Last year, we received a preview for a comic by Kel McDonald (Dark Horse Presents, Angel & Faith, Adventure Time) about a group of magical girls "who are jerks" called Misfits of Avalon. Having grown up on a good dose of Sailor Moon (and loving the fun play on The Mists of Avalon), I couldn't help, but
Last year, we received a preview for a comic by Kel McDonald (Dark Horse Presents, Angel & Faith, Adventure Time) about a group of magical girls “who are jerks” called Misfits of Avalon. Having grown up on a good dose of Sailor Moon (and loving the fun play on The Mists of Avalon), I couldn’t help, but be intrigued by a pitch like that: “magical girls who are jerks.” It sounds fun, potentially feminist, and cheeky. I wanted to know more.
In preparation for the release of the second volume via Dark Horse in March 2016, the first volume was available via Kel’s website. While originally the premise had me thinking something a bit more irreverent, I found myself quickly pulled in by something heartfelt. The girls are jerks, yet sympathetic, and I particularly enjoyed the first person perspective that gave me insight into the inner workings of each individual character. With Misfits, I ended up finding something less Sailor Moon and more character study set in a fantastical environment. That, of course, piqued my interest, so I had to talk to Kel a little bit more about it. We chatted over email about her comic, representing different types of female jerks, and what makes her art distinct.
Why a team of magical girls who are jerks?
Well, the jerk part came up before the magical girl bit. Basically all my favorite characters in television shows can frequently be described as the worst, but they are also usually men. Men and boys get to be terrible, sullen, angry, loud, rude, and messed up. When women and girls are terrible in fiction, it is usually in a catty mean girl way like Cordelia on Buffy. And while I like Cordelia, there’s a lot of her in fiction. There is less of girls being other types of jerks. The magical girl part came to be contrast to the jerk part. Since all the girls flaws are usually things we see in male characters why not put them in one of the most girly genres of all.
Oh, I like that idea of putting them in “one the most girly genres of all.” I like how each chapter is told from the one of the team member’s perspective. I think it highlights how character-driven the story is. Why did you decide to frame each chapter in this way?
Since the girls are jerks, they are the type of people that would get dismissed or written off after looking at them or having one interaction. The keeping to one point of view at a time I thought helped show there is more to them, or at least explain some of their behaviors. I played with that styles of captioning in one of my self-published books Fame and Misfortune and liked the results. It seemed like going back to it would help this book. And that’s especially true of the character Rae. I knew going in that I wanted her to seem nice on the outside to contrast the other girls. Basically trying to have different kinds of jerks. As I developed her, I knew she was going to get to the bottom of a lot of things but not share the info. So without her inner monologue, people might wonder why she isn’t being a team player, have more hope then anxiety when she starts hanging out with Kimber, and finally find her big fight in Book 2 jarring.