It all started out as an innocent interview on Newsarama with Gotham Academy artist Karl Kerschl. It seems that Kerschl, the penciller on the book, along with his studio mates, developed a coloring method as complicated as the pronounciation of his last name. And while this method results in some amazing looking artwork, it seems the style on a monthly schedule may be burning out some colorists. Or at least, that's what Kerchl implied:
Kerschl: There are other colorists credited, and the reason for that is because the backgrounds take so long to do. After an issue, we quickly ran into deadline problems.
I could give you a rundown of the entire roster of colorists we have now, but all those names are, like... we're kind of going through colorists the way Spinal Tap goes through drummers. It's a really demanding job and we keep having to scramble to find people who can do that kind of work on a schedule that we need.
Nrama: So you've refined this process, but do your pencils get inked anymore?
Kerschl: I no longer have an inker. Serge is still credited on the book, but now he's credited as a colorist. I'm drawing the pages entirely. I ink myself on the characters, and I still do my own penciled backgrounds. And then what happens is I give those pages to, well, first Romain and then now, Michele Assarasakron [credited as "MSSASYK"].
She paints all the backgrounds digitally, and then uploads the files again. And then Serge does all the character colors, in a flat coloring style, because we share a studio still, so he can just show me stuff directly and we can go over any changes I might need or ideas we might have, right there in the studio.
So yeah, there have been a bunch of different people on it, like John Rauch, and Dave McCaig was doing the character colors for a couple issues. Romain did most of issue #2, and I think he did eight pages of issue #3, and it just burned him out. I think it burns out most people.
Except, that's not the whole truth, at least according to some of the colorists mentioned. Dave McCaig chimed in with a comment on the article:
Hey Vaneta, Karl got a little mixed up on some details in this interview. The coloring team (John Rauch, Romain, and I) quit Gotham Academy over rates, not over burnout or schedule.
And the discussion moved to Twitter as well, in a conversation between colorists Nathan Fairbairn and Brian Reber:
Now, I know what you're thinking - this controversy is hue-gely upsetting. We'll keep a neutral tone and assume that Kerschl simply mispoke rather than intentionally misled readers, at least until proven otherwise. These kinds of stories are rarely black and white. Hopefully, DC will do the right thing and cough up some more green so the book can continue to look as great as it does and colorists can be fairly compensated for the work that they do, rather than simply brushing it off.
We'll keep you updated as this story develops.