Sam Sarkar wrote Caliber: First Canon of Justice with Garrie Gastonny on art for Radical Publishing at a time when the editor was still Dave Elliott and hadn't been fired or involved in a messy legal case with the publisher.
Still that's all been settled now and now Elliot is putting a number of books out through Image, using a number of lessons he learnt at Radical. Get the books out as high profile as possible, get them read, realise that one multi-media sale will pay for twenty series that just stay as comics. So he's been helping out editing books being published at Image Comics with their front-of-Previews status, and we're going to see quite a few of them. Red Spike #1 already came out, now here comes The Vault.
Written by Sam Sarkar and drawn by Garie Gastonny this is a "deep sea treasure hunt gone terribly wrong". And Dave has got another ex-Radical employee, Gianluca Glazer, who used be their head of marketing, to conduct an interview with Sam Sarkar for Bleeding Cool. I love conflicts of interest. Especially the sound they make when they run smack bang into each other, leaving bloody bits all over the desert. Let's have the preview first, then move to the words.
So, a bit of Abyss, a gratuitous shower scene, squid attacks and a robot underwater dog. Let's see what Gianluca was able to make of it all.
In your own words, what is The Vault about?
The Vault is kind of a contemporary Pandora's Box story. It's about a team of treasure hunters lead by two serious archaeologists that are searching for a rumored lost treasure. (And there are still lots of them left out there by the way.) They're equipped with all the latest in high tech equipment, from imaging gear to robotics to deep sea,
mechanical dive suits, they have it all. Not to mention, the means to fend off pirates or rival treasure hunters if the need arises. The search however, leads them to uncover something that they didn't expect at all and leaves them with a dilemna. Do they put it back and leave it alone? Or do they keep it and open it up?
What inspired the story for The Vault? Where you fascinated by the Oak Island Money
Pit and religious mythology growing up?
From a story point of view, Dan O'Bannon, H.P. Lovecraft, Nostradamus' Escahatus, Milton's Paradise Lost and certainly a nod to The Book of Revelation. Throw in a good dose of Alien, Terminator, The Thing, The Keep and a sprinkle of Treasure of the Sierre Madre.
There's a lot of world mythology in this and that does come from the way I grew up. I had a lot of religions in the family. My mother was a Roman Catholic pathologist, my father was a Hindu pediatrician, my Godfather was a Muslim geneticist and one of my mother's closest friends was a Jewish general practitioner (was my doctor for a bit). So a big mix of science and religion. I loved mythology as a kid growing up. Norse, probably the most. But I loved them all.
The Vault really began though with the Oak Island Money Pit for me. I grew up not far from it and we used to go and visit it when I was little. When I got older I would always come back to news about the latest happenings and discoveries made on Oak Island. The latest connections made to other mysteries. The latest high tech plans to continue excavating the pit. For those who want to check it out, Oak Island Treasure is a great site to start out on.
But most of the theories about what was at the bottom of the pit, pointed to treasure or in some cases Knights Templar mysteries like the Holy Grail. I was always liked thinking about it differently. And then there was the story of the Great Pyramid of Egypt. When they cracked it open, Al Mamoun's original account is that nothing was found, only a large, empty stone sarcophagus. That was the beginning for me and how I came to tie that to the Pit.
I reference Oak Island in the Vault, but I've set the story at another site, off the coast of Nova Scotia that is also steeped in its own legend, Sable Island. Sable is known as the Graveyard of the North Atlantic and has a herd of horses on it that were left from a shipwreck in the 1800s.
You've previously written in the fantasy/western genre with Caliber: First Canon of
Justice. Was writing a horror/suspense story a entirely different experience? Did you
have the story entirely figured out before writing it?
It has been a different experience. By far, a more pleasant one. Lot of aches and pains (who shall remain nameless) and a steep learning curve for me while writing Caliber. Caliber was tricky to remain faithful to Arthurian mythology, romance and ethos while serving the blending of American and Native American values coming out of the Civil War (and the conflict therein). I don't know if I quite realized it in that one book. I hope to do more of them at some point.
