Recently Vault Comics announced that it would take on publishing and distribution duties for WifWulf, the original folklore comic by Dailen Ogden, Collin Kelly, and Jackson Lanzing (AndWorld is on letters) that was successfully (and quickly!) funded on Kickstarter. The story featuring werewolves, bloody revenge, and deep loneliness will have its crowdfunding version as well as a comic shop and bookstore edition in 2022.
Ogden, Kelly, and Lanzing chatted with The Beat about the book and their new partnership with the publisher.
Deanna Destito: What prompted you to tell this story and in this folklore/myth style?
Dailen Ogden: This is such an interesting question but my answer for it is a bit boring–this is just the kind of work I already love to do! Artistically, I’m drawn to things that feel supernatural, extrasensory. No matter what the setting is, I want to convey the mystery of a world that lurks beyond the image borders, and there’s nothing quite like folklore to make a person feel connected to the wild magic running through all of human experience. It works as the perfect backdrop to tell a story about the things you fear, inside yourself and out.
As for the plot, some of that is prompted directly by lived experience, and in many ways, WIFWULF is the messy, public excision of an old wound.
Jackson Lanzing: This whole story came from a mutual excavation of shame, trauma, and survival mechanisms that we all needed in some way to understand and express. This is not a traditional werewolf tale – a story of the terrifying brutality we’re all capable of in the light of the moon. No, WIFWULF is rather a story that frames the transformation into a beast of the wild as something triumphant and transcendent. That was what brought the Hivemind to the table – an opportunity to look at this iconic “monster” in an entirely new light. As for the aesthetic, Dailen had the original piece of art – an early version of the banner image you can see on our Kickstarter – and it was fundamentally folkloric in its aesthetic and feel. So we just engaged our most mythic brainwaves and started telling a campfire tale that only Dailen could draw.
Collin Kelly: And honestly, we tried to tell the story in a more direct, grounded fashion… but it just felt wrong. This isn’t a history, this is a campfire story wrapped in a legend that is hiding a Truth – which is simply what the story needed to be.
Destito: The art perfectly fits with the style of this tale. How did you decide on this direction for the visuals?
Ogden: Thank you! I’d say the answer ties directly into the last question. This comic was developed by the three of us with my art already at the forefront, so there was never really any doubt in my mind as to how the final pages would look. This book was always meant to be an extension of my style and my interests, so the visuals began on the ground floor before the story ever started to take shape. As a comic artist I do my best to match my techniques to the tone of the script I’m given–but in this case, WIFWULF was written to match me, instead. It’s a deeply, deeply personal thing, on as many levels as we could make it so.
Lanzing: Precisely. WIFWULF is like a bespoke suit that Collin and I put together specifically for Dailen. This book would never have been written nor exist at all were it not for the inspiration we gathered moment to moment from Dailen’s art, process, life experience, and friendship.
Kelly: The art is the story is the art – it’s an ouroboros. That being said, we’ve started to get our first fan art in, and – if we hit our 45K stretch goal – we’re going to have an amazing gallery of other artists’ take on the style and power of WIFWULF! Seeing how other artists bring Dailen’s aesthetic to life is going to be very very cool.
Destito: Why did you choose Kickstarter?
Lanzing: Because that’s where wild dreams go to find life! We never anticipated this project would find a home at a traditional publisher, in large part because it is so fundamentally unique in structure, tone, and content. This isn’t an ongoing or a miniseries, nor a full graphic novel. It’s a graphic novella with a huge artbook component – with a strange and poetic quality that was inspired by the Neil Gaiman stories we grew up with.
Kelly: This didn’t really fit anyone’s model – which is why Kickstarter was the perfect place. With the pack in play, we didn’t need to go it alone. We could make this thing happen regardless of a larger organization giving us permission. The readers could give us that permission and help lift us up. And boy, did they ever.
Ogden: Pretty much what Jack and Collin said: Kickstarter was our best bet for making a book where no one could tell us “no.” Structurally, WIFWULF is unique; it doesn’t fit in the current comic business model, but we didn’t feel right adapting the story into something more “marketable.” We made something that resonated with the three of us, and our aim was always to release it as such.
Destito: Why is Vault the right home for publishing after the campaign is done?
Lanzing: Truthfully, they were the only publisher on our radar for WIFWULF – both because we trusted them after our experience on Zojaqan and Dark One, and also because they fundamentally understood what kind of book we were trying to produce. This book sits beautifully in their line, but it’s also a really unique beast – and Vault’s incredible family-operated crew, we knew it would get the bespoke attention it needed to hit the audience wider than we could’ve ever hoped.
Ogden: I don’t have a lot of publishing experience under my belt, but what I do have is a ton of good experiences with Adrian and Damian Wassel, and with Nathan Gooden–most of them from swinging by to say hello at a con somewhere in the United States. I’ve never met a group of guys with such unbridled love for the work they’re doing, even and especially when it strays off the beaten path. I always thought if not Vault, then no one. They have this amazing lineup of unique titles, and a passionate team working to get them into as many hands as possible. We’re really honored to have their might behind us for both Kickstarter fulfillment and for direct market distribution.
Kelly: This book has always had that special magic that comes from three people who really care about what they do, making the kind of art that only gets made with your best friends and zero oversight. But we always knew that at some point we would need to share it with the world. To know that it has resonated so well with so many – whether they found us through our socials or a friend or Vault’s spotlight – has felt simply amazing. Vault’s backing isn’t just a gift from the fulfillment gods – it’s a badge we get to wear, that says this singular work is ready to sit on their shelf of incredibly powerful, wonderful stories. Though this started with three, we now number over 1000…if you’re already running with us, we thank you – but if you are just now hearing the howl? The moon is out, the sky is clear. Come and join our pack.
The Kickstarter for WifWulf ends this weekend on Saturday, November 13. To back the project click here.