Arts preview: 'Moonstruck'

Jim Fischer
Columbus Alive

The newest comic from Eisner Award-winning writer Grace Ellis (“Lumberjanes”) will feature illustration by CCAD senior Shae Beagle.

The first edition of “Moonstruck” will be available this summer. By then, the duo intends to have two additional editions complete. Oh, and Beagle will also be completing their senior projects and graduating as an illustration major from CCAD.

The partnership was encouraged by assistant professor Laurenn McCubbin, but not without extracting a promise from Beagle that they would graduate.

“Moonstruck” is based on work done by Beagle and Ellis as part of CCAD's Comics Anthology Practicum class, in which students are paired with professional writers.

“I looked at the story and thought, ‘This could be a thing,'” McCubbin said. “This is … a fresh take on a comic universe — this whole other world of people having adventures and relationships that aren't shown in mainstream comics.”

Beagle's entry into comics was not inspired by the superheroes of Marvel of DC as much as it was by your Sunday newspaper.

“A lot of people tended to grow up with Marvel and DC. Not me,” they said. “As a kid, [my family] always liked the newspaper funnies. We always cut out Snoopy because our family's name is Beagle. We had a lot of Snoopy on the refrigerator. That was more of my [introduction] to comics. When I got older and into making comics I started reading more.”

Beagle's work in comics intensified at CCAD — they were among only a few students to participate in the Comics Anthology Practicum in two years. Along the way, they developed a visual style that was an ideal match to Ellis' alternate universe that includes mythical and magical creatures.

“There's this whole world of humans and monsters to explore, with lots of magic,” Beagle said. “I wanted to keep the visuals soft and friendly, almost cartoon-y, because the characters are a little cutesy and comedic.”

The work targets the Young Adult audience, with messages that resonate with the creators and, hopefully, readers.

“The main character is Julie. She works at a cafe and just wants to be the most normal person in this world of monsters and magic. But she is a werewolf, and doesn't want to be. So we bring in this character that she's dating who's also a werewolf, but she's proud of it and out in the open, and is glad to find out that Julie is [a werewolf], too,” Beagle said. “There's lots of diversity, a lot of LGBTQ characters.”

That inclusiveness is not necessarily art as advocacy, but the kind of storytelling that comes naturally to both Ellis and Beagle. Even so, the telling of stories involving a variety of characters is important to Beagle.

“We want to make sure those are the kinds of stories that are being told,” they said.