This post is going to wind up being virtually identical to the one I did a few years back on the 3M to the cover of FANTASTIC FOUR ANNUAL #5, but as I came across a similar 3M for FANTASTIC FOUR #63 in the wild, I thought it was still worth sharing with everybody here. For those who don’t know, 3Ms, or Progressive Proofs, were what were provided to Marvel by the printer before a given cover ran on teh press, to make sure that everything was on teh up and up. They were comprised of a stack of four acetate sheets, one for each of the colors involved in printing four-color: magenta, cyan, yellow and black. By lifting the assorted layers, you could see the individual color separations for that particular color (or a stack of colors with certain elements missing,
So to start with, here are the four component plates. Looking at these, I have a feeling that this wasn’t the film for the original printing of the book, but for some later separation, possibly the one that ran in the MARVEL MASTERWORKS edition (though 3M proofs weren’t typically provided for those–so it’s a bit of a mystery.) As you can see here, the black background was underprinted with yellow. This would have been done to give the black field a richness and a thickness of ink that you couldn’t achieve with just black alone. Occasionally in older comics, you can look at the black areas and see areas where the colors extend underneath them a little bit. That’s because the underprinting only went to just beyond the edges of the black in those cases, and so the bulk of the black was a thinner black on the page. Secrets behind the comics!
Combinations of first the yellow and magenta plates, and then all three color plates sans the black.
And the whole magilla put together.