The difficulty of casting black character in comics
I have been working on getting a site comic produced. It’s based off a character that sort of rose out of a number of memes on Blade Bunny. I posted a female version of the robot cowboy character the fans had named ”The Chrome Cowboy”. The female version was anointed “The Tin Temptress” by the fan. This lead to a Paul Sullivan song called Toffee Tin Temptress through a Google search and thus the proper name of the character became “Toffee the Tin Temptress”.
Well one thing lead to another and I started writing a comic script for this character and I decided that she would be a sort of terminator robot in that she could appear to be human. So then came the question of what her human form looked like. After writing up a description I realized I was making a character named “Toffee” white. Why couldn’t a robot cow girl in a post apocalyptic world be black? After all there are lot of bad things you can say about the machines that rise up to destroy humanity but “racist” is not one of them. So I changed the description of Toffee to be a black girl and sent the description off to the artist.
This is the face of the character I got back.
So here’s the dilemma. This is clearly not a face with African features. Yet if I tried to describe African features it would end up be a character of a black woman instead of an attractive woman who happens to be of African decent (or a robot built to look like a woman of African decent as the case may be).
Google image search came to the rescue and I just send a bunch of faces i found to the artist and she came back with this.
Which was pretty good. Unfortunately after drawing this the artist got wrapped up in some other projects and could no long work on the comic. So I had to go and find a new artist. This time I made sure to send over all the faces that I had collected to make sure that the new artist understood what I was looking for. This is what I got back;
Again walking a tightrope here because the facial features are good but the hair lacks volume. It just doesn’t look right for a black woman. Google image search again and the image was modified to this:
At this point I though that we were cooking with gas. Even without coloring you could tell the ethnicity of the character without it being insulting. Buuuutttt notice i said “even without color”. Well this is the colored version of the picture.
She’s freaking Irish.
Starting to see the problem here. It’s like pulling teeth to get a black character. If I asked for a Nordic babe I would get it on the first try. But a true ethnicity to a comic character, well the artist don’t have the experience with it. You have to constantly send back photo reference and very carefully worded explanations.
You want to know why there’s not as much diversity in comics? It because it’s just to bloody hard to get the artist to draw it.
PS: This is what I sent back to the artist describing what I want. Fingers crossed.