. Another kid
piped up and said, "Are you Laura DePuy?" I was shocked.
I'd never seen the kid before.
Did he recognize you from Wildstorm's website?
He didn't say, although his mom and my mom worked together; I suspect
my mom showed a picture to him and his mom.
My mom has pictures of me on her desk. God, that's creepy... he
taking all my pictures away from my mom!!
Sounds reasonable. :) You are very active online though. What draws
you to the online environment? Or your involvement with magazines
like "Sequential Tart"?
love the community atmosphere, albeit "virtual," in online message
boards and other environments. It's exciting to find people from
all walks of life with the same interests as mine. That's how the
Tarts got started.
You could never find that sort of immediate community in your normal
walk of life, not without going to lengths to bring people together
or join groups.
I'm not much of a crowd person, so this way I can be a part of a
large group without feeling crowded. It's also a leveling ground
of sorts; no matter what your background is, you can still chat
with people you otherwise wouldn't associate with for whatever reason.
Plus, I get to help comics as a whole, and coloring as an art form,
in whatever way I can contribute.
You wrote a very scathing criticism of what you call "Verbose Writers"
in PopImage's first issue. Was that editorial written to anyone
really. Since I get comps [complementary comic copies] from DC,
I read a lot of stuff I wouldn't normally buy. That particular bad
habit is one that's been sitting wrong with me since I started reading
comics, so I decided to say something.
Has expressing your opinion in the virtual world ever negatively
impacted on your profession?
to my knowledge, although I have gotten some different opinions
of an article or two for ST. Namely the Bizarre Breasts column.
But it hasn't impacted on my professional work. Unless someone isn't
telling me something, that is. :) Speak now! I want to know!! :)
I told the Tarts, if I could wear a schoolgirl outfit, I'd Wear
pink panties too."
Speaking of controversy. You coloured this month's Sequential Tart
Isn't the controversy wonderful?! I'm having such fun reading it.
Panty colour has been debated, you know.
intended it that way. As I told the Tarts, if I could wear a schoolgirl
outfit, I'd wear pink panties too. (grin)
Have you ever come across anything in your work, something you'd
been expected to colour and you just sort of threw down your hands
and said "No!"?
A Bible story came through one time, some sort of one-shot about
Sodom and Gomorra. I refused to work on it on principle.
I don't think I've ever seen that, to be honest. How did your employer
react to that?
Wildstorm has been extremely accommodating about sensitive material.
Any time we were to work on delicate material, like swimsuit issues
with very questionable swimsuits, they always asked how we (individually
and as a group) felt about it. Almost always the response was "no
problem." (I think it takes a great deal to scare or offend a colourist).
But just that one time I had to refuse, and everyone understood.
I was never questioned about it again.
As I mentioned earlier, you worked on the hugely successful "JLA:
EARTH 2" hardcover. What was that experience like?
was both refreshing (to work over an artist I hadn't previously
worked with) and frustrating. I had far less involvement in the
book than I wanted. Between schedule conflicts and a reasonably
short deadline, the time I spent with the book was truncated.
Originally it had been scheduled to be coloured by a four-person
team. As the weeks progressed, team members got involved with other
projects and other colourists came in to work on pages. This wasn't
a bad thing but the consistency we'd strived for initially was becoming
an issue. It was all tied up nicely in the last week, with me combing
over almost every page, but I didn't feel that the credit in the
inside flap reflected the true team effort of all of Wildstorm FX.
Wendy Fouts and Matt Milla both put in astounding effort on the
project, and everyone else chipped in as well. But DC allows only
a certain number of colouring credit lines, so to my chagrin, my
name was placed above Wildstorm FX's.
Possibly due to you being "famous"?
no, I think that was more the editor's decision. He had assigned
the book to me initially, and I was the one in contact with him
throughout the process, so he put my name in.
Your work on AUTHORITY and PLANETARY was interrupted this year.
