Amelia Cole and The Unknown World has been one of the standout titles for Monkeybrain Comics. In it Amelia Cole is thrust into a universe where she must use her magic and wits to survive the Unknown World. This week I sat down with D.J. Kirkbride, one of the writers for the series.
Nerdy With Children: For the uninitiated, what is Amelia Cole and the Unknown World about?
D.J. Kirkbride: It is the story of a young lady who has spent most of her life living in two worlds: one that runs on magic, and the other that runs on technology. She is a bit of a do-gooder, too, which sometimes gets her in trouble with the law on the magic world. Through a series of adventures, she ends up in a world that is the titular unknown world. She has to make a fresh start and learn the lay of the land while staying true to who she is, which is a pretty darn good person who likes to help people. My “elevator pitch” answer is: “It’s Buffy meets Harry Potter.”
Nerdy With Children: That is a fantastic elevator pitch.
D.J. Kirkbride: Haha, yeah. It just kind of encapsulates the broad strokes. It’s not what Adam, Nick, and I were going for when developing the series necessarily, but once we locked it down, that’s what popped in my head.
Nerdy With Children: Besides Buffy and Harry Potter, what are some of the other inspirations for Amelia Cole and the Unknown World?
D.J. Kirkbride: Our real inspirations were more about tone and scope. Adam and I, as writers, really wanted to create something with a sense of wonder and fun. Our thoughts went to, as they often do, Superman and Doctor Who. Luckily, Nick was on board with that, and, while it might not be as apparent as Harry and Buffy, that is the feel we’re going for. We want readers to get that kind of butterflies in the stomach feel that we get when hearing the Superman or Doctor Who themes. That’s our hope anyway.
Nerdy With Children: I think you’ve done a good job building these very developed worlds.
D.J. Kirkbride: Thank you very much! It was important to us to establish the worlds (or realms or dimensions) as quickly and succinctly as we could. I’m really happy that you think we’ve pulled it off, haha.
Nerdy With Children: One thing I’ve enjoyed is a lot of the background cameos in the comic. For example I believe I saw Han Solo in there. Are these put into the script or is it something Nick Brokenshire adds in?
D.J. Kirkbride: Adam and I would like to take credit for that, but, honestly, it’s all Nick. He’ll send us a page, and we’ll be looking at it with the script, seeing how it all flows and looks great and then praise him accordingly. He’ll go, “Thanks, but, didja notice the lil’ cameo I put in panel 5?” and then we’ll both bust a gut and be embarrassed we missed it. There are a lot of, not only cameos, but little hidden messages and shout outs in the art, and almost all of them are Nick having fun.
Nerdy With Children: Amelia is a very interesting character – she’s tough and intelligent but she also has very realistic emotions that she deals with, similar to Buffy. Is it a different experience writing a female character?
D.J. Kirkbride: It’s not something that we often think about when writing, to be honest. We want her to be a well-rounded, interesting character. She’s a genuinely good person, but that doesn’t mean she’s without flaws, which makes her interesting. We also put a lot of our own humor into her dialog, which is fun. The one time we did think about gender specifically was in the first issue. We realized we put “Amelia is crying” a few times in the script and had to take a step back to ask ourselves why, which was kind of eye-opening and embarrassing to admit. In the end, she cries at a point when anyone, male or female, would and should shed a tear, but that’s it. We think of Amelia as a specific character who might behave differently than The Protector or Malone or Mike and George — but not because she’s a lady. It’s because she’s Amelia Cole. Awesome person.
Nerdy With Children: As a writer myself I can agree that it is something to keep in mind. It is easy to fall into stereotypes that can be damaging and hurtful.
D.J. Kirkbride: That’s exactly right. Stereotypes are lame and lazy, so we don’t prescribe to them. Even that’s not a really conscious choice, though. Speaking for myself, my mom and her mom are two of the strongest, most dynamic people I know, and they are my real-life heroes (Superman being the “fictional” one). Yes, there can be differences between people, but it’s not due to gender or anything that obvious or easily quantified. I’m always being called out for being too emotional, which is stereotypically what people say about females. I don’t know. I just think that we’re all weird people and tend to look at everyone as an individual. There are differences, but differences are awesome, and the most interesting ones are character-specific.
Nerdy With Children: What other comics would you recommend?
D.J. Kirkbride: I really dig all the books MonkeyBrain is putting out — and they are not paying me to say that. My pull list is filled with mostly Image and Dark Horse from the looks of it. SAGA is brilliant. MIND MGMT is blowing my mind. I really dig NUMBER 13. It’s a great time to read comics. If I had more spending money, I’d be buying way more comics! THE LEGEND OF LUTHER STRODE is another super cool book. GLORY has surprised me a lot and been very entertaining. THE MASSIVE makes my brain have to work, which I like. So many comics!!! I’ll remember more I forgot to mention after the interview is over.
Nerdy With Children: I know that feeling.
D.J. Kirkbride: Too many awesome comics is a great “problem” to have.
Nerdy With Children: Well thanks for sitting down for the interview DJ, is there anything else you’d like to share or link?
D.J. Kirkbride: Thank you for the interview, Luke! I appreciate you taking the time to chat. And if folks want to keep up with AMELIA COLE, the books are available on ComiXology. We also have a Tumblr that offers sneak peeks and whatnot. They should also bookmark our publisher website, MonkeyBrain.