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:
Hey, go read my girl comic. You can read it if you’re not a girl but there’s a girl in it so you might not like it. http://t.co/dK53d1zUWv
— Noelle Stevenson (@Gingerhazing) August 8, 2013
And so I went and read it.
And I was MIGHTILY PLEASED!
In a nutshell,
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.