Was that due to your involvement with JLA: EARTH 2?
AUTHORITY #8 and PLANETARY #7 were reassigned to other
In retrospect, do you think taking on JLA: EARTH 2 was the right
decision for your career?
Yes. For one thing it taught me the importance of seeing a project
through to the end. Also taught me a very valuable lesson that I
can't do it all by myself, no matter how hard I try. :) As much
as I'd like to think I can color 100+ pages a month, I can't, and
I learned that the hard way with JLA: EARTH 2 and AUTHORITY
and PLANETARY colliding on the schedule. :)
Humility as a life lesson? Almost sounds like the plot to a comic
We talked briefly at San Diego this year. You mentioned that you
were thinking of leaving PLANETARY and AUTHORITY for some higher-profile
books at DC and possibly Top Cow. Was JLA EARTH 2 a part of this?
Will you be leaving these books, and possibly joining Bryan Hitch
I knew all along that I'd be leaving AUTHORITY after issue
12. It had been understood from very early on that issue 12 would
be a cutoff point for most of the creative team.
I had been considering leaving Wildstorm, but hadn't because I didn't
want to sacrifice PLANETARY or the remaining issues of AUTHORITY.
When Bryan Hitch told me about JLA, and his desire to see
me colouring it, I started considering the position of freelancer
instead of staff colourist. I'd brought up my concerns to some of
the folks at DC, who seemed very eager to keep me at Wildstorm,
and shortly after the [San Diego Comic Con], I was offered JLA:
EARTH 2. I'd already decided to stay on through AUTHORITY
#12 but this was definitely a nice project, and I appreciated the
renewed effort on DC's part. However, I will be leaving Wildstorm
to pursue that freelance career, and I will be joining Bryan and
Paul Neary on JLA, and I will continue working on PLANETARY.
So all has worked out in the end.
It was a bit sticky there for a while but I knew I couldn't and
wouldn't walk out on either book.
As far as Top Cow goes, I've always wanted to work with those guys,
but I think I have a wonderful thing with DC now and I'm quite content.
You've described some very tight deadline situations at Wildstorm,
both here and the various online forums in which you participate.
Putting in 16 hour (or longer) days. How do you find time to have
a social life, let alone be an active contributor to things like
Good one! Let's see. Up until the San Diego Con, I didn't have a
social life. But I met a very wonderful guy there and we have been
dating ever since. Luckily we see each other only on weekends, so
I can keep working my 16-hour days during the week.
I just can't work on Saturdays and Sundays anymore...which is a
Very Good Thing. As far as ST goes, my contributions have
dwindled in the last few months due to those insane deadlines. I
dislike that, and part of my decision to go freelance was so that
I could dedicate more time to articles and research than I have
Oh yeah, and I don't sleep. :)
Where do you see yourself 5 years from now? Do you have any artistic
aspirations outside of comics? Or outside of colouring for that
can barely schedule my life two months in advance, you want to know
about 5 years?! :)
I would like to explore more traditional and computer-generated
art forms, such as painting and animation and 3-D stuff. I will
most likely still be colouring something, though. It's in my blood
now. Or, technology will allow me to replace body parts with computer
components and I'll just live inside a computer, with my body on
life support...who knows? (grin)
Heh. Now THAT's a creepy way to end an interview!!
I've scared plenty of people today! I love my job!
I can just see your contract with Wildstorm; "Must disturb at least
2 people per day..."
yeah, and I've been hitting above quota for years now... :)
Oh, on a final note a friend wanted to know, does Warren call you
his filthy assistant?
dammit, he doesn't, and I would very much like to be called that...but
he does refer to me as Colour Witch, so that's OK.
can find Laura Depuy's work on AUTHORITY #12, and monthly on PLANETARY
from Wildstorm DC. Look for Laura to bring her unique coloring style
to DC's flagship title, JLA, this fall from DC Comics.
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