Colors are important; perhaps the understatement of the century and certainly for a graphic novel class. Colors are more than just important; they add a level to reading that while immediately perceptible to the eye, the mind does the true evaluation of the page. Color has a heavy impact on how a reader will understand every other element of the narrative, and even to an extent the message of the text.
A general color scheme can create a vividly appealing art style, but often artists use this very subtle tool to convey the overall tone of the piece without ever saying a word.
Now obviously the dark backgrounds are meant to convey to the reader that the space the characters occupy is not well lit, and most probably occurs at night. However the red backgrounds are meant to show something far more sinister than what a few shades of gray can achieve; just as reading “blood red” is quick to evoke feelings of danger, red backgrounds allow the reader to immediately feel that the emotions of the characters and their situations to be dire.
While the situation is exactly the same for the characters in the black and white version, the feeling of doom is a bit less. Most importantly the focus of the eye travels more to the facial expressions of the characters rather than to the background for clues. Colors allow the reader to ‘know’ how the characters feel without lingering too long on the face for context clues; however, in the absence of color a character must be the main focus for the reader.
There have been numerous studies about the effect of color in marketing, and whether or not there is a psychology behind color. Just take a quick stroll down the paint chip aisle at your local Home Depot and you will be barraged with color theory, and may begin to wonder if there is any sort of credibility to the belief that colors affect the way we feel. Studies have shown that “
“Certain colors do broadly align with specific traits (e.g., brown with ruggedness, purple with sophistication, and red with excitement”
So color does a great deal to not only adding to the environment of a story, but also to the characters. A character of regal birth may often be decked out in purple since this color has connotations of royalty; moreover, a character who lives a fast paced and dangerous life may often be found wearing red. It is an interesting theory, and fun to apply to whatever you may be reading.
Ciotti, Gregory:The Psychology of Color in Marketing and Branding. AUGUST 6, 2013