Interview with AMELIA COLE co-writers D.J. Kirkbride & Adam P. Knave

Hidden war coverIf you haven’t been reading Amelia Cole you don’t know what you’re missing out on! This fun, all ages comic full of magic and dragons features a really down to earth female lead and great adventure. I’d like to welcome the awesome co-writers of Amelia Cole— D.J. Kirkbride and Adam P. Knave!  Introduce yourselves, guys.

DJK: I’m D.J., co-writer and co-creator of AMELIA COLE. I’m also the tallest member of the team, so if anyone needs to reach something on a high shelf, I’m the one to help…unless there’s a step ladder or something available, so, in that case, I’d not be needed.

 APK: I’m, Adam, the other co-writer and one of the other co-creators, with D.J. and Nick Brokenshire (the artist) of AMELIA COLE. I am not that tall, but I do own both a ladder and a step ladder, just in case D.J. is ever busy. Though, honestly, I hate heights, so I do despise having to climb ladders. This actually put an end to my career in theatre, no lie. I couldn’t do lighting rigs because they involved too much “way up there” for me to ever feel comfortable or work at the proper speeds. D.J. did you know I almost was a lighting tech, before I switched to foley arts instead and then fell out of that, too?

DJK: I knew none of this, Adam, but we need to keep you off ladders. Don’t worry about me being busy, because I’m never too busy to help a friend reach high things.

LG: Tell us a little bit about your book Amelia Cole.

 APK: Amelia Cole is an ongoing coming of age story about a young woman who is trying to find out who she wants to be. She makes a ton of mistakes along the way and has to deal with that, but never gives up hope and her belief that people are basically good. She wants to do what is right, even when it’s hard. Even when she’s wrong about HOW to do it. But that sounds like it is a slow slice of life sort of tale. D.J., tell them what they’ve really won…

DJK: They’ve won a book with all of that plus crazy magic powers, monsters, multi-dimensional government conspiracies, action, and an 8-foot-tall techno golem named Lemmy.

LG: What was the genesis of Amelia Cole?

 APK: D.J. and I were casting about for a new comic to work on. D.J.’s friend Tim Simmons mentioned an artist he’d seen the work of, Nick Brokenshire. We fell in love. Then we had to decide what we wanted to work on. The first thing we came to agreement on though was doing a comic with a female lead. There simply aren’t enough of them! Then we added magic. Literally.

DJK: Yep. The way this specific series came about was truly a matter of wanting to do “something,” and then being introduced to the right artistic collaborator in Nick. After that, Adam contacted ace letterer Rachel Deering, and we added the talented Ruiz Moreno to the team to assist Nick with the colors a few issues in, and, viola, you got yourself a comic book creating team machine!

LG: There are a lot of “messages” in this book– but to me  it never feels like it’s preaching- can you speak to that?

DJK: Thanks! We’re glad it doesn’t come across as preachy. We like putting a little something extra in the story and underlying current of the book without going over-the-top and just being on a soapbox. The adventure and magic of the story is super fun, but, in the end, this is a story of a young person figuring out how to be the best grown up hero she can be. It’s about taking responsibility for yourself and your actions, and a kind of coming-of-age comic book adventure story is an oddly appropriate place for such messages.

 APK: Yeah the message is inherent in the characters, which allows us to not worry about it and never have to stop to preach. Because it’s been so well baked into the concept we can tell our story and know the actions will speak louder. It’s a wonderful benefit to us, as we hate to stop story for soapboxing.

LG: Can we talk about the fat dragons? Because the fat dragons are really adorable.

 APK: We asked for some pet that wasn’t a dog, but was dog shaped, and I think we may have suggested a pet dragon. Nick then drew these tiny adorable fat dragons, and they’ve taken a life of their own. The local hockey team in Amelia’s town is the Fat Dragons, actually.

 DJK: It is also worth noting that Adam has created an entire magical hockey league for the book. I know nothing about hockey, but his team names are sound, and at some point the comic will turn into SLAP SHOT–with magic.

The color scheme in the Amelia Cole books is really vivid. What led you to make that choice?

 APK: There is a shift in the comic world to highly rendered, realistic color. And it works for some books. But in a book with a lot of magic and wonder, we found it served us better to use a low amount of rendering and go vivid. It’s kinda old school. And really captures the tone and fun of the book.

DJK: Nick’s initial palette and style just gravitated toward that fun kind of look, and he and Ruiz continue it. There have been changes and some evolution as the book’s gone on, but the general style has remained, and we love it. Bright, fun looking comic book art rocks!

