An Interview with color artist Tom Smith


Promo poster for 2099 with colors by Tom Smith

How did you first become involved with 2099

Tom: I was hired by Marvel to color it before the line even started. I worked on promo art for the series, I colored the very first 2099 art! The promo poster for all the 2099 series' drawn by Pat Broderick. That was used for everything including a counter top display, covers for Previews and small hand out mini promo posters. The original color art is framed and mounted on my wall at home. It is for sale if anyone interested...hint, hint :)

I did 3 posters for X-Men 2099, a display lite box art, a hanging mobile for X-Men 2099. Lot’s of cool color stuff :).

As a colorist, how closely do you work with the rest of the artistic team?

Tom: Most of the time not very closely in those days but now with the event of computer color and the Internet that has all changed. I even designed the colors for the X-Men 2099 and Hulk 2099 and got a special design fee for that by Marvel at the time. That did not happen very often at the time. X Men 2009 colors are all me :)

Ron Lim is a great artist and a really nice guy and I really enjoy working with him any time I get the chance to.



At what part of the assembly line of comics does the colorist come in?

Tom: We are the last guys to get the pages so we have to turn them over pretty quickly. We have to be good and fast to meet a deadline.

What recollections do you have about working on Hulk 2099 and X-Men 2099?

Tom: FUN! We had fun! Creating a whole Universe from the bottom up. And that fun lasted 3 years. I also colored the first cover of Spider-Man 2099 too! Those were the days!

In the case of X-Men 2099, where you were dealing with all new characters, when and how is it decided what colors to use for characters? Are they colored at a design stage, or is it when you get the pages of the story?

Tom: As I stated above Ron designed the characters but I designed the color scheme and costume colors for everything in X-Men 2099. Ron and Joey C “the editor” had input but they pretty much let me be and I could do whatever I wanted :) Other characters like Halloween Jack and La Lunatica I designed color as the issues came up. Hulk 2099 was the same.

In the case of Hulk 2099 which you also colored, was there ever any thought to making him a different color besides green?

Tom: Never...The Hulk is Green and all the reincarnations should be too in my opinion. Red Hulk INDEED ! BAH !

Were there any challenges unique to working on the 2099 books as opposed to others you have worked on?

Tom: It was a blast and very easy. I could do no wrong and was allowed to play. That is a blessing and the best way to work. Ron Lim told me he would have stayed on X-Men 2099 until issue 100 and beat Kirby’s record on FF if Marvel had let him and I would have stayed too.

At the end...for some reason Marvel thought moving Ron over to Spider-Man 2099 might improve sales on that title and took him off X-Men 2099 . A sad day :(    I stayed on for a few more issues that were drawn by Jan Duursema before The EIC decided to kill the whole line. Politics I hate them.

It was a magical fun time those 3 years and I miss my X-Men 2099.

Do you have a favorite issue, cover, or character of the 2099 work that you did?

Tom: Issue #1 of X-Men 2099. Or the one were they meet the real X-Men. Hulk 2009 was cool, but Halloween Jack...he was my favorite! Cover...X-Men 2099 #20, that was the first cover I colored digitally for Marvel.


Did you use computer coloring on any of the 2099 books? Could you talk a bit about how computer coloring was done in those early days?

Tom: I did just one or two covers for X-Men 2099. In those days the colorists hand colored Xerox color guides and put all the codes on them. Those were given to a color separation house in Ireland and they did the separations following the colors on the guides. On computer that is.

It was not until 1996 that Marvel let the colorists do their own computer color and separations. I was working on Avengers at the time and my first whole issue of computer color & seps was Avengers #31, I think.

How has current digital technology changed your work?

Tom: You still need an artist to do it but it has made the comics look better and brought comic coloring to a new level.

I just had the chance to recolor by computer the first cover to X-Men 2099 again for a trade collecting the series by Marvel. After 15 years to color it again for a second time, but this time using state of the art computer coloring. How cool is that ? :)

For me I was lucky I was already working with computers at the time when Marvel fired all the guide colorists in one black day back in the 90's. If you did not color on computer you were gone overnight. All those classic colorists gone


Do you recall coloring anything that didn't see print?

Tom: I can not remember anything that was left behind when 2099 died. I do not know of anything I did that was left unused at some point. May be just the design guides for the colors, but I sold them long ago.

To see more of my 25 years of color work, “even some 2099 art,” check out my web site gallery at:

I also sell prints of my work there as well as my original art and color art. Also color re-creations of any of my work on X-Men 2099 or any other project I ever did.   :)


2099 LIVES !!!!!!!




Questions or Comments? Email me.