Amber Atoms #1Comic books have their roots in pulp fiction; if you don't believe it, go read the proto-superhero comic books before Marvel & DC – Doc Savage, Flash Gordon, the Phantom and others. And although at times comic books have flourished and overshadowed its pulp roots, from time to time those influences and styles begin to grow between the cracks and re-emerge. A recent example would be Fear Agent, and now we have another: Amber Atoms.
Amber Atoms is a new ongoing Image series by cartoonist Kelly Yates that begins this February. Drawn from a deep-rooted love for space-faring sci-fi adventures like Flash Gordon, the titular character promises to lead a breakneck pace of human drama amid aliens, androids and armed space battles.
page 7While this creation is new to comic books, the idea has been bouncing around the creator's head for sometime – it's just took awhile to find the time and the focus to get it out there. Yates is a freelance artist, having done comic books (Green Arrow, JLA/JSA) as well as licensing work from everything from boxers to brief. But there's comic books in his blood, and for the first time he's pouring out his soul into his first creator-owned book Amber Atoms.
Newsarama: Kelly, thanks for talking to us today. How would you describe Amber Atoms?
Kelly Yates: The best way to describe the basic concept of Amber Atoms is she’s a modern day “female Flash Gordon”. Definitely more like the adventure strips by Alex Raymond rather than the campy serials of the 1930’s.
page 8NRAMA: Let's talk about the main character, Amber. What's she about?
KY: Amber is a young lady in her late teens or early 20’s who still lives with her parents at their family run salvage yard. She’s very smart and not afraid to get her hands dirty helping her father in the business. But there’s a lot of tension developing between her and her father because she hasn’t been encouraged to do anything other than live her life out on their homeworld, Madisomme. Amber thinks he just doesn’t understand and her father believes he is protecting her from the big bad galaxy.
NRAMA: Has she always been an adventurer, or is she thrust into it?
page 9KY: Amber has always been an adventurer at heart, but she’s unrepentantly thrust into the role of galaxy-wide heroine by events that come to her homeworld. Her adventure into the larger world begins when three of the galaxies’ deadliest mercenaries arrive at her home looking for an artifact that has untold ramifications. Being this artifact is unknown to Amber, she begins an adventure that leads her to learning about her family name in history.
NRAMA: This book is set out as an ongoing series. What do you have planned up for future issues?
KY: Obviously we’ll get introduced to a lot of new and unique alien cultures, as well as members of the Atoms’ family tree. Some good, some bad and a few who want to manipulate her for their own gain. Amber will quickly learn there’s a certain amount of creditability built into the Atoms’ family name, but that can also really get her into a massive amount of trouble. And just for good measure, a love interest will emerge.
page 10NRAMA: From what I've read, this book has a bit of pulp, sci-fi and space-faring adventures and you mentioned some classic Flash Gordon strips. What would you say influenced this work?
YA: I’ve been hooked by sci-fi material since my dad first took me to see Star Wars when I was 5 years old. I just couldn’t get enough of it so I was naturally drawn to Indiana Jones, Doctor Who, Flash Gordon and any other sci-fi adventure material I could get my hands on.
NRAMA: You've done a lot of work, both in and out of comics. What made you make time for a creator-owned project like Amber Atoms?
KY: I’ve always dreamed of working in comics and have enjoyed working on several projects throughout the years. Although I’ve had the opportunity to work on other creators’ projects, I wanted to spend my time working on a project I was passionate about and that led to my own creation… Amber Atoms.
page 11NRAMA: From your website, it sounds as if Amber Atoms has been something you've been working on for sometime. Can you tell us how it came about and what made 2009 the year for it to debut?
KY: I have been working on Amber Atoms for several years developing into its current day incarnation. Characters have developed and new concepts have emerged as I have worked on this during my “free time” in between the work that has paid the bills. As for the 2009 debut, just timing -- all the elements are finally coming together.