I had the pleasure of interviewing Adam P. Knave, D.J. Kirkbride, and Nick Brokenshire, the writers and artist behind Amelia Cole and the Unknown World, one of the newest comics available from Monkeybrain Comics, which can be purchased at Comixology.
Check out the interview after the jump.
Nerdcenaries: So, for those who haven’t read it yet, can you give us a quick summary of what the comic’s about, and why you think people should be reading it?
D.J. Kirkbride: Amelia Cole and the Unknown World is about a nice, well-meaning young lady who feels that having awesome magical powers means she’s gotta use them to help people. And she does, even though it sometimes gets her into trouble. She lives in two different dimensions, or worlds, one magic-based, and one technology-based like ours. But as we meet her, all of her adventures are about to change her life forever. If you like action, fun, fantasy, equal parts comedy and drama, and awesome art, you’re gonna dig Amelia Cole.
Adam P. Knave: Amelia Cole and the Unknown World centers on the life of the title character as she tries to find her way toward being who she is, inside, while dealing with the consequences of her actions toward that end. She can wield magic, and is comfortable with technology, but the worlds she inhabits have always closed a door to one or the other, so she’s always had her life split. She does the best she can, makes mistakes and (hopefully) learns. It’s action and magic and character all rolled up into one big comic adventure!
N: At what point in the creative process did you decide to start the series with a major change in the status quo? Did you ever consider playing around in the world you’d created before moving on, or was it always planned to start off with the shift?
DJ: That came on pretty early. And I think it was Adam’s idea. And it scared me. The more we talked about it, though, the more it became clear it was a pretty cool way to start a book.
APK: Yeah, something tickled me about going down a big road and then swerving. It took us out of our comfort zones pretty majorly, and that made us get even more creative and to really focus on the first 6-issue arc, or will it be mostly focused on Amelia?
DJ: The focus is mostly on Amelia, but her supporting cast expands quickly. My favorite character so far is introduced in issue 2, actually. (And I will say no more on that.) We’ve already discussed adventures starring the supporting cast, too. Lots of interesting characters.
APK: There are plenty of characters in Amelia’s life still to be seen. She’s the title character so, of course, we spend a lot of time with her, but she’d be nowhere without her friends. And enemies.
N: Speaking of, if you had to describe your main character in one word, what would it be?
DJ: Headstrong. (Runner up: awesome.)
N: There’s that great line midway through the issue where a character says “vigilantes, no matter how well-intentioned, aren’t often appreciated by law enforcement.” Is that your way of saying Amelia’s more Batman, and less Sabrina the Teenage Witch?
DJ: Definitely. Most other folks with magic might be more Sabrina, actually, as we would all probably be. You can do all these cool things, but most of it would be contained to your home life, using your wand to bring a slice of pizza to you in the living room instead of having to get up to go to the kitchen. Amelia sees all those powers and feels an obligation to help. She sometimes doesn’t agree with the coppers, though, which is where she gets into trouble… but she always means well.
APK: She does, and there are times when we all have to make a choices in life. Do we do the right thing even when it’s dangerous and hard, or do we just keep ourselves safe? Sabrina is awesome, but let’s face it she stays safer than not. Amelia does what she sees as right, even when it’s the harder road, and sometimes even when it might be wrong…
N: There’s a lot of background detail in most of the panels of the comic. How much of that is script dictated vs. personal artistic preference?
Nick Brokenshire: Well, the backgrounds aren’t dictated in any way other than Adam and DJ writing the settings, e.g. A basement room full of magical utensils and books… The action dictates how I design the settings – The basement room has to be big enough and full of enough stuff for the things that Amelia does in there. I therefore have to come up with the dimensions and the stuff. Occasionally there will be more specific descriptions that come from the boys but spatially, I have to figure it out… Also, I personally love it when artists put in lots of visual clues to the story in panels, I feel it makes the world building more thorough. even though the style is cartoony, we want the world(s) to be real to the reader, thus the detail.
N: How did you go about designing the look of Amelia Cole?
NB: A lot of it grew out of a variety of factors. We wanted Amelia herself to be relatable, so she’s represented as a petite girl with a slightly athletic figure. She’s not Amazonian, she doesn’t have gravity defying breasts and she wears regular clothes, which as the story progresses, she changes. Perhaps the only concession to comic book conventions that we’ve allowed is her hair which at times moves in crazy ways although that has some to do with the general vocabulary of comic storytelling…
The general look of the book was decided upon early on between Adam, DJ and myself. The lines would be simple and the pages not overly dark. Not too much in the way of texture – something I needed time to get to grips with – so as to make the reading clear and easy – in service of the story. There are, in later issues, more complex layouts to come, but always in service to the story and not done for the sake of complexity.
N: Finally, there’s a nice bit in the first issue where most of the coloring is grays and browns, except when magic occurs, and it has very bright kinetic coloring. What made you decide to emphasize the magic in that way?
NB: The colour choices were very deliberate. We would be using a simpler approach to colours so as to lay the images and story wide open to the eye. You don’t need to translate or figure out anything you look at in the book. I have come up with colour schemes for different places and situations. The world Amelia enters at the end of Issue 1 has it’s own colour palette that differentiates it from the world she’s just left begind. You’ll really be able to see that in next months installment! The portrayal of magic is something we played around with. In our book, the magics used are physically tangible and potent so I wanted them to look bright and crackly in contrast to the regular flat colours of the world. You’ll notice that there is very little use of gradient tones in the depiction of settings, whereas the magics are all glowy and eye popping – this conveys their actual power and physical presence.
Thanks once again to Adam P. Knave, D.K. Kirkbride, and Nick Brokenshire for doing the interview; Amelia Cole and the Unknown World will be coming out monthly over the next six months, so keep your eyes glued to Monkeybraincomics.com for updates, and Nick Brokenshire also has work in an anthology called Low Concept that you can also buy.