Should daily comics be in color or black and white? Until a few years ago this wasn't even a question that was out there. Dailies were in black and white, color was for Sundays. Period.
But things have changed quite a bit in the comics business of late and, while it doesn't get nearly as much press as the "webcomic vs print comic" debate, whether or not dailies should be in color is a huge question. Many many comic artists don't like color dailies. They are a lot of extra work to produce and they can completely change the tone of a strip. They also can be seen to degrade the specialness of the color when it appears on Sunday. A lot of artists draw their comic differently when they know it is going to be in color, they may even choose jokes in which the color plays a role. This is much more difficult to do with a daily as the artists typically has no idea how many people are seeing the daily in color vs black and white.
So what has changed? Why has this issue even come up?
One of the first changes happened in print newspapers when, with a decision I assume was designed to increase readership, some of them started to print all of their comics in color everyday. I have no numbers (and would appreciate them if any of you do) as to just how many papers out there are running their daily comics in color, but our local paper was one of the first. I want to say they've been doing it for at least 5 years.
The other change was the decision by syndicates to let syndicated material run on the internet. King Features specifically included color dailies in John's contract. It is probably no coincidence that King was launching their subscription service, dailyink, at almost the same time John's contract would have been being written. I have not checked every single comic King offers online but, aside from the vintage comics, they all seem to be in color.
I have addressed some of the issues of actually creating the color for these two very different mediums of print and web in an earlier post. (Color Conundrums) So, leaving that aside, I am posting a few strips in both color and black and white for your consideration. In some of these I think the color adds a lot to the overall look of the strip. Others, not so much. I will admit that, spending as much time on these as I do, and only seeing them in color every day - both in my local paper and on the web, I am always a little shocked when I pick up a black and white comics page and see the uncolored strips. Especially anything that takes place in the lab, as I use a very specific set or backgrounds for lab strips.