Sunday, May 27, 2012

Jack Adler (1918-2011): Father of the Grey Tone Cover

by Don Mangus, Heritage Auctions, newletter, 2011

After a lengthy illness, DC production legend Jack Adler has passed away.

Adler began his outstanding career working on the color separations for the Prince Valiant feature as well as other syndicated Sunday comic strips. In 1947 he took on production and coloring assignments exclusively for the National/DC line.

In the Fifties, Adler became the "father" of the celebrated greytone cover process for DC. The process was called "washtone" by Adler, who created a separate wash on three or more overlays for each color to be printed over the "base" grey tone art. When the comics were printed with the four-color presses, Adler's washes were thus printed over the artist's base painting or drawing, giving the covers their distinct three-dimensional quality, different from, say a Gold Key or Dell painted cover.

Adler also invented a special photographic process for removing the printed color benday dots of a printed comic book story, leaving only the black line art for clean reprints. Unfortunately, the process was deemed too expensive by DC's publishers.

Adler's career was outlined in the Amazing World of DC Comics #10, and he was interviewed by Jim Amash in Alter Ego #56. After some industry controversy, Jack Adler retired from DC in 1981. Our best wishes go out to his family, friends, and fans. Meanwhile his legacy is on view, in the pages of the comics.

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