Image Comics

Comics for Social Justice Nerds: Reviewing “Moonstruck”

Note: This new blog series #ComicsForSocialJusticeNerds will highlight comics that are different from your standard White Male Superhero – in relation to the comic itself and the creative team behind the scenes. Many of my blog readers tend to work in student affairs & higher education, so if you are into social justice and media representation (and I hope you are!), then I hope you appreciate this new series (also I just want more colleagues nerding out with me!). If you are not working in higher education, but just like comics – this is for you as well! This is the 2nd post in the series; read the first post reviewing Hi-Fi Fight Club here.


The cover of Moonstruck struck me right in my feels.

I mean, a fat lead female character? Two black cats? A centaur? And coffee??!!

Instantly I bought issue 1 a few months ago and now I just completed issue three. I figured it’s time to let you in a secret to those of you not in the know: YOU NEED TO READ MOONSTRUCK.

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The cover for issue 1

Published by Image Comics, Moonstruck is the rainbow baby of co-creators Grace Ellis (She/Hers; well-known for her work on Lumberjanes as co-creator and co-writer, and now the writer for Moonstruck) and Shae Beagle (They/Them; Comic artist). It all came from their class project at Columbus College of Art & Design (in Columbus, OHIO aka my home state aka a city I’ve been too aka it’s like Ellis, Beagle, & I are practically BFFs, right?). As told to Entertainment Weekly, their professor Laurenn McCubbin (She/Hers) thought the story had potential and she helped pitch the project to Image (side note: she was once the Art Director for Image and has such an awesome list of work!). Talk about an amazing college class!

The first page of Moonstruck’s issue one is whimsical as you quickly realize this story will include a love of cats, coffee, and centaurs. Our Puerto Rican queer, fat*, heroine Julie works at the Black Cat coffee shop alongside her friend Chet, who is a non-binary centaur that brings joy into every panel that features them (*note: I am all about that body positivity and fat is a descriptor and not a moral issue. In fact, I am SO HAPPY to see a fat female lead character in a comic!).

Quickly the reader understands they are in a fantastical world as a panel shows a coffee shop full of decidedly supernatural-esque folks. Soon we learn that Julie has her a secret (and one she especially wants to hide from the world) – you may even say she has a “Big Hairy Audacious Goal (BHAG)” to keep this a secret (heehee). She’s dating the self-assured and beautiful Selena; every scene they are together is SUPER CUTE and will make you squee. And of course, there is a prophecy, a villain, and a magical mystery they must uncover…

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Look how cute Julie & Selena are!

I just love this creative team. Writer Grace Ellis loves her puns, and one of the best lines in issue one is Chet’s corny pun followed by “My gender identity is terrible puns.” Artist Shae Beagle’s illustrations have a soft and dreamy touch that makes it simple to fall into this different world. Every issue they bring in a guest artist to draw panels from the book Julie is reading ‘Pleasant Mountain Sisters’, starting off with the well-known Kate Leth in issue one! Online, Leth speaks a lot about her feminism and bisexual identity, so this paired with her adorable and vivid illustrations is a perfect fit (note: Her “Patsy Walker AKA  Hellcat)” was one of my fav comics of last year).

  • AND every issue includes extra content at the end, like an interview with a comics professional that the creators love! Issue one is Nilah Magruder, a writer & illustrator of the webcomic MFK and the first Black woman to write for Marvel comics! Issue two features Brittany Williams (illustrator, Patsy Walker AKA Hellcat) and issue three features MariNaomi (cartoonist and creator of the databases Cartoonists of Color and Queer Cartoonists)

If I care about social justice, why should I read this comic?

  • The comic industry is still dominated by men, so a creative team only one cis man (my favorite letterer Clayton Cowles) is amazing! Discussed in their Twitter & Tumblr pages plus Rogue’s Portal, Writer Grace Ellis identities as a lesbian and Artist Shae Beagle identifies as non-binary.
  • In case you missed that, this comic is being drawn by a non-binary artist AND one of the main characters is non-binary. THIS IS IMPORTANT. #representation
  • Queer creators writing queer characters is so important (again)! As artist Shae Beagle said to Entertainment Weekly, “Well, I think it’s important to have these stories that involve queer characters by queer creators that are not, at their core, a coming-out story. These characters are comfortable in their identities and have a life outside of that. I really enjoy that kind of story, and it’s great that we’re expanding on that and putting it out there.”
    • Editor/Designer Laura McCubbin added “I wholeheartedly agree. It’s so important that there are other ways to experience queer characters that aren’t about trauma, that aren’t about the worst moment of a queer person’s life. That’s the only way audiences ever experience queer characters. The idea that we have to hear over and over about coming-out stories or getting beat up is silly. There are other aspects of queer characters’ lives, like just going to a café.”
    • Writer Grace Ellis added “I just want to add that this is the kind of book that I want to read, if I were not also writing it. It’s nice to have something that’s sincere and warm added to the LGBTQ canon.” She also told Amy Poehler’s Smart Girls website “I just want this book to be a place that a queer person can go to and know that their sexuality is not going to be under attack”.
  • What I’m saying is: It’s awesome to have a comic that has queer, fat, non-binary, and people of color characters doing rad things in a visionary world! And it’s not just that these comics have diverse characters, but that they are drawn and written so damn well!
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Plus this moment in issue 3 is a great example of the social justice themes. Chet is great!

Overall, get this comic today! It makes me feel lots of feels + Ellis & Beagle have created a fun supernatural world. Pick up issues 1-3 now and issue four will be out November 1st!  New to reading comics and maybe, as someone who has a marginalized identity (or multiple), you are looking for a welcoming store? The Tumblr page ‘Hate Free Wednesdays’ (because new comics drop on Wednesdays) has a master list + you can submit your own. If there are no stores near you, order on Image, Comixology, or one of the many other sites.

Also, buy issue 0 for $_(whatever you want) online – all proceeds will support Puerto Rican hurricane relief (since the main character is Puerto Rican) and you can read the initial story for Moonstruck!

Follow the creative team on Twitter!

Review Round-up!

Notes: All images are property of the creators and Image.

 

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