Per the news first dropped by Forbes:
Vault Comics, an ambitious and well-capitalized recent entry into the $2.2 billion American comics industry, has announced a new content partnership with Aethon Books, a leading creator-driven publisher of genre e-books and audiobooks.
The deal brings together two popular libraries of titles and gives each company access to a fast-growing new market. The partnership will see Aethon publish ebook and audiobook adaptations and tie-ins of titles from the Vault library, while Vault will publish comic book and graphic novel adaptations and tie-ins of titles from the Aethon library. First publications from the partnership are tentatively planned for 2024.
“We’ve been talking off and on about a partnership for a while and the timing was finally right,” said Vault CEO Damian Wassel (Pictured to the left with his team) in an exclusive interview last week. “We’re both looking for ways to expand our business, and we both have a lot to offer.”
Vault, which received a large capital investment in 2022 from a consortium led by Jeff Ubben, has seen critical and commercial success with its horror, adventure, fantasy and science fiction comics and graphic novels, including the best-seller Barbaric. The company expanded into music-oriented comics in 2022 with its Headshell imprint, and recently announced a star-studded publishing lineup for 2024 featuring some top artists and writers, as well as musicians like Fallout Boy’s Pete Wentz and Slash from Guns N’ Roses.
“Working with Vault is a dream come true,” said Aethon Co-owner and COO Steve Beaulieu. “When meeting with their team, it’s as if looking into a mirror and seeing the same excitement for comics, music, and the genres that for us, are life itself. We look forward to many years together, producing the highest quality Science Fiction, Fantasy, Horror and beyond.”
Wassel says partnering with Aethon will give creators on both sides an opportunity to reach wider audiences through new media, with comics being adapted into prose and audiobooks and Aethon’s genre fiction reaching bookshelves as graphic novels, periodical comics and illustrated books. It also creates the possibility of transmedia worldbuilding, extending popular series and franchises to new platforms.
He also said that Aethon’s specific expertise in ebook & audio publishing is one of the selling points on the deal, noting that the imprint’s co-owners Rhett Bruno and Beaulieu have “mastered the Amazon algorithm and really know how to make titles perform there.”
Though the companies have not announced any specific titles or projects resulting from the partnership yet, Wassel says to expect to see some of the first fruits of the new deal coming to market in early 2024. “Adapting comics into prose and audiobooks tends to be a faster process than adapting and drawing a graphic novel,” said Wassel. “We are really excited about the audio space moving forward, but we also want to be sure we are following a more conventional novelization approach because you can succeed at a larger scale that way.”
Wassel said the deal does not impact Vault’s existing distribution relationships with Simon and Shuster, and that Aethon will act as the publisher of record for the prose and graphic novel adaptations. “We are also in a position to offer them premium print services for everything in their catalog, so in addition to graphic novels, we’ll be doing things like illustrated deluxe editions and special covers of best-selling titles from their catalog.”
He said that he’s open to cross-promotional strategies that benefit channel retailers, assuming that retailers are properly equipped to fulfill those promotions. “The effectiveness of cross-selling links at the back of e-books is mind blowing,” he said.
Wassel even teased the possibility of mixed-media audiobooks with illustrations, once the technology to deliver that as a satisfying experience matures.