The first year of Wonder Comics’ Young Justice reintroduced Gemworld and its most famous resident, Amethyst, propelling the character to a new 12-issue Amethyst series from writer and artist Amy Reeder, launching this week!
While Reeder is a huge fan of the original Amethyst, Princess of Gemworld series and the ‘80s fantasy aesthetic, she’s embracing a modern-day sensibility for an “entirely new” vision of Amethyst and the unique section of the DC Universe she inhabits. DC Nation talked to Reeder about her plans for growing Amethyst by upending her status quo…and the psychedelic visuals she has planned along the way.
Anyone who follows you on social media can see your affection for Amethyst. What is it about the character that you love so much?
Princess Amethyst and Gemworld embody all the best elements of children’s fantasy from my childhood. I was born in 1980 and most of my all-time favorite cartoons came from that decade. There is something about the worldbuilding—these fantastical worlds that felt old and new all at once—that became a part of me, influencing the way I dream and see beauty. I wanted to contribute to the world that helped form mine!
I also think it’s really special that Amethyst and Gemworld exist within the DCU. We’re talking female lead, fantasy and an overabundance of purple. That is something I want to encourage and protect!
I love that the princess herself has ties to Earth. She represents us in this strange world, and we get to experience it with her. She’s an earnest 16-year-old who wants to do the right thing—the real trick is, how do you know what’s right?
Also, her name is Amy. How cool is that?
Readers have seen Amethyst in Young Justice as of late, but this is the first solo series for the character in years. How do you see her as uniquely meaningful today?
I love this question because it’s exactly what sparked the whole plot. Amy has a “Little Miss Perfect” personality, and as a writer that’s not always easy to work with, especially with readers looking for a little more meat. How do I write a story about a princess who already has everything figured out?
For me, it made sense to take the ground out from beneath her—and that starts out literally. She returns to the Amethyst Realm and it’s torn out, her people nowhere to be found. And in her quest for answers, she learns all sorts of other things that turn her world on its head.
For me, upending the status quo seemed like the best way for readers to realistically identify with someone who has that much power over others.
Exploring Gemworld looks to be a huge part of this. What can you share about your process in building the world?
Gemworld gives me so much to work with! Reading the original series by Dan Mishkin, Gary Cohn and Ernie Colon, it’s clear that almost anything goes and I’m embracing that. This is a dreamland. It’s divided up into 12 realms, all based on the birthstones, which I love. I’m giving each realm a different geography and a distinct look to each set of people. I have a fascination with landscapes and cultures, and with that I’m trying to create something that feels entirely new.
I’ve also done quite a bit of crystal research! Given that crystals are such a big trend these days, I thought it would be fun to amp up that angle, too. I’m paying attention to the patterns in raw crystal formation, and I’ve thrown a little bit of crystal healing in there, too. It is truly a gem-obsessed book.
Gemworld is a vast and obviously colorful setting. What type of visual inspiration have you drawn from for this series?
Mostly, I’m just trying to keep my world quiet so I can listen to myself. I often have dreams with crazy visuals, and it’s tough to remember it all, but I know I’ve got libraries of psychedelic stuff stored in my brain somewhere. I just try to trust that it’s there and let it appear.
And that all stems from the visuals I loved from my childhood. If anything, I’d say I was inspired by The Neverending Story and She-Ra, Return to Oz, The Secret of NIMH and Unico in the Island of Magic, too.
You’ve stated this series finds Amethyst “among the people.” How important is that aspect to how you approach the series and its title character?
It’s vital! Princess Amethyst is more accustomed to dealing with fellow (mostly adult) royals than she is with everyday people, but in this story, the royals turn on her. This forces her to deal with everyday people, but it turns out that slice-of-life Gemworld is actually pretty stunning. She gets to explore the world all over again, from a completely different angle.
I gave her two new teenage friends, and I think they’ll be a major highlight of the book. I’m working to make sure they don’t steal the spotlight too much, but it’ll be the three of them, taking on the world, each one riding a ridiculous animal, because again—no rules!
Amethyst #1, written and illustrated by Amy Reeder, is on sale February 26 in print and as a digital download.