If you’re a web comic fan, you’re no doubt familiar with Agents of the Realm.
The magical girl series by comic artist Mildred Louis has been making waves in the industry since it’s introduction in 2014. The series follows a group of female protagonists—Norah, Adele, Kendall, Paige and Jordan—who find themselves tasked with not only saving their world, but a parallel dimension filled with daunting foes and surprising allies. Part of what makes Agents of the Realm so special is its loving depiction of women of color, and diversity as a whole. Each of Louis’s characters deal with issues and experiences that are relatable, and not at all dissimilar to what typical young adults go through at their ages. Norah and her other cohorts are flawed, but endearing, and go through trials, growth and life in a way that makes this series not only an impressive fantasy tale, but a delightful coming-of-age story.
I had the pleasure of speaking to Louis and learning more about her journey both as a comics creator, and the mastermind behind Agents of the Realm. Louis also recently announced a Kickstarter for Agents of the Realm‘s Volume 2 Print Edition And Volume 1 Reprint! There are amazing perks and stunning exclusive for pledgers, so please support in getting this awesome series in physical form!
Check out the Kickstarter—and our awesome interview—down below!
1. Tell me a little about yourself!
I grew up in Boston, grew up watching anime like other kids do. I ended up studying animation in college, where my passion for storytelling came to be. Later on I got an awesome opportunity to move out to LA, which is where I’m now based out of.
2. How did you first get into comics?
It kind of happened by accident. It started out as a joke, because way back when Sailor Moon was supposed to be premiering, and kept having delays and postponements and things like that, I joked about how I could make my own magical girl comic. I came up with goofy character designs, things like that. And somehow it kind of took off, I’m the kind of person who ends up joking about something but then finds it becoming a reality super quickly. And it all kind of moved forward from there.
3. What has been your journey in the comics industry from a fan, to a creator?
For the longest time—like most comic creators can attest to—I had a hard time making a full blown comic. It seemed like I would get to about 5 pages each time before everything just kind of petered off. With Agents I gave myself a very firm deadline. I told myself that “I’ll know if this is legit if it’s up and coming in 6 months.” And so with that in mind, I made sure to have everything locked on this deadline: getting concepts, final designs, and the outlines all together in 6 months. But also, once Agents of the Realm kicked off, allowing the story to develop organically has been helpful. Despite having about 3 main concrete plot lines, I allow there to be flexibility in the storytelling and in how the plot comes to be.
4. What was your inspiration behind Agents of the Realm?
I really loved Gargoyles [the show] as a kid, and they were a big influence just because of the storytelling they had on the show. They didn’t spoon-feed the audience, and they made a lot of effort in allowing the story to unfold naturally and authentically. They really trusted the audience, and it helped me when creating Agents of The Realm to treat the story in the same way, and to allow myself to trust the audience and see themselves sincerely reflected in the characters and the story.
5. The comics/graphic novel industry seems more diverse than ever! How has that experience been like, as a black woman creator of a popular series?
I think it’s great. I think it’s been pretty inspiring along the way to see what all the people in this industry have been able to achieve. And just seeing everyone looking to find their own road, and really committing to their goals. All these external successes and folks letting their own stories be told has been really refreshing and exciting.
6. What’s been your favorite fan experience/reaction from Agents of the Realm?
I had my first cosplay this year! [The fan] contacted me on Twitter about it, and gave me updates about how the cosplay was coming along and things like that. When they finally came to me in person at a convention, it was super inspiring! I was so excited to see that!
7. Why do you think it’s important to have a series showcasing powerful, strong women of color?
I know for me, it stemmed from my experiences growing up with the struggles of being perfect. You know, not being able to showcase any emotion, any heartbreaks, distress, things of that nature—just not being able to express any of it completely. It’s important to show PoC/marginalized people just being human, and not being perfect. Because the reality is that we’re not perfect: we’re going to hurt people, we’re going to get angry, we’re going to make mistakes, we’re going to snap at people. That’s the reality of being a person, and it’s important that audiences see that reflected in these characters, and more importantly see themselves reflected in the characters. It helps them understand that all of these things are okay, and essential to the growth of who you are as a person.
…And personally, I’ve been surprised with Norah, and the positive reception she’s had with audiences. She’s not your typical Magical Girl, you know: she’s a bit surly, has a tendency to be perpetually annoyed with everything, and she has her moments of snapping on people…but she’s realistic, and just how many people have connected to her and given such positive feedback/reception has made me really glad, because it’s almost like they’re connecting with me, and it’s like “thank you for seeing me, and relating!”
8. Do you have any advice for other creatives looking to break into the comics industry?
I mean just do it, don’t wait for permission; don’t think you need to seek validation from everybody. Just jump in. don’t swing open the door, slam it open. Own the story that you want to be told.
9. Apart from the Kickstarter, how else can we support agents of the Realm?
Read it. And then tell people about it!
Support Agents Of The Realm’s Kickstarter Below!