Anthony Tollin writes:
Adrienne Roy, whose colorful storytelling was a fixture throughout two decades of Batman and other DC comics, died Dec. 14, 2010, after a yearlong battle with ovarian cancer.
The premier DC colorist during the 1970s provided dramatic coloring and storytelling for nearly all of the company’s titles but is best remembered for her 15-year, 189-issue run on Batman; her 16-year, 202-issue run on Detective Comics; and a 14-year tenure on The New Teen Titans, plus many years coloring other Bat-titles including Brave and the Bold, Robin, Batman and the Outsiders, Gotham Knights, and Shadow of the Bat.
Though her initial Bat-assignments were for Editor Julius Schwartz, she was recruited to color the entire Batman line by Editor (later DC President and Publisher) Paul Levitz, who said, “Adrienne combined the ability of a set designer to create beauty with the ability of a lighting designer to create drama and storytelling focus, and wrapped it in a sweet professionalism. No wonder we editors chose her again and again, keeping her on favorite titles like Batman literally for decades.”
Adrienne’s coloring enhanced the art of many artists, from such Golden and Silver Age legends as Jack Kirby, Irv Novick, Gene Colan, and Curt Swan to such modern-day artists as George Pérez, Jim Aparo, Don Newton, Keith Giffen, and Todd McFarlane.
The Verona, N.J., native was a veteran of science fiction, comics, Star Trek, and horror-film conventions and was one of the first female comics fans to break into the ranks of New York comics professionals. After marrying me and moving to Manhattan, she briefly assisted me on my other work (while I was on DC’s staff) before she was recruited for solo assignments by DC Vice President/Production Manager Jack Adler, who recognized by her third story that she would soon be “DC’s best colorist.” Under the tutelage of Adler and DC President Sol Harrison, Adrienne quickly moved into the ranks of DC’s top freelancers, with continuing assignments on a variety of titles including Superman, Green Lantern, All-Star Comics, G.I. Combat, House of Mystery, and Batman Family. She was also the regular colorist on DC’s World’s Greatest Super-Heroes and Batman syndicated newspaper strips.
“For more than a decade, it seemed as if Adrienne Roy was coloring virtually every DC comic,” recalled inker and comics historian Jim Amash, “but in truth she was only coloring most of the top sellers, the titles that everyone was reading!” Adrienne was the only DC freelancer with her own desk in the company’s Manhattan offices and was the first colorist signed by DC to exclusive, multi-year employment contracts.
Equally adept at super-hero, humor, war, and mystery-horror storytelling, Adrienne was a fixture on Mike Grell’s Warlord and Marv Wolfman and George Pérez’ New Teen Titans.
She quickly developed a special affinity for Batman after becoming regular colorist of Detective Comics in 1978. Later, as a new wave of Batmania accompanied the release of Tim Burton’s Batman films and an animated TV series, the single constant fixture on the Batman comics titles was Adrienne Roy, whose tenure as regular Bat-colorist continued through six editors and dozens of creative Bat-teams, totaling more than 600 Batman family comics including the “Death of Robin” and “Knightfall” storylines. Her byline has appeared on more Batman credits than anyone else except creator Bob Kane, a record that is unlikely ever to be equaled. “Adrienne made it easy to take her for granted because she was quiet, pleasant, reliable — never any fuss with her — and her work was always exemplary,” former Batman Editor Dennis O’Neil said. “It’s only in retrospect that I realize what a blessing she was to my editing.”
In addition to her own DC assignments, Adrienne co-colored many other DC series including Crisis on Infinite Earths, Justice League of America, Infinity, Inc., Flash Gordon, The Phantom, Doc Savage, The Shadow Strikes!, and Ragman with me, along with the U.S. Army’s P.S. Magazine (“The Preventive Maintenance Monthly”) and National Lampoon comic strips. She also painted several LP album covers.
A magna cum laude fine art graduate of William Patterson University, Adrienne was an early female pioneer in the world of tattooing and body art, voted “Most Beautifully Tattooed Female” at the 1982 National Tattoo Convention and featured as the centerfold in the debut issue of Tattoo magazine.
“Adrienne was the personification of color, professionally and personally,” said former Batman Assistant Editor Jordan B. Gorfinkel. “She was talented. She was ebullient. Even her hair color and of course her tattoos were colorful. And there was her smile, so generous and genuine that I can picture it in my memory as if she were in front of me right now. In every way, she made four colors into an infinite rainbow.”
After Adrienne and I separated, she lived her final years in Austin, Texas, and is survived by her daughter, Katrina Tollin of Austin, Texas; brother Normand Roy of Montclair, N.J.; and more than 50,000 pages of colorful comic-book storytelling.
Donations in Adrienne’s name may be made to The Hero Initiative (www.heroinitiative.org), a tax-deductible charity supporting veteran comics professionals through hard times.