About Amy Unbounded

Long ago, in a galaxy far, far away, I used to write, illustrate, photocopy, and staple a minicomic called Amy Unbounded. It was a pretty good minicomic, as far as these things go. I took it to comic book conventions, made a lot of friends, and had tremendous fun doing it; those were great years, and I wouldn’t change a thing even if I could.

But I have something I need to tell Amy fans, something they’re not going to want to hear. They’ve been asking me for almost ten years, and I’ve been hedging because I don’t like delivering bad news. But here it is, friends, and no more soft-pedaling it:

Amy Unbounded is done. There is no more in me. I will not be making more. I’m sorry.

It’s possible that I will make more comics at some point, for I dearly love to draw, but I can’t promise that. I can guarantee that characters from Amy Unbounded will find their way into other things I do; indeed, some already have. Dame Okra Carmine, Sir Cuthberte, and Squire Foughfaugh all appear in Seraphina. Amy herself, older and wiser, might sneak into another story someday. Goredd goes on.

I need you to understand this. Whenever someone wistfully asks after Amy, here’s what it sounds like to me: “Hey, remember back when you were a virgin? Wasn’t that AWESOME? Do THAT again!”

Was that an embarrassing analogy? Then I suppose it was apt. I feel embarrassed, and at a loss how to begin to explain.

Amy had a sweetness and innocence to it. Emotions were uncomplicated; problems could be solved; nobody had any personal demons. Innocence has its place and can be lovely, but it’s also severely limiting. It’s Wile E. Coyote, running on air. Sooner or later you notice you’ve gone over the cliff.

Back in 1999, I did a short comic story called “Merry Pedroolia” that was eerily prescient. Pedroolia is unfailingly cheerful; she jokes all the time and even sings while shoveling manure. Her brothers (humorless clods) find this so irritating that they lock her in the dovecote for a year. When she’s finally released, she is still cheerful, and Pau-Henoa remarks on this. Pedroolia says something like, “Oh, no, I am far, far graver than I was. My eyes are open. I am an entirely different Pedroolia.” Pau-Henoa laughs at this, because she’s still singing while she works, but Pedroolia knows what she’s talking about. Before she’s locked in the dovecote, her eyes are closed in every picture. Only afterwards did I draw them open.

I grew up. I realize no one can tell but me, that I’m still singing merrily while I shovel dung, but when your eyes are open you get to choose that. I think the work I’m doing now is much, much better, for precisely that reason.

As any ex-virgin can tell you: sure, something’s lost. And something else is gained. And that is exactly as it’s supposed to be.

48 thoughts on “About Amy Unbounded

  1. Well, okay. Not like you need MY PERMISSION or anything. But: yeah. everything you say makes total sense.

    But do you think maybe someone could reissue the comics in one big volume after the novel is out and legions of readers are looking for more-of-anything-by-Rachel-Hartman-please-gods? I think Amy was ahead of its time, honestly, and the world is finally ready for a graphic novel about a silly-but-kickass 10-year-old girl.

    • If someone (who wasn’t ME) was interested in undertaking such a project, maybe it might happen. I won’t say never. And I’m not ashamed of the stories — I hope that’s clear. I’m just not in that place anymore.

    • Laura, that’s a really fair question. I did leave it on a cliff-hanger. It was unplanned, but also unfair to readers. I’m sure you’re not the only one wondering. I wonder whether it could work as some kind of bonus material here on the blog (or on the website, when it’s a proper website). I could write it up in prose and it would be there for people who were interested. Let me think that over, but the idea has a certain appeal.

      And I really am sorry about that.

    • If you resolve the cliffhanger I promise I won’t ask about it anymore. In fact, I never would have asked except that the cliffhanger inherently implied that there was at least one more minicomic ready.

      – Debbie

      • I think I finished about half of it before I either got bogged down, or we moved across the continent, or something. I should look for those pages; they could be part of the on-line resolution, and then I finish it in prose.

        Thanks again, all of you, for your patience, and I hope this didn’t come across as “Argh! Stop asking!” I was going for something closer to, “Waaah! I wish I had a better answer!”

