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A Pop of Color

Honors College Senior Pursues Her Passion for Comics
A Pop of Color

Photo by Stewart Humble. Artwork courtesy of Rob Guillory and Taylor Wells

Although Taylor Wells describes herself as a “big nerd,” most people would probably agree that her current job — doing art for an internationally-acclaimed comic book series — is really, really cool. 

The 21-year-old Honors College painting and drawing senior, is the color assistant for “Chew,” an Eisner Award-winning comic book series written by John Layman and illustrated by Rob Guillory. “Chew,” which tells the story of a federal agent who solves crimes by getting psychic impressions from the things he eats, was named to IGN's Best Indie Series of 2009 list, has been featured in The New York Times, and a “Chew” Showtime TV series is currently in the works.

So for those of you who aren’t familiar with the comics world — it’s kind of a big deal. 

“Not many people know about my job; I don’t really brag about it,” she said.

Wells, a Mandeville native, said she got the job a year ago through serendipity.

“I draw a lot, and I look at other comic book artists for inspiration,” she said. “One of my favorite artists is Rob Guillory [of “Chew”], who lives in Lafayette. The fact that he lives nearby makes it seem like we have a connection. So I wrote him an email, saying, ‘I want to draw comics and I love what you do.’ I sent him some fan art, because people love that stuff … He wrote back and told me he really liked my stuff and he especially liked my colors — I have a very subdued palate — and it was a really, really cool experience.”

A month later, Wells got another email from Guillory, saying that his old color assistant left and asking if she would be interested in the job. 

“He remembered my stuff, and he’s like, ‘Do you want to do a test page and possibly work for me?’” she said. “Of course I’m going to say yes!”

"Chew" artwork

In comics,  the job of colorists and color assistants is to add color to the black-and-white line art, usually through digital media. Although the writers and pencil artists get most of the recognition, color is what truly makes the comic come to life. 

Chew artwork 2

“[Rob] sends me the line art, which is just the part he draws in inks. And then there’s the flat colors, which are just the very basic colors — there’s no shading, lighting, gradation, volume. He also sends me rough approximations of where he wants dark — it’s very rough,” she said. “I then take that and clean it up, add color to the dark so that the shadows aren’t one monotonous color, then I put in lighting and add filters, which colorize it a bit.”

Wells’ attributes her proficiency as a color assistant to the fact that she has been dabbling in digital art since she was twelve years old.  She started creating her works of art in Microsoft Paint before eventually upgrading to Photoshop with the help of her parents, who she describes as being very supportive of her career goals. 

They think it’s pretty cool,” she said. “My parents were actually very worried so the fact that I’m still in college and I have this job is really funny … My mom’s a writer, [and] when I was born she told herself, ‘I want my baby to follow her dreams, so I have to follow my own dreams first.’”

Wells’ mother is Robin Wells, a successful romance novelist who has written over a dozen titles.  Wells said that seeing her mother succeed as a writer has inspired her to follow her own artistic dreams of someday creating her own comic. 

“Being raised in the household with an author, I developed an appreciation for storytelling,” she said. “[With comics,] it’s art and it’s storytelling. I love both, so it seems like hopefully the best medium.” 

 

Story by Elizabeth Clausen, LSU Honors College

For more information, contact the Honors College at 225-578-8831.