The debate has extended to pop culture, as well, with Warner Bros. dropping the Confederate flag from toys and memorabilia featuring the General Lee from Dukes of Hazzard and TV Land quietly dropping the show from its summer rerun slate the next day. Warner and TV Land distanced themselves from the controversy with zero fanfare, but the entertainment media picked up the stories and ran with them, tying them to earlier decisions by Amazon, eBay, and Walmart to discontinue sales of the Confederate flag. John Schneider and Tom Wopat joined in the discussion. All across America, people were talking about the General Lee.
And that's where we get to the (far more trivial) heart of this blog post. Some of those people were calling it red. The General Lee. Red.
At the same time, I was engaged in a Facebook conversation about the costume Hawkman briefly wore from Hawkworld #25 (August 1992) to the end of that series in #32 (March 1993). The original conversation wasn't about Hawkman or his duds, but given that's a — well, less-than-fondly remembered outfit, they quickly overtook the conversation.
What color will Hawkman's new
HINT: There's a clue on this cover.
"To people of a certain age (like mine), pure red costumes will always look like long underwear," added another.
Which prompted me to ask: Had people lost their minds? The General Lee wasn't red, nor was that Hawkman suit. They were orange! While my fellow South Carolinians were mounting "heritage, not hate" arguments all over social media, I took to Twitter and Facebook to ask, "Have I gone colorblind?"
Turns out — I was wrong.
About Hawkman, anyway. Consensus is that the General Lee is orange. (Whew.) But that Hawkman suit is as red as the Confederate flag. Graham Nolan, who designed the suit and drew its debut in Hawkworld, chimed in on my Facebook thread to set the record straight, calling the color "comic-book pure red."
DC colorist Tony Tollin, who emblazoned plenty of super-suits during the same era, explained it in CMYK terms so definitive even I couldn't protest:
The torso portions of Hawkman's costume pictured are 100% Magenta and 100% Yellow, the same composition as Superman's red cape. Orange would normally be 50% Magenta and 100% yellow, like Aquaman's costume.So there you have it. That suit is red, even though I've spent 23 years seeing it as orange.
The funny part is that I still see it as orange. If I squint, or if I juxtapose an image of it with Superman's cape or Robin's tunic, I can that it is red. But that requires enlisting the cognitive part of my brain to make it red.
I imagine that's how a lot of South Carolina legislators, who previously couldn't see the inherent offensiveness of the Confederate flag, must feel. Somewhere deep down in their bones, they still see the flag as a symbol of something somewhere between harmless and positive, but someone's shown them the color charts of harm wrought in its name and made them think twice about how it's seen through other people's eyes. Maybe they saw quotes from Confederate flag designer William Thompson that stopped them in their tracks the way Graham Nolan's did me.
That's a burden I'll have to bear.
But at least I know how to pitch my idea for a Katar Hol mini-series to Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale now. I'm calling it Hawkman Red.