This isn’t exactly like I’m revealing some shocking piece of information to you, as everyone pretty much knows what I’m about to say already, but damned if Matt Hollingsworth isn’t one of the most amazing colorists working in comics today. What I am especially always so impressed about Hollingsworth’s work is that there’s no signature Hollingsworth coloring “style.” It’s not like you sign Hollingsworth on and you know exactly what kind of look you’re going to get – he excels so much at matching his colors with the style and the mood of the book. He works essentially in concert (“essentially” because he is obviously doing his work independent of the penciler/inker) with the artists of his books to create an experience unique to each title. Hell, forget “unique to each title,” with his recent work in the pages of Hawkeye, he has created a unique look for every other ISSUE (one look for David Aja with Clint’s adventures in New York and one for Annie Wu with Kate’s adventures in Los Angeles). Now don’t get me wrong, since he has had such great success coloring particularly moody books like Aja’s Hawkeye, Maleev’s Daredevil and Lark’s Daredevil, people looking for a moody title often DO look to him, so if you want to suggest that that is a “signature” style, then you might have something to that, but even there, there is room for great variety in the look of the title (his stint on Daredevil with Maleev looked different than his stint on Daredevil with Lark, for instance) – and that is extremely evident in Wytches #1 from Image Comics, written by Scott Snyder with pencils and inks by Jock and colors by Hollingworth.
In the book, Hollingsworth works in a lot of bright, vibrant colors throughout much of the book. This works really well as a contrast of the scary stuff in the comic, as the brighter he makes it on the other pages, the more striking it is when the dark events occur. Heck, the fact that Sailor Rooks (along with her parents, the protagonists of the story) has bright red hair also serves that purpose, as well. When things get bleak, her bright red hair stands out in contrast with the bad stuff.
Of course, as great as Hollingsworth is (and seriously, he’s awesome), like Brenda from 227 said to Maverick in Jerry Maguire (or whatever), “it doesn’t work without him.” Rather than referring to the guy from Snow Dogs, the “him” in this instance is the always wonderful Jock, who is exquisite in this comic, from the terrifying opening interlude to the shocking reveal of what, exactly, sent Sailor Rooks and her family out of their home town.
Check out the sequence where we first meet Sailor and her dad. Besides both being distinctively designed characters, watch how Jock sells the hell out of their emotions in this sequence – you can get 90% of the meaning of these pages without any dialogue at all, that’s how well Jock frames it all…
Of course, we shouldn’t look past that dialogue, though, as the man who brought this all together, Scott Snyder, does a fine job on the dialogue in that sequence. It’s funny with just the right undercurrent of “let’s distract ourselves as best we can from what we’re REALLY thinking.”
Snyder has a long text page at the back of the issue where he discusses the inspiration for this comic and it’s funny how well he tells the story just in a TEXT PAGE in the back of the comic! In just a text page he captures just why this concept is so damned scary – and that’s before he even get into the whys and the wherefores of how this whole thing works. While we’ll eventually get to that and explore the idea of what do you do when you learn that you really DID bring something about – that you really ARE paying a price for something occurring – for now, we’re just delighting in the sheer terror of things going terribly, horrifically wrong out of nowhere – where our bright colors are suddenly assaulted by pure darkness. A few years back, Snyder did an interesting comic called Severed that was a scary book – Wytches makes Severed look like Strawberry Shortcake in comparison, scares-wise.
An amazing part of this comic is that they did a preview for it and the preview was just a brand-new separate story! Also a scary as hell short story (with some excellent sequential work from Jock) that you can find here.
Just as a single issue, this was a beautifully drawn and well written horror comic – and I am sure that this is just the tip of the iceberg. I can’t wait to see what unfolds next.
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