Prepare to enter the world that is MOONSTRUCK. In a world of centaurs, werewolves, psychics, and coffee shops, it’s only natural that there’s a story to tell. We, as readers, follow Julie, a werewolf, throughout her interactions with her werewolf date, Selena, and the chaos that ensues during the beginning of their relationship. They uncover a sinister plot and attempt to save everyone from the dire consequences it will bring. MOONSTRUCK is written by Grace Ellis (known for her work on LUMBERJANES and BRAVEST WARRIOR), illustrated by Shae Beagle (debuting in comics), and edited by Laurenn McCubbin (known for her work on SILENT ALL THESE YEARS and more). Image Comics’ MOONSTRUCK Vol. 1 will be available in stores on March 21st.

ComicsVerse (CV): Grace, what kind of influence did mythology have on MOONSTRUCK? And Shae, how did that affect your character design?

Grace Ellis (GE): The mythological aspects of Moonstruck are built on like, a Wikipedia-understanding of real mythology. I read a couple basic books when we were just starting out, but now most of the proper Greek/Roman mythology is extemporaneous. For this book, it’s less important to go deep on that stuff and more important to make silly jokes out of it/use those jokes to build a mythology of our own.

Shae Beagle (SB): I’m kind of on the same boat as Grace here, my knowledge of mythology is surface-level, but it’s a great excuse to learn more and read more about mythologies across many cultures! Character design wise, it’s taking these typically monstrous creatures and making them wear a tasteful scarf and drink coffee, it’s pretty fun! I try to include key features about whatever myth I’m referencing though so the source influence is still recognizable.

Interview with the MOONSTRUCK #1 Creative Team

CV: Laurenn, as an artist and designer, how did you take to the role of editor on MOONSTRUCK? What was it like working with Shae and Grace?

Laurenn McCubbin (LMCC): I have always been into working collaboratively, and the way that we approached the job of editor on MOONSTRUCK has been very collaborative — as Grace develops the story arc, I talk her through plot & character beats, which we then go over with Shae. We all talk over story ideas — the main plots for the second arc came out of jokes we were making at one of our coffee shop meetings about my love of fairy tales & Shae & Grace bonding over NeoPets!

I love working with Shae & Grace — I’ve known Shae since they were a freshman in my Painting & Color Theory class, and watching them develop into this amazing artist has been incredibly rewarding. Grace & I have also grown very close, and we like to meet up & eat pie & talk about feelings. (No, really! Pie & feels!)

MOONSTRUCK vol. 1
Image courtesy of Image Comics

CV:  Julie, the main character, is so very different from Selena. How do you feel their relationship develops over this first volume?

GE: Julie and Selena’s relationship is at the core of the story, but I wanted the relationship to be explicitly from Julie’s point of view, so a big part of this volume is about Julie uncovering who Selena is and what exactly she’s all about. In the beginning, Julie has a fictionalized, perfect version of Selena in her head, since prior to the events in the book, they’ve spent a lot of time texting, despite having just recently met. As the story moves forward, the illusion is broken and Julie has to reckon with Selena as a full person. The result is that their relationship is a little rocky because, as you said, they’re very different people who have been thrown into an intense situation, but since they both work to prioritize each others’ feelings, they’re able to empathize and grow as individuals.

CV: Why does Selena seem to find so much comfort and importance in being a werewolf?

GE: I think that in this world where there are a lot of different magical creatures, Selena likes being a werewolf because she likes the sense of community her identity gives her, in addition to feeling powerful when she’s fully transformed. She has a strong sense of self, just in general.

Magic and Mythology in our Advanced Review of MOONSTRUCK vol. 1

CV: The Pleasant Mountain Sisters series, a book series Julie read, are at first a bunch of uplifting and adventurous stories but, later on, they develop into more than that. How would you categorize this series?

GE: The Pleasant Mountain Sisters are serialized books for girls, in the vein of The Baby-Sitters Club or Sweet Valley High. I read a lot of those books when I was a kid, so in addition to being a story-telling format I was familiar with, I knew it would be one that our audience would recognize as well, particularly with the advent and success of the BSC graphic novels. So we were relying on the idioms and visual vocabulary of those books 1) to delve into the psyche of someone whose personality was influenced by them and 2) to hopefully get the reader to reflect on the impact of their own media diets on their own personality.

