Vault Comics covers every comic book base imaginable. Whether it's urban fantasy like Submerged, science fiction like Vagrant Queen, or genre-defying fare like Zojaqan, Vault Comics has something for every type of comic reader. And if you're looking for something a little more classical (with a twist), Vault has Songs for the Dead, a story in which the protagonist, Bethany is a bard... and a necromancer.
You don't often read about heroes whose big tricks are singing songs and forcing the dead to do their bidding, so, with the complete first TPB of Songs for the Dead released September 26, SYFY WIRE spoke with its creators, writers Andrea Fort and Michael Christopher Heron and artist Sam Beck.
"The idea started a few years back as a vague concept I had in the back of my head of a misunderstood necromancer," Heron says. "It wasn't until I met Andrea that the idea start to take shape, and we started to consider the right medium for that story.
"When you think of necromancers, you generally think of tall scary dudes, usually rancid or rotting themselves who are grim and miserable. So going the other direction, we were thinking young, bright-eyed, hopeful, and very much alive. I specifically remember making a necromancer build in Skyrim and just doing good deeds and trying to be as nice as that game would let me, which I feel like really got me in that headspace."
Obviously, it would be a pretty lonely journey if Bethany was traipsing alone across the fantasy landscape with her ever-growing army of the shambling dead. Thankfully, there's Ellisar, who acts as Bethany's co-conspirator throughout the series.
But no comic is worthwhile without the right art. From the beginning, the specific layout of Songs was important to Fort, who says the team "worked really hard to make the world feel dynamic and alive, so I felt it was important to me to see that reflected in every aspect of our storytelling."
Luckily, Beck came from a background in graphic design. "I love using grids and rectangles," she says. "So I do the opposite of that when I work on Songs for the Dead. It's loud and unreserved. The shape of panels becomes linked to the emotion and physical movement within each panel."
Much of the emotion and inspiration for the story comes from the team's collective love for fantasy RPGs. Beck also looked to Garth Nix's Old Kingdom series and some of his favorite manga such as the Vinland Saga, Berserk, and Claymore.
As Songs for the Dead moves beyond the first arc, Heron promises that "the Covenant goes ever onwards. But we've got a few surprises in store on the way. Bethany's gonna need more help before she gets there."
Additional help could come in the form of Bethany and Ellisar's new dynamic, as well as the soon-to-be-seen parts of Alavesh and the inhabitants the pair will meet along their journey. And seeing as how Bethany will be continuously challenged by her unknown powers, some more help could be useful.
"Let's take a moment to be honest about Bethany, shall we?" Fort says. "For all of her sweetness and well-meaning, there has to be something else going on right? She has unexplored power, and I think that a lot of things could go very wrong if she were to fully harness that power."
"If she succumbs to corruption," Heron adds, "who would step up to challenge her? We'll start to get those answers the deeper we go in the story."
Who, indeed? If you have already read the first story, those are the questions you'll be grappling with for a little longer. But, if you're new to the world of Alavesh, then you're in luck — the entire first issue of Songs for the Dead is in the gallery below. Check it out and pick up the entire TPB, which is available now.