Alasdair Stuart writes:
Amelia Cole and the Hidden War finished a little while ago and set up the next season in the series as it went. Two seasons in, the book has gained a good audience both in print (Where the collection of Amelia Cole and the Unknown World, the first series, recently sold out) and online. I talked to Team Amelia, including writers Adam P. Knave and DJ Kirkbride, artist Nick Brokenshire, letterer Rachel Deering and flatter Ruiz Moreno about season 2 and their plans for season 3.
BC: So, here we are at the end of season 2. When we last talked you were very motivated to let people know about the change in format. How's that worked out?
APK: Oh it's been wonderful. The only problem, I think, is that internally we still refer to things as just the old numbering system at times. So we confuse ourselves on occasion. Not terminally or anything, but you know how it goes.
DJK: It's enabled us to stay to track schedule-wise a little easier, and most importantly, hit that 99 cent sweet spot. We design each issue to be dense enough that they are still good, full reads, so, yeah, it's worked out quite well! Honestly, it's how we would've gone with the first storyline in hindsight, but that's 20/20, and I need glasses.
BC: How has the format changed your work flow? Has it made anyone's live easier?
NB: It's made things a bit easier for me for sure. I have that little bit more time to get things done, particularly the colours. Ruiz has the time to flat out the book as we go giving me more time to make the colours look right before Rachel works her voodoo.
DJK: Nick is a workhorse, he and Ruiz are working very well together, and Rachel is a super fast, efficient letterer — but the full 22 (or so) pages an issue were becoming maybe too much of a grind. We're happy that the book can still look great, come out regularly, and not burn out the amazing art team.
RM: I don't know if easier is the way I would describe it. My "day job" makes my life incredibly busy so for me, when I get to color Amelia Cole that is easier. That's the fun part! Of course going from 22, 24 or 26 pages down to 12 does allow for some breathing room. That's important for the rest of the team and when I have those really crazy 90 hour weeks of work and life, it makes things less stressful for me then!
What, if anything, changed as the season progressed? Any shifts in plot or design?
NB: I find that the way I draw stuff changes with every issue. I find new ways to things all the time. The challenge I find is to not allow the changes to show too much!
DJK: The plot stayed basically the same, but the design changed when we decided to make a shift in our volumes and had that great issue 12 cliffhanger become the end of The Hidden War. This will allow us to have a nice trade with even more extras than we could fit into the AMELIA COLE AND THE UNKNOWN WORLD collection, plus it kind of shifted our focus and tone for future volumes, The Enemy Unleashed becoming its own thing and leading into the next one called — oops. Almost spoiled it.
BC: Do you have a favorite moment from this season?
APK: I'm torn. The last moment of the arc is one I've wanted to get to since we knew we were heading to it. Just waiting and bouncing. But the first moment. Issue 7. Puppyzilla. I love Puppyzilla.
NB: I like it when, Captain Kubert is lighting his cigar and says "Wait for it…"
DJK: Puppyzilla was a treat, especially when Nick drew it even better than Adam and I imagined it. I also loved the reveal at the end of issue 12, and the fact that some folks guessed it but weren't sure, and others were taken by surprise — that means we did a decent job planting the seeds while not being completely obvious. I also loved Amelia's unconscious flashback, as it's always great to see Dani, and the "secret origin" of Lemmy was sweet and heartbreaking to me. It all came to life really well with Nick's art and colors, Ruiz's flats, and Rachel's letters. Just looked wonderful.
APK: I admit at first I was against flashbacks, I rarely like them, but D.J. sold us on it and it worked wonderfully.
RM: Anything without rubble. Oh, you mean that didn't involve my part? Anything without rubble. No, seriously, it's really hard to pinpoint one favorite moment. Each issue has something in it that makes me smile and laugh. I find that to be a very valuable thing. But leave out the rubble.
BC: Was there anything that didn't make the cut?
NB: The shower scene.
DJK: Haha! Uh…I don't think we cut anything that wasn't just deleted or moved and shifted way back when in the plotting stages, but…uh…Nick's thrown me, folks. Uh, anything, Adam?
APK: The shower scene.
BC: So, tell us about season 3. What's the format going to be?
APK: AMELIA COLE AND THE ENEMY UNLEASHED will be some issues; they will cost 99 cents and will be at least 12 pages long each. I don't know that we want to say upfront how many parts it will run, as you'd be waiting then, wouldn't you? Just let the story unfold and know at some point it will go "BOOM."
DJK: Things do continue to build, and, while the book will always retain its sense of humor, because that's what we like to do, the intensity of the situation does continue to escalate. Things aren't going to be easy for Amelia, Lemmy, Omega Company, and the rest — that's for sure.
BC: Any major changes in set up?
APK: Did you read issue 12? There's a major change in set-up right there that runs directly into Enemy Unleashed. It changes a lot, that one tiny reveal. I do hope people go back to issue 1 and look for how we planed the end of issue 12 from the word go. We were always heading here, with that character.
NB: Lots of shower scenes.
DJK: I was probably going to say something, but Nick's answer threw me for a loop again.
BC: When is it scheduled for release?
DJK: Nick and Ruiz are working on the art and colors for AMELIA COLE #13: "The Enemy Unleashed part 1" right now and we're aiming to get back into near-monthly installments starting in February. Meanwhile, Adam is waiting for me to script issue 20 and send him a beat pass for issue 21. So, we're moving ahead nicely.
