Anne Bean

I make delicious words. // I make words delicious.

Tag: publishing

Comic Review: Nimona

First, a fairy tale:

Once upon a time, in the Magical Land of Hollywood, there was a grand celebration known as the Teen Choice Awards 2013. There were many superhero movies represented at this magical occasion, and the public cried, what is up with that? So during that celebration, several white males came together in fellowship and told the world about comics. None of these men were particualrly asshatted, aside from Todd McFarlane. And lo, they told of how “comics follow culture; they don’t lead culture” and how the reason why superheroes are so often white and male is because comics are the domain of men fulfilling their testosterone-fueled fantasies. And lo, the panel moderator, Alyssa Rosenberg asked if they felt like comics could possibly lead society in a positive direction rather than following it, and the panel shrugged and said not really, no…and Rosenberg straight up said, “That seems like a really unambitious position,” set the mic on the table, and left. (Check out her article here, including some choice quotes.) And a great cry of “what the crap, you guys” arose from the Twitterverse. And one of those tweets read as follows:

 

 

And so I went and read it.

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And I was MIGHTILY PLEASED!

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In a nutshell,

NIMONA

tells the story of an evil scientist/superhero named Ballister Blackheart and his sidekick/shark/shapeshifter, a teenage girl named Nimona, as they struggle against the weirdly authoritarian techie-medieval society and Blackheart’s personal nemesis, Sir Ambrosius Goldenloin.

 

Things to love about this comic:

  • Worldbuilding: This is a fun freakin’ fantasy world, I tell ya. There’s magic, which seems like it’s being increasingly pushed aside by technology and science. There is just enough lack-of-explanation as to how this all works to keep it interesting; it’s clear to me that Stevenson knows the rules of the world, and I feel just fine being exposed to cool medieval armor, and shape-shifting sharks, and floaty glowy screens. The sequence with the kingdom’s science fair is particularly fun. I feel like this world is sort of what Steampunk wanted to be had it been more obsessed with knights and stuff instead of mustaches and bowler hats. I’m sure that’s already a thing. MedievalPunk? Whatever, this world is awesome.
  • The characters: The three main characters, Nimona, Blackheart, and Goldenloin (SNRRRK) all have pretty complex backstories that have the potential to go a lot of interesting places as this comic develops. Nimona has had some kind of traumatic science-based experiences that she’s not telling us about. Blackheart and Nimona have a frankly adorable, non-creepy father/daughter vibe going on. Blackheart and Goldenloin used to be best friends; the jury’s still out on exactly what happened during their Friendship-Ending Incident.
  • Moral ambiguity: The main characters are villains. The adorable teenager likes to kill the heck out of innocent bystanders. The evil scientist does not; he’s got more of a Doctor Horrible vibe going on except with more social skills. Sir Goldenloin feels conflicted about the creepiness of his governing body, the particularly when they ask him to assassinate peeps in cold blood. There’s no black and white storytelling here. It’s delicious.
  • The art: Noelle Stevenson’s art is LOVELY. Her character designs are unique, her sense of line and color are great, and I find her oft-derpy characters are hilarious. Her art reminds me of some mashup of Kate Beaton and Abby Howard. It is whimsical in best, least “cute cat figurine in your grandma’s kitchen” sense of the word, and super-expressive. SO GOOD.
  • The comments section is not filled with scum, bigotry, and flame wars; it’s actually filled with FUNNY COMMENTS ABOUT THE PLOT. <3
  • If you needed sexy pinups of the male characters, you can find them HERE and HERE. Aww yesss, equal opportunity exploitation. I want to send a copy of each to Todd McFarlane’s and Gerry Conway’s daughters. (For the record, Gerry Conway says his daughter “only reads comics by someone named Faith Erin Hicks.”)

Go check it out, what are you waiting for? Critical acclaim? Oh. Well, so far Nimona has been nominated for a Harvey Award and gotten awards from i09 and the Center for Cartoon Studies. It takes a couple of hours to mainline the archives, and then you can get a fresh dose on Tuesdays and Thursdays. If you’re allergic to the Internet, a) what are you doing reading this blog and b) you can buy Nimona in paper form when it gets published by HarperCollins in 2015.

