Most of this comic is in a sepia tone. This may be for one of two reasons:
(1) Appeal to Modesty: Christianity prides itself on modesty–for the most part, or at least with the women it does. So a story told from a female perspective, by a Christian would reasonable be more sparsely coloured. By making everything a sort of greyish-sepia instead of colourful, it not only stresses the principle of modesty, but also highlights the key component of the story–divinity.
(2) Highlighting the divinity of Joan of Arc and Jesus. Although Joan of Arc is not divinity (or even technically a saint for that matter), allowing her and the flashbacks to coloured over with gold really highlights key moments in the book. Joan’s “coronation” I guess you could say, the crowning of the French King, and Jesus’ appearance before Four-Girl (aka Vibiana’s) death.
The first theory is more plausible, and the second sort of lends itself to the first.
“Boxers” on the other hands, is bursting with colour.
Even common people and events are a little less, um lackluster.
Maybe it has something to do with the Chinese idea that one my obtain divinity through the “Mandate of Heaven,” or some other belief. Being as I am not as well versed in Chinese culture as Yang, I don’t want to make too far of a stretch; however, it can also be inferred that the reason Boa lost is because his warrior–“The Emperor”–lost his Mandate. It’s been itching at the back of my scalp now for some time, but I believe that there is a connection.
Yang is not his own colourist. Lark Pien coloured both comics, and with that comes some creative license I suppose. The difference just seems too grand to be coincidental, and I think the colouring of each speaks to the fundamental nature of the culture each graphic novel is meant to represent. It’s not a gold mine (unless you’re Jesus or Joan of Arc), but still very appealing.