web color chart

The broad range of possible Web colors displayed in a chart.

Cartoonist Ronald Wimberly, who has completed some works for the Marvel comics universe, recently posted a short comic on The Nib at Medium which tackles the issue of race as it relates to his profession.

Wimberly describes a situation where he had drawn a character named Melita Garner — a reporter who is also Wolverine’s “X-girlfriend.” The comic database Comic Vine describes Garner as having a Mexican father and an African-American mother. For that reason, Wimberly drew her skin color as a shade of brown that, shown in hex Web color, is equivalent to #c39e73.

After submitting the copy, Wimberly’s editor asked him to lighten Garner’s skin tone to a hex value of #f8e0a1. It is significantly lighter, and upon having a hard time swallowing that suggestion, Wimberly wrote back to his editor to debate the issue only to receive the reason behind the suggested change as a result of the editor hearing that Garner was “latina and white.”

cartoonist Ronald Wimberly tackles race in short comic

Image via The Nib.

Wimberly points out that Latina can include many skin colors that result from a vast combination of nationalities that include Arab Mexican, Japanese Brazilian, and Dominican. Each resulting skin color out of those three combinations could end up represented with, respectively, #ebb8ac, #d8b983, and #503636. Again, the stress point here is that those three colors are not the same and that they are each a mix of tones. Furthermore, they are only three in a list that may have no end.

There is no standard for what a race may look like. Everyone sports a unique set of genes which can show off skin colors of a seemingly limitless variety. Wimberly suggests that art is one prominent arena where people make associations between identity and skin color. The pairing of those two things, however, only truly completes the purpose of showing how “‘race’ as an idea is ridiculous but still informs how we behave.”

Art can solidify an identity into a color. As crazy as that may be, it is also unavoidable that comic readers will associate a person, superhero, creature, or hybrid futuristic character with the colors they each wear. This process does not stop at the end of the comic book either. It continues into the real world, and because of that, it is always important to consider the blend of culture, ethnicity, heritage, nationality, and personal attributes when forming the identity of anyone in your mind.

Featured image courtesy of R. A. Nonemacher via Wikimedia Commons.