Boys in skirts. I'm not going to lie and tell you that is't what drew me to the Magical Boy Basil (MBB) booth at Small Press Expo 2016, but I stuck around for the scope of LGBT representation and the whimsy of the story.
The main protagonist, Basil, has just moved to a new town, Tanglewood. His parents buy old homes, fix them, the sell them, and move again. This cycle leaves Basil moving from town to town quite often and not really hanging around long enough to make friends.
Beckah and Jill, the two creators behind MBB, decided to create the comic out of a desire to see more representation in not just comics, but media in general. As they put it: "representation of the LGBTQIA community in the media we consume has a huge impact on readers. Growing up in the southern states, no one talked about LGBTQIA anything. You didn't see it. You didn't hear about it except as something wrong."
The lack of representation often results in most teenagers and young adults only get the broken stories of individuals in the community. "Had I been exposed to characters like me earlier, I know it would have helped ease so much pain, confusion, and terror I experienced. So when I'm creating, I remind myself that...there are people out there who crave affirmation. They need to be shown that it's OK to be who they are. That they can lead their own magical adventures and come out victorious at the end," she added, and hopes that MBB can achieve that. As the story goes, Basil will eventually learn more about gender and how it doesn't have to be what he thought it was, which gives readers a chance to grow and learn with the character.
Diversity in MBB doesn't stop at gender or sexuality, rather the cast is a veritable United Colors on Benetton ad. "Sanjeet is Indian, Eaton is Latinx, Eli is Black and all of our main characters fall on various levels of the sexuality spectrum (Aaron, for example, is demisexual!). Basically everything we've been longing to see in the comics we've been reading," Beckah explained with enthusiasm.
MBB is self described as a "manga meets western comics" incorporating the more "light-hearted aspects of the mahou shoujo genre," but when asked, the creators pointed out how Basil's story will set itself apart from other stories in the same genre. "Basil's stand out point is that his story will also touch upon a few darker aspects of being human...all the facets of experiencing and dealing with grief is a huge part of the story," Beckah noted, as well as the consequences of using power, and not just magical power.
We hope you are as intrigued by this comic as we are and not only check out the MBB website, but support the printing of the first issue over on Kickstarter! To drop Beckah or Jill a line or to see more of their work, check out their Patreon and Instagram or tweet them @magicalboybasil!