Sam Sarkar: Exploring the Vault and Living the DreamA comics interview article by: Alex Rodrik
Sam Sarkar is living the dream: creating comics, living the Hollywood life and enjoying time with his family. He's the artist on The Vault, an amazing new horror comic. Come see why Sam's living the dream!
Alex Rodrik: The last time we spoke we discussed Caliber, which you'd released with Radical. Tell us a bit about what you've been up to since then.
Sam Sarkar: I've been living the Dream. Getting up in the morning, waking up the kids, going to Hollywood and working on the talking pictures. In my limited spare time, I have been writing a couple of things. One of which turned into The Vault.
Rodrik: What was the genesis of The Vault?
Sarkar: I've been thinking about the ideas behind The Vault since I was a teenager. This is the product of many years of daydreaming, if your daydreams have a nightmarish quality to them, I suppose. I was always fascinated by the mysteries of the treasure pit on Oak Island. As many people have been since it was first discovered in 1795. When I was sixteen, I started to come up with a macabre theory of what was down in the bottom of the pit. As the years went by, I found other things to tie into the story. When I started to look for a structure for the story, I was inspired by Alien, The Thing, the H.P. Lovecraft story "Under the Pyramids", a bunch of stuff really. Because Oak Island is so well known, I decided to change the setting, so I moved the story to Sable Island, which has its own notorious history as "The Graveyard of the North Atlantic". The more I started thinking about it, the more pieces would come to me. Finally, I had the idea for the first line of the story, "This is the beginning of how it all ends." And I was off to the races.
Rodrik: Why did you choose to go the route of Image Comics on this one as opposed to any other publisher?
Sarkar: I talked it over with David Elliott, editor of The Vault, and it really seemed like the best way to go. Image has really done a great job with creator owned comics and they have established a really great level of quality and variety by maintaining high standards for what they put out. It's really quite an honor to come out through Image.
Rodrik: Tell us about The Vault, who are our characters and what's they're struggle?
Sarkar: Our main two characters are Dr. Michael Page and Dr. Gabrielle Parker. For years they've been working on the Oak Island mystery and they have discovered another, similar pit on Sable Island. They are not quite sure what they are going to find but they both believe that it is something of monumental significance. While Gabrielle has been focused on the research, Michael has worked to assemble a team of investor/treasure hunters to help them excavate and explore the pit on Sable Island. The expedition is very expensive and as we find them in the story, they are racing against the elements as well as dwindling resources, to get to the bottom of the pit. Beyond that, they have to deal with what they finally uncover and the conflicting agendas amongst the team over what to do with it. It has a certain element of Pandora's Box.
Rodrik: When we'd discussed Caliber, I asked you which character you felt you most identified with in the story. Which character was your voice.... For CALIBER you said it was Jean Michel Whitefeather a very wise and mystical man, who would it be in The Vault?
Sarkar: Probably Michael. Michael is at this for all kinds of reasons. The biggest one is that he wants to see Gabrielle succeed. There is a complicated history between the two of them. While she is an idealist and a great researcher, Michael has a more nuts and bolts pragmatism that guides his decision making. He is the one that balances the commercial aspects against the academic. He's also the one who takes the most physical risks in much of the story. Ultimately, he has to confront the results of his decisions.
Rodrik: What plans do you have for this story and these characters? Is it something we can look forward to seeing several runs of, or is it a closed story?
Sarkar: I'd love to do a lot more of these. There is a larger arc of stories that continue from this one but there are also a lot of spinoff stories that are implied by the discovery in the pit. I certainly hope people want more.
Rodrik: How do you feel you've evolved as a writer since you first took up the keyboard with CALIBER?
Sarkar: I don't know. I hope that I've gotten simpler and more exciting. There is a big mythological underpinning to the stuff I like to work on. I always do a lot of research on these things but I try to push that stuff aside and just tell a good story about some people that you hopefully care about. There's a lot of fun nerdy stuff to talk about that alludes to some of that research but I'm hoping that I've peppered the story with it rather than smother it in a gooey sauce of too much weird esoteric detail. 2001: A Space Odyssey had a massive amount of research behind it, but it all became so seamless.
Rodrik: What has it been like to team up with Garrie again?
Sarkar: It has been wonderful. I really think he's going to be a huge name in the business. His work is very powerful and it is literally like he has made my dream come to life. Something I had envisioned for decades. We have really developed a wonderful electronic rapport working across borders and time zones to bring something amazing to life. The art in this book is award worthy. Garrie conveys emotion, depth and mythological resonance along with insane action.
Rodrik: What new themes did you want to explore this time around that you didn't get to in your last go at comics?
Sarkar: In a macro sense, there is something in this story that hints at our current evolutionary destiny. What, as human beings, are we destined to become? What is our place in the grand scheme of things? What's love got to do with it? Seriously. What does love have to do with the big picture? Caliber was about the notion of justice being a concept beyond the practical realm of mankind, that justice is an inherent feature in the fabric of the universe, like gravity.
Rodrik: 10 words. Sell our readers The Vault. Go!
Sarkar: A page turning, edge of your seat, thrill-ride. Done!
Rodrik: Thanks a lot, Sam!