RICH INTERVIEW: D.J. Kirkbride Co-Writer The Once and Future Queen

First Comics News: How did you and Adam P. Knave first get together?

D.J. Kirkbride: It’s all Shannon Wheeler’s fault. I’d recently moved to California from Ohio (by way of Wisconsin), and I discovered a comic shop called Hi De Ho in Santa Monica. This was at their old location, and tucked in the corner were some copies of Shannon’s much-missed Too Much Coffee Man Magazine. I bought a couple issues, and Adam had an article in one of them about speaking Klingon that just tickled my funny bone. I approached them about contributing some humor-writing shenanigans, and they took the bait. Adam was the first and only person there who reached out to me via the electronic mail. He suggested we write something together. The issue that would’ve been my first one became the one after the last one. Adam and I kept in touch, though, and writing silly humor essays and running a website called The Footnote with our pal Dustin Grovemiller led to co-writing comics. Over a decade later, and here we are! So, yeah, blame sweet Shannon Wheeler for publishing an awesome humor magazine.

1st: Why is Amelia Cole someone we should be interested in?

D.J.: She’s a hero who helps people because she can, not because she wants revenge or fame or anything base like that. She believes that if you can help, you should. That makes her an aspirational character. When writing her with Adam, I’d often ask myself what I wish I’d do in a situation. It was usually the opposite of what I would do, you see. Amelia Cole is the type of person many of us should strive to be. She’s also pretty funny and cool in her own way.

1st: On The Once and Future Queen how do two people manage to co-write it?

D.J.: We’ve had a lot of practice, after all the short stories and comics, and then thirty issues of Amelia Cole. We chat about the overall stories and story arcs on the ol’ telephone, and then one of us writes a basic outline, then the other makes that a detailed breakdown, then the first one makes a script out of that breakdown, and then the other one revises that script. We pass the scripts back and forth until we either feel we’re finished or we’ve run out of time. We flip roles from issue to issue. It gets to the point where neither of us are sure who wrote what by the time Nick and Frank have put their art and lettering magic on it, respectively.

1st: Which character do you like most in The Once and Future Queen?

D.J.: That’s a tough one, as every single one of them is interesting to me (and the whole team), or else we wouldn’t have them in the series. Right now it might be a tie between our very quirky Merlin and Gwen, our exuberant lady of action. That’s just where I am at the moment, as it’s subject to change with each issue as we delve deeper and deeper into the tale.

1st: What is so special about Excalibur?

D.J.: It’s the ultimate weapon! It’s more than a sword; it’s an idea. Traditionally it’s used for the offensive, but we are going to explore other aspects. It’s definitely not just a long, pointy piece of sharp steel.

1st: Who is the King in Shadow?

D.J.: The King in Shadow is the ruler of the Fae Lands. We merely scratch the surface of them in this five-issue miniseries, but Adam and I have developed a lot of backstory and story that we hope to dig into, if for no other reason than to see how Nick visualizes it all. Needless to say, the King in Shadow means humanity no good, and we should all be very scared of him.

1st: Where will future issues be taking the story?

D.J.: That’d be telling! I will say that issue 1 just scratched the surface. We’ve been introduced to some heroes, some villains, some supporting characters, and Merlin in a spacesuit, but there’s so much more to come. We’ll be digging deeper into what we’ve shared so far while adding new layers and wrinkles. It’s gonna get crazy!

1st: Would you like to see The Once and Future Queen continue in some form or other after the five issues?

D.J.: Absolutely. These five issues will be a pretty complete, entertaining story, but I can’t lie: we want to do more. If we can get a five-issue miniseries a year, or if we could just make this an ongoing in the middle of the run, I’d be a happy camper.

1st: What first made you want to be a writer?

D.J.: I have always loved telling stories. I used to think it was just lying until I heard of this thing called “being a writer.”

1st: What would be your ideal writing job?

D.J.: If I could pay my half of the bills and do fun stuff with my wife once in a while from writing comics, I think I’d be ridiculously happy. I write things other than comics, but I love them the most. Hopes and dreams.

1st: What other comic jobs besides writing have you done?

D.J.: I was an editor on the Popgun anthologies from Image Comics and edited a cool webcomic called Spy6teen.

1st: If you visited the time period of King Arthur, what would you do there?

D.J.: I’d probably cower in fear, day in and day out. I am not a tough person and like to bathe regularly. It might not be the era for me.

1st: Can you tell us one interesting or strange fact about you?

D.J.: Though I have no actual proof or evidence of this, in my heart of hearts I believe I’m an excellent dancer.

1st: What would you like to say to those who read your work?

D.J.: Thank you so much, dear reader! I hope you’re entertained and maybe get a little something extra out of my stories. Everything is from the heart and the heart’s gut and more sincere than you might initially think, spoofing and goofing included.

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