Coloring the Sunday Comics

Post Updated November 30, 2014.

As some of you are well aware, I’ve been a colorist for King Features since the late eighties. When I first started out I was on staff at King – part of the King Features Comic Art Department.

Jim Keefe - Portrait of a young colorist.

Jim Keefe – Portrait of a young colorist.

For those interested, here’s the process…

Vertis Communnications down in Irving, Texas does the color separations, so my job is to provide them with a color guide.

Here’s the color palette I use.

Using watercolor, I color the black and white art and then put in the color indications using the numbers from the color palette. The actual watercolors don’t have to be exact. That’s what the numbering is for, so there’s no mistake regarding what the exact color I intended should be.

Color guide for Blondie 7/1/2012.

And here’s what the finished version looks like.

Blondie 7/1/2012

It’s a very conscious decision to keep the coloring simple and not over render so the color is not competing with the clean line of the artwork. Here’s some more examples of my work…

Beetle 6/10/2012

Popeye 7/22/2012

Hagar 7/1/2012


And for those interested, King Features’ comics are available through subscription at


A yearlong subscription to all of King Features’ comics (new and vintage) plus two years worth of archives for every single strip is a pittance at $19.99 a year. Unsure? Try a 7 day trial subscription for free.

All for now – see you in the funny papers…

About Jim Keefe

Jim Keefe is the current artist of the Sally Forth comic strip, he is also the writer and artist of the Flash Gordon comic strip - both available at A graduate of the Joe Kubert School, Keefe likewise teaches Comic Art. Teaching and speaking engagements include SVA in Manhattan, Hofstra’s UCCE Youth Programs, The University of Minnesota and most recently the Minneapolis College of Art and Design.
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