Marvel modifies some Elektra panels for “better representation of Asian characters”

Marvel modifies some Elektra panels for "better representation of Asian characters"
On the left Smallwood’s original and on the right Marvel’s modification

Greg Smallwood has spoken out against Marvel Comics’ treatment of his work for the upcoming anthology comic Elektra: Black, White & Blood #2 for which the publisher asked the author to make certain modifications to the characters’ features, appealing to their standards and practices to be “within tolerance for the best representation of Asian characters”.

The cartoonist didn’t refuse to modify them, he complied with Marvel’s request and redrew them, but the publisher didn’t accept Greg’s modifications and added others at will against the author’s opinion

The cartoonist has not minced no words in expressing his displeasure with the changes and he said the story on Twitter:

Sad to say that, without my approval, Marvel attempted to “fix” several panels of my art in issue two of Elektra: Black, White, & Blood before sending it to the printers. They’re not huge changes but I really don’t like my art being tampered with..

Long story short – 2 months after turning in the finished pages, I was informed by my editor that Marvel’s Standards & Practices flagged my art and requested I redraw several panels so that they would be “within tolerance for best representation of Asian characters.

Marvel modifies some Elektra panels for "better representation of Asian characters"
Greg’s original next to Marvel’s “fix”

Wife and I were expecting our second child the following week and I was racing to finish an issue of HT before the birth so I told Marvel that I didn’t have time to make the changes but that I would be perfectly fine with them pulling the story for sensitivity concerns.

Marvel modifies some Elektra panels for "better representation of Asian characters"
In this modification, the author asks why?

II was told that pulling the story was not an option and if I couldn’t do revisions, the Marvel Bullpen would “take a crack” at my pages instead.

I stated very clearly that I didn’t want anyone touching my art so I dropped everything I was doing and immediately reworked all of the panels that were flagged.

Unfortunately, I just found out yesterday that the folks at Marvel didn’t even bother using my new art and instead went to print with their own revised pages. I was not given a chance to make further revisions or even approve the alterations made by the bullpen.

They also attempted to cover up some nudity which just resulted in a muddied mess. Again, something I was willing to fix.

Marvel modifies some Elektra panels for "better representation of Asian characters"
The original and on the right the modified one.

Just wanted you all to know because my name is on that comic but I’m pretty annoyed about how it looks. As a palate cleanser, here’s the cover and the first two (also the best) pages, unaltered.

I’ve got a newborn, a three-year old, and some tight deadlines to manage right now so this is all I’m saying on the matter. Going back into my hole again, Greg concludes”.

About Greg Smallwood

Greg Smallwood is a comic book artist, screenwriter, inker and colourist from Lawrence, Kansas, who debuted in 2013 with the award-winning Dream Thief series, a supernatural crime novel he created with Bram Stoker Award-winner Jai Nitz

In 2014, he began his career as an artist on Marvel’s Moon Knight, working with Eisner Award winners Brian Wood and Jeff Lemire. The same year he was nominated for an Eisner Award in the “Best New Author” category.

In 2015 he won the Russ Manning Award for Most Promising Newcomer.

In 2018 he would make his screenwriting debut on the critically acclaimed Vampironica for Archie Comics and his art on the series won the National Cartoonist Society Comic Books Award. In addition to his interior art, he is also a prolific artist for covers and known for his work on The Punisher, The Archies and Star Wars.

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