Interview: J.M. DeMatteis on IDW’s The Adventures of Augusta Wind

The Adventures of Augusta Wind #1

The Adventures of Augusta Wind #1

J.M DeMatteis is the writer of many books including Moonshadow and Adbadazad, and has worked on series such as Amazing Spider-Man and Justice League. Now, he returns with The Adventures of Augusta Wind, an all ages fantasy from IDW. Westfield’s Roger Ash contacted DeMatteis to learn more about this series.

Westfield: What was the genesis of The Adventures of Augusta Wind?

J.M. DeMatteis: Unlike most stories, which grow from a plot nugget or a particular character, this one developed from the name—Augusta Wind—which dropped into my head one morning while I was sitting on the back porch with my wife. The instant the name appeared, I knew I was on to something—but I had no idea what. I decided to tuck the name away and see what evolved.

As time passed, no story developed, but Augusta didn’t go away; she was always reminding me that she was nearby and that, when the time was right, her tale would emerge. I waited patiently but, instead of a story, what emerged were more names: a list of wonderful—and wonderfully peculiar—names for characters that, just like my main character, I knew absolutely nothing about.

Eventually, details of the story began emerging. I started to get a sense of who my main character and her cohorts were (among other things, I learned that Augusta has the ability to ride the wind and lives in the ruins of an old castle) and what their adventures were about; not enough to start writing, but certainly enough to keep me excited and intrigued. Then something truly magical happened.

I met the Greek artist, Vassilis Gogtzilas, through my son, back when Cody was an editor at Devil’s Due, and I immediately responded to the energy and imagination of Vassilis’ work. Since 2008, we’ve had an ongoing correspondence and Vassilis has been kind enough to share the evolution of his art with me. We’ve talked, very vaguely, about doing a project together, but the stars never quite aligned.

Until the day I went to the mailbox and found a sketchbook Vassilis published called Splat! Leafing through it, I was impressed, as always, by Vassilis’ work, but especially intrigued by a particular drawing of a young girl holding an umbrella, a castle far in the background. There was a tone, a feeling, a gentle magic, in that picture that seemed different from Vassilis’ usual work. More than any other illustration in Splat!, that one burrowed into my head and took up lodging there. I was sitting by the piano at the time and, very spontaneously, almost entranced, started to play and sing a song about Augusta Wind. As I was singing, I was gazing at the drawing of the umbrella-girl. Somewhere in the middle of the song I stopped, my head practically splitting open, as I realized that the girl in the picture was Augusta Wind. Vassilis had sketched her, brought her to life, without even realizing it.

I ran to the computer and sent Vassilis an email, telling him about the piano-side miracle he’d manifested and asking if he’d collaborate with me on this new story, bringing it to visual life. A few minutes later a resounding “Yes!” arrived from Greece—and we were off.

Westfield: What can readers look forward to in the book? Anything you can tell us about the story?

DeMatteis: The story kicks off in the (so-called) real world where a girl named Augusta Webster has been having strange dreams…or perhaps they’re memories…of another life, in another world. After an odd creature named Mr. Snabbit shows up at her window one night and another—even odder, and far more terrifying—creature called an Omniphant appears in her therapist’s office, Augusta realizes that she’s not who she thought she was…and that she’s part of a huge mystery that spans many worlds and realities.

Westfield: Who are the main characters the readers will encounter?

DeMatteis: There’s Augusta and her “real world” family, the Websters…the aforementioned Mr. Snabbit and Omniphant…a cosmic librarian named Miss Information…and a group of mysterious children Augusta once lived with in a place called Castle Zero, on the island of Nowhere (which exists on the edge of a cosmic fog called The Swirl). There are also the demonic BaLLoonies who serve a mysterious entity called The Terriible Something. Among others!

Westfield: You’ve done all-ages fantasy stories in the past with Abadazad and Stardust Kid. What is the appeal of this particular genre for you?

DeMatteis: The best children’s stories appeal not just to kids but to anyone who still has eyes of innocence and a functioning sense of wonder. Reading Baum’s Oz stories as an adult is as enchanting an experience as it is when you’re six. Same with Dr. Seuss, Narnia, Mary Poppins, Winnie the Pooh. I love the idea of a story that can nurture the child in all of us. There’s an inherent openness to awe and the mysteries of the universe in the genre that allows for the exploration of metaphysical themes—the big “Who Am I And Why Am I Here?” questions—that some adults have long since given up on because they’re too locked in the “real” world. The great Madeleine L’Engle said that when she had something to say that was too difficult for adults to swallow, she’d write it in a book for children. I love that quote.

Stories like Abadazad, Stardust Kid and Augusta Wind also allow for the kind of world-building that I really enjoy. Creating an entire fantasy universe and populating it with a cast of rich characters is a challenge…and a joy.

Westfield: What can you tell us about artist Vassilis Gogtzilas’ contribution to the book?

DeMatteis: The instant I got that sketchbook in the mail, the instant I saw that Vassilis had drawn my main character without even knowing she existed, it was clear that we were meant to work together on this project—and that our collaboration would be something special.

Vassilis is an artist with an astounding imagination. He keeps coming up with designs for the most incredible creatures, some of them found in my scripts, some of them popping, full-grown, out of the top of his head. I’ll look at some amazing creature he’s designed and know, instantly, who it is and where it will fit in the story. That’s the kind of collaboration that works so beautifully in comics: show me a picture and let it inspire me. Vassilis inspires me every day. His visual contributions have been invaluable and it’s been an absolute joy working with him.

Vassilis is also one of the fastest artists I’ve ever worked with. I send him a script, blink a few times, and my in-box is filled with artwork. Because of his astonishing speed—and my desperate efforts to keep up with him—I suspect we’ll have most, possibly all, of The Adventures of Augusta Wind completed before the first issue even comes out.

Westfield: This is scheduled as a five issue miniseries. Do you have plans for Augusta Wind beyond that?

DeMatteis: Yes! This first five-issue mini is just the beginning for Augusta. It’s, essentially, Book One in a multi-part fantasy epic. The first part will have closure, certainly, but it will also be the first step up a ladder that ascends through many universes and into a much bigger story. We look forward to chronicling Augusta’s adventures for many years to come.

Westfield: Do you have any other upcoming projects you’d like to mention?

I’ve got a lot of irons in the fire at the moment—including a new project with my old buddy Mike Ploog—but none that I can talk about just yet. I’ve spent the past year creating a host of new projects for comics and other media and, with a little luck, in the coming months you’ll start to see them step out into the world.

I’ve also launched a series of writing workshops—called Imagination 101—that I’m very excited about; as well as a one-on-one mentoring program, Creation Point Story Consultation. You can find information about both at my website:

Westfield: Any closing comments?

DeMatteis: I just want to encourage folks who have enjoyed my work—especially big fantasy projects like Moonshadow and Abadazad—to check out The Adventures of Augusta Wind when it comes out in November. And please feel free to contact me via Twitter and my website to let me know what you think.


The Adventures of Augusta Wind #1



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