More On Color Separations – AVENGERS #10 and FANTASTIC FOUR #110

As a brief follow-up to the earlier post concerning the 3M cover proof, I’ve got a pair of examples to show here that may make understanding how the three primary colors were mixed to make the 64 available colors for printing back in the 1960s and 1970s. Here, I’ve got two examples where, for a portion of the print run, the film was printed in the wrong order, resulting in the wrong colors in the wrong places and unintended colors being generated through the combination of the primaries.

My first example is the rarer of the two. AVENGERS #10 was released in certain areas with the magenta and yellow plates reversed on the cover. It seems that this error was caught after a very small portion of the run had been printed, but those defective copies weren’t removed from distribution. Likely, the printer figured that Marvel would likely never find out about the error since it affected a relatively small portion of the print run.

As you can see, areas that are 100% blue such as Thor’s pants remain the same, but the darker blues of Cap’s costume and Giant-Man’s gloves change shade–the values of cyan and magenta here are reversed, giving them RB3 colored costumes. More noticeable is Iron Man’s armor, where all of the gold sections have been rendered in magenta (as have Thor’s boot-straps and even his hair.) As mistakes go, I can see why somebody might have let these books through. At first glance, it’s not readily apparent that a mistake has even been made, the cover still reads well from a distance with the exception of the big blurb, which doesn’t pop properly.

A similar example is this FANTASTIC FOUR cover from several years later. The same thing happened here, except in this instance, it’s the cyan and the magenta plates which have been switched. Copies of the miscolored version of this cover are more plentiful, indicating tat the error was discovered later in the print job than AVENGERS #10–but like the AVENGERS issue, somebody made the call to release the misprinted books out into the wild anyway.

And this one’s a lot easier to spot, as the misprinted cover is a mess. Obviously, the FF costumes go from blue to magenta, but also everything meant to be red now prints as a strong green, including the background and the logo. And poor Ben Grimm is looking more like his emerald-skinned rival, the Hulk here. Given the nature of the seance that Agatha Harkness is conducting, a casual buyer might have assumed that this was all mood lighting somehow–but those magenta FF costumes tell the story, really.

4 thoughts on “More On Color Separations – AVENGERS #10 and FANTASTIC FOUR #110

  1. In the 2nd case you mentioned “The same thing happened here, except in this instance, it’s the cyan and the magenta plates which have been switched.”. Yet going back to the first case you stated that “in certain areas with the magenta and cyan plates reversed on the cover.”. So exactly what is the difference? Found this explanation interesting – thanks! I have a error copy of FF110 but don’t remember ever seeing the Avengers #10 with mistaken color switch.


  2. I’m going from a feeble memory, but I have some sort of recollection that a lot of Marvel covers in the 60s had what appeared to be coloring errors. Nothing as extreme as major plate reversals — 100% plates I mean — but maybe, say, RB2 instead of the indicated RB3. Now that I think about it, I weakly recall Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch often being what appeared to be miscolored on covers.


  3. Great example, Tom!
    We should note, though, that the 64 colours restriction applied only to the interiors in those days.
    The glossy cover stock could take a more sophisticated printing technique with smaller dots.
    The covers used a halftone effect with graduated colours, not the 64 ‘flat’ colours of the interiors.
    That is, covers were not constrained by 25%/50%/100% tints.
    And were not coloured with the same numbered YRB system.


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