Last week on M3, a new face stopped by the group – Jill of the comic book writing duo Beckah and Jill. They write Magical Boy Basil, a free webcomic about a group of magical teens. It’s adorable. They also have a Kickstarter to help them put out a print edition of the comic with some great rewards.
Thanks, guys, for stopping by for the interview! I’m so glad you guys stumbled upon us on Queer Sci Fi – how did you find the group?
JILL: Well, it turns out that Angel Martinez and I will be on a panel together (along with Jordan L. Hawk) at BishounenCon in March, where we’ll be discussing queer tropes in fiction. I’ve been super hyped about it this whole time since it’s my first panel, and in response to one of the many harassing emails I’ve sent to Angel and Jordan, Angel directed me to Queer Sci Fi. I’m really glad she did!
I looked at your Kickstarter and loved the art. It forced me to sign up and become a supporter. Who’s responsible for that?
JILL: I give all the credit to Beckah. Beckah produces all of the line work for Magical Boy Basil, as well as character and monster designs. Much of the visual appeal comes from days of preproduction work for each asset. During preproduction, Beckah will draw the same character (or whatever she’s working on) a hundred different ways, and then we’ll sit down and pick out the most appealing aspects of each drawing and start to cobble them together into a finalized design.
Why “Basil”? Where did the name come from?
JILL: To start, “Basil” (American pronunciation: BAY-sil) is a name that I’ve always loved, but there’s more to it than aesthetics. When Beckah and I first set out to design Magical Boy Basil, we wanted to make a ton of throws to magical girl anime, which is the genre that initially inspired our story. You’ll often find in anime that entire casts have thematic or “punny” names. So we started with “Basil” and ran with it. Basil’s mother is Rosemary, his father is Clary, his brother is Mace, his family name is Caraway. Mostly we just had fun with Basil’s family, though our other thematic names have legitimate contextual meaning.
What’s the main story arc?
JILL: Basil moves to a new town and meets Aaron, who turns out to be the leader of a crew of undercover teenage magicians who fight monsters in order to maintain the balance of the universe. AND he’s Basil’s classmate. Of course, Basil wasn’t supposed to discover any of this, and the magicians are not happy that Basil always turns up where the danger is. In the meantime, Basil is trying to make new friends, hold his family together, pass algebra, and figure out why Aaron makes his heart pound so hard. Tenth grade can be complicated.
Do you have long-term plans for the characters?
JILL: Heck yeah! Each character was designed with a specific story arc in mind. Some characters are static while others are dynamic, but each of them were built around a lesson that Basil needs to learn in order to succeed in the primary storyline. Magical Boy Basil uses these characters to deal with the story’s core theme- the relationship between love, loss, and power. All of that sounds pretty cerebral, though. Our hope is that you’ll just get lost in the characters and enjoy the ride. Also, Beckah wants to add to this answer…
BECKAH: Jill’s the Game Master here, honestly. I give my input regarding certain characters and I usually say ‘Why not?’ when she’s asking me questions. Everyone’s going to get fleshed out eventually, so while someone like Eaton may seem like a straight forward personality, I can guarantee he won’t remain that way forever. Personally, I’m looking forward to Basil seeing more of Eli’s struggles and, further down the line, peeking into the personal lives of the mysterious Serge family.
Who does what?
JILL: We both discuss the big picture story, but I’m the one who actually writes it down and makes sure it’s playing out the way we intend it to. The script itself is entirely my responsibility, along with page layout. Beckah then takes my written material and sketch notes and she drafts up visual designs and full page roughs, which ultimately turns into the line work for our comic pages. Then the line work comes back to me for color and letter. I also handle the business side of Magical Boy Basil.
Tell our audience more about the Kickstarter project, and what the benefits are to becoming a supporter.
JILL: Our Kickstarter is for issue #1 of Magical Boy Basil! It’s 24 full color pages, along with some extra content and beautiful cover art by Beckah. Supporters of our Kickstarter can get the comic book, a poster, sets of prints, and even original art. Not to mention launching a print edition of Magical Boy Basil will be a game changer for the comic. It opens up new distribution opportunities, gives more legitimacy to the comic, and it allows the reader to literally claim ownership of the story. Being a part of our Kickstarter is being a part of the creation and distribution of quality, queer comics, which is what we’re all about.
When can we expect the finished book?
JILL: Trick question! Similar to many comics in the magical girl genre, Magical Boy Basil is designed as an ongoing series broken up into arcs that typically revolve around a specific monster and the resulting chaos. Of course, Beckah and I already know the entire story from beginning to end, but the whole comic won’t be gathered into a single book (as we envision it at this point, at least.) That doesn’t mean we won’t have “finished” stories, however. Each chapter is a complete issue of the comic, and every four or five chapters are meant to be grouped into a complete volume. So long as our Kickstarter is funded, you can expect to hold Issue #1 in June!