LG: The Unknown World is a dimension in which there is both magic and science and early on in Amelia’s adventures she accidentally creates “Lemmy” who becomes her sidekick. My question is:  How do I get myself a Trash Golem?

DJK: Well, first of all, you gotta be a mage, ideally a kind of really powerful one who often underestimates the extent of her powers and goes too big most of the time. And then you have to find yourself around a bunch of rubble and completely alone in a universe you didn’t even know existed. Once you get those ingredients in place, you’ll be well on your way to creating your own Trash Golem (or “Techno-Golem” as I’ve realized I prefer calling him)…but remember: there’s only one Lemmy. As folks read the series, no matter what happens, there is only one Lemmy and one of everyone else. Except for Adam. He writes so much that I’m pretty sure there are at least three of him.

 APK: You can’t prove that. You can not. None of us are amus… I MEAN I AM NOT AMUSED.

DJK: But APK 2.0 is laughing hysterically, and APK 3.0 is hard at work writing a novel or two even as we do this here interview.

LG: This book has been making steady progress–going from all digital through Monkeybrain, to print trades through IDW, now winning Library Awards and getting selected to have a story in the CBLDF ‘s Free Comic Book Day Comic for 2014–all in a time when “girl books” are looked at as not profitable. What do you attribute Amelia’s success to?

 DJK: Maybe it’s that we’ve never really looked at it as a “girl book.” It’s a very human and emotional book with a lot of fun and adventure and some shenanigans and goofiness that happens to star a girl…but I rarely think of Amelia in terms of her gender. People are people, and while there are some broad differences in most of us, there are some people who throw those assumptions and generalities out the window, and everyone is different and similar to different degrees. Our hope is that that kind of openness to people in general comes through with the love of adventure and fun. It’s the type of book we are happy to share and are very glad that it’s found a continually expanding audience of readers from every kind of background and and preference and race and gender possible. Amelia is all about helping “everyone,” and that’s also who we write the book for, honestly.

APK: It seems as if people want to read a comic about a person doing good, being a good person and trying to help the world around them. As D.J. says we don’t focus on her gender so much as we make sure she’s a real person, you know? She gets hungry (hey, being an adventurer is hungry-making work!) and wears real clothes (because skimpy battle bikinis are chilly and impractical) and reacts like people we know react. Yes she’s female, and of course that has a way of changing what we do, but not in some big glorified “Well she’s female” way so much as we remain aware of the struggles of inequality and the uphill battle to have everyone thought of as human. We are different, and that shouldn’t be overlooked and swept under the rug, but there are also things we all tend to want – and a better place to live is one of those things.

DJK: “Skimpy Battle Bikini” is the name of our ska Journey cover band, though.

That’s cool.”Techno-Golem” is my synth-pop band! So on the question of gender- The team is mostly dudes–with the exception of Rachel Deering. Does that change how you approach the character or the story?

APK: It means we have to be extra aware of what we do. Not in a “careful where you step” sort of way, but we want to be true to this and get things right. So there’s an extra bit of thought going into it, just to make sure we stay on the right track with any gender issues.

DJK: 99% of the time, it’s just instinctual. It’s about Amelia specifically, not about the fact that she’s a lady — just like the fact that Hector the former Protector is a man doesn’t dictate how we write him as much as his experiences and personal journey.

I really love that Amelia is a “real person” who makes mistakes and has challenges, but the story stays fun..  What’s each of your favorite part of working on this project?

 APK: The part where people get to read the comic. Really that’s the best part ever. People reading and enjoying our work. Makes everything worth it.

DJK: It’s been my dream to create comics since I was a kid, and AMELIA COLE has been an amazing first ongoing. From the creative team I’m so lucky to be a part of to our digital publishers at Monkeybrain to our print publishers at IDW to the fine comic shops and bookstores that carry it to my oldest and dearest friend Tadd getting a giant Amelia tattoo to his kids liking the book to the excitement I get when talking to Adam and Nick about our story lines’s all been a doggone dream come true, and I’d be happy to work on it forever.

You can find Amelia Cole on Twitter and on Tumblr

For more info on Nick Brokenshire Ruiz Moreno or Rachel Deering < click!

Lela Gwenn

Lela Gwenn

Staff Writer Lela Gwenn is the girl next door in a very bad neighborhood. She eats vegtables, reads comics, writes all the things and tweets like it's her job. Owner of two dogs and one resting bitch face. Is probably not planning to kill you.