APK: Yeah, we like to schedule a bit of a holiday break. It's good to recharge and reassess, and we take the holiday season to do that. Then we're back on the horse and making the comic donuts.
BC: What non-Amelia project is next on deck for you?
NB: I'm working two things of my own. One is called Rag and Bone Girl, and the other is Power Trio. One is a dystopian future tale and the other utopian past story. Both essentially set in the UK.
DJK: Nick shared some Power Trio art and story — and that one is going to be awesome. I'm really looking forward to that. As for me? Um, issue 1 of NEVER ENDING, the Dark Horse book I'm co-writing with Adam that Robert Love is drawing, is out now with issue 2 hitting stands December 18th. Adam and I have some other pitches at a couple publishers, plus I have a few projects in various stages of pitching and waiting that I don't want to say too much bout yet for fear of jinxing. Stuff, though. And things. Stuff and things, for sure.
APK: Besides NEVER ENDING coming out I also have ARTFUL DAGGERS with Sean E. Williams, Andrew Losq and Frank Cvetkovic coming out on a regular basis, and will be starting a new free twice weekly webcomic with Chris Peterson in the new year. Also a new novel that I might give in and Kickstart is on the way in a few months…
RM: I've got something I'm pretty passionate about in the writing phase right now. I love coloring and have a ton of fun on Amelia Cole but I finally found a story that is worth telling. That project is a ways off but I am having a lot of fun with it and hopefully by this time next year it will be out there in the comics world. I have a couple of other comic projects that I will do some pin up color work on but no other ongoing books. My time is limited as is and I had to pass up a ton of incredible offers this year and that part sucked so bad!
BC: Questions for Nick. What are you most looking forward to drawing in volume 3?
NB: More of the creepy stuff.
BC: One of the things that I love about your work is the architectural style of Amelia's world. What sort of research do you do?
NB: I do stare at buildings a lot and try to remember what makes them interesting. I love towns and villages so I think that seeps into what I draw. I have a lot of reference that I use. Adam gave me a bunch of photos of Boston when we first started and they were very useful when designing the look of things.
BC: Questions for Rachel. How has the format changed your work flow? Has it made anyone's live easier?
RD: I actually have to pay attention to live area now. Before, when everything was digital, bleed and trim meant nothing!
BC: How's the lettering evolved over the last two seasons of Amelia?
RD: I'm faster now. That's about it. The style I use for Amelia is a very basic, simple, easy-to-read style. There's really no changing it, just getting faster. Simple and clean works best with Nick's art. The only time I deviate from the classic lettering style with a book is if the art is more…messy, I guess? Then I'll do balloons that look more hand-drawn, or maybe use a scratchier font. Like with my book, Anathema.
BC: Questions for Ruiz. One season under your belt, how are you settling in?
RM: I think I've settled in nicely! I truly enjoy working with Adam, DJ and Nick. I was just mentioning the other day how this month makes it two years that I have collaborated professionally with Adam and DJ. I've known them slightly longer than that and they are my brothers. Finally getting to meet Nick earlier this year at Baltimore Comic Con meant I got to add another person I consider a brother to my family. Nick is a great guy and we had a bunch of fun and great conversations both about Amelia Cole and the creative process in general and life. There was never an awkward moment on my beginning run of Amelia.
BC: How has your role changed as the book's progressed?
RM: I think the only difference now is that when I finish a page, send it to Nick and then see the final version I see about a 98% version of what I layed down, which means that Nick didn't have to alter a whole lot before adding highlights and shadows. That's my goal with every issue is to make it where Nick doesn't have to worry about altering the base tones. That's the difference between flatting a book and being a color assistant. Flatting is just throwing any color down to separate objects whereas what I do is create the base tone feel of the book. Plus, they haven't kicked me off of it yet so that's a good thing right? You still owe me a cookie.
BC: Questions for Adam and DJ. Amelia's a very smartly formatted book. How many more seasons are planned?
APK: I think we can say we promise to finish the 5th arc. That is a promise. Past that we will see where the world takes us. I know we'd love to never stop the book, but who knows what the future holds. This will at least take us into 2015, I think.
DJK: Thanks, Alasdair! And, yeah, we have it very tightly plotted through volume 5, and that will take us to a great place where we can either end it as an epic tale, or we can go off in a new direction that'll fit perfectly with all that came before. The worlds and the characters are so great and fun that, if given the chance, I think Adam and I could keep writing these adventures forever. It's the most fun I've ever had making up stuff.
BC: Are you looking at any spin offs? (COUGH Silent Lemmy one shot where he's revealed to have a rich internal fantasy life COUGH)
DJK: Spinoffs have indeed been discussed, sure! We tend to talk on and on about Amelia Cole and her pals. Your idea for Lemmy is awesome. Adam and Nick are also very in love with Omega Company. I think I could write at least a mini-series of Mike and George's adventures, and you just know Old Man Malone has some stories to tell…HMMMM…!
APK: I kind of want to do a Fat Dragon children's book, in the vein of Owly. Also yes. Omega Company. I would write an Omega Company series for years, without hesitation.
Thanks to Team Amelia Cole for taking the time to chat. Amelia Cole and the Hidden War, as well as the first volume, Amelia Cole and the Unknown World can be found at Comixology as can Rachel Deering's excellent horror series Anathema. Amelia Cole and the Unknown World is also available in print via IDW, priced $19.99.