1. Use your animated masked graphic and use it as a track matte for any source of colors or animations you like. It can be anything.
2. You can use blend modes to isolate your text and then use mask paths and stroke to reveal it.
I'd suggest you go through the getting started materials if you haven't yet. Blend modes (like multiply) and Track Mattes are just two of the basic tool set you should have before attempting much of anything in AE.
Here's how to set up a scanned image or photo of some text to animate using stroke. The original image is at the top in the footage window. The comp shows a stroke apaplied to the image selecting reveall original and showing the mask path. The background is just a white solid but it could be anything. Multiply will cancel out all of the white in the original image. Enjoy:
Here's a CS6 Project you can take a look at.
Rick.... thanks so much for your reponse and help so far.
I'm headed to the getting started materials.