“VQ: CMYK” is shaping up to be a worthy contender in the world of short graphic fiction. Back in April, Vertigo introduced us to a new method of anthology storytelling. We were told, “CMYK will defy all conventions of traditional comics anthologies.” And we have been delivered. The method of using each primary color in the printing process (CMYK) as a unifying mood, technique, or plot point promised us something we’ve literallynever seen before.
In this month’s “Magenta” we see a more pointed, directed anthology than “Cyan,” Vertigo’s first quarterly one-shot. While “Cyan” was more of a loose cannon, “Magenta” feels like a heat-seeking missile making a very clear message—it’s on a mission and this time, the color isn’t just a mood or technique… it’s a statement. If a statement piece is done well, as this one is, each participant can see their own thoughts, desires, fears, and sentiments reflected back at them.
WRITTEN BY: Various, Group Editor: Will Dennis
ART BY: Various
RELEASE: July 30, 2014
Reviewed By Bree Odgen
Vertigo knew exactly what they were doing by opening up “Magenta” with Rachel Deering, the comic industry’s brightest burning and fastest rising horror star. Rachel’s comic work is like a sniper, hitting quick and silent, leaving behind the graphic details for readers to chew on. Her story, “Bone White, Blood Red,” along with Scalera’s illustrations, is the perfect in-your-face opener that “Magenta” needed to follow up the sensational high of “Cyan.”
Yet Deering’s opening feels more like an ending, which ironically opens up the heady theme for the majority of this issue, which is our inevitable endings: endings that lead to the end and endings that lead to new beginnings. (I’ll give you a minute with that one.)
While Carla Berrocal deals with the death of corruption, and Annie Mok presents us with more of a physiological death, Jody Houser so viscerally deals with emotional loss by appealing to the child in us. By using one of childhood’s most iconic symbols to usher a young girl into the darkness that death leaves behind, Houser has created a poignantly whimsical journey that sneakily leaves behind an inky black fear. Or it’s possible that Houser’s journey is so frightening that it leaves behind a sort of dark whimsy. But it’s beautiful. And really caught me off guard.
Rian Hughes’ “Magenta is Not a Colour” started off so subtle I wasn’t sure I was really even reading anything, until that moment in which I surprised myself by blurting out, “what the shit?” and had to close my eyes to process the pure self-referential brilliance of what had been done. Read that story a few times, you’ll miss all the Easter eggs at first. This is what I’d call a classically done piece that should be studied in school. No joke.
Vertigo can’t be completely tamed though. This quarterly isn’t just a mixed bag of emotions and statements. There is blood and there are guts… and point blank gunshots. Peter Milligan, Michael Moreci, and Ryan K. Lindsay do very well by adding in those high-stakes moments and graphic violence we tend to attribute to Vertigo Comics. And as with “Cyan,” Fabio Moon rounds out this anthology with a touching continuation of his previous story. It’s filled with real guts, the kind that make you choke on emotion and think until you’ve thought so hard that your mind stops thinking for you. Moon’s story makes you want to run out and change things.
“Magenta” is even more contradicting than “Cyan.” Magenta is being alive, it’s being dead. It’s being strong, it’s being weak. It’s opening and closing, ending and beginning. The take-away is that Vertigo has simply created such a complex comic book. They’ve curated some of the best short fiction and illustrations we’ve seen in a while, making our heads snap back and forth between statement and style, leaving us full of and empty for all the feels.