Don Handfield and Joshua Malkin are currently enjoying the success of their most recent project, Unikorn, which is currently being funded on Kickstarter. Having a very strong fanbase already, Unikorn is showing the kind of potential creators dream of and has no signs of slowing down anytime soon. In this edition of Five Questions and a Comic we discuss this fun, family-driven universe with Don and Joshua.
This article has been edited for length and clarity.
Comic Burst: Tell us a little about the world you’ve built. Is the spelling of ‘unikorn’ significant?
Don Handfield: Unikorn tells the story of a little girl named Maeve “May” Everhart who inherits a run-down farm in rural Pennsylvania and with it, an old horse named Percy. When she discovers a small nub on the horse’s forehead, she comes to believe old Percival may actually be a unicorn. One of the little girl’s friends posts a video of the ‘miracle’ healing this horse can seemingly do, and it creates a frenzy. It also brings in a group of government types that want to see the horse ‘disappear.’ Ultimately, Maeve learns that not only to do magical creatures exist, but also that she is a Keeper - someone tasked with keeping them safe from harm, as was her mother, who died when Maeve was very young. In fact, that also turns out to be the explanation for Percy’s missing horn. A ‘Unikorn’ is a unicorn with a broken horn – or that has had its horn removed. This is usually not done to harm the animals, but for the same reason conservationists today will remove the horns from rhinos to save them from poachers.
CB: Is the story behind Unikorn something an entire family would enjoy together or is it focused on a particular age group.
DH: We both grew up reading incredible children’s books. These stories seemed simple but had these really deep and meaningful themes. For example, Black Beauty dealt with preventing cruelty to animals, Charlotte’s Web made you see how special every animal is, and Watership Down made you think about the true nature of home. These books were hopeful, but also heartbreaking. As kids, they encouraged us to think about the world beyond ourselves and to be more mindful of our place within it. Although aimed at children, these were titles that endured for us, with physical copies passed down within our families. That’s the feeling we hope to capture with Unikorn. And now that we both have young kids of our own, we wanted to create a story for them.
CB: What is the core storytelling that you want to get across to a reader?
DH: The world of Unikorn is based on real history, mythology, and folklore. The basic premise is that in our world, magic (and magical creatures) are real, but have just been outlawed for thousands of years by a faction called The Few, who want to hoard magic for themselves. A unicorn by nature is magical, so the mere existence of one threatens this lie that magic isn’t real and makes our heroine and her ‘horse’ a target.There’s a big element of faith in Unikorn: believing in something despite what people around you think. Whether Santa Claus, or magic, or whether someone really loves you -- life is an act of faith. We wanted to create a book that lets children know they can keep believing in magic well no matter how old you get.
CB: You've mentioned that Unikorn takes place in the same universe as your Scout Comics series, The Source. Will we ever see any sort of crossover event in either series??
DH: Oh, for sure – though that’ll take some time to develop. But Issue 4 of The Source DOES conclude with a clever nod to Unikorn. Our hope is that as our readers get older, they can move to the deeper themes of The Source, which is intended for a more mature audience.
CB: Where would you like to see Unikorn in a couple years?
DH: As several mini-series, and we actually have three others already mapped out! The next volumes are entitled Fenix, Gryfin, and Pegasus respectively.