I made the comment in class about this, but I really wanted to expand on the thought, because I haven’t been able to get it out of my mind.
It’s so compelling to me that this graphic novel was done in black and white instead of color. I think it really says something about how John Lewis intended the story to be perceived. The lack of color speaks volumes in several areas. Of course, this is all pretty much speculation, because despite my research, I can’t find any quotes from John Lewis about why he chose this style to present his story.
The first thing that immediately comes to mind when I see the lack of color is just that: the lack of color. I have always heard my whole life that “love sees no color; it looks at the heart.” I think this shows what we wish our society would become- a world where your skin color doesn’t matter. No one even thinks twice about race or ethnicity; they just look at who you are in your core. If you’re a decent person and you happen to be Asian or Black or Latino, cool. If you’re a jerk and you happen to be Caucasian or Middle Eastern or Pacific Islander, not cool. It doesn’t matter what you look like; it matters what you act like.
I also thought about the fact that John Lewis might have wanted to show the stark differences between the blacks and whites in this era of history, and the best way to do that was to drain all color from the picture and use their words and facial expressions to convey their true feelings.
The last thing I noticed was some of the similarities in the animals and the people, specifically the chickens. I know- the chickens. I just wanted to point out that even they had qualities much like those of the people that raised them. On the pages where John Lewis talks about his desire to be a preacher, and how he practiced preaching to his chickens, there is a close up of the birds’ faces, and they are very human in quality. Also, being a church member, I can say that I see all the old lady expressions in these chickens. They are very reverent, attentive, and even seem to look moved by what he is saying, EVEN THOUGH THEY ARE JUST CHICKENS. The panel below is the example I’m talking about. If you look closely, you can even see that some of the chickens are aged, while some of them seem to have masculine and feminine traits to their faces.
I can’t say for sure what John Lewis intended with the decision to make the pages black and white but the cover color.. But I can say that it struck a chord with me.