Creator Bill Morrison posted a set of images from the 3M color separation proofs for the cover to this 1951 issue of MILLIE THE MODEL, and so I thought they were worth showing off here. It’s relatively rare that proofs of this sort from that era turn up, and the relative simplicity of cover artist Dan DeCarlo’s artwork makes it much easier to understand how all of the individual color plates–Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black–combined to make up the final color cover. So here we are.
So here’s what the individual four color plates looked like when they were separated. At this time, comic books were limited to an overall palate of only 64 colors, those colors arrived at by mixing increments of 25%, 50% and 100% of these four primary colors (with the overall saturation never to go above 250% in total–at that point the paper would begin to buckle under all of that ink, ruining the run.)
You can begin to see how color was built up here, as we add first the yellow plate and then the magenta plate beneath the black plate that contained the linework. There isn’t a whole lot of orange on this particular cover, but the fleshtone of everybody’s face and hands is made up of a simple mix of yellow and red dots.
The film for the cover wasn’t actually in color at all, but was black and white, and photo-negative.
And viola, a printed cover!