Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Redwashing?


The above image was one of the covers featured in the DC Solicitations this week. A few bloggers have already commented on it.

Suffice it to say they were not happy.

And who can blame them? This is kind of a crappy cover, Animal Man's appearance notwithstanding. Benes is not a good cover artist, and this cover isn't exactly making anyone forget Brian Bolland or JG Jones here. It's kind of crude and blocky in places.

But that's not the issue here. The issue is one Mari McCabe, aka Vixen.

Who happens to be, well, black.

Not that you'd know it by recent appearances on JLA covers, including this one.

Those of you who read this blog regularly (and yes, I'm looking at you, Sally P) know that I've railed against this "whitewashing" of Vixen in the past. This cover was a little harder to judge. Unlike Kalinara, I was thrown a bit by the red tint. After all, others have used red-tinted covers as a stylistic choice. I kept analyzing what type of red Mari's skin "should" be in relation to Animal Man's, as well as that of the other Leaguers, and drove myself nuts. Analyzing the art was also difficult, as the rendition of Vixen was rather crudely and lazily done. Look at her right eye. It appears that Benes was trying for a shadowy effect over the eye, but up close it looks like he drew four different size dash marks and stacked them one on top of the other in lieu of her eye. Sloppy.

In the end, though, I couldn't conclusively give this cover a failing grade regarding whitewashing. It just skated by on a technicality. So I had to settle for D-minus.

But DC didn't have to. They had several great artists (and colorists) in their stable who could have done a much more attractive cover than the one they settled on. A cover that could have attracted readers like Willow and Digital Femme (however briefly) back toward their product, instead of one that repelled them from it for good.

DC had a great opportunity and they pissed it away. They settled for a D-minus, when they could have gone for an "A".

4 Comments:

At 7:53 AM , Blogger SallyP said...

It would be nice for someone at DC to sit down with the colorist and point out that Vixen is, indeed, a black woman. Perhaps a light-skinned black woman, but a definitely a woman of African descent.

That's not the most horrifying thing about this cover however. Poor Hal. He has to look up and see Animal's crotch. It's going to give him a complex.

 
At 3:58 AM , Blogger Eric said...

The people I've read who've been complaining about Vixen's appearances in JLA lately haven't just been mentioning the skin tone, its also her features and hair which look more white/European than black/African.

That seems to be the case with this cover too, so it still suck s for that reason, as well as all the others.

 
At 6:56 PM , Blogger John Foley said...

I don't want to be the one to defuse everyone's outrage, but this cover is actually colored correctly. I opened the image in Photoshop and removed the excessive redness. The result? Vixen is by far the darkest complected character on the cover. Without the red, she is not colored as a caucasian.
This is not to defend the drawing skills of Ed Benes, which are as terrible as ever. I just don't think the colorist did anything wrong this time around.

 
At 5:53 PM , Blogger notintheface said...

John, go to my second paragraph in my original post and click on the word "not". The person whose blog I hyperlinked would beg to differ with you.

I'm staying out of this particular portion of the issue because I feel I lack the necessary expertise to comment on it, other than the simplistic "Why even USE the red tint?" argument.

 

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