Sarah Millman’s ‘The Heart of Time’ is the Story of One Time-Traveller and Her Pug [Back Pages]
Written and drawn by Welsh cartoonist Sarah Millman, The Heart of Time is a time-travelling adventure series starring Amelia, a teenager who steals her father's time-travelling Vespa and goes about causing incredible time-damage to the universe as she revs from time period to time period leaving devastation in her wake. The webcomic has proven hugely successful over the last few years, as fans have watched Amelia... well, not grow up exactly... but certainly grow better at not causing such extreme levels of wreckage to the space-time continuum.
The story has now come to Kickstarter, as Millman seeks to fund a print run of her time-travelling series' first four chapters --- and she spoke to ComicsAlliance about how the project first came about, what readers can expect if they pledge to the project... and also pugs!
ComicsAlliance: What's the basic premise of your story?
Sarah Millman: The Heart of Time follows Amelia, a bad-tempered teenager, who steals her father's time machine (a modified Vespa) with no idea of how to control it, and is crashing from time to time trying to find her way home, leaving chaos in her wake. When the power source to her time machine is broken and parts of it scatter throughout time, Amelia soon realizes that anyone who finds a piece can time travel - and time itself is at risk...
Oh, and her sidekick is a pug!
CA: How long have you wanted to get this comic up and running?
SM: It's really difficult to pinpoint when I started creating HoT --- I'd been developing it on and off for quite a few years before the first page was finished --- but the story was refined and the script for issue one created as part of my master's degree in animation in 2011.
I had wanted to create a time travel story for a while --- I have a fascination with quantum physics, even though it confuses me! I started publishing it as a webcomic in 2012, and the rest is history (or the future, or the present --- damn these mixed up timelines...)
CA: What was it about this story which made you want to tell it?
SM: The general idea that I want to get across with HoT is that sometimes things are a mess and problems can't be solved --- but you can still make the best of things. There's a lot of pressure on people to be perfect and have perfect lives, and I think this can be quite damaging. Learning to live with mistakes is a big part of becoming happy.
I also think a lot of my projects come out of frustration with other stories. With HoT, I wanted to write about time travel with characters who were unmistakably human and flawed. When I started writing the comic, I'd watched and read a lot of science fiction and, in some instances, felt unsatisfied with the characters, especially when more focus is on the technology and ridiculousness of the situation rather than character development.
I hate it when a character is untouchable as well, and I think risk and a feeling of uncertainty are essential when creating a good adventure story.
Series like Avatar: The Last Airbender and Samurai Champloo are huge inspirations for me, and I wanted to create a comic series that had characters that audiences could invest in. Amelia was particularly important; she's not a stereotypical “strong female character”. She's assertive and irreverent, but also frequently in the wrong, and she is quickly coming to terms with the fact that throwing her weight around isn't always the best approach.
CA: Why take this to Kickstarter?
SM: With support from backers, I'll be able to create a much more ambitious volume than I could attempt to print alone. When I was printing HoT as single issues, I've only been able to afford very short runs. Funding through Kickstarter means I will have much more flexibility, and that I can get the comic out to a wider audience and involve them in the volume's creation.
So far it's been an intense month, but even in this short time I've learned so much and become much more confident in myself and my work.
CA: What stage are you at with the project? How much have you already completed?
SM: The first three issues are already completed, and I have about ten pages left of issue four, so almost done! I intend to complete the whole volume and sent to the printer by May. I have stretch-goals in mind that may make the process slightly longer --- an extra short comic at the back of the volume, for example --- but even with that in mind, I should complete the whole project with time to spare.
Aside from losing a limb, natural disaster or a meddling time travelling teenager determined on messing up my life, all should go to plan.
CA: If you achieve your goal, what’s your estimated delivery on the final comic?
SM: The final book should be with all backers by the end of July, but some tiers, such as the ones including a commission or cameo, will take longer. I've worked with this printer before, so I'm confident that everything will go smoothly. I can't wait to see it in print and share it with my backers!
The Heart of Time Kickstarter is looking to raise £3500, and will run until 8 April 2015.