Comics Features

INTERVIEW: Matt Kelly and Mike Gallagher, Writer & Artist of Annabelle Avery: Steampunk Girl

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Written by Robert Wallis

Matt Kelly is a writer and comic creator who lives on Long Island with is beautiful wife Nicole.  He has been published by Emerald Star Comics and is the creator of the original web comic Annabelle Avery: Steampunk Girl (www.annabelleavery.com).  He is also a successful writer of short stories for magazines and anthologies.

Mike Gallagher has been publishing comics since 1994. His art has been featured in books from R-Comics, PKD Media, Young American Comics, And Alterna. Most recently Mike worked on a one shot, Section 8, from Fugazi Comics and became an international artist with his graphic album, Komunista, published by Rosencrantz, the Franco-Belgian publisher. Mike has appeared on many podcasts, been a host on Comic Geek Speak, and hosts his on Film Jury podcast. In addition to comics, Mike has designed candy packaging, T-Shirts, tattoos, a gated community, book covers and scratch kit packaging. Check out his work here.

Their FULL COLOR, 60+ page comic book (in the works) tells the story of Annabelle Avery. She’s just like any other 17-year-old in 1880’s London, except for one important fact: she owns a jetpack and isn’t afraid to use it!

 

1. How would you sum up Annabelle Avery: Steampunk Girl in three words? Or a few sentences, if needs be.

Matt: High flying adventure!

 

2. What inspired the creation of this particular world and what sets it apart from others in the genre?

Matt: The main inspiration for the world first started with the character of Annabelle.  In my opinion, if you don’t have a good character first, then all the cool visuals don’t mean a thing!. For Annabelle, I was really fascinated by the idea of a girl who is at first intimidated by technology, but is forced to grow from that point.  That’s Annabelle’s journey – learning how to control the technological world around her, and how her mastery of it defines her as a person.  And then…is that a good thing?

I think the “Steampunk Girl” world differs from a lot of other steampunk creations in that we also explore the reasons for how things got this way.  This isn’t just some random alternate world.  There are very specific reasons as to why this reality exists, how it is different from our world, and what other dimensions are out there.  All of this relates to the “steam portal” that Annabelle and her friends discover.  But I don’t want to reveal too much!

Mike: I take inspiration from silent films. I’ve been fascinated by the 1910s and 1920s for a long time and have been recently researching period dress and technology. Dialing this back twenty years and blending the two together produces a modern look to our 1880s time period.

 

3. Matt, in the Kickstarter video, you mention Indiana JonesBuffy, and Doctor Who. How have these sources influenced your work and do you draw a lot from pop culture in general?

Matt: I think they all have a certain balance of light-hearted fun, mixed with well-timed flashes of character drama. Without drawing from my influences like those mentioned, I’d be lost.  Now, I’m never going to steal a character, a scene, or a plot device.  But in the creation process, I look to films, TV shows, books and comics for specific tones.  So in this case, I take those three things, put them in a blender, and then pour it into a nicely shaped glass.  The flavor you get afterwards is what we’re going for.  And Mike’s art adds in his own secret blend of herbs and spices that push us to new heights, flavor-wise.

 

4. Mike, you talk about your “current European style” in the video. Can you expand on this for us?

Mike: I’ve loved Spanish, French, and Italian comics since encountering them in college in the 80s. The storytelling devices the Europeans use fit my sensibilities better than the traditional 6 panel page. I love to cram as much detail and story into one page as I can. Used correctly, a 12 panel page can express time extremely well, create better pacing and still afford sweeping action. The comics I’ve produced myself have had this influence for quite some time. Enough so that Rosencrantz publishing in Serbia offered me a graphic album! After doing this I am eager to continue in the European style.

 

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5. What else do you draw on as writer and artist respectively?

Matt: As far as steampunk stuff goes, I’m tremendously influenced by the works of Philip José Farmer.  I also can’t write a word without feeling the looming presences of Stephen King and Richard Matheson hovering over my shoulder.  As far as comics go, I always get a lot from reading the works of Neil Gaiman, Warren Ellis and Kurt Busiek.

Mike: Currently I am studying the art of Möebius, Bilal, and several other European creators. Films from the early 1900s. Films and illustrations based on the works of Jules Verne.

 

6. Out of personal curiosity, was the floating city featured in your designs at all inspired by Columbia in the recent Bioshock: Infinite?

Matt: From a conceptual point, I can say it wasn’t for me.  The concept of this specific floating city was jotted down long before Infinite came out.  I haven’t played the game yet, but people keep telling me I should.  I’d have to look back at my notes, but I think our city was mostly influenced by Bespin from The Empire Strikes Back.

Mike: Ha! I don’t know what that is. I am aware it is a video game. The floating city is more from be spin and tibanna gas mining as drawn by Walt Simonson in the Marvel Star Wars comics and Alex Raymond‘s flying cities in Flash Gordon.

 

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7. If you could have the series achieve one key thing, what would that be?

Matt: My personal goal is to inspire young girls to embrace science and technology. Like how Danica McKellar is the ambassador for girls getting into mathematics, I’d love for Annabelle to be the symbol of feminism in technology (I hope that as a dude, I’m allowed to say that!).

Mike: For me it’s simply to be seen, to be read and enjoyed. To inspire others to make good comics and express themselves. To entertain.

 

8. Assuming the Kickstarter campaign is successful, what can we expect from you guys in the future?

Matt: I have some comic stuff coming out from Red Leaf Comics in the near future, along with a few prose short stories that will be published by some magazines in 2015.

Mike: More Annabelle, of course!

 

For more on Annabelle Avery: Steampunk Girl, be sure to visit Matt and Mike’s Kickstarter page. If you like the look of it, why not contribute a little something to the cause?

About the author

Robert Wallis

You can also read Rob's work at www.ofallthefilmblogs.blogspot.com.