Written by Neil Greenaway
Thea J. Hunt is a Denver-based painter, illustrator, and author who has spent the last few years world-building a new fantasy realm - a place for her stories to live. It is not out of place at all to find her tucked into the back corner of a downtown coffee shop, forgetting the world around her to concentrate on the sketchpad in front of her. And her dedication has paid off. Amelia #1 (the first issue of a 3-part mini-series) debuted in April at the 2018 Denver Independent Comic & Art Expo. I was able to sit and talk with Thea at the show, and she told me about a world filled with Gods, mortals, and new interpretations of ancient mythological creatures.
Neil Greenaway: Today I am speaking with Thea Hunt about the debut of her very first comic, Amelia #1. So, can you start us off by telling us a little bit about the story?
Thea Hunt: Amelia is about a little girl who goes through an intriguing drama when she is very young, and it is about how she deals with that while also being raised by gods who don't really know how humans work.
NG: Is this going to be a standalone story or is this the beginning of a series?
Thea: Oh, this is a series. This is the first of a three-part story, set in a world I will make more mini-comics in.
NG: Do you have a definitive endpoint in mind for the story - where it might run for 3 or 4 mini-series? Or could you tell stories in this world forever?
Thea: Well, for now I have the three issues planned. After that maybe some one-shots, but we will just have to see. I am aiming at having all the issues be around 22 or 25 pages.
NG: I was told this book may include battle mermaids.
Thea: This book will definitely include a battle mermaid, and they are based off of orcas. I am really excited for them.
NG: Okay, so why battle mermaids?
Thea: Because I have always felt that if there was a creature like that, that was partially humanoid and lived in the sea - specifically the sea - we would be done. If these guys are part human they are definitely going to attack us at least once. So why not? We already have mermaids in our fantasy, why not make them cooler and scarier?
NG: Are there any other traditional fantasy characters that you will be giving a facelift to in this series?
Thea: Yeah, centaurs. There are going to be some zebra centaurs that will be really fun. I am going to have some ice elves that will be a little different. (laughs) I am playing around with lots of different things. Ogres, giants, this is basically a whole fantasy realm. There is a fairy slave trade that is really scary - but the fairies will get their revenge. (I guess)
NG: You said that this story will be about a human girl being raised by gods. How does she feel about them? Does she know that she is different?
Thea: She is very much aware. By the time she comes to the gods, she is already 8 or 9. She has already had those years of relationship with her family before losing them, and trying to explain that to the gods is very hard for her. So she is very aware of the differences.
NG: Are these Eternal gods? Are these beings who have been around for a long time already?
Thea: Yes, they have been around forever - as far as Amelia knows.
NG: Will these Gods be taken from mythologies we already know?
Thea: No, but I am taking inspiration from the mythologies for a lot of their methods. I have basically gone with the Greek method of godding - where a God can say, "Hey that girl is hot, I know she has a husband but I'm going to throw this coin at her and we'll be good. Oh, you had a son? Well I know he's a half God, but he can probably just stay on Earth. It's cool."
NG: This God didn't need another baby.
Thea: Yes, exactly! So these are those kind of Gods. I mean, they are trying but they are not human. They do not understand how humans think and so they mess up a lot.
NG: All right, so they are imperfect Gods. I dig it. Are there any other humans floating around or is she the last?
Thea: There are actually a bunch of other humans. So right now, Amelia lives in a semi-natural but also semi-God world. She is sort of in the middle and she does not know where she fits exactly. When she is in the human world, she interacts with lots of other humans and experiences a lot of different types of people - who have all been through a lot of stuff, too. So she will need to learn how to deal with them and how they have dealt with their stuff. So that will be fun.
NG: Now I know that for this first issue you had two versions printed up: a color version and a black and white version. Is there one that you feel speaks better to the story?
Thea: I really love the colored edition. It really makes the backgrounds come out better, but the black and white version is beautiful too. It just makes things a little bit less obvious.
NG: Are you doing all of this by yourself?
Thea: Basically, yes - but I have had some excellent friends along the way who have helped me out a lot. I have been really lucky, but yes this book is mostly me.
NG: Awesome. It always feels good to know that you have help if you need it. After you finish Amelia, whose story from this world would you tell next?
Thea: There are a ton of great stories to tell in this universe, but I feel like her friend group is really fun. I can't wait until I am able to tell stories about their backgrounds. I can't wait till we get there and I am excited to bring other people there with me.
NG: Then you do have stories in this universe that don't include Amelia at all?
Thea: Of course! That has been the plan the whole time, actually. The plan has always been that she was the setup for the myth. There are other people involved in the story, she is the setup. Just at the beginning we are going to focus on this girl for a minute.
NG: How long have you been working on this project?
Thea: I have been working on my art since I was 5 years old. I came up with Amelia the character in probably 2010, and I have been working on the pages for this comic since maybe 2016.
NG: Now I wonder. Did you fall victim to the classic artist blunder when you have a book in development for that long: Did you find yourself needing to go back and redo the art from the beginning?
Thea: I may have redrawn it three or four times, so probably. But the book is out now and I am not doing that anymore. (laughs)
NG: Finished, not perfect. That is a fine method.
Thea: Finished, not perfect! As long as it is looked at as a whole, and you don't dissect it into tiny pieces - because no one page will ever be perfect for you. But if you can step back and see it as a whole and that looks okay that is what you were aiming for.
NG: In the independent market today, there is an awful lot of collaboration. Are you looking to bring any other artists into this world now that you have created it?
Thea: I am not actually working with anyone else at the moment, but I have spoken to several different artists about collaborating on some pieces. That is all kind of up in the air right now. I'm still just starting.
NG: Since this is your first book, are you nervous? Do you worry about what the feedback will be?
Thea: I am extremely nervous, but even just the reactions from people who have stopped to read it here at the table have helped me out a lot.
NG: What have people been saying?
Thea: Cool things like, "This is beautiful, I really love this!" Things like that, and it has been really nice. It makes me want to make a better story for them. Hopefully it will only keep getting better.
NG: I know that you were recently accepting commissions. Are you still taking on new commissions?
Thea: I am always accepting commissions! Please contact me at my email: TheaHunt@ gmail.com.
NG: I personally am happy to speak to the quality of those commissions, as you just did two for me. They were gorgeous! I think that about wraps up our interview today, but one last question: If people want to follow you or see more of your work online where would they look to do that?
*I checked in again with Thea after the show, and her entire first print sold out. Personally, I loved it & I can't wait to see what what comes next!*