PopCultHQ is kicking off 2018 in a new way. Each month, we’ll be selecting Comic Book Creators of the Month and interview them for a spotlight article. For May 2018’s Colorist of the Month, we chose Dee Cunniffe.
Over the last seven years, colorist/flatter Dee Cunniffe has made quite the name for himself in the comic book community. You can find his hand on projects featuring such top-name writers as Donny Cates, Eliot Rahal, Lonnie Nadler, Zac Thompson, Brian K. Vaughan, Kieron Gillen, Andi Ewington, Frank Tieri, and many others, Dee has also worked alongside artists such as Lee Loughridge, Matt Wilson, Dave McCaig, Dave Stewart, Len O’Grady, Geoff Shaw, Taylor Esposito, Clayton Cowles, Lisandro Estherren, Aditya Bidikar, and a whole lot more!
If that’s not impressive enough, he’s been featured all across the indie scene, having worked with Image Comics, Dark Horse Comics, 451 Media, AfterShock Comics, Black Mask Studios, IDW Publishing, Vault Comics, BOOM! Studios, 451 Media, Alterna Comics, Heavy Metal, and others.
Currently, you can find Dee’s talent spread across a number of titles and publishers: Cult Classic: Return To Whisper and Reactor from Vault, Sonitus from Alterna, Her Infernal Descent at AfterShock, Punks Not Dead at IDW, and the upcoming Dark Horse release of The Paybacks TPB Plus Dee contributed to a couple of the stories collected in the upcoming release of the highly-anticipated WHERE WE LIVE Anthology from Image Comics, the comic book industry’s response to the tragic Las Vegas mass shooting.
We at PopCultHQ are honored to feature Dee Cunniffe as our Colorist of the Month. So sit back, relax, and hear our interview with Dee as he explains his love for comic books, the style he employs when coloring an issue, and how simply working another day in the comic book industry isthe humble creator appreciates every day working in the industry.
PopCultHQ Spotlight Interview
Colorist of the Month – May 2018:
PopCultHQ: How did comic books influence your childhood? What was the defining moment in your life that you knew, from then on, that you wanted to create comic books for a living?
Dee Cunniffe: Comics have always been part of my life. I think some of my formative comic reading was in the early 80s, when I was about 5 or 6, and a friend of the family who used to babysit me had a stack of Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers and Howard the Duck books. They went right over my head but because they were American books and were so different to the Beano, Dandy and Beezer comics I’d previously read they impacted me greatly. I read all the comics that were easily available in 80s Ireland; MAD, Battle, Action, 2000AD and the occasional US comic that unexpectedly turned up. The late 80s/early 90s were my golden years – Swamp Thing, TMNT, Marshall Law, Sandman, Hellblazer – I read them all.
I had it in the back of mind in 1993 that my biggest dream would be to work on a book by Neil Gaiman, but had no idea how to make it happen in a pre-internet world. I studied graphic design in college and ended up working in publishing and advertising, but I was still playing around coloring comics in photoshop for fun. It wasn’t until 2011 when I started thinking about getting out of advertising and trying to get into comics. I started flatting for another Irish colorist Len O’Grady, which allowed me to build up some skills and a portfolio. I sat down and made of a list of all the best colorists in the world and all my favourite books and set about politely emailing around and seeing if anyone needed a flatter. I ended up making some great connections and started getting lots of work with Lee Loughridge, Matt Wilson, Dave McCaig and a bunch of other amazing colorists.
My part-time flatting of a couple of pages a day started turning into 10 pages a day and I had to make the decision whether or not to take this up full-time. The decision was made for me when I saw that Sandman Overture was slated to come out. I emailed Dave Stewart and explained how much it would mean to me help out on the book. When Dave agreed to have me on board to flat the book I handed in my notice straight away! So the book that most influenced me as a teenager was my big entrance into working full-time comics.
Dee’s work in Heavy Metal’s INTERCEPTOR
PopCultHQ: What has been your proudest achievement in this business?
