Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Not Quite a Pet Peeve: Off-Colour Comics

This week's Sunday For Better or for Worse rerun gave us this little ditty with Elly's inconvenience with store clerks taking their time on the job.

This is very different from the first printing where the employee had much more makeup and blush on.  In addition, Elly's embarassment is much more pronounced in the last panel.

This wasn't the only instance of a reprint having less impactful colouring, as these two strips can contest.

In fact, a large majority of For Better or for Worse Sunday reprints have had a particular amount of toned-down appearance that makes them less dramatic than usual.

As you can tell, quite a lot of it comes from the characters screaming at each other.  For the longest time, I thought this was typically normal behavior.

It was suggested that Lynn Johnson was suffering from some kind of colour blindness for appealing for Magenta and Turquoise which would've accounted for her bizarre taste of mishmash of fancy words that actually look ugly.

However, that wouldn't account for the various previous Sunday comics where her stand-in family would constantly display sudden rushes of blood to the head that were less unsettling than Emily Carroll's His Face All Red.

There have been complaints about reprints of old material given a glossy shiny look that looks unappealing to long-time readers of newsprint comics on lousy paper, and those complaints aren't unjustified.  The paper can be too shiny, resulting in having to constantly tilt the book so the glare doesn't get in your eyes, and the colouring can be garish compared to the earlier toned-down appearance.  On the plus side, the new reprints give Lawrence a healthier shade of brown than his whitewashed earlier version.

This isn't solely limited to FBOFW, but other newspaper comics as well, where records weren't as meticulous in their archival collections as others.

The wife's expression above seems more intense than the one below.  I wonder why?

At first, I thought this one was a misprint in the first Herman Sunday collection, giving the prehistoric man a Bravehart-like tint, but I've got the Sunday comic in question, and it actually appears like that.  It was faithful to its source material.

This isn't the only caveman to be cast in a strange light.  An odd deciption of Wily from BC (Found at another intensive Sunday Comics blog here) can be seen.

This would be akin to those instances where first depictions of cartoon characters such as Wayland Smithers (Black), Vegeta (a natural Redhead) were mistaken first impressions later corrected in later versions. However, all previous initerations of the curmogodeon peg-legged water hater poet have shown him to be as pale as his brethen.

Despite the misgivings these comics might have in being incorrectly portrayed, they provide an interesting contrast to the regular colour schematics of cartoon characters, and provide an alternate vision of what it must be like for someone with colour blindness.

The Flintstones are some of the most iconic cartoon characters despite their formulatic upbringings.  So when it came to being adapted to the comics page, how were they portrayed?  Not with Fred's Orange outfit, and Barney's Brown suit.  Instead, they opted to present them as blue and orange.  The women Betty and Wilma were known for being in Blue and White, which is almost impossible to mess up.  Instead they showed themselves in basic orange and black.  With tiger stripes yet!  (Apparently, Black Pearls are rarer and more expensive, which wouldn't lie with their anachronistic domestic appearance) Whether this was to present a more attractive design for the funny pages is up in the air for consideration.

A random sampling shows the women's dresses changes colours and outfits almost interchangeably.

One thing I've noticed about these Flintstones comics is how many of them end with confrontations with large dinosaur creatures.

In some cases, the warped colour can give a whole new meaning to the background, giving previously passive elements a whole new flavor.  In this Baby Blues, it looks like the father's hair is being drained away as he thinks of his past.

In this Herman, it looks like the boss is gradually becoming greyer, eventually revealing his true nature underneath.

When I first saw this Hi & Lois comic, I thought that Dot intentionally placed a plastic apple that Trixie couldn't eat, since she picked up the same pink apple.

This Garfield comic is an interesting study in contrasts.  For years, I thought this was another iteration of Odie, who'd suddenly jumped owners from Lyman (who originally owned him) to this cute girl, and the two of them shared a history that was never explained or expanded on.  It was only years later that I found out the original colour schematics for this dog were brown.  Draw your own conclusions here.

It turns out that a large majority of Garfield strips staring Odie turn out the be tonetically weird.

When it comes to portraying crowd scenes, the American comic book had tendencies to go the quick and dirty method by using pale colour schemes among crowd scenes to save time and energy of having to go through colourizing every individual person.

At times, colour can have the element of portraying a prevalent mood throughout.  The very first Asterix book had scenes where entire characters were coloured a deep shade of red or purple depending on their feelings at the time.  This was only shown in the first album, and was never repeated in subsequent books.

Some more miscellaneous comics that I can't think of enough of a clever summary for:

At the time of this strip, Cliff Robertson was still alive.  I suppose the Star Phone also works for actors who everybody thinks are dead, since they haven't been in the spotlight for a long time.
Here's one last bonus - a FBOFW that appeared on July 19, 1986.  If the reprint shows Elizabeth to be less upset than in the throwaway panels, you'll know what was overlooked.  Feel free to make your complaints where applicable.

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