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Drawing Black Characters Black

by  in Comic News Comment

One of the very first entries I made on Comics Should Be Good back in 2005 (first month of the blog, at least) was a bit about how comic artists tend to use artistic shorthand when it came to drawing Asian characters, so almost no characters actually appeared Asian (here‘s the piece). While you would think the same wouldn’t be true for black characters, it really does seem to be the same basic problem (although yes, it is less frequent of a problem) – artists just drawing them the same as white characters, with the colorist making all the difference.

Karen Healey recently had a good post about Ed Benes’ Justice League, where Vixen basically looks just like she’s a white woman (there, though, Healey takes issue with the colorist, as well).

It really struck me, though, when I was reading this week’s Black Panther Annual, which featured very nice artwork by Larry Stroman, who excels at drawing black characters. He makes them all look, well, black! So it got me to thinking, “Where would I rank Stroman in terms of best depiction of black characters?,” and when I kept thinking of other good examples of artists who draw black characters well, they were almost all black artists!! Like ChrisCross, for instance – really good at drawing black characters and is also black himself.

It made me curious – do you think it is a conscious decision by a Stroman or a Kyle Baker or a ChrisCross? Like, “Well, no one else seems to be doing it right, so I better do it,” or do you think it just comes naturally?