  2. Oh, well said.

    I’ve been wondering about something very similar myself lately. Ever since Greg Beettam and I stopped doing Xeno’s Arrow, I always expected that some day, when the stars were right or maybe wrong, that we’d get back to it.

    But recently, much as I love that world and those characters, I’ve been thinking that Xeno’s Arrow might really only make sense as something written by two guys who were still growing up and finding their place in the world. Who were, as you say, innocent. Now, I’m pushing 40, I’m a parent and I have a very different perspective on when it’s really appropriate to escape from your caregivers, steal a starship and explore the galaxy.

    It’s all a bit moot since Greg and I are both involved with other projects anyway, but that doesn’t mean that it isn’t something that’s on my mind. I’m not certain one way or another; part of me suspects that I could quite easily slip back into that mindset. Most of me hopes I could. I expect that I’ll find out eventually.

    And you know, it occurs to me only now that you mention it that we were all so busy praising your great writing and illustrating that we forgot to admire the stapling. You stapled well, my friend, you stapled well.

    • LOL, thanks Stephen! Stapling was my biggest challenge with the first minicomic, frankly, because I didn’t know enormous staplers existed. Scott found a way to rig up two smaller staplers so that the top of one used the bottom of the other. It was ingenious, if awkward, like so many things I’ve done.

  3. Well, naturally, I’m disappointed, but you have totally earned the right to call it quits as you begin this new stage of your life. ‘Amy’ was one of the first small press comics I genuinely cherished, a book that was the equal of any corporate comic, as far as I’m concerned, and it made me want to be a better artist. It won’t be forgotten.

    • Hugs, old man. The people who cherished it won’t be forgotten either, not by me anyway. I really, really believe this new foray into Goredd has been worth waiting for, though, and I hope it can alleviate the disappointment somewhat.

  4. I never noticed that about Pedroolia. That is really subtle and cool.

    So, would it be possible to get a short summary of the resolution of the cliffhanger you ended on? We have been hanging on this cliff for years, and my fingers are getting tired!

    • Let’s see… I recall that the Queen of the Rupa’ was threatening to marry Bob, much to Nahulla’s dismay. This is from memory, without checking notes, but I believe what was going to happen was that Nahulla was going to challenge the Queen (something she doesn’t want to do, but everyone had been expecting it of her for a long time because of her red hair). Amongst the Rupa’, however, queens don’t just fight and get it done with, they put on sun masks and have some kind of dancing/poetry/improvisational wit contest. Nahulla knows she can’t win this; she doesn’t have a way with words or the right charismatic presence. However, her half-sister Emyoguzi (who would make an excellent queen, but doesn’t believe in it because she doesn’t look “queenly” by Rupa’ standards) offers to take her place in the competition. Emyoguzi intends merely to win for her sister and then switch places before anyone notices; Nahulla takes the opportunity to free Bob and flee with him, getting as big a head start as she can while everyone’s distracted.

      And that was it, really. She feels sure her sister won – she was that good – but doesn’t know what the outcome was when the truth was revealed. Did Emyoguzi step up and accept the crown she’d won? Did the tribe accept someone so ordinary-looking as queen? Nahulla has never been back to find out, and it does eat at her a bit. Amy was named for Emyoguzi. And that was going to be the end.

  5. I commented yesterday on this entry! And then, apparently, WordPress ate it. Anyways, I’ve always been curious about Amy, and always had the inexplicable intuition that you didn’t want to talk about her…which, based on this post, might have been at least partially correct. Thank you for saying more…and, like Els, I vote for the eventual reissue.

    • I never saw it, Paige! Silly, hungry WordPress! Y’know, for the truly Amy-curious (that sounds kinkier than it is!), I still have some copies of the collection “Belondweg Blossoming”. Contact me in private, if you’re interested. And not just Paige, but any of you.

