Smash Pages Q&A: Nilah Magruder on ‘M.F.K.’

The animator, illustrator and storyboard artist discusses the collection of her popular webcomic.

Nilah Magruder’s webcomic M.F.K. has been on hiatus recently but it remains a beloved by its fans (including me). The animator, illustrator and storyboard artist received the inaugural Dwayne McDuffie Award for the webcomic, an epic fantasy adventure about a hero on a quest – but not the kind of hero, epic or quest that most fantasy fans think about when they hear those words. Although it is very epic in a sense – journeys are hard for social recluses.

Last year saw the release of Magruder’s debut picture book, How To Find a Fox, and she’s currently working on a new book project, Creaky Acres. A print version of the the first three chapters of M.F.K. are out now from Insight Comics and Magruder answered a few questions about the book, promises she’s working on the comic, and more.

What is M.F.K.?

It’s my new graphic novel!

In the book description:  “In a world of sleeping gods, a broken government, and a fragile peace held in the hands of the corrupt, one youth must find the strength to stand up against evil and save humanity. This story is not about that youth.” Why did you decided to describe it in that way?

I wanted to show that this was something a little different from the Chosen One narrative. Abbie is very much an anti-hero, she is in the position to make a huge difference in the world but she doesn’t want to. A big part of the story is Abbie determining her place in the world.

Had you always been interested in comics? I know that you were working in animation.

I was interested in animation before I was interested in comics.

What were the comics and the webcomics especially as you started thinking about M.F.K. and working on it?

I was reading a lot of manga at the time; Bleach, Naruto, One Piece, Mars, Peach Girl, Paradise Kiss. I was also reading some long-form webcomics, like Strings of Fate, Cascadia, Fallen. A lot of the webcomics I was reading, those creators went on to join the animation industry, or became known for other comics they created.

Working on a long form comic like this and aware of how big it was? Or did you have an ending and a plan?

I knew how big it was. I have a loose plan and an ending in mind, but there are a lot of details I’m still nailing down.

How has the story and the characters changed since you started working on it? Or have they changed?

Abbie’s undergone a few design changes, but I think she’s remained mostly the same. Jaime has changed a lot. He was kind of a dumb but energetic kind of guy… a Naruto or Black Star type. He was also a fighter, but now he’s more of a bookworm. Nifrain wasn’t even in my early drafts, she was a late addition. Rolf and his posse have remained pretty much the same.

How do you work? Digital? Analog? Some combination thereof?

I do the thumbnailing in pencil, then scan those in. Everything else is digital.

How did this print edition from Insight Comics end up happening? Had you been wanting to put out a print edition?

My agent submitted the book proposal, and Insight picked it up. I’d been considering Kickstarting a print volume at the time, and that’s probably what I would have done if Insight had not bought the book.

Now this is not the entire story, this is just the first three chapters, do I have that right?

Yes.

So when can we hope to read Chapter Five? Also, related question you may be tired of hearing, is chapter five the end or is there more?

There is more! I’m working on the next chapter as we speak.

This is your new book, and hopefully will introduce you to plenty of new readers, but you finished these chapters a few years ago. What are you working on now?

I’m also illustrating an upcoming graphic novel called Creaky Acres, about horseback riding. It’s being written by Calista Brill.

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