CV: In addition to LGBT+ representation, we subtly get the feel of the struggle with body image within Julie in regards to her wolf form. Do other characters struggle with how they appear?

GE: No one struggles as much as Julie, for sure. She’s got a lot of issues to work through.

In populating the world of Moonstruck, thinking about each individual’s relationship with their magical bodies, was a major influence in considering who they are and how they behave. For example, Julie is a werewolf with deep-seated self-loathing for her werewolf-ness, so she hides it as much as she can, and it gives her anxiety. Whereas Chet, a centaur, isn’t afforded the option of not being 100% horse-butt 100% of the time, so they’re much more outgoing and expressive.

MOOONSTRUCK vol. 1
Image courtesy of Image Comics

CV: How did each of your own life and experiences shape MOONSTRUCK?

GE: When Moonstruck was just a five-page comic, part of the premise was that it took place in a coffee shop because it was a pretty recognizable location for basically anyone who would pick up the book. When it expanded out and we had to like, put that coffee shop in some kind of context, I just kind of went with what would be easiest for me, which is a college town. I live right next door to Ohio State and am only marginally older than the characters, so the experiences and feelings and voices of the characters are easy for me to write since I know a lot of real-life people who are going through things and feeling things and talking like these made-up people. Including me! Post-college is a really strange time in general, especially for people who don’t have “big kid” jobs right away, so that’s been fascinating to explore on the page.

SB: In the span of this first volume, I’ve graduated college and am now in that exact post-college strangeness Grace is referring to. In lots of ways, my experiences line up with our cast (minus the lycanthropy, more the group of close-knit, LGBTQ friends). I can draw a lot of inspiration and reference from my life as is, which is really cool actually! Mostly I try to pay close attention to the mannerisms and fashions of my peers, as well as popular culture and the like.

LMCC: For me, it’s been about watching those college kids (like Shae) grow up & move into their adult lives. I’m a professor at Columbus College of Art & Design, and I see kids making this transition all the time.

5 for the Fandom: Comics for STEVEN UNIVERSE Fans

CV: Shae, Cassandra’s visions present themselves in a catching manner that is so dynamic, it appears to be ever changing. How do the different formats used affect the storytelling of the comic?

SB: I absolutely love illustrating Cass’s visions because I can really mess with the format and style of it. I want her visions to present themselves in many ways, and not lock into anything static, but still be recognizable as a vision. It’s kind of a great place to let loose! That being said, I don’t want to make them SO out of place that it interrupts the story, so by using different formats (along with dramatic colors and text, courtesy of Caitlin Quirk and Clayton Cowles, respectively!), we can achieve that! The story is able to go on post-vision, and the reader can share a glimpse into what the fates have in store for our characters.

MOONSTRUCK vol. 1
Image courtesy of Image Comics

CV: Grace, MOONSTRUCK hints at some sort of class/race politics between humans and magical creatures. How did those dynamics apply to the storytelling of the comic?

GE: Well, I have a strong women’s studies background, and one of the foundational ideas of the field is that the way we all individually experience the world is informed by the way the world sees us with regard to the ways we deviate (or don’t deviate) from the culture’s ideal person. In the world of Moonstruck, being a magical creature isn’t a strict metaphor for race or class or ability but is entirely its own thing; the mythical beings of Moonstruck are existing in a world that was designed for humans, and that impacts their relationship with everything from culture to their ability to sit in a car (I’m looking at you, centaurs).

Meanwhile, the key to any successful story is specificity within the world. What kind of story could you only tell within this particular world? What is it about this unique setup of characters and setting that makes it interesting? For Moonstruck, the combination of the properties of magic and the character’s all having different relationships to magic was what interested me the most, so we built a story that would best investigate those ideas while giving us an opportunity to explore the characters and the world.

CV: What can we expect to see in the future from all of you?

GE: More comics, that’s for sure. I’m working on a couple different graphic novels, neither of which I can talk about, although I can say that one is for kids and one is definitely not, which is very exciting.

SB: More comics from me as well! I have a couple personal side projects in the works, mostly because Grace has inspired me to write more (love you Grace).

LMCC: I have two gallery shows in the next year, as well as teaching at CCAD & helping more art babies discover comics!

Want to know more about MOONSTRUCK?

MOONSTRUCK Vol. 1 comes to stores on March 21st. If you want to learn more about the comic and the creative team, follow them at @gracecellis@shaebeagle, and @laurennmcc.

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