Color(ing) Gate


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Comic books have traditionally had issues with diversity, primarily having he-men white males as their protagonists.  Some work has been done in attempts to diversify, but absolutely more can be done.  This sore subject and the debate about diversity has ignited again over a coloring mistake.  DC Comics is the focus now due to their Free Comic Book Day Green Lantern give-away which also featured a preview of Flashpoint.  In the Free Comic Book Day version of the comic the below panel appeared.

The Flash Free Comic Book Day

Notice the white blond woman to the far right.  Below is the corrected version that appeared in the USA Today.

The Flash USA Today

Notice anything different? (Que “One of these things is not like the other”)

The character in question is supposed to be Jenni Ognats, the mixed-race character known as XS, granddaughter of Barry Allen.  According to Newsarama the colorist merely believed it was Jesse Quick, another DC character in the Flash family.

This has rankled some including the blog DC Women Kicking Ass which has covered in depth the issue of diversity in comics.  They’ve run two articles you can read here and here and hint at greater conspiracy.

Mistakes are made, often.  Sometimes in coloring, lettering and often continuity.  Sometimes a mistake is a mistake, nothing more.  I agree there’s not enough diversity in comics, but aren’t there times you just point out the goof and chalk it up to a mistake?  Mistakes happen, but to pile on and claim conspiracy/racism/whatever is a bit overboard in my mind.

3 comments

  • I never said this was a conspiracy. But let’s look at the facts which I’ve outlined.

    DC has long had a problem with race and diversity.

    Last week they shipped a comic where a character that has been depicted for than 15 years as a Women of Color was depicted as a white, blonde woman.

    Clearly it was mistake.

    But, this is not the same as miscoloring an outfit.

    It is indicative of how much attention is played to race.

    The colorist made a mistake. But why? The reason they’ve given is that the colorist thought she was Jesse Quick. You might note that Jesse Quick is also in the picture so I’m not sure why they thought the same character was there twice.

    The editor made a mistake in not catching this. Why?

    Not because they are racists.

    Not that DC is racist.

    Not that there is a “conspiracy”

    But because the default for superheroes is white making the assumption that she would be white easy.

    This attitude is the problem. This lack of diversity is the problem.

    So mistake or not it was made because of assumptions combined by inattentive editing.

    Nobody cared enough to make sure a women of color wasn’t made into a blonde, white woman.

    If it were a one time thing for DC and they didn’t already have diversity issues you could hand wave it

    But it is not. I gave examples. There are plenty more.

    They simply need to care more.

    • You’ve described lazy editing…. I don’t think this is indicative of the larger issue of the lack of diversity. It is an example of sloppiness.

  • Sure it was sloppy editing. But making the color of someone’s costume wrong is one kind of sloppy. When you are an editor at a comic company that has already been called out on diversity, sloppiness that changes a character’s race says something about how important race is in the scheme of things. Those before and after pictures are painful. Nobody cared enough to make sure it didn’t happen.