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Q’s by Optimous Douche!

Adam Knave, DJ Kirkbride & Nick Brokenshire!!!

Hey komic kiddies, Optimous Douche here. Writing for AICN is a double-edged sword. I get sent a lot of titles from indies that just really aren’t up to snuff…a lot, but then I also get sent tons of gems that would have gone completely unnoticed given the current state of comic distribution. AMELIA COLE AND THE UNKNOWN WORLD is one such gem, a smart and very real female protagonist who lives between her life in the real world and the fantastical world of magic that lives just below the surface. Before you write this off as another Harry Potter clone, listen to what creators Adam Knave, DJ Kirkbride and Nick Brokenshire have to say about this very cool project from Monkeybrain Comics now in its second issue.

OPTIMOUS DOUCHE (OD): OK guys let's start with your street cred, what other book s have you all worked on before?

ADAM P. KNAVE (AK): I've written a few novels, a ton of short stories and, with D.J., a bunch of comic shorts as well. D.J. and I were also editors for the POPGUN anthology series.

NICK BROKENSHIRE (NB): I've been doing freelance illustration for a while now and had a variety of illustrations here and there - from editorial stuff to concert promotions. I've had work in the two 11 O'Clock Comics 'Low Concept' Anthologies. There's the 'Flick and Barnaby' story on my website. I'm a High School teacher so that takes up a lot of time!

D.J. KIRKBRIDE (DJK): Like Adam said, we were editors on Image's POPGUN anthologies. We've also written stories for TITMOUSE MOOK VOL. 2, FIRESIDE MAGAZINE, and the upcoming OUTLAW TERRITORY VOL. 3. We have some other stuff in the works, too. Fingers crossed we'll be chatting about those soon! Oh, and, uh... I wrote a book of ninja poetry called DO YOU BELIVE IN NINJAS? with illustrations by the great and tall Chris Moreno.

OD: Nick, there are a ton of artists out there on LinkedIn and other sites looking for a gig? How did the three of you get connected?

NB: I had held off from seeking out writers to work with for a fair while because I have so much on my plate and also because I wanted to get my drawing chops up to a reasonable level before trying to collaborate with anyone. When I felt sufficiently confident to try, I simply dropped a bunch of "invitations" -- for want of a better word -- on a few comics message boards. Next thing I know, Adam and D.J. approached me. They told me some of their ideas and asked me about some of the things I'd like to try and soon we were throwing concepts back and forth. It felt very natural and has proven to be a lovely experience. I count those two chaps as my good friends now.

DJK: A friend of mine, Tim Simmons, who writes the webcomic Spy6teen, hipped us to Nick's art, so we're in his debt. Indeed, Adam and I are very lucky to have met Mr. Brokenshire -- as comic creators and as pals. He's one of the good ones.

OD: Since Amelia wields a wand there are going to be immediate comparisons to a certain little bastard with a lightening bolt on his forehead, how influential was the boy who lived in your creation?

AK: Less so than Tim Hunter, to be honest. And yes, I went there. Young mages with wands, growing and learning and becoming the people they truly are is a story and set of tropes that predates many things. Harry Potter is the most famous example in recent memory, so sure, there must have been echoes, but they mostly hit in the realm of "Let's not do that, it's been done, let's find somewhere new as a way to say this."

NB: For me, there's no influence. I only watched all the movies very recently! If anything, I want Amelia to be the opposite of Harry. Let's face it he was a bit wet. Don't get me wrong, he faced his fears and was able to show real courage and character. To me Amelia is far more self confident - perhaps at the cost of thinking things through properly. She, like many girls I know, has big set of balls! She just wants to get stuck in and help folk with her powers whereas Potter was about rights of passage etc. Amelia is already a rounded out young woman with a huge heart and a streak of impetuousness.

DJK: I've seen the movies and enjoyed a lot about them, but I never read the books, which I hear tell are even better. Harry and his pals weren't really an influence, though. The fact that the Harry Potter crowd might dig this, too, however? That's just fine with me. I'll throw it out to the Buffy crowd, too, while I'm at it. Yeah, we'll take all those readers and fans, please.

OD: Ohhh invoking Buffy, does that mean vampires might be in Amelia's future?

AK: Vampires? Could vampires exist in a magic world? Do people even like vampires anymore? That would be silly adding a vampire to the book! Just silly! ...really though - we ain't telling.

DJK: If we do put vampires in the book, I'm putting it on record right now that they're gonna sparkle in the sunlight. Glitter and sparkle like the scariest creatures of the night.

NB: I have a soft spot for vampire tales but I prefer goblins, fairies, and kelpies.

OD: Three dudes writing a story about a protagonist with lady bits - why, how hard is to shed your bits when writing, and again why?

AK: I have a full beard and have rocked it since I was a senior in High School. I also wear a Hello Kitty earring. Just to set the stage here. But look around comics! Really stop and look. How many non-overly-sexualized female leads are there? Not nearly enough. Not even half of nearly enough. And yet I know lots of women and people who have daughters that love comics and they want to be able to show them stuff that isn't, frankly, insulting. So why wouldn't we write a kick-ass female lead who isn't a size zero, wears real clothes and is every bit as strong and awesome as a male character would be? What's the difference? Why do we live somewhere where the idea of a female lead is odd and not the norm? We can change it, even the tiniest bit - then it's worth doing.

