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Comic books have always been a way to escape from the banality of everyday life. Even early superheroes such as Superman and Spider-Man had to clock in at lousy day jobs when they weren't fighting crime.

Salt Lake City's CK Edwards is no different -- minus the crime-fighting part. He writes and reviews insurance contracts by day and concocts fictional tales by night. Though he has written across genres ranging from Westerns to urban fantasy, it wasn't until he teamed up with artist AJ Bell in 2007 that he ventured into the world of comic books.

The duo recently completed their first graphic novel, Pocket Hole , the story of a Little-Miss-Everything teenager named Kristin Kakes. During an uncharacteristic trip to detention, Kristin crosses paths with the mysterious Tommy Amsterdam, who just happens to have access to a black hole.

Kristin dares to follow Tommy into the hole, knowing only that it will take them to "a place where you find the things you need." In this instance, that otherworldly place is filled with "tusk totters," "horny gornies" and "serrated satchmos."

Edwards and Bell will debut the novel at Comic-Con International, which runs July 22-25 in San Diego. Before they left for the comic-book-nerd convention, they answered a few quests about Pocket Hole .

Where did the idea for the book come from?

Edwards » It actually came the night we decided to postpone work on converting one of my books into a graphic novel. We had been working on it for a year and a half and it was becoming clear that, 'Hey, we have full-time jobs. This one is too big. We aren't ready for it yet.' I went to bed and made a conscious decision not to stew about the course change. Before I was asleep, the story was there in my mind.

How did the final product evolve from the original idea?

Edwards » AJ and I work very closely, even before the first draft is written, talking about things like characters and motivations. But once the draft is written, we really put our heads together as we create the thumbnails for the comic. As we plan out each panel, we tweak or even make major changes. The final story is very much a collaboration.

The artwork definitely has a unique style; where does the inspiration come from?

Bell » Many of the Xerox-era Disney animated films come to mind -- "101 Dalmatians," "Robin Hood," "Jungle Book." There is a certain organic quality in those movies' watercolor backgrounds and the roughness of the characters that is very honest and fresh. The Miyazaki film "Princess Mononoke" is a sort of obsession of mine. That's a film I've seen hundreds of times. It spoke to me at an early age. It's one of the movies I know every single detail about.

Why did you decide on Comic-Con for the debut?

Bell » It is one of the best artistic portals in the world for new storytellers to debut their work.

Pocket Hole

ends on a cliff-hanger. Is there life for Kristin and Tommy beyond this book?

Bell » We plan on taking a break from Pocket Hole to work on a completely different book next year. But fans of Kristin Kakes and Tommy Amsterdam shouldn't worry -- a sequel will come.

They're online

Learn more about Pocket Hole, the first graphic novel of Utah writer CK Edwards and local artist AJ Bell, on their blog:

They're online

Learn more about Pocket Hole, the first graphic novel of Utah writer CK Edwards and local artist AJ Bell, on their blog: