In April, Vertigo launched Vertigo Quarterly: CMYK, their latest anthology series featuring some of today’s hottest, and most talented creators. Each issue references the colors that compromise the four-color printing process: cyan, magenta, yellow and black. So far, the two issues released have kept up the quality I’d expect in any Vertigo comic, two more issues await to hit shelves.
We got to talk to four of the creators involved Rachel Deering, and Jody Houser who had contributions to Vertigo Quarterly: Magenta, and Matt Miner and Steve Orlando who will have contributions in the upcoming Vertigo Quarterly: Yellow.
We decided to ask all four creators the same questions about their experience, and history in comics, allowing you the reader to see how all four answered. A big thanks to Steve Orlando who helped set this up!
We’ve run the first three interviews of this series, our first interview with writer Matt Miner, second with Jody Houser, and third with Rachel Deering. Up next is Steve Orlando!
Graphic Policy: How did you get started in the comic industry?
Steve Orlando: Tyler Niccum! You may have picked up the trade paperback of Undertow, my book from Image that is on the stands right now. WELL if you did then you saw a tripped out, beautiful story by the totally unique artist Tyler Niccum, who has been a friend of mine for years. We have been collaborating on tiny human stories for years, at least since 2006, and in 2008 Tyler asked me to work on him for his story in Outlaw Territory from Image, which ended up being my first widely published worked. THEN we pitched a second story, featuring a Hessian Revolutionary War deserter, and it was so well received they put it in as well! Suddenly Tyler and I had two published stories on our hands. We’ve never looked back, and it was oddly circular that Tyler was able to come back and join Artyom and me for our TPB.
GP: How did you get to be a part of Vertigo Quarterly: Yellow?
SO: I owe my spot on the book to gentlemen and comics lovers Will Dennis and Greg Lockard. The folks at Vertigo were not scared by my previous Mystery in Space short that starred drug-taking, naked centaurs, and offered me a chance to return. SO when I told them my Yellow story would be about 1800s Indian painting and a folktale about cow’s urine, they were similarly unafraid and I was similarly pleased. These are two guys that love comics and have supported me since the beginning.
GP: When you signed up for the project, what were you told as far as what you could do with your entry?
SO: Anything! And that was actually more daunting than having directives for me. I must have spent a cumulative week on the internet researching arcane, nebulous, or esoteric associations with the color yellow. I read everything I could, just to marinate my brain. After my last story, strange is what they expected, and its what I was happy to supply.
GP: Did you talk to any of the other creators at all? Make sure you weren’t going to do similar things?
SO: Interestingly enough this is a question no one has asked yet, and I actually didn’t. In my case my story was done so far ahead that they hadn’t even locked down the rest of the team yet. But with a cow’s urine myth I didn’t think I was treading on anyone.
GP: Did you go and look at the previous Vertigo Quarterly issues before coming up with your entry?
SO: I’ve definitely read every story in CMYK so far, but I turned my story in before Cyan broke, so that I could be free of influence.
GP: What’s it like working with Vertigo? That publishing name has certain panache when it comes to what they produce.
SO: Vertigo is a great place to be. These are people that just want to help you, work with you to make your comics even better. The Vertigo team is smart and respectful– the type of notes you appreciate and know come from the right place. And the best part? They’re never afraid of any story I’ve imagined– no matter how crazy.
GP: Did it being a “Vertigo” comic change the approach to what you put together for the issue?
SO: Not at all! But after the previous anthology I knew what to expect– that being almost absolutely freedom to craft the story I had in my mind. You can’t set out to make one type of comics or another, just a kick ass comic.
GP: It seems anthologies have been a constant in comics, though never at the forefront. What do you think an anthology brings to the table that might be different from other comics? Why do you think we don’t see more of them, especially to highlight new talent?
SO: I think the pros of anthologies echo the cons. They’re a great place for bold, new voices. They’re a great way to chock a bookfull of diverse stories into a smaller package. You get a lot of different ideas in one place. In some ways, they’re just focused, quicker, and more pop. But that’s also what makes them sometimes a hard sell– it’s impermanent, and thus, there’s the idea that they “matter” less. They’re basically collections of flash fiction in an industry (in America at least), based on serials that run for decades at a time. They’re the anti-serial. So I think sometimes people don’t know what to make of them.
GP: What’s the difference between going about creating a short comic like this than a normal full issue?
SO: Economy! You may need to smash that full issue into eight pages, but make it just as satisfying. You have to enter late and leave early, and screenwriters say. It’s concentrate. No, it’s distillation maybe. So you trim an idea to its essential core, the leanest of leans, and you loose it on the world.
It’s fiction bullion.
GP: What advice would you give to those wanting to get started in comic industry?
SO: Make comics! The best, the only way to get better at your craft and to show your strengths is to make comics. It sounds absurd maybe, and yes the Joker says “If you’re good at something never do it for free,” but the truth is you have to show your focus, and your passion, but making comics happen even if no one is telling you to at first.
GP: What else do you have on tap?
SO: 2015 is on tap! Nothing that can be announced now, but much talk is on the gossip. I’ve been researching Slavic fighting styles and Australian film of late, I’ll say that.