In Magic Girls: Kira and the (Maybe) Space Princess by Meg Brennan, average middle schooler plans to achieve popularity by becoming a magical girl. When she meets Catacorn, a half-cat, half-unicorn from far beyond the stars, she’s surely taken her first steps towards magical girl success… Right?!

Kira and the (Maybe) Space Princess, the first book in the new Magic Girls series, was published today by Random House Graphic. To mark the occasion, The Beat caught up with Brennan over email. We asked about the road the book took from zine to graphic novel, the source material that inspired the story and what went into the worldbuilding of Magic Girls‘ setting, Neo-Earth.

AVERY KAPLAN: Can you tell our readers about the road this book had to publication? What was the process of adapting it from zine to graphic novel series like?

MEG BRENNAN: Magic Girls originally existed as 3 zines that combined to maybe 25 pages total, so even though I had ideas for more story I didn’t want to pitch something totally unreasonable. So when I was talking with Random House Graphic I assumed they would want just a single book, but as we talked we both agreed there was the potential for more volumes, which was such a relief! It was hard trying to condense all my ideas into one book, and I’ve been able to have time to come up with new and better ideas to make the series better.

As I got into breaking down the existing story and future ideas into 3 volumes, I took a lot of time adding more structure. The original zines were a lot more focused on jokes, but not a ton of connective tissue, and sometimes things made no sense once they were extended further than 3 or 4 panels. As a result, I had to reverse engineer some worldbuilding stuff, which is a weird spot to be in! But it was an interesting exercise. 

KAPLAN: What inspired Magic Girls? Can you tell us about your relationship with the inspirational source material?

BRENNAN: It’s kind of a long story: I was asked to be in an anthology called Hana Doki Kira years and years ago, which was a tribute to shoujo manga. I couldn’t possibly do anything but a magical girl story, since reading Sailor Moon and Cardcaptor Sakura were some of the things that made me want to do long form comics from a young age. I liked newspaper comics a lot already, but the concept of getting to make long stories? About girls with magic? No contest.

So I made a little 3 page comic lovingly making fun of some tropes of the genre. And of course a magical girl needs a cute mascot sidekick, so I reused a weird cat character design I’d made for a project even longer ago, while I was at school at SVA. Something about the way the two characters played off each other was so fun, and so was getting to play with the tropes of the magical girl genre, so I kept making more comics with them in it, in between other projects.

KAPLAN: What was the character design process for Magic Girls like? Did any characters present a particular challenge, or conversely, did any come particularly easily? 

BRENNAN: Kira and Catacorn came easily, partly because I was designing them so fast and without worrying too much! If I’d known I would be drawing them so much in the future I might have worried more. Although, I took a while to decide what color Catacorn should be — I had been drawing the characters in black & white for so long that I only thought of her being some kind of vague pastel shade.

On the other hand, when it came to designing Baleen (a magical girl who mentors Kira for a hot minute) I had to make her distinct, but also fit within the world Kira and Catacorn exist in. I ended up giving her multiple themed costumes partly because I couldn’t decide which was most fun for a mermaid magical girl to be in! 

KAPLAN: Did you ever crack yourself up when drawing Kira wearing that one costume, or Groundy, or Catacorn?

BRENNAN: I would be lying if I didn’t say I gave her that silly outfit mostly because it made me laugh!

I’m drawing book 2 right now, and I don’t think it’s a spoiler to say that Groundy (the school mascot, seen briefly in book 1) comes back. Every panel with the Groundy helmet feels like I’ve been pranked by my past self. She was right though, it IS funny to see that goofy unchanging face talking about friendship. I’m excited to see how people react to it.

KAPLAN: Readers will learn all about your creative process in the super informative back matter for Magic Girls. But I’m curious if there’s a certain snack, drink or anything else that fuels your creative process?

BRENNAN: Hmm, it feels extremely boring to say that this year I got excited about making myself cold brew to get myself started in the morning. So the better answer is: I made a playlist of pop music in foreign languages that I can listen to even when I’m writing or thumbnailing, or whenever else I really need the upbeat energy without the distraction of lyrics! Once I’m inking and coloring I can get deep into podcasts and audiobooks again.

KAPLAN: Magic Girls has some fantastic worldbuilding. Is there any element of Neo-Earth of which you are particularly proud?

BRENNAN: I’m glad to hear that, because (as I said earlier) I had to reverse-engineer a lot of it! I think I was particularly happy about figuring out how to make there be magical girls on Neo-Earth without there being a “end of the world evil” kind of thing happening. Not that I don’t love stories with that kind of stuff! But I like getting to zag on that expectation and do something sillier.

KAPLAN: Have there been any comics, books, video games, movies, or anything else that you’ve been especially enjoying lately?  

BRENNAN: I’ve been really enjoying the Delicious in Dungeon anime, as a long time fan of the series. I’ve also been DEEP in finally reading One Piece for the last few months — it’s all on the shonen jump app! Oda’s cartooning is next level,I can’t get over it!

I’ve also been watching a lot of the UK show Taskmaster, it’s such a silly treat.

KAPLAN: Is there anything else you’d like me to include?

BRENNAN: My portfolio is at if you want to see more of my work! But otherwise, that’s all, thank you so much! I’m a big fan of The Beat, so this was a treat.

You can pick up Magic Girls: Kira and the (Maybe) Space Princess at your local bookstore and/or public library beginning today!