Dee Cunniffe: Everyday that I get to work in comics is another proud achievement. Every page I finish, every book I finish, every new creator I make friends with. Everyday is an achievement.
PopCultHQ: Your work has been featured across a ton of indie publishers, such as IDW, Image Comics, Dark Horse Comics, Vault Comics, BOOM! Studios, AfterShock Comics, Black Mask Studios, 451 Media, Alterna Comics, Heavy Metal, and more! What do you enjoy the most about the indie comic book scene?
Dee Cunniffe: I don’t see much difference between any of these publishers and the Big 2, apart from maybe the page rates and deadlines – I think non-big 2 publishers are a little more flexible with deadlines. I’ve never colored a Big 2 book, but I’ve flatted thousands of pages and I know their deadlines are really tight.
PopCultHQ: What is the most challenging aspect for you when it comes to coloring a comic book?
Dee Cunniffe: I think the challenge in every book is finding the right style, both in terms of color choice and rendering style. Every book is different and it takes a few pages to really figure out the nuts and bolts of the thing. I have a general feeling for how I want to approach a book based on the artist – trying to find the complimentary coloring style for the art. I usually have a few set rules in my head at the start of a project, but these rules usually get tossed out a couple of pages in. I try to jump around doing different scenes in different order so that my change in thought process doesn’t show as a linear progression from start to finish of the book. I’ve started some books and ended up in a slightly different approach by the time I finish it so I don’t want page 20 to be hugely different from page 1.
Dee’s work in Image Comics’ REDNECK
PopCultHQ: What has been the most important and/or valuable piece of advice you’ve received as a creator in the comic book industry?
Dee Cunniffe: I’ve never been offered one specific word of advice, but I’m surrounded by a marvelous bunch of people who constantly inspire and nurture me. My main man Matt Wilson is always on hand to offer words of advice or critique my work and I’ve a great support network of my peers who are always on hand to help out both creatively and emotionally.
PopCultHQ: On top of Cult Classic: Return To Whisper, Sonitus, Her Infernal Descent, Punks Not Dead, and Reactor, what’s on tap in 2018 for Dee Cunniffe? Any conventions and signing appearances lined up? Other projects which you can discuss?
Dee Cunniffe: I did a couple of stories in the upcoming Where We Live anthology that I’m really excited about. Her Infernal Descent from Aftershock is on issue #2 now – it’s a really interesting project and I’m really getting to stretch my color muscles on it. There’s lots new stuff on the horizon, books in the pitching process, books that are unannounced – all will be revealed.
I don’t do many cons, I guess there’s not many invites for colorists, but I’m super looking forward to being a guest at NICE (https://nicecon.co.uk/) in September where I can finally get to meet Donny Cates whom I’ve worked on some amazing projects with over the last few years. I’m also a guest at ComicCity in Derry at the end of October. I’ll also probably make the annual pilgrimage to Thoughtbubble in Leeds – it really is my favorite event of the year.
Dee’s work in Black Mask Studios’ THE DREGS
PopCultHQ: If you had the power or ability to make one change in the comic book community or industry, what would it be?
Dee Cunniffe: I think, more than anything, I’d like to see a change in attitude of a certain branch of comic fandom – that particular brand of fan who think comics only exist for them and that any change to what they perceive as the norm is bad and they last out. I’ve not had any personal attacks by these people but I see them dog piling on friends of mine and it hurts to see that happen.
PopCultHQ: Which artist’s work are you currently following/reading/collecting?
Dee Cunniffe: I’m a huge fan of Geoff Shaw, he has a fantastic flow and dynamism to his pages. God Country was spectacular, and Thanos was great too. I also had the pleasure of coloring his inks on The Paybacks Vol 2, which will be out in a collected edition from Dark Horse soon.
Gallery of just some of the issues of which Dee Cunniffe’s colors are featured!
Special thanks to Dee for making time to speak with PopCultHQ
and for being our Colorist of the Month for May 2018.
Be sure to follow Dee online for
all the latest from the talented creator!
Colorist – Dee Cunniffe