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Last week’s 14th issue of Amelia Cole was a game-changer for the mythology of the magical young adult series to date, ending one long-standing threat while revealing a larger one waiting in the wings (Imagine Harry Potter gleefully offing Voldemort in the third book, and you have some idea of what this means).
It’s a move that hopefully will bring more attention to a series that’s been critically acclaimed since its digital debut in 2012 and gained a new audience through print collections from IDW Publishing, but also one that’s been on the cards since the series’ earliest days, according to co-creator Adam P. Knave. ““In the big sense of Amelia’s story this was a mark in the road for a while,” the writer told THR. “She thought she knew what she was up against. The reader has known more, of course, but this is where Amelia finds out the hard way that her path is much more dangerous than she first thought. It’s fun to make people’s jaws drop, every now and then, to remind them that this story isn’t predictable, but always exciting.”
D.J. Kirkbride, Knave’s co-writer, agreed. “We have a general map of where we want to go with Amelia up through about issue 30, and we knew this event was coming,” he said. “There is no real status quo in this world, because it’s all in crazy flux from the moment Amelia gets involved. Suddenly anything can happen, and we’re very happy to explore and exploit that to entertain readers and ourselves.”
Knave said that although every digital release is designed to be “an entertaining bit of story,” the writers also are conscious of the bigger picture in terms of future collected editions and the overall storyline. “We keep that in mind when building stories, and take our time doing it,” he explained. “We try to work as far ahead as possible so we can adjust and run away with great ideas but still weave this huge tapestry and time our pay-offs.”
Kirkbride admitted that the team’s approach to the series in terms of format has “evolved over time,” including a switch from $1.99 per digital release to 99 cents per issue. “It worked best for the digital side of things and isn’t something we would’ve done if it were a print comic,” he said, adding that while the regular schedule of digital releases is important to readers, “if the story is cool and the art is clear, we feel it can work for any format.”
The addition of print collections last year opened up a new audience for the series, according to Knave. “We’re finding this whole new gigantic world of people who seem to have been waiting for us,” he said. “We had a 65-year-old grandmother buy the book one day at a convention, big Iron Man fan actually, from back when Stan Lee wrote it, who came back the next day to thank us for it. You don’t forget that stuff. It’s not a different audience, it’s a bigger one, and it’s the one we always hoped for. Families love the book. People have bought it for their school libraries. We set out to create an all-ages comic that doesn’t talk down to anyone, and it seems to have started to find the market we always wished for.”
That audience will be excited by the upcoming second collection, Amelia Cole and the Hidden War. “The action is bigger, the magic is crazier, the mystery deepens, the humor gets unexpectedly wackier,” Kirkbride teased. “We weren’t treading water with [first collection] Amelia Cole and the Unknown World by any means, but we’re through with the initial introductions. Now we get to dig in more.”
“Everything you loved about volume 1 gets bigger in volume 2 without losing the heart and care that centers the book,” Knave said, adding that the same happens in volume 3 and the projected fourth collection. “It isn’t a case of wanting to expand ever outward,” he said. “We have a plan, we know where we’re going and the characters make choices that dictate the road we travel.”
For those who haven’t sampled the series, the first 14 issues remain available on ComiXology and Amelia Cole and the Unknown World is available in print from IDW. If you’re looking for a free sampler, however, that’s forthcoming: “We have a two-page Amelia story in the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund Free Comic Book Day offering [available in comic stores May 3], which is amazing,” Knave said.
Amelia Cole and the Hidden World is available for pre-order at comic book stores until Wednesday, ahead of a May release. Below, enjoy some exclusive art from the collection by series artist Nick Brokenshire.
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