If you don’t know about it already, Vault Comics is an up and coming indie comics publisher that Women Write About Comics has covered several times. Vault Comics, or Vault, is a privately owned independent comics publisher founded in 2016 by two ambitious and enthusiastic brothers, Damian and Adrian Wassel. They partnered with Art Director Nathan Gooden (Killbox, Powerless, Zojaqan) and their father Damian Wassel, Sr. to begin the science fiction and fantasy focused comics publisher. In just two years the team of four has solicited and published ten comic series, and worked with 15 different creators. This is a comics publisher dedicated not only to quality, but to discovering and supporting burgeoning a diverse cast of illustrators, colorists, writers, and letterers. And Vault uses multiple media outlets to promote and distribute their comics. Not only that, but the stories that they choose to tell often explore deeper meanings and move beyond entertainment. This is a present and relevant publisher that has had a chance to give voices to people of color and women. So far they have done well with that in a short period of time, and are promising.
Vault has decided to start of 2018 the right way, with a commitment to giving women a place front and center (literally) in a new initiative to bring a special line of variant covers to audiences everywhere. What’s so special about these covers? They will all be illustrated and colored by women! We are talking a killer lineup, too. Here’s a list of some of the wonderful creators Vault will be working with: Tess Fowler, Jen Bartel, Irene Koh, Marguerite Sauvage, Natasha Alterici, Dani Strips, Naomi Franquiz, Paulina Ganucheau, Ariela Kristantina, Tamra Bonvillain, Marissa Louise, Claudia Aguirre, and Stelladía.
Vault kindly gave Women Write About Comics exclusive coverage of this event, so we did some exploring just for you!
Ostensibly your goal for this initiative is to put women literally in front; on the covers of your titles. What is the intended goal of that move—what happens next?
I hope women everywhere—fans, creators, retailers—see these covers and connect to art that necessarily rejects all the toxic and false voices who somehow claim an entire artform and storytelling medium as being not-for-women. And not just one piece of art for one series, but covers, on every issue, for every one of our stories, for at least an entire year.
Maybe it does nothing more than offer the comics community a ton of stunning covers. Maybe it inspires some confidence. Maybe it encourages other people in positions of authority—those responsible—to do better. Any of these outcomes would be great. None could ever be bad.
Art, stories, these are the tools with which we build compassion. They are how we meet each other.
Employing women in such a visible manner is a great approach! Do you have any plans to continue this, maybe branching out into featuring women in other specific roles?
Kim McLean, our associate editor, has just begun Open Source on Vault’s Facebook, which spotlights some of our creators. The interviews are a ton of fun. So far, we’ve featured artist Sam Beck and colorist Tamra Bonvillain, and Kim certainly isn’t planning on stopping there. She’ll continue to spotlight the many women who contribute to every single part of creating a comic book.
How does Vault Comics actively support the female comics community outside of this promotional run?
Women create at every step of making a Vault comic—writing, art, colors, letters, editing. I’d quit if that ever changed. The whole point of collaboration is to create something singular and cohesive from the efforts of many.
Hopefully, all-women creative teams will someday be as ubiquitous as all-men creative teams. Until there is genuine equality, it’s paramount that we work diligently to inspire confidence in women who create and read, and smash open every door that someone has ever tried to close to women—or anyone, for that matter. In short, Vault Comics actively supports women by publishing their work. We’d burn this place down before we became the kind of publisher that celebrates its first female creative team in forty years.
And what do some of these artists think about Vault and their new program? Here are some exclusive takes from a couple of them:
“It’s rare to see a company in a male-dominated industry putting their money where their mouth is when it comes to diversity initiatives (and getting it right), and Vault is doing exactly that. Adrian and Damian and everyone else behind the scenes are rad, socially sensitive folks, and they really believe in their mission of inclusivity. Also, it’s just fun to work with them! And, perhaps a bit more crassly, their rates are great. As publishers, they give me hope for a more progressive and sustainable future for creators in comics.”
– Irene Koh (Legend of Korra, Batgirl, Secret Loves of Geek Girls)
“Doing covers for Wasted Space was my first time collaborating with Vault. I fell in love with the pitch—retro, cynical, and funny—and was really encouraged by all I’ve seen from Vault on social media and in my comic book shop, as I’m a big fan of SF and Fantasy. The plus in all this is the purpose: To push the visibility of women artists through the All-Women Cover Line.”
– Marguerite Sauvage (Faith, DC Bombshells, Red Sonja, Civil War, Thor, Adventure Time, Shade: The Changing Girl)
Honestly, these sorts of promotions are fun to see. There are a lot of great women out there making art, and Vault seems to be fairly vociferously committed to supporting those women which is certainly not a stance certain other publishers are able to lay claim to. A program like this not only accomplishes that goal, but gives you, the reader, a chance at holding some of that art in your very own hands!