The Vault, though it appears on the surface to be a pretty straightforward story, has most of its mythology buried deeply. It gets uncovered both literally and figuratively as the pit gets excavated. I had this story pretty well mapped before starting to write but I've discovered a lot in the process. Mainly in the relationship of the two main characters. Like many of us, they fall into the "it's complicated" category. Which I suppose Caliber has an element of too. I love this genre. I have always been a fan of science fiction, horror and suspense. My very first short story I wrote as a kid was about a kid crossing a bridge and facing an evil witch. (Actually, that's almost the entire story verbatim.) Exploring fears and getting through them is a theme in life I think is important to understand. Probably, The Vault is more in my comfort zone than Caliber because I came to my understanding and appreciation of Westerns fairly late, eighteen to mid-twenties when I was in film school and later as an actor in Canada.
The Vault is being solicited by Image Comics for an August release. How did you get in touch with Image in regards to publishing the comic?
Well, I'm incredibly fortunate most of the lasting gifts of Caliber were the relationships it helped to cement. Chief among them, David Elliott. Dave and I have soldiered through quite a few storms personally and professionally and when I asked him to edit The Vault, he didn't hesitate. There are few people I trust as much. I asked Dave
what he thought the best way to release The Vault would be and Image was at the top of his list to approach. I've always been a fan of Image, not just because of their model, but because of the quality of titles they have represented and continue to represent. My kids were excited when they found out I would be working with Image. Don't get a better endorsement than that. It also offers me a great deal of flexibility for the future of the series. I really couldn't be happier.
You're reunited with artist Garrie Gastonny, who you've worked with previously on Caliber: First Canon of Justice. Did you always have Garrie in mind as the artist when creating the story? Were there any differences with working with Garrie on The Vault, as opposed to on Caliber?
Yes, I was really hoping to work with Garrie and Imaginary again. I thought we had really built up a great rapor working on Caliber and I knew we could come up with something different but at the same level of quality. In some ways, I have to say, I think we've done better. Sometimes I re-read my scripts and scratch my head because what Garrie has done so closely mirrors the images in my head.
This book doesn't have the painted look that Caliber has, rather it is crisp and beautiful. Really great line work that looked great even before it was colored. The lighting and atmosphere in this book add a lot of dimension. And the ladies of The Vault may get their own Facebook pages dedicated to them, they're that hot. And I'm not even giving
away the best design of all.
The process has been much smoother for a number of reasons. Probably foremost is that there are fewer cooks involved. I started by bombarding them with visual references and then we started to play around with some concepts of character design and environment. I was an early iPad adopter. My 1st Gen iPad was a major game changer. I would get artwork in email, import it into Brushes or Art Studio, draw or write my notes directly on
the file and send it back. I use a stylus with it for that purpose. I never printed anything out until we were in final stages of line art and coloring. It was amazing how much it streamlined the process. We even put a tablet computer in the book. Apple, if you want your logo on our tablet, contact me. Happy to cut a deal!!!
Without giving too much away, could you have any plans for future stories involving the main characters along with the Angel of Death?
I have this mapped out for a major arc of interconnected stories that will feature other characters tied to the same mythology. Without giving away anything, what transpires in this first series of the The Vault is transpiring elsewhere in the same time frame. Other people are finding what we find in this story and having to deal with it. And our understanding of the Angel(s) of Death will grow.
Beyond the contemporary storyline, there are tales from both the past and the future that I would like to get to or work with other writers on. I think it's a rich universe to draw upon. We have some kickass robots in here too. Did I mention the kickass robots? And the deep sea suit?
Is there a greater mythology at play here?
Oh yeah. These days, we are entering a period of greater and greater uncertainty. Though I don't believe in the end of all things, I do believe in change. And change can be profoundly disruptive. I am fan of Ray Kurzweil and his predictions of the Singularity, which is a kind of evolution of consciousness. But I'm not entirely sure that it's going to be a good thing for everybody and like nuclear technology and genetic engineering, serious morale and ethical questions have to be explored. If I can upload my consciousness to a machine and essentially live forever, what becomes of my soul? Did I ever have one in the first place? Will immortality turn out to be damnation? Will machines evolve consciousness on their own? Will their consciousness be a superior, more morale life form? Whose side will the Angels be on?
The Vault is the beginning of a different perspective on Angelic lore and its relation to humanity. You could almost say, it starts with a retelling of Creation which is why the first line of the story is, "This is the beginning of how it all ends."
The first issue of The Vault will go on sale on July 27th.