Searching for my readers…

This past weekend I spent most of my time in Capitol Hill at the Richard Hugo House‘s writing conference, Finding Your Readers in the 21st Century.

Its focus wasn’t craft, but rather marketing, publishing, publication, and all those other things that writers do that aren’t writing. This is something I’d been hungering for, and I left with an overall sense of hope about my career and writing life.

Mainly, I got two things out of the conference. First, I got a lot of really important nuts and bolts for my own publishing plans. I learned about the Espresso Book Machine, which prints and binds (well!) single copies of books from PDF files. I learned how to approach bookstores with my book, and what a writer’s platform is and how to strengthen mine. I talked to knowledgeable people about how to market my work when it stretches between genre fiction and literary fiction. Et cetera.

Secondly, I got an overall picture of where publishing might be going in the future…and I like it. The traditional vision of publishing goes something like this: Author gets agent, who convinces publishing company to accept manuscript, manuscript is printed and distributed en masse, extra books come back to publishing company as returns. In this scenario, the books are products to be pushed, stuff to be sold just like any other gadget on the market. The new way *might* look something more like this: author makes manuscript, hires editor to edit, then feeds manuscript into Espresso Book Machine, making single copies available to eager readers worldwide who know said author from their online presence. No returns, no agents.

I see self-publishing like this as something that will become ever more popular, although I don’t think it will ever replace traditional publishing, nor should it. But I think that the traditional structure will change in response to a new wave of bad-ass self-publishing. I guess as a whole we’ll have to wait and see. In the meantime, I’m trying to have the best of both worlds; I plan to try to find an agent and traditionally publish “Changeling” when I’m done with it. In the meantime, with Freedomland I’m riding the wave of self-publishing (and hopefully self-printing once I talk to Vladamir at Third Place Books!) into the future.

If you’re in Seattle and itching to get your hands on some local writing, check out Pilot Books in Capitol Hill. It’s a tiny store with bas-ass flavor that’s all about local authors.

Turning the page

Wrote this yesterday, thought I’d put it on today for the start of the new decade. As a side-note, I find it auspicious that the new year starts on a Friday.

The sky in Seattle today is basically sludge—a gray slurry of clouds that spits rain and gives that quality of dull light that makes people want to sit around in dark rooms playing guitar and wearing flannel. Today I am doing neither. I am writing a post for this, my Professional Writing Blog What I Am Actually Doing Not Just Talking About, because I am determined to get a decent start on the blog before the decade ends.

I’ll admit it straight up. I feel a bit embarrassed about saying I self-published a science fiction novel. Not that I’m embarrassed about the “novel” or even “science fiction”…it’s the self-publishing that makes the little centipedes of self-doubt run around in my stomach. I talked to an editor friend of mine about the likelihood of me getting a press release in the Seattle Times. “As a policy [they] don’t do anything with self-published books,” he told me, “just because there are so many.” One of my iUniverse folks told me one out of every seven books published is from them and their affiliates. That doesn’t even cover the whole range of the self-publishing and print-on-demand market, and it’s taking up nearly 15% of the publishing industry! This tells me two things. First, people are hungry for words, so hungry that they’re putting out books left and right in any form possible. This is the optimistic thought. The pessimistic second thought is that there is little niche market for my book. I know “science fiction” doesn’t really cover what my book’s about, but I’m not sure what does. “Dystopian fiction” is not yet in vogue as a genre.

So I’m torn. I’m torn between the longing for traditional publishing and someone else to do all my marketing for me for free, and a desire to kick traditional publishing in the pants and go on a raging DIY rampage, freeing words from the confines of, well, professional editors, for one. Hmm. To that end, this year will be about indulging both desires. I will write shortish things to publish, and also create a monthly zine about food and gardening and vegetables, which has been an idea brewing in my head for a long time. I also plan to revise my NaNoWriMo novel, which is a fabulously rough piece of clay at the moment that I can shape in many different ways. But that is another story entirely, as it were.

Any thoughts on traditional versus self/other forms of publishing?

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