  6. Sad, but not surprising. I think deep down, all of us waiting knew that Amy Unbounded had run its course for you already, though we hoped there’d still be more. But I’m so excited for your upcoming book, and I feel surer than I would for almost any other creator that whatever else you do will be just as wonderful and more.

  7. Pingback: Clockwork Game Update: 12/01/11 – JanerBlog v2.0

  8. Pingback: Review: Seraphina, by Rachel Hartman (July 2012) | Parenthetical

  9. Pingback: Clockwork Game Update: 7/12/12 – JanerBlog v2.0

  10. Coming in awfully late to this, but I thought there were a lot of “personal demons” in Amy Unbounded. Amy herself was fairly uncomplicated, but we got the tips of a LOT of icebergs. And Lalo’s story certainly begs to become part of the unfolding Goreddi tapestry in the novels, given how strongly it ties into the central theme of Seraphina.

      • Mind you, I just re-read the first three minicomics during my walk today, and it looks like Amy Unbounded took place in Goredd-2 (golden age, Kiggs is Kiggleworth), and Seraphina takes place in Goredd-1 (silver age, Kiggs is Kiggenstane). In Goredd-1, dragons can’t speak human languages in their natural form, while in Goredd-2 they can. In Goredd-1, the princess has yellow hair, in Goredd-2 the princess is made of wood. Er, wait.

  11. Sometimes, stories just end, with or without cliffhangers. I will continue to cherish my copies of Amy and the graphic novel, and the signed picture of Amy that adorns our living room wall. And I will go find Seraphina as a gift for my wife, who also adored Amy, and possibly another copy for our goddaughter, who we never really got to introduce to Amy. Thank you for continuing to give your creativity and Goredd to the world!

  12. Are these available anywhere? I love Seraphina and would love to read more about her world. I also always love seeing the evolution of writers I like, so it’d be neat for that reason too. I’d totally pay to download them digitally; I don’t need a dead tree copy or anything. I’d just like to see more of those ‘Phina characters!

  13. Every look at putting the old issues together via scans and have a trade paperback via Lulu.com or something? Outside of scanning them in the work should be minimal and I’m sure a few of us would order it, if for nothing else to pass along to our little ones to enjoy. I’m sure my 7 year old would get a kick out of it and I have no idea where my old minicomics are (buried somewhere…price of moving, everything is lost for awhile).

  14. Pingback: Amy Unbounded: Belondweg Blossoming | The Book Wars

  15. I am really annoyed at how people act like Hartman just “grew out of” Amy Unbounded as if it were somehow “silly” and “childlike”. Even though it’s funny and told from a kid’s perspective, I think it’s also incredibly profound and has unique subtext. I can reluctantly understand moving over to a different style, but it’s just ridiculous to say that you can just “grow out of it.”

    • Actually, I think a lot people are always assuming that writers will naturally “grow out of” comics and “grow into” “high art” like prose (not that I have anything against prose).

  16. I bought a second hand copy of this book – the only way you can read it these days, at least in the UK – and have just finished reading it. It made me cry. How do simple line drawings do that? It’s the kind of story which is going to haunt me for days and days. These characters really lived for me; I could hear their voices and their world had sounds and smells and proper peril in it. The ordinary, everyday peril of being trapped, misunderstood, lonely. Wonderful stuff. The Waukesha Public Library’s loss, was my gain!

      • That is very peculiar, here I am in South London and there you are in a part of America I’ve never heard of and we have this lovely story in common. I just wish I’d know about the comic books before they became so difficult to get hold of 😦

  17. I’ve just read in Shadow Scale what became of Lalo. Complicated feelings about it – but glad to meet some of the ‘Amy Unbounded’ characters again.

  18. I know you have no plans to finish the series, but is there anywhere I can read it online/buy it used? I’ve done some searching but all I’ve found is Belondweg Blossoming which seems to be volumes 7-12. I just finished Seraphina and would love to see some of your older work.

    • Given that Mad Bun is no longer on Girlamatic, a downloadable of that would be nice too. I have all the original minicomics (that I’m aware of), but there was a lot of Pau’Henoa stuff that never came out in paper.

Speak, friend!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s