BLOG The Monkeybrain Interviews: Amelia Cole And The Unknown World

Monkeybrain Comics has had a very good couple of weeks. Its initial launch announcement was so well received that it launched through comiXology, the digital comics site, two days early.

I talked to writers Adam P Knave and DJ Kirkbride, along with artist Nick Brokenshire, about their book, Amelia Cole And The Unknown World, about a magically gifted woman who lives in two worlds and may have to defend them both.

Adam and DJ, tell us a little about the book.

APK/DJK: Amelia Cole And The Unknown World is an action/adventure story told from the point of view of one Amelia Cole, a young woman who tries to use her magic for what she sees as good. Of course sometimes mistakes are made, trouble is caused, and she’ll be dealing with the consequences. We write it, Nick Brokenshire draws it, Rachel Deering letters it, and MonkeyBrain Comics is putting it out through comiXology. It’s loads of good times!”

What influenced the story?

APK/DJK: “Story and concept-wise, we’re influenced by just about everything around us – we can’t help it. When we write together, we tend to lean toward stories of hope and adventure. Basically, we want our stories to make people feel the same way a great episode of Doctor Who or the 1978 Superman movie make us feel. We want to write characters who overcome impossible odds and get the audience cheering for them. That, plus when we’re putting this woman through the challenges we do, and wanting her to be as real as possible, meant being honest about how someone would react and what they might do in her shoes, even when it wasn’t nice, right or pretty.”

NB: “As for the art, we wanted a clean visual approach to the story and to steer clear of an overly dark look to the book (for the most part). I drew inspiration from the likes of Mike Allred as well as Paolo Rivera’s Daredevil work, particularly in the open and clean lines that they use. Adam, DJ and I discussed pulling back on the art in terms of use of textures – avoiding using a lot of hatching and so on, in order to make the images clear and easy to read.

“Although my style is far less intricate, I was very inspired by the likes of Geoff Darrow with regard to world-building using background and setting design. Almost every panel has information that allows the reader to consciously or sub-consciously piece together the worlds we are exploring.

“As far as Amelia herself, I tried to channel the spirit of what Jaime Hernandez does with his characters, which is make them real and relateable. Amelia is not a pneumatic, Amazonian princess. She’s a petite lass, and she wears regular clothes. Because my style is cartoony – I obviously utilise certain elements of the language of comics to do with exaggeration etc, but we want everyone to feel like they know her so when crazy stuff happens, there is more impact!”

One of the things that really interests me is the subtle differences between the worlds. The magical world almost seems matriarchal in fact. Will we be exploring more of that as the series goes on?

APK/DJK: “We will be exploring all sorts of things, including the world around Amelia. In the first issue, we see that the non-magic world is basically the world we all live in, run by technology. The magic world is in someways more advanced, because magic is a faster road than science – which is both a good and a bad thing. That topic is something we’ll be focusing on throughout the series.”

Nick, how do you differentiate between the different worlds?

NB: “There are some subtle and some immediately obvious ways we do this. In Issue one you’ll notice that when Amelia is in the magical world the police wear clothes that are slightly different to regular police, but clearly, they’re the police… Not to mention they use magic later on! In issue two, we build a completely new world with lots of visual clues as to it’s make-up. A subtle way (I hope), is the use of colour. You’ll notice that colour schemes shift according to settings and each of those colour schemes allows the reader to get a feel for the world they’re looking at. This becomes far more apparent in next month’s issue.”

How does writing, and drawing, for digital comics differ from print?

APK/DJK: “Writing-wise, it is just a matter of clarity. You want to make sure your ideas will translate to single panels, whole pages, whole issues and back. Every piece of the puzzle has to be strong. Then again, really, the same is true for print. So, we’re not sure it really does differ for us most of the time. We just want to write the best comics we can, regardless of the delivery system.”

NB: “Artwise, from early on in the process of making the comic, we discussed the issue of formatting for both print and digital, even though Monkeybrain wasn’t even on the books for us. We made the decision to keep the regular page dimensions but do away with double-page spreads so that every panel and page could be easily read on devices as well as in print. This decision also tied in with the more reader-friendly approach that we wanted for the art. We don’t want the reader to have to decipher how to even look at the page properly, as is the case with a lot of books – we just want them to fall into the tale with no difficulty. I feel we made the right choice.”

What’s the endpoint for the series?

APK/DJK: “It’s way too early to discuss that. Right now we want to get the first six issues out into the world, then the second arc, and grow from there. We have plans that extend far, far beyond where we are right now, and if we get there, then we’ll be able to more openly discuss our endpoint. But for now, we’re just getting started!”

What are the rules of magic in this world?

APK/DJK: “Now that would be telling, this early, wouldn’t it? They come up in the book as needed, though. We know the rules – we have to in order to write this! And there are very thought-out rules floating around, don’t get us wrong. But really, the ones that matter come up in the book, and are shown, not just told. They’re a part of the story.”

NB: “For me, from an art standpoint, the rules of the magic that we’re concerned with revolve around it being a palpable as well as visual force. Magic isn’t lasers or floating bunnies; it’s primal and electric. The forces of the universe focused into crackling bursts of reality altering lightning. That’s my take, anyway!”

Amelia Cole And The Unknown World #1 is out now on comiXology, for $1.99

Read the other Monkeybrain interviews