Magical Girls Meet The Fast And The Furious In Mysticons With Kate Leth
by Hannah Means Shannon
The first volume of a new series of graphic novels featuring the magical girl team of Mysticons arrives in bookstores this week from Dark Horse, based on the animated series that debuted on Nickelodeon in 2017 and is currently running. Arkayna, Zarya, Emerald, and Piper are young women who transform to become badass and rather gorgeously costumed warriors when they are brought together by a prophecy in order to battle evil.
In this particular graphic novel story arc, they are up against some biker twins who have been misusing power, “stealing and using magic to keep first place in a deadly drag racing circuit”, which is leading to trouble in Drake City. The Mysticons are on the case to bring order back to their home turf.
Mysticons Volume One is written by Kate Leth (Patsy Walker aka Hellcat!), illustrated by Megan Levens (Buffy the Vampire Slayer), colored by Marissa Louise (Wonder Woman Annual), with a cover by Jen Bartel and Triona Farrell. You might recognize this team up from Dark Horse’s Spell on Wheels series as well!
Today, Kate Leth joins us in a Q&A about this vibrant new series hitting shelves this week.
Hannah Means-Shannon: Mysticons is a relatively new property and world. Was that appealing to you as a world to work with early in its development?
Kate Leth: It’s new, but the lore is deep and the characters are already well-realized. I loved what I saw of the show early in the process and felt a kinship with it very quickly – I knew this was a property my writing would work well for.
HMS: What do you think is most appealing to readers and viewers about “magical girl” stories that have led to their significance in pop culture?
KL: What’s not to love about them? Powerful, diverse girls having adventures, fighting monsters, falling in love! It’s the same reason people like Star Wars – we see fantastical versions of ourselves reflected in exciting stories. Anyone quick to dismiss the genre hasn’t considered that they have their own versions, they just look a little different (and are easier to find).
HMS: How important do you think it is for comics to be beautiful and visually appealing as well as entertaining? What do you think that adds to our lives?
KL: I think comics are one of the most visually appealing mediums out there. I’ve been incredibly lucky to work with this team before on Spell on Wheels and couldn’t be more grateful to write for them again. Megan and Marissa make such beautiful work together and Nate is a brilliant letterer. They make the comic a comic and they’re all perfect geniuses.
HMS: Descriptions for this volume mention that the different Mysticon girls come from “different walks of life”. What kinds of storytelling possibilities do you think arise from portraying difference among characters?
KL: It’s explored further in the show, but the girls are all different – Zarya and Piper come from the streets, Em is a dwarven-inventor-turned-Griffin-wrangler, and Arkayna is a princess. Their varied, complex backstories just make them more interesting to write and play off each other.
HMS: Mysticons sounds glamorous and interesting enough on its own as a concept, but throw in bikers and drag racing, and that just adds to the possibilities. Did you have to do any research for these elements of the story?
KL: I watched all 8 Fast and the Furious movies within the span of about two months and did some extensive googling of motorcycle components. But it’s mostly Fast and the Furious. Those movies are so, so good. There’s definitely also a Jem and the Holograms influence on our drag racers’ looks.
HMS: Can you tell us a little bit about your awesome team members on this book, including Megan Levens, Marissa Louise, Jen Bartel, and Triona Farrell? How did this team come together, and what do you think are their unique contributions to Mysticons?
KL: Everyone on the book is incredible! We were so lucky to have Jen and Triona do the cover, they did a brilliant job – to nobody’s surprise. Megan’s character work and enthusiasm for vehicles (I asked her before I pitched the story if she’d mind drawing all the bikes and she said ‘BRING IT ON’) is unmatched. I don’t know. It’s hard to pinpoint when I’m such a massive fan of the people I get to write for. Marissa’s attention to detail and lighting is stunning. They’re all just so talented!
HMS: Do you find that you work and create stories any differently depending on how you know a comic will be presented to a reader? For instance, in this case, as a 6×9 original graphic novel versus serialized single issues?
KL: Well, I’ve written a few YA GNs (Adventure Time, specifically) and I really enjoy the limitations. You work with fewer panels – I try to max out at 6 – and less dialogue. I really like being able to space out the story without worrying about a cliffhanger every 20 pages. It’s got room to breathe!
HMS: What do you most hope that readers will take away from an experience of this book?
KL: I hope they have fun with it! I hope it encourages girls to explore more in the fantasy genre – be it video games or D&D. Or watch The Fast and the Furious, depending on how old they are. The fifth one is the best. I’m just saying. It is.
Thanks to Kate Leth for sharing her thoughts with us in this Q&A!
Mysticons Volume One arrived in comic shops on August 15th, and will land in bookstores this week on August 28th, 2018!