A Tumblr post yesterday suggested that a “person of color” didn’t appear on a Batman cover until 1970. I checked pre-1970 BATMAN, DETECTIVE and WORLD’S FINEST covers, to see.
If you take “person of color” to mean a non-Caucasian, the claim wasn’t remotely true. There were Asians, Egyptians, South Americans, American Indians, Latinos, etc. Often stereotypical, but there. But if you take “person of color” to mean “black,” it was quite true, as far as I could tell.
So it wasn’t that pre-1970 DC was simply white-centric to the point that they didn’t think of non-whites. It’s that, until 1970, Batman covers were open to, apparently, all races but one. That’s not what I’d have expected.
I mean, I didn’t expect to see a lot of black faces, if any, but I expected it to be part of a larger pattern of white-centrism. It wasn’t. The books are plenty white-centric, but to get as many minorities on the covers as they did and still exclude blacks had to take a policy decision, one specifically aimed at blacks rather than ethnic minorities in general.
[The other major category I’d say was missing from the covers was culturally-identifiable Jews, but was that avoidance or just genericism? “Hey, Dick, let’s throw some rabbis in there!”]
Anyway. Your historical Christmas thought for the day, as the rest of the family naps or plays with new loot.