Cover Girl: Vault Gets Undressed [NSFW]

In a very special edition of our Cover Girl series, I’m taking a look at some very sexy, very NSFW covers and chatting with Vault Comics’ EiC, Adrian Wassel about the company’s Vault Undressed line.

Vault has introduced many industry innovations since their start up as they seek to reach new and existing readers in creative ways — check out our Vault Pubwatch to learn more! Their niche focuses on speculative fiction and horror comics, and their incentives include some delicious covers, orchestrated by designer Tim Daniel. From homages to great moments in comics covers, to last year’s Pulp & Paint series, the year-long themes create a greater opportunity for collectors to enjoy unique variants for their favorite reads.

This year, Vault introduced the Cover Artist In Residence program, or CAIR. Calling on the talents of Jen Hickman, Joshua Hixson, Corin Howell, Martin Simmonds, and Yoshi Yoshitani, the CAIR program will offer open-order variants for the entire run of the Vault series of each artist’s choosing.

While these variant covers have been widely publicized, Vault has some racier covers up its sleeve, discreetly offered in black bags that offer a little hint at the titillating mysteries that lie beneath the plastic.

How exactly did Vault get undressed? “It began rather organically,” explains Wassel. “We had an incredible CAIR team, as well as numerous series artists, who expressed interest in drawing NSFW covers.”

One of the first covers to receive the naughty but very nice treatment was Money Shot, a series about scientists who explore strange new worlds and film their XXX alien sexy times in order to earn funding for their work. Mature covers for Money Shot was a no-brainer, and as the black polybagged covers started to come together, Daniel — “as per his usual genius,” says Wassel — built the Undressed brand around them.

Money Shot

The branding encouraged Wassel and Vault’s CAIR team to explore more opportunities within the line. “At the same time, some of the sales and incentive tools Diamond had been offering to publishers shifted, so we had to reevaluate our cover program for the year. Luckily, we had the burgeoning Undressed line to lean into, so that’s what we did.”

Not all of Vault’s titles get the Undressed treatment. “​The creators pretty much lead the decision. Based on the content of the series, we will encourage creators to explore the idea and let them make the call. Obviously, many of our series are a natural fit. Some need a motif or theme to make the covers feel integral to the story. Others simply don’t fit the Undressed line.”

Before learning this was the case from Wassel, I had already been impressed by the Vault Undressed covers for this very reason. I’m all for a sexy pin-up, but it’s the sexiness in context that really makes a cover truly hot. Titles like The Last Book You’ll Ever Read, Money Shot, and Barbaric easily fall into the category of mature content and it’s not surprising that they are part of the Vault Undressed lineup, but what I love about the covers is that they actually speak to the story, providing subtle clues about what we can expect to find when we turn the pages.

This is particularly evident in Barbaric where Tim Seeley’s Vault Undressed cover for the first issue absolutely made me desire more. The character depicted on the cover doesn’t make her appearance until almost the end of the first issue, but after gazing at the conceptualization of a woman who literally draws her power from her own flesh, drawn as if she’s moulded from the page itself, it’s hard not to be intrigued and want to get to know her better. In the second issue’s cover, again by Seeley, she’s walking up the steps of an ominous cathedral. The image seems simplistic enough, but when you learn about her history with this building and its occupants and turn to the final pages of the issue, you come to understand just how much more is going on with Seeley’s cover.

Barbaric

How can readers get their hands all over these covers? You won’t find the naughty cover images in Previews Catalogue. You also won’t see much promotion beyond the sleek black polybags and Vault Undressed logo, or tantalizing sneak peeks on their artists’ social media, because Vault wants to surprise its readers. However, Vault is one of the publishers that doesn’t want their readers and retailers to jump through hoops to obtain variants for their collections.  “Most of our Vault Undressed covers are either open order, which means retailers and readers can order them like any other cover — no qualifiers to unlock — or retailer exclusives that can only be purchased through the shops we’ve partnered with.” If you missed out on a cover, don’t worry, Wassel says. “Just ask your shop if it’s still in stock. If it is, they can order it for you!”

The Last Book You’ll Ever Read

Wassel promises that there’s definitely more to come in the Undressed line. “We’ve got some steamy plans.” Vault will also continue exploring its fun and interesting approach to variant covers. Wassel also promises that there will also be more unique cover themes in the future. “Tim has a deep and rich knowledge of comics history. So, we’re leaning into that with our cover branding, bringing back some staples of the past — one, in particular — in a fun and entirely new way that we’ve been excited about for a long time.”

“After all, next year will be our 5th anniversary.”

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Wendy Browne

Wendy Browne

Publisher, mother, geek, executive assistant sith, gamer, writer, lazy succubus, blogger, bibliophile. Not necessarily in that order.

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