Vault Comics is getting ready to release its newest epic, WIFWULF. Hitting comic shops on April 24, the original folklore myth is from the creative minds of artist Dailen Ogden and writers Jackson Lanzing and Collin Kelly. Andworld completes the team with letters. 
Lanzing, Kelly, and Ogden chatted with The Beat about their version of the werewolf myth. 
DEANNA DESTITO: How did this tale come about?
DAILEN OGDEN: Oh man, how does any tale come about? You pull threads from all over the place—dreams, things you read, things you experience in your own life. WIFWULF is all three of those things for me. The overarching aesthetic and feel of the book are definitely drawn from mythology (the first ever illustration was inspired by reading about Medeina, the Lithuanian goddess of the forest) but the core of the book is deeply personal. 
OGDEN (cont.): Collin, Jack, and I were initially planning to make another comic together, but that one fell through. I remember they told me that they’d still like to work with me, and they asked me the question that every artist loves to hear—what do you want to draw a comic about? From there, I brought them a piece of concept art at San Diego Comic-Con, and we started spitballing ideas. 
COLLIN KELLY: The piece still hangs on my wall – a haunting image of a wolf-skulled woman, running with the pack, painted in gorgeous technicolor. “The Wif-Wulf” – a turn on the masculine “were-wolf” – was a spirit of female power, lupin fury, and untamable wildness. In working with Dailen to unpack who she was, the story started to naturally unfold, and soon enough it felt less like we were creating a modern folktale, and more like we were uncovering one that had merely been forgotten. 
DESTITO: The story, on the surface, reads just like any myth or folktale, but much like a myth, there is much more underneath. How does a story like this resonate in today’s world?
JACKSON LANZING: The last thing we wanted to do was produce some kind of sterile myth built on trying to replicate a feel, rather than speaking to human experience directly. Character must come first, even in a strange, surreal story like this one. So it really began by unpacking that which made this story personal to all of us. Once we started speaking and sharing ideas, a lot of the initial process boiled down to Collin and I listening to Dailen’s personal account of abuse and recovery… and seeing how it echoed our own experiences in various respects. We found the personal underneath the fantasy. And from that, we started to really cook.
OGDEN: I think the beautiful part about folktales and mythology is that they’re meant to be stories about something bigger than just one person; in a way, they’re stories about all of us. Our main character Charity is her own person, but she’s also the avatar of anyone who reads the book and sees themselves in her. She belongs to—and is a part of—anyone who relates to her experiences with intimate partner violence, and anyone who relates to the longing she feels for a transformation that frees her from the painful bonds of the life she knows. Werewolves are an amazing allegory for a huge spectrum of feelings and experiences, and I think everyone can, at some point in their lives, feel the pull of that desire for change. 
WIFWULF cover art
DESTITO: How did this team get together and what’s it like working together?
OGDEN: I met Jackson at WonderCon in 2015, the one year it was being held in the L.A. Convention Center. His then-fiancee-now-wife Alex sent him over to my table, where some of my work had caught her eye, and we got to chatting. I remember being super nervous because I overheard him talking to the artist at the table next to me about the signing he’d just finished. I thought, “Wow, he must be some kind of big shot if he’s signing books.” From there, Jackson introduced me to Collin and as they say, the rest is all history.
OGDEN (cont.): I adore working with the two of them. I’ve had a pretty wide spectrum of collaborative experiences in my time in comics, and The Hivemind ranks among some of my favorite people. One thing I think they do especially well is take feedback—this book, by its nature, required a hefty amount of vulnerability to create and neither of them has ever approached me with an ego during the conversations we had about the characters, the plot, and the themes. A book this personal can either bring people together or drive them apart, and I’m incredibly thankful that it was the former. These two are craftsmen through and through, and I deeply admire how dedicated they are to making work that is as delicate and meaningful and lovingly done as they can muster. WIFWULF turned them from collaborators into dear friends, and this book will always hold a special place in my heart as a result. 
LANZING: Yeah, look, Alex has an incredible eye for artists – so when she speaks, it’s important to listen. I’ve just been an enormous fan of Dailen since the moment we met and am deeply thankful for their friendship over the years. They did a painting of my mom’s dog, ya know? It’s a beautiful thing, one of those friendships you really treasure that’s built on comics but has flourished into much more. 
KELLY: All I can add is that from the very start, Dailen felt like a member of our family – of our pack. Someone who could match Jack’s poetic spirit (yeah, I said it), while at the same time join me in the messy muck of viscera and bones bones bones. Sometimes as you get more established, you start to feel domesticated; but when we’re working with Dailen, we never forget to howl at the moon. 
DESTITO: How is it working with Vault?
OGDEN: Vault may not be the biggest publisher out there, but they’re a determined group of folks with some incredibly tenacious, talented people on their payroll—and their creative roster. I think WIFWULF will be right at home next to their other titles, and I can’t possibly describe how thankful I am for all of the hard work that went into taking the pages of this comic and turning it into a full-fledged, hold-in-your-hands-and-smell-the-ink-on-the-pages book. This is a first for me, and I’ve learned a ton from it. 
KELLY: We’ve known the team at Vault since before they were even called Vault; over the years, the quality of their work (which started high!) has only become more impressive. Our first book with them, ZOJAQAN, was pitched over tacos at a mariachi-blasting cantina in East LA; when they brought us on to work with Brandon Sanderson on DARK ONE, we had another incredible experience. As this book was being kickstarted, they reached out to see if they could be a good match to bring it to its glorious fulfillment; the final book they’ve helped this become is really beyond our wildest expectations.
LANZING: Ultimately, we owe everything to our backers. They’ve had an enormous amount of patience with us as we’ve learned the ropes of taking a project like this to completion – and we’re so thankful to Vault for helping us get this both to them and to the rest of the market at large. Wait until you see what Tim Daniel and his team did on design. It’s gorgeous.
DESTITO: Do you plan to expand this universe?
OGDEN: Not at this moment. I think that the note we end on is an important one—it hands the reader a feeling and encourages them to run alongside it, to let it carry them. To tell more stories about the Wifwulf herself—I think—would be to step away from the folktale feel of the book. That said, I probably have more stories about other monstrous goddesses in me, so who knows? Stay tuned, I guess!
LANZING: That said, I would love to see how this story could adapt into other mediums. We played with prose in the back matter, which expanded the world a bit beyond our initial expectations. Seeing how this might play in animation or live action or audio, how music might change the experience… I think there’s plenty of ways WIFWULF could still evolve without adding a bunch of unnecessary worldbuilding. Sky’s the limit.
DESTITO: How would you describe this story to readers who aren’t sure if a genre tale such as this is for them?
OGDEN: If you want the elevator pitch: WIFWULF is Princess Mononoke meets The Witch. Can you stomach some gore? Do you like unconventional werewolves, and fiction with a historical slant? If yes, this might be right up your alley. If you find yourself drawn towards stories of painful and beautiful transformation, this book will pick you up by the scruff and carry you along for the ride. If you want to give it a try but you aren’t certain about it, I’d encourage you to ask your local library to order a copy!
OGDEN (cont.): That said—I think this book isn’t for everyone, and that’s a good thing. Part of what makes WIFWULF so special is that it is so personal, and that means it won’t be a one-size-fits-all experience. Some people will pass it over on the shelf, and that’s okay. This book belongs wholeheartedly to the people who long to embrace their true selves, even if the act of transformation is a scary one. We hope you’ll shed your skin with us, and become


WIFWULF will be available on April 24. Check out a preview below!