Creating Abbott’s “dark dimension” with colorist Jason Wordie
Image credit: Taj Tenfold
BOOM!’s Abbott is a supernatural thriller, an old-fashioned newspaper detective story, and a post-facto time capsule of 70’s Detroit, all rolled into one. A huge part of fleshing out all of those faces is colorist Jason Wordie, whose work moves seamlessly from role to role as the story unfolds. I sent Jason a few questions about his process on Abbott, and he was good enough to answer them. Our conversation is below.
Brian Warshaw: Have you worked with Sami before Abbott?
Jason Wordie: This was my first time working with Sami, but I'd love to work with him again. The whole team, for that matter. Everyone did an incredible job!
BW: For me, your color on the book almost single-handedly accomplishes setting the book in the right place in time. It looks like the 70‘s, if that makes sense. But I can’t articulate why. Can you shed some light on what I think I’m seeing?
JW: I wanted to capture the same feeling you get when you watch a movie from the 70's like Mean Streets or The French Connection. There always seems to be a certain grittiness to them. Everything has this drab, lived-in look to it. A few years back, I got really into watching Columbo, so I think a lot of my color choices were influenced by that, as well.
BW: I think maybe the relative flatness of it is part of what I’m seeing. Sami’s lines remind me a bit of John Paul Leon—they’re nice and thick and inky. Your color here is, as I said, flattish, but there’s still some nuance—more than what I see in John Paul’s recent work with Kurt Busiek. How do you decide what level of detail is appropriate in the color, particularly when we’re talking about such subtle degrees?
JW: Sami's lines already do such a great job of clearly conveying what is happening, that it wasn't really necessary for me to do much rendering—although I usually still try to convey a sense of the lighting by building up layers of texture. And if there's something that I want to draw particular attention to, I might add in some extra detail.
BW: The swirls of color that come in with the supernatural elements—it’s perfect. They are as much an intrusion on the bleaker, simpler color in the rest of the book as the supernatural elements are on the cold, hard reality of Detroit. How did you approach this? In particular, how did you add this intense blooming of color without breaking the visual identity of the book?
JW: I really wanted to make sure that the supernatural elements stood out—that they felt alive. I wanted it to feel as if there's this whole dark dimension just waiting to burst out. Sami was already leaning into this idea with his inks, which in the supernatural sequences are looser—and there are even some ink washes thrown in. I went for a watercolor look for these pages, almost like the supernatural elements were pouring out onto the page and intruding into the real world. For that to work, the rest of the book had to be grounded in reality.
BW: What else are you working on besides Abbott?
JW: I'm currently working on Wasted Space, Ursus, Penny Dreadful and Grafity's Wall. Plus, I have a few upcoming projects that I can't talk about just yet.
My thanks to Jason for taking time out from making comics to talk about his process on Abbott. It’s such a great book, and with this interview, we’ve now had the opportunity to talk with most of the team (I’m looking at you, Jim Campbell). Be sure to check out those interviews, as well!