Rogues Portal had the chance to chat with Adam P. Knave and D.J. Kirkbride about The Once and Future Queen TPB. The book came out in comic book shops two weeks ago, and it will be available in bookstores Tuesday, November 14th.
Check out the interview below, and then go out and grab your copy today.
1) With this creative team working together on previous projects, how did the idea of The Once and Future Queen come to fruition?
D.J. Kirkbride (DJK): After we wrapped up Amelia Cole, we still wanted to keep working together. Adam and I love working with Nick and wanted to come up with an idea he couldn’t refuse. Making something where the action is more intense, just a bit less all ages was part of it, as Nick was feeling a little constrained after thirty issues of an all-ages comic. A modern take on Arthurian legend was something that just came up organically, and Adam remembered Nick was a huge fan and a bit of an expert on it, so we went for it.
Adam P. Knave (APK): If I remember right it all started off, loosely, the way D.J. and I normally work. We hopped on a phone call and shot ideas back and forth, adding and removing bits as they occurred to us. We didn’t even start anywhere close to Arthurian legend but once we got there we knew we could bring this to Nick and get his ideas added in and make something special.
2) How does the creative process work with the team? Does one of you take more of the lead or is it a team effort with everything?
APK: D.J. and I are old hands at co-writing now. We move drafts back and forth and trade off who does what constantly. We want to always feel we each have an equal hand and end up having trouble remembering who did what.
DJK: Our goal is for every line to have been touched by both of us. It’s a story by us BOTH, so there’s no “my line” or “his idea” or whatever. In the end, and it sometimes takes a lot of back and forth and debate, we want the comic to absolutely be a combo of both our brains. It’s kind of terrifying.
3) When at a con or promoting the series, what is your one or two sentence go-to pitch?
DJK: It’s a modern update of Arthurian Legend with a young chess prodigy in Portland who discovers SHE’S the true wielder of Excalibur! Also, Merlin looks like a spaceman for some reason.
4) Obviously stories around King Arthur, Excalibur, and the Knights of the Round Table have been around for a while. What was it that made you feel like the world was ready for a modern version of the classic tale?
APK: Arthurian legend is probably the single most adapted myth of the western world. It still has things to tell us even today and part of that is how easily the legend is moved to a modern setting. But just moving it forward without changes to reflect the modern world would be a disservice to readers and Arthurian legend itself.
DJK: The core of the legend is there, but we are having fun playing very fast and loose. If we followed it beat by beat, there’d have been no point. We honor the past while looking forward to the future! Also, Merlin’s kind of ghostly for some reason.
5) Chess plays a huge role throughout the first volume. Are any of you avid chess players? How much research into different strategies of chess did you do?
APK: My dad used to take me to chess stores when I was a kid. Down in the West Village in NY there was a row of stores, all of which had rooms where you could pay a small fee and play chess. As I grew older I played less, so when we started work on Queen I bought a bunch of chess books and brushed up. Rani is supposed to be the best strategic mind around, hence her focus on chess, so it was important for us to be able to think that way.
DJK: That was a cool hook for us, and, yeah, thank goodness Adam doesn’t mind research as much as I do. We really want to return to the chess motif and explore it more.
6) Fate versus Choice is a theme that we see throughout the volume. Can you touch a little bit on how the two are connected and how that may play into future issues and volumes?
DJK: We have a bit of a beef with “chosen one” stories. I much prefer a hero who works for it, but here we are with one of the biggest “chosen one” tales of all time! Part of the change is playing off of having Arthur still being the King of Camelot and past wielder of Excalibur. So, while Rani does have that same kind of fateful heroic start, she begins to question this seemingly predetermined road she’s on, which is when she starts deciding she can do things her own way.
APK: Fate can be a starting point, but it’s never the road itself. That takes Choice and that’s where the story really is. If you like, you can think of Fate like those school aptitude tests. They can tell you that you might be great at a certain thing but that doesn’t mean you will be, if you don’t put in the work, or even that it is something you want to do.
7) Rani, Gwen and Lance are all completely different, from backgrounds to personality, so how did the creation of each of them come to pass? How are their differences important to the story?
DJK: They are all interesting and strong people individually, but we wanted to show that they have the potential to be even stronger together. They fill in each other’s gaps. Their differences are as important as their similarities.
APK: When finding the characters to populate our tale we just tried to find the right personalities and types of people that would play off each other well. Then, as we started to plot, we let those characters help shape the plot–how they would react–rather than cramming them in to fit the plot itself. So those differences become wheels that turn the story and move everything forward, the same as their ability to work together does.
8) Without spoiling anything, what can we expect in future issues of The Once and Future Queen?
APK: Consequences are a real thing, and all of the characters will have to deal with their choices, both big and small.
DJK: Secrets get out, and their lives are absolutely changed because of it. One of our characters loses something very important. Also, for readers who feel like some major players were omitted, well, we called this Volume ONE for a reason. Fingers are crossed.
9) Just to be clear, Morgan Pari is not based on any authors you know right, lol?
APK: I can neither confirm nor deny that any authors I know personally are actually from a different reality. Or evil.
DJK: Aside from the love of cheese puff snacks, um… no. That’s what we’re going with here.
10) Besides your own work, is there anything out there that you would recommend for people to be checking out in comics, or other books?
DJK: Tom King and Mitch Gerards’ Mister Miracle is blowing my mind. Anything Kyle Starks does is worth checking out, too. I really want to find the time to read more. I take a lot of recommendations from Adam here.
APK: Those two for sure. DC’s Metal event has been a lot of fun, too. Also Zach Davisson’s new book The Supernatural Cats of Japan, which is a great deep dive into mythological cats from Japanese myths, has captured me recently.
Hopefully if you were on the fence, Adam and D.J. were able to convince you to go out and grab The Once and Future Queen TPB today!