Vaughan & Chiang's "Paper Girls" Builds a Familiar Yet Disconcerting World
I sometimes marvel of what the hell I ever did it without it. The latest delight it’s brought me is Noelle Stevenson (aka Gingerhaze) ‘s brilliantly adorable, hilariously self-aware Nimona web comic. And prepare to have your mind blown when I tell you that Stevenson is still a student and this is her SENIOR THESIS.
Stevenson’s work reminds me of Kate Beaton, but with a dash of Eleanor Davis, a sprinkle of Emily Carroll, and bit of Faith Erin Hicks all combined together into some delicious magic concoction. The comic feels as if she has read all the best stuff and then forged her own way with their inspiration to guide her.
What can I tell you about Nimona? Honestly, nothing you can’t get on your own just by reading it, but in case you need to be persuaded more than the images in this post (what’s wrong with you?!?!) let’s talk about all the fabulous boxes it checks:
1. A complicated female protagonist full of enthusiasm for being a villain. She has shapeshifting powers, and yet her “base shape” is her own adorable punky, chunky, shaved-headed shape.
3. A foppish hero that seems like a pretty sub-standard hero with a complex past (and he has a terribly awesome run).
4. Science! And SSSSCIEEEENCE!!!
6. An origin story that puts all other origin stories to boring shame (two in fact)!
7. Jokes, both meta and regular.
8. Magic (and characters that refuse to believe in Magic because they believe in SCIENCE – even when they have shapeshifting magical sidekicks).
9. Hilarious running.
10. Rats painted pink to trick silly heroes, nefarious plans by corrupt societies, adorable relationships, minions, goons, allergies to bananas, code cracking, “top secret” plans, dragons, bloodthirsty teenagers, metal replacement arms, and so much more!
Here’s an adorable two-page Halloween special of Ballister and Nimona in their downtime:
And as you can see by the notation at the bottom of the page, Stevenson has already done five chapters. And I have to say, there’s not a weak page in the bunch. Additionally, as you’re reading, make sure to read Stevenson’s great comments at the bottom of each page. Again, not unlike Kate Beaton, Stevenson comments on her own work, and her sense of humor is bang on, every time.
Stevenson is sticking with a fairly traditional format and style, which is nice as her work is wonderfully consistent and yet never boring. The one place where she explores a slightly different style is in Nimona’s transformations, and it’s a smart choice, giving her just enough range to get creative, without breaking her own style and thus the feel of her world. Here’s an example of the first time we see Nimona change during battle:
Nimona herself acts as the best possible protagonist because while there is nobody more excited about her new job as villainous sidekick, she’s simultaneously the most self-aware and meta character in the entire piece. It’s a charming combination, that had me laughing on nearly every page. Quite frankly, this comic has the feeling of someone that has been honing their craft for a VERY long time, someone that has already experimented greatly and grown hugely as an artist, and has learned a great deal about what works and what doesn’t, about how to perfect tone and humor in the sequential art format. It blows my damn mind that she’s still a student and my head swoons to think of what we’ll see from Stevenson as she continues to grow as an artist and writer.
In closing, it’s free, it’s hilarious and beautiful, and it updates ever Tuesday and Thursday. Mark your calendar, it’s appointment reading. What are you waiting for?!? Also, announced just a few days ago is that Stevenson has secured a book deal and I can’t think of any young artist more deserving. So for those of you that still reject the internet and all its glorious gifts, you can read Nimona in print in 2015. I’m ready to pre-order my copy now.
I leave you with this, my new favorite catch phrase ever:
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