We are so used to seeing images of the Depression in stricken black-and-white that the effect of these photographs—some of the only ones in color taken during the first American Depression, from the show Bound for Glory: America in Color—is quite striking. The small-town storefronts are so immediate, so recognizable, they seem as though they could have been taken yesterday.
Maybe you are more enlightened than I am, but looking at this collection I was blown away by how much dimension color adds, and how much is lost in its absence. The same people and places that look like actors on a set in black and white are suddenly people I know when I can see what color their favorite dress is, or how all their children have the same carrot-red hair.
This has many many implications for art and comics. I don’t think the effect of a black-and-white photograph is the same as that of a black and white comic, but the immediacy that comes with color is something to think about. Consider:
(Pages from the first chapter of Olo, my senior project at college.)
I have a love/hate relationship with color. I never had any professional instruction regarding in it, and using it does not come naturally to me. By inclination I am a black and white, pen and pencil kind of gal. And although I know colored work isn’t inherently better than b&w, I can see that the colored page above does a greater service to that particular story. There’s an awful lot that color can offer to a visual story.
You can see the rest of the America in Color collection here; it is enormous and awesome and I highly recommend it.