However, there was one surprising and amazing manga-related find at APE, which I was alerted to by Dash Shaw. Groundbreaking and mayoral comics colorist Steve Oliff had a table, and was selling the the majority of the 2000+ original color guides for the Epic color edition of AKIRA. Each page was reasonably cheap ($30) and lush, with the extra importance of having been one of the first ever uses of computer coloring for comics.
For this process (as I understand it), Steve hand-colored each large xerox of the original B&W page using markers, colored pencils, airbrushing, felt pens, and gouache; This work was done in conjunction with guidance and approval from Otomo himself. The color guides were then used by their company Olyoptics as guides for computer color separation.
I had first really learned properly about all of Oliff's work from this interview by Frank Santoro at Comics Comics blog. Steve also wrote a fascinating essay about the experience working on the color edition of AKIRA. From that essay:
About this time, I was given 4 pages to color as a test for a big series. Something called Akira from Japan, written and drawn by Katsuhiro Otomo. Comics in Japan are black and white, but for the English translation they wanted it to be in color. I'd never heard of Akira, but I decided to pull out all the stops on my color test. It was great art and good paper, so I used every trick I had. Airbrush, colored pantone film, colored pencil, rich saturated felt pens, paint, everything I could think of. I don't know what the other colorists' samples looked like, but I know they couldn't have looked anything like mine. Needless to say, I got the job. They flew me to New York to meet the artist and his editor. On the flight east I looked at the pictures in the two collected volumes of Akira that my friend Ken Macklin had loaned me. Parts of it had been translated by a friend of Ken's, but not much. I met with Archie Goodwin, Otomo (the artist/writer) and Yuri-san (Otomo's editor), and we talked about color styles, then we went to get sushi and drink beer.
I picked up two of the original pages, but I saw dozens and dozens of remarkable and beautiful others that I wanted. Not only were the pages stunning and rad, they also represent a major leap forward made in the 80s in the history of manga publication in English.
Here are the pages I snagged:
And the other page:
I know Dash, Anthony, and Aaron all bought pages as well, so I'll post those if they happen to send photos along too.
UPDATE! Dash posted the two (awesome!) color guides he bought at APE; Scenes of Kaneda inside the hospital, and more pink beams of destruction from space! Check 'em out here on Comics Comics Blog.
UPDATE 2! Our buddy Aaron Mew also posted a picture of the coloring guide be bought at APE. It's a bit more fleshy and less explosive, really amazing. Check it out HERE.