By Ed Sum
(The Vintage Tempest)
Andrea Fort and Michael Christopher Heron are the writing team behind Vault Comic‘s Songs for the Dead. This series is still ongoing and it came to my attention when I saw it turned a lot of the conceptions concerning Necromancers upside down! This character class is not from Dungeons and Dragons as we normally know it and the protagonist, Bethany, is a bright-eyed young girl whose desire for adventure keeps her going. Her music, though, is able to bring the dead back to life!
The consequences are worth noting. She is a pied piper, and the zombie critters that keep her company is amusing. Along the way, the supernatural encounters she faces are worse, and what she does to answer them got me curious. It’s like these creators decided to have the thought experiment of what if George Romero was asked to write a Disney Princess story. To truly visualize it, “We also have to acknowledge our artist Sam Beck without whom it would be a lot of words on a page without those beautiful beautiful images. We owe her so much for her contribution,” said Fort and Heron.
When considering this team crafted a tale that’s unique in the world of fantasy, they had to do more. It was important for these creators to have this story live in the fantasy worlds that we, as readers, are already familiar with while subverting the tropes, They picked and chose from every product they ever loved, and were careful in not to overdo it.
These creators love cinema and know its history (especially Fort)—ranging from Ingmar Bergman to Buffy the Vampire Slayer to Harry Potter—and in what they have crafted shows. There’s more The Legend of Korra style nuances in this book to which Fort admits she’s a huge fan of. They wanted a book that’s accessible to everyone taking an interest in their debut book.
The two are avid role-playing gamers and just how they became a team was not while gaming. Although they had worked for the same company and had mutual friends, they never met. “Instead, it was through online dating, as most anti-social squirrelly millennials did,” laughed Fort.
When they finally got together, they instantly clicked and discovered they have a love for storytelling in the comic book medium. To say one did more than the other is unfair. Ultimately, the narrative is of their fictional daughter coming of age. The idea for this series arrived one day when Ford mentioned how her companion came to her one day and said, “‘You know I’ve been thinking a lot about how necromancers are always these really scary old dudes in these cloaks. Why can’t they be just like some sweet girl?’
“And being a woman who likes strong complex female characters, we realized crafting a story that was really female forward was important.”
Whether this thought came from him one day looking over his vintage playing card and tarot collection (to which Death is famously depicted) or out of the blue, the two knew this idea had to be further developed. The first few issues of this comic book were self-published and, very quickly, Vault Comics came knocking at their door. These two creators said being discovered was a boon. Fort said this company is wonderful for taking them on and they can continue telling more stories.
The second series, The Necromancer’s Map, is coming out this summer and the two believes it’s a great jumping in point for new readers. It will continue the story of the main characters Bethany and Alyssa, and explore the world even more.
This next arc will see her take on more of a role as a bard. Much like the Dungeons and Dragons character class, this role needs to be explored. Bethany is a minstrel first and a hellraiser second. “What better representation of a hero is there than somebody who can rally people with their hope and their optimism?” said Ford.
For admirers of independent works, this comic is one to certainly look at. To keep up with the latest happenings, please follow their Twitter page here.