Anne Bean

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

Tag: webcomics

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.




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.

MoCCA Fest!

This weekend has been Exciting Times in the land of Anne Bean.

I have traveled to New York City for the first time, navigated the subway system all by myself with only occasional mishaps, and had a fun time aggressively jaywalking (how a Seattle girl gets cheap thrills). This was all in service to the grander goal of attending MoCCA Fest (a.k.a. Museum of Comics and Cartoon Art), a rad indie comics con in Manhattan.

mocca fest poster

I was attending in two capacities: One, to check out the con and two, to be an ambassador for the MFA program at Goddard College, which seems to be the only MFA program in the nation that has a degree in writing comics. “Writing the graphic novel,” they call it, and in terms of your work being a large publishable chunk that terms is accurate. I basically got to spend two days chilling at a cool con with my advisers,Susan Kim and Rachel Pollack, who are awesome and fascinating people.

At least one person snickered 'cause they thought it said "Goddamn College." But then, I flew across the country to rep it, so clearly I have a great opinion of it.

At least one person snickered ’cause they thought it said “Goddamn College.” But then, I flew across the country to rep it, so clearly I have a great opinion of it.

Here’s a short list of rad people and books who I saw/talked to/checked out:
(Assort that as you will. I mostly talked to people and checked out books, but the other way around isn’t out of the question either.)

  • First Second Press, who publishes not only Susan Kim’s graphic novels, but really quality graphic novels of many varieties: Gene Luen Yang’s American Born Chinese, Ottaviani and Myrick’s Feynman, and Lucy Knisley’s Relish: My Life in the Kitchen are just a few of their titles. Also, I heard Lucy Knisley speak about her work, which was great. Some comics prof once told her that writing about food was “cheating.” Goodness knows why. But anyway, damn the man; she showed them!
  • Top Shelf comics…second to Archaia, these guys put out some frigging attractive books. The design, binding, and texture of the cover are always fitting and delicious. Also, they have a lovely line of comics that are, like, actually for kids.
  • Also, apparently Pantheon’s graphic novel line is like Every Classic Graphic Novel ever made. By “classic graphic novel” I mean “thing that you recommend to your friends who don’t read comics to prove that the genre is literary.” That being said, it’s a great lineup and a worthwhile reading list for anyone.
  • Scott C! He is a swell guy as well as a sweet illustrator. I bought his Book of Great Showdowns. If you are a film nerd at all, you will be deeply amused.
  • Also I chatted with Maki Naro of Strip Search. I thought I saw Monica Ray, but it was apparently a very good Doppleganger, which makes me glad I didn’t shout not her name and/or “Strip search!” at her. Would’ve been awkward.

There was much more. There’s always much more at cons. My favorite bit, though, was being able to hang out and talk shop with rad indie comics creators. There’s nothing like it.

Webcomic of the Day

Ever since I was fifteen years old and stumbled across Sluggy Freelance, I’ve been secretly in love with webomics. In high school, webcomics and I went at it like rabbits. I’d read ten or fifteen daily, mostly on sites like Keenspot. I mellowed out in college a bit, mostly because I picked up the habit of paper comics instead. In fact, I became somewhat of a comics lit-geek. Now it’s kind of surreal to think that many of the comics I used to read have been around for TEN YEARS. When did that even happen?

These days I read only a few regularly: xkcd, Questionable Content, all of the creations of Drew Toothpaste and Natalie Dee, and sometimes Dinosaur Comics or Wondermark. There are others that I enjoy, a list far too long to mention. Except one. Recently I sat down and read in about three sittings the entirety of Anders Loves Maria, a Swedish comic by Renee Engstrom that just recently ended. My god. I cannot believe literature/entertainment of this quality is available on the internet for free. Seriously! The comic is a love story, spanning about four years of work which I devoured in just a few hours. It’s beautifully drawn, and has a masterful story structure.

Seriously, log off of Warcraft, sign out of gmail, and read this comic. Start at the beginning. It’s totally worth your time. And I don’t say that lightly about comics.

<resist> urge to go through and rank every comic I’ve ever read </resist>

Anyway, more later about my classes with David Wagoner, absurdist plays, and all of the other things that are bouncing around in my pea brain.

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