It’s been called “The Graveyard of the North Atlantic”, and for good reason. The small Canadian landmass called Sable Island is a narrow, crescent-shaped sandbar that has caused over 350 shipwrecks in its time, due to its shallows and frequent fog and propensity for hurricane weather. But beneath its lapping waves lies a legend of a treasure that’d make any man –or any group of men – rich beyond their wildest dreams. In the upcoming Image miniseries The Vault, a group of archeologists and treasure hunters set out for the fabled treasure on Sable Island. While their concern lies in a massive storm projected to bear down in the island in a few days’ time, what they find underneath the water is more worrisome than anything nature itself could throw at them.
Scheduled for release on July 27th, The Vault is the latest in a partnership between writer Sam Sarkar and artist Garrie Gastonny. After working on Radical’s Caliber series, the duo have branched out on their own in this 3-issue series. Newsarama talked with the duo just days before their work hits shelves for this interview.Newsarama: What can you tell us about The Vault, Sam?
Sam Sarkar: The Vault is a contemporary science fiction/horror story that is partly based on the legend of the Oak Island Treasure Pit. It is about a team of archaeologists and treasure hunters that are trying to uncover another pit located on Sable Island. Their search is largely aimed at recovering what they believe to be a valuable treasure, but they are unprepared for what they are really about to uncover.
Nrama: It might sound like a work of fiction, but I know Sable Island and its status as the “Graveyard of the North Atlantic” are true. How’d you come across this interesting island, and how did it develop into The Vault?Sarkar: I grew up in Nova Scotia and knew the history of Sable Island. At the time, there were all these stories about how treacherous the Bermuda Triangle was, but in point of fact, the Bermuda Triangle pales in comparison to the North Atlantic and in particular, Sable Island. Prior to the advent of modern navigation and lighthouses, Sable was a disastrous shipping hazard and has a long history of shipwrecks including one that left a small herd of horses behind. That herd has miraculously survived to this day.
Nrama: Garry, how’d you go about drawing a real place and inject these fantastical elements to it?Garrie Gastonny: Getting as many references to do this comic was important. I collected many photos and images of the island and all the elements that connected to the history of it. It was interesting to draw those things as real as possible. You can use some of your imagination. However, you can’t go to far because you don’t want the realistic feel of this comic to fade away. I wanted to do this comic book as real as possible and for that I illustrated it as detailed as I could, especially the backgrounds. The readers can feel the events in the story as alive and really happening. And I hope that I managed to bring something new here.
Nrama: Tell us more about this team of treasure hunters who come to Sable Island.
Sarkar: The team is lead by Dr. Gabrielle Parker and Dr. Michael Page. Though not a couple per se, there is definitely chemistry between them. They have been partners in research since their early university days. It is Gabrielle who wrote her thesis on Oak Island and later discovered the existence of another possible pit on Sable Island. Michael took on the role of team builder and found other scientists and treasure hunters who had an interest in finding out what was in the Sable Island pit. Michael is also the one with the most diving experience and operates the special deep sea diving suit that is used in excavating the pit. Jesus Mondragon, one of the other team members, has a brother who is an archaeologist working on a similar pit in Argentina. Jesus is hoping that things found in this pit will help him and his brother in unlocking the mystery of the pit in Argentina. Right at the beginning of the story, we bring in the final member of the team, a mysterious Russian named Kirilov. Kirilov has the money they need to finish the dig, as well as a very advanced robot that will greatly speed up the process.Nrama: And what exactly is inside this Vault?
Sarkar: As to the contents of The Vault, I don’t want to be too coy about it, but there are definitely clues in the beginning of the story that allude to the possibility that what they will find is not treasure. More like something H.P. Lovecraft would have an easy time describing. It is definitely something that will reshape the understanding of history.
Nrama: Garrie, this must have really put you through your paces drawing it – you’re drawing high tech scuba suits as well as ancient ruins and fantastic creatures. How’d you balance it all without being overwhelmed?Gastonny: By doing one thing at a time. After the sketches are made and all the references are collected, I took my time to make the pages as detailed as possible. So when I’m drawing the high tech stuff, I took my time to finish them all before I moved on to ancient ruins, etc. Sometimes though, I can picture some of the scenes in my mind and then I draw it immediately. And I was lucky to have a good team for this comic book. My colorist is the one who helped me to finish this comic.
Nrama: You two worked previously on Caliber, so what led you to break out on your own with this Image series?Gastonny: I had already worked with Sam Sakar once before with Caliber. When he contacted me to do this new title, I gave a definite “YES.” One thing about The Vault that I loved doing was the story and the idea of making a comic as realistic as you can. Of course, this is not an easy thing to do. There’s so many interesting scenes in this comic that made me want to draw it.
Sarkar: I really wanted to do this series independently. I enjoy the process of collaboration immensely but it is sometimes hard to tell a good story when the committee gets too big. For me, The Vault re-unites me with the best part of the team from Caliber without the extra opinions that sometimes slow things down or take things down a path you didn’t intend. Image has built up such a great reputation as a publisher of great quality that writers and artists can go to and have their works find a welcome audience. And these days, with everyone’s entertainment dollars shrinking, finding the audience is a huge deal. I couldn’t be happier with the release of The Vault. Already the response has been great.