This is Chantel, Mallard Fillmore’s African-American co-worker and occasional love interest.
Recently, she’s been depicted as having gray skin. It’s really weird and garish. I don’t know how long it’s been going on. It’s happened more than once, so it must be intentional and not a flub on the part of the colorist. President Obama, who’s literally the only other African-American person to appear in the strip this year, isn’t depicted with gray skin. It’s just her. The question is, why? Is it a Doug thing, where everybody’s random colors to illustrate that race doesn’t matter? If so, why does it only affect Chantel? Is her gray skin intended to be literal? Is her complexion being de-emphasized so readers won’t think she’s being used as a stand-in for all African-Americans? Why now, after 20 or so years? Is she now supposed to be “aracial,” with her pigmentation figuratively depicted as neutral so readers can decide her ethnic background for themselves?
Something to consider: the black-and-white version of the strip doesn’t use stippling to depict shades of gray like other comics do. There’s no clear indication that Chantel is a person of color. Since every character aside from Mallard (whose feathers are usually solid black in non-Sunday strips) is literally white, their “true” skin color is theoretically ambiguous. Might Chantel’s grayness be an attempt to preserve that sense of ambiguity in the transistion to color?