This week, The Nib published a comic strip by artist Ronald Wimberly, whose work includes Prince of Cats and Sentences: The Life of M.F. Grimm, titled "Lighten Up." In it, Wimberly details his experience of being asked by a Marvel editor to lighten the skin tone of supporting character Melita Garner in a recent issue of Wolverine and the X-Men.
As Wimberly describes it, he was working under the impression that Garner was half-Mexican and half-African-American. He was told by his editor the character has "changed over the years," and is now Latina and white -- although, as Wimberly notes, that doesn't preclude the possibility of Garner having a darker skin tone. He didn't end up making the changes, and wrote that "nobody noticed."
The comic strip -- which points out that in 12 years in the comics business, he's never worked with a Black editor -- has sparked plenty of discussion and awareness about the depiction of ethnic characters and the importance of social literacy to comic book publishing. The comic has been picked up by io9, BoingBoing, The A.V. Club and NPR's Code Switch.