While writing my nominations post, an interesting point came up when I started to pick the Black and White Art nominees: Most of the best art wasn't strictly black and white.
Oh, they were MOSTLY black and white and that was enough to get them nominated, but two of them had a splash of color here and there. The reasons vary, of course, but they stood out well against the black and white that dominated the strip. So why the color? What purpose does it serve? Well, let's look at some examples.
The earliest one that I can recall reviewing was Krakow 2.0. The comic is almost completely in black and white, except for the main character. She had bright yellow eyes. Why? I suppose it was supposed to be a cool thing, but I think it was more to make her stand out. Honestly, Krow's characters pretty much look the same, having similar character designs and facial structures. With yellow eyes, Marlith stood out in a crowd and helped the reader pick her out when in disguise.
Serenity Rose does much the same thing with Serenity, but not quite. Yes, she has a shock of blue hair that helps her stand out, but that's not where the color is restricted. It often comes up when Serenity puts her magic to use, typically with bright green. In fact, Serenity's hair color is the result of her magic, and that leads me to wonder if perhaps that's part of the point of the color. To Serenity, whose perspective is the basis of the comic, her powers are more "real" than the rest of the world. This makes the color mean more in the comic than in Krakow 2.0 where it was just a marker. It visually highlights the important things to the reader, and sets a divide in the world of Serenity Rose.
Which brings me to Dead Winter and the way the color is used there. There are a few full color strips, but those are defined as dream sequences, so okay, that works for me. The main comic, however, has a splash of red. Two splashes specifically, on Black Monday Blues, resident bad ass assassin, and Liz, the heroine. Unlike Krakow 2.0, the color isn't necessary to differentiate the characters from the rest of the cast as the designs are unique enough, but given the nature of the strip, with lots of actions scenes, it does help pick them out in a quick pass. I don't think that's why it's there, but I'm still not completely sure WHY it is there at all. I suppose there are hints of a coming conflict between the two and the color might be part of that, but it's not definite, especially with the situation at hand. Perhaps it means something more, something we have yet to see.
That simple splash of color also makes the black and white art pop more. Straight black and white can be gorgeous, yes, but that simple highlight of color can also change the entire message and meaning of the strip. Serenity Rose would be a completely different strip without the color added to it, and possibly not as good looking in the long run. Dead Winter might be about the same, but I wonder on that and Krakow 2.0 would be almost unfollowable with out it's splash. A good dash of color can mean a lot.
Well, that's enough for now. See you next time kiddies.