So I had a debate over this strip. My superintendent really was like this, rumored to be a registered sex offender, totally sketchy down to the mismatched eyes, swaths of bare chest, odd clothing choices and totally gaga for cats. He'd loved my ginger, who really didn't want anything to do with him. My new editor commented ..."his portrayal here could be taken as potentially racist. I don’t know. You have plenty of other black characters who aren’t pimped-out and seemingly drug-addled that it might be okay. Yeah. I might just be over thinking. Your call really."
And I thought about it. After all, previously I'd bleached the skin on the three thugs on the park bench, because I wanted that arc to be about a funny interaction with thugs, not any illusionary connection between miscreants and skin color. Then I pulled some strips from the site to save for book 4, because they brought up the concept of self-segregation, in this case a club that had clientele specifically of African descent, because out of context it'd seem racist, despite the other characters also being ethnic minorities. It was the set that should have run before this arc. So here I was with problem strip number three and I decided if I bleached Leo's skin then I'm officially guilty of white washing, that I'm creating a world where only people of European descent are allowed to be portrayed in a negative light and that's just wrong. I don't believe in race anymore than I do gender and I feel that being truly objective means portraying people of all backgrounds in both positive and negative light. Your skin color, your combination of features...none of this has any bearing on your personality. So I'm running it and if you're a regular reader, then you know, as my new editor put it: "No, you’re right about the problem of white washing. You do have plenty of black characters, so that Leo doesn’t become THE black guy of the series. "
And if for some reason this is the first strip you're reading of the comic, check out the archives and let the story speak for itself.
Oh, and for the record, aside from the rather unpleasant retired prostitute, everyone in my apartment building was of African descent. They were all lovely, upstanding people whom I unfortunately don't have any funny animal related stories about.