Here’s the thing about stories set in coffee shops: I cannot get enough of them. I get weirdly excited whenever a character works in a coffee shop, even though I always nitpick at the details (except in the rare instance where a barista or former barista has clearly had a hand in the storytelling).
I get especially excited when fictional baristas get to fall in love, and when part of their love story takes place in the very coffee shop where they work.
Moonstruck, written by Grace Ellis and illustrated by Shae Beagle, takes my love affair with “coffee shop AUs” to a whole new level.
Ostensibly a romance comic, Moonstruck dives headfirst into the working relationship between Julie (a lady werewolf) and Chet (a non-binary centaur), who are best friends both on and off the clock. We learn in the exposition of issue #1 that Julie has a new girlfriend, named Selena, who’s also a werewolf — something Chet thinks is great, but Julie clearly isn’t sure about.
As we meet other characters in this universe, it quickly becomes apparent that humans are rarer than monsters, and that the majority of the characters in Moonstruck are somehow queer. As a lesbian barista who absolutely loves monsters, this comic is everything I could ever dream of (and more).For a comic book about mythical beings, @teammoonstruck is incredibly relatable. Click To Tweet
In the first five issues — collected in a trade paperback out March 21 through Image Comics — Moonstruck weaves a tale of magic, theft, romance, friendship, body dysmorphia, identity, and depression. It follows Julie, Selena, and Chet to a magic show where nothing goes right, especially for Chet. Then we follow these three (and their friends!) as they try to capture the culprit behind Chet’s loss and not rip each other’s throats out in the process.
For a comic book about mythical beings, Moonstruck is incredibly relatable.
Each of the characters in this universe faces a different set of struggles. While some are clearly more comfortable with their magic than others, they are all still figuring things out. The creative team behind the series take time to focus on each of the characters and their struggles, so that we’re able to see a variety of experiences.
We see Chet flirt awkwardly with a customer they don’t think could be into them; we see Julie and Selena try to navigate their new relationship in the midst of utter chaos, as they discover that their personalities are incredibly different; we see roommates Mark and Lindi argue about the future of their band; we see Cass struggle to understand her visions of the future.The creative team behind @teammoonstruck take time to focus on each of the characters and their struggles, so that we're able to see a variety of experiences. Click To Tweet
In addition to Ellis’ fast-paced storytelling (at turns comedic and heartbreaking) and Beagle’s incredibly sweet, beautifully rendered art (which improves throughout the series), Clayton Cowles’ lettering adds a level of genuine delight to the visual elements of the book. Likewise, Caitlin Quirk’s colors enhance the story and make each panel pop right off the page. According to interviews, the creative team also works very closely with editor Laurenn McCubbin, whose touch reflects throughout the series.
I am sad that Kate Leth’s art won’t narrate the story-within-a-story peppered throughout Moonstruck after these issues, but I’m excited to see Kat Fajardo’s contributions to the series. Fajardo’s interview in the back of issue #4 was a great read (and a reminder of why individual issues are so cool — bonus features!). It’s awesome that so many different creators are able to bring their work to the table, especially in such a collaborative ‘verse as this one.
In short, whether you’re looking for more light-hearted, romantic adventure books, more magic, more LGBTQ representation, more barista shenanigans, or some combination thereof, Moonstruck is my best recommendation for you.
Moonstruck Rating: ★★★★★
Moonstruck Issue #6 hits stores April 11. In the meantime, catch up with issues #1-5 via Image Comics or pre-order the trade paperback, out March 21.
To keep up with Moonstruck on social media, follow the comic on Twitter. You can also follow Grace Ellis, Shae Beagle, Laurenn McCubbin, Clayton Cowles, Caitlin Quirk, and guest artists Kate Leth and Kat Fajardo.