Rereading Wolverine & The X-Men With Ron Wimberly In Mind

Ron Wimberly wrote and.drew for The Nib a comic strip detailing his experience with skin colour as an artist working on a Marvel comic book. That comic was Wolverine & The X-Men #10. He writes,


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Melita Garner is a X-character, reporter and ex-girlfriend of the ex-Wolverine, first appearing in Wolverine: Weapon X. And she takes the lead in Wolverine & The X-Men #10, edited by Katie Kubert.

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Marvel Wiki tells is “Melita’s father is Mexican and her mother is African-American.” Wimberly looks at the colours he was requested to amend. Curious at the disparity he queries the issue, only to be told,

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So what changes did he make?

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I understand this strip caused considerable upset at Marvel, especially to the editor in question. EIC Axel Alonso responded to CBR defining himself as “Mexican-American, so that makes me #caa468”, saying,

The issue in question was “Wolverine and the X-Men” #10, a jam book that featured 8 different artists — 14, if you include colorists — one of whom was Ron Wimberly. The editor simply asked Ron to match the skin-tone that had been established for the character — Melita Garner, a Latina — on previous pages. She would have done the same if Ron had made Melita’s skin too light.

So let’s take a look. Wolverine & The X-Men #10, courtesy of ComiXology.

As Alonso says, it’s a jam issue, featuring lots of different artists doing different scenes in the comic. Otherwise known as a deadline issue… so this is how the comic opens

Wolverine and the X-Men #10 (2014) - Page 4

With other artists offering their take, as Melita interviews people about their experiences with the recently deceased Wolverine.Wolverine and the X-Men #10 (2014) - Page 7

While skin tone stays relatively consistent, hair doesn’t…

Wolverine and the X-Men #10 (2014) - Page 10Indeed, when Ron’s pages come along, the hair seems more inconsistent than the skin colour, which as he said, he didn’t change.

Wolverine and the X-Men #10 (2014) - Page 18Wolverine and the X-Men #10 (2014) - Page 17Wolverine and the X-Men #10 (2014) - Page 16

And shortly afterwards…

Wolverine and the X-Men #10 (2014) - Page 19

That seems to be a much bigger change. Jam issues like this thrive of different takes but you need to probably be able to tell one character from one scene to another. I remember a few comics when that was more of a challenge.

This is how Melita originally appeared back on Wolverine: Weapon X #1.

Wolverine - Weapon X #1 - Page 11Wolverine - Weapon X #1 - Page 12

Ron asked the question,

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But what is the “this”? If it’s asking for a colour change to make it more consistent with other treatments in that very comic book, then probably not. If it’s changing the ethnic background of a character, in a comic book that isn’t exactly brimming with female black characters, well that may be more of an issue for some.

Ron also does also make the point,

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Which is probably a little more telling.

About Rich Johnston

Chief writer and founder of Bleeding Cool. Father of two. Comic book clairvoyant. Political cartoonist.

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