Comics THORsday: colors in comics

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Welcome to comics THORsday! Today we’re going to talk about colors in comics and what they might mean. Colors have been used in comics to let the audience recognize characters quickly. They have been also used to let the audience recognize emotions in the characters as well. For example, hot colors might mean hot emotions like pride or anger. But, has it been always like that? Is there more to colors than recognizing characters and their emotions?

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Let’s discover it!

Comics have been referred to as the ‘four-color’ medium because of the use of color printing processes that employ black, red, blue, and yellow inks. (Randy Duncan & Mattew J. Smith, ‘The Power of Comics’) The use of the bright primary colors was meant to appeal to adolescent males while accommodating the medium to the technology of the time. So, hot characters like Thor or Iron Man, whose personalities are quite explosive, will have red as main color. Others, use green, a color of self-loath and non-trust, like the Hulk and Loki.

Hot colors point at hot emotions like violence, pride or anger. Cool colors point at cool emotions like sadness and depression. Comic books that only use black and white are different from those that use colors. The meaning and the tone of the comic, its message changes as well. It’s like, black and white is more straight forward, more direct, and colors convey more hidden messages.

Red talks about flaws as well. For example, Thor (red) has pride, as well as Iron Man (red) but you can add here an addictive personality. Both are hot! Spiderman (red and blue) doubts about himself, and Hulk (green) hates himself! So, colors and their combinations speak volumes to the readers.

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Color was first introduced in newspaper strips to attract more audiences. Comics with flashy colors would be more appealing than those with no colors at all. Most first superheroes had flashy colored uniforms that were easy to recognize: Iron Man would be red and yellow, the Hulk green, Thor’s cape would be red, etc. Thus, these primary colors were also associated with Superhero comics. So colors, along with how bodies were drawn, contributed greatly on what we think about Superhero comics.

So, next time you read a Superhero comic book, take a closer look at the hero’s and villain’s main color. What are their colors telling you? What type of personalities do they have?

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