NB: Amelia is being written as a real person so there's no need to shed anything because we all know real people. I grew up reading LOVE AND ROCKETS, so, for me, a girl viewed through the 'window' of a comic book is nothing unusual. We want Amelia to be a relatable action character so we picked a regular girl who happens to have unusual powers. I know a lot of interesting, funny, crazy, driven and affectionate women so inventing one seems quite natural.

DJK: I was pretty much raised by my mom and have been around strong women my whole life. When Adam and I were kicking around the idea that became Amelia Cole, we decided early on to make the lead female, but I'm not sure exactly why exactly -- it came about organically. We have other stories starring guys and wanted to try something different. And ladies are awesome, so it's cool to write about an exceptionally awesome one.

OD: Amelia traverses the world of normal and magic in the first issue, issue two drops her into a world that's a hybrid of the two, how many more worlds are there?

AK: Who said there are others? Did we say that? Nope. There is a plan here, I will say that. We know exactly how many, why, and what it means. But we will make you buy the issues to find out. And some questions will be answered soon while others may take a few years to fully explore. Stay with us, everything will be explained eventually.

NB: Aren't there 52 Worlds? Earth 2 Amelia has grey hair and is married to Lemmy. What? No not that Lemmy! Lemmy from Motorhead, of course!

DJK: Haha, that's madness, Nick! Like Adam said, he has a beard -- wait, that was an earlier question, wasn't it? But also like he said, we're going to answer questions as they come up in the story. We want the ideas in the book to flow and expand as the story progresses, so, basically -- we ain't tellin'. Yet.

OD: You killed off Amelia's Dumbledore...Yoda...Dick Cheny... whatever you call a guiding light in the first issue. Why did Aunt Dani die so soon and will Amelia find another wise soul to guide her?

AK: When we grow, we often lost (be it through death or moving away or whatever) our mentors and have to take what they know and move on. It's an important step in like. So is finding new mentors, though not all mentors are created equally, and some might not even be good at it. Or for you to know. Dani was critical to Amelia growing up, though, so you can be certain that, at the very least, her influence is far from gone.

DJK: Amelia isn't going to forget Dani. She raised Amelia and helped guide her into becoming the hero that she is -- or can be. We don't lose people when we're ready to, so it's a shock not only to the readers, but to Amelia, as well. She didn't expect to lose her aunt that day. But Dani's sacrifice for the greater good, her heroism, will inform all of Amelia's decisions moving forward from that point.

NB: Amelia's journey is less circular than Mr. Cambell defines... At least in the way we present it. Even though this is a fun adventure and a heroes quest, the difference is that our heroine is a "real" person and not a symbol or avatar of purity. Real people don't always have mentors by their side for approximately a quarter of their journey. Sometimes they have to piece their wisdom together from little remnants they find along the way and hope for the best... Does that make sense? It does in my head...

OD: Whether you love or hate magic, the two sides can always agree that magic should be bound by rules. Right now Amelia seems certainly green, but also pretty damn omnipotent. Are there magic rules to these worlds to help add danger instead of a wand full of golden parachutes?

AK: What magic can do is very well defined for us, and we want to show you, as we go, rather than tell you in a big info dump. But rest assured there are rules and they make life harder for anyone using magic. The same with technology. A car can do wonderful things - but it can't, let's say, fly. Magic is the same. We all discussed the rules and how they work and have very concrete ideas that still leave a lot of room for invention and play! Amelia isn't even close to omnipotent - she's just decently trained. Others are even better trained, but still training can be in different skill sets. Someone can be wonderful at defense but rubbish at offense, for example. It's a whole wide world of magic out there and it is every bit as nuanced as the physics outside your window. It's just prettier and leaves more room for wonder, for those of us who don't live in a magic world. Nick, for example, DOES, so this is all old and boring for him. I hear he owns a dragon. Actually D.J. knows magic too. I'm the only one who is boring and has to take the train to work.

DJK: It's good to have some creators from the Magic world, like Nick and me, and at least one from the Non, like Adam. That way we can be sure to give everyone equal panel time. Also: Rachel could destroy us all. Oh, but shenanigans aside, like Adam said, there are rules. Most people in the Magic worlds use their power for simple tasks like getting a beer from the fridge or fixing a lightbulb -- not everyone is a superhero. And Amelia has limits. Heck, that Protector dude in issue 2 does things that Amelia can't, and he still can't do everything. There's a learning process Amelia's going to go through, and, in the end, she will still wish for the power to do more than she can. That's life.

NB: There are definitely rules. I grew up in a magic land, and if you don't follow the rules, things stop working. Sometimes you can invent new rules that work better, though. Coming up with new magic can be a painful process... I think we can all feel the seething power inside of Amelia, but she needs to find her rules or she won't work properly. May take some time. Hmm...

OD: Thank guys. There you have it, a strong female protagonist, magic, and a true love of the comics medium. We need more titles like this, show the guys some love.

Optimous has successfully blackmailed fellow @$$Hole BottleImp into being his artist on Average Joe. Look for Imp's forced labor on Optimous brain child in mid-2012 from COM.X. Friend Optimous on FaceBook to get Average Joe updates and because ceiling cat says it's the right thing to do.

Editing, compiling, imaging, coding, logos & cat-wrangling by Ambush Bug
Proofs, co-edits & common sense provided by Sleazy G

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