Fans of Lumberjanes (and if you’re not one, you should be) will be familiar with Noelle Stevenson. Co-creator and co-writer of the now Eisner Award-winning series, Stevenson is an artist to watch. Before Lumberjanes, Stevenson worked on a web comic called Nimona, which was recently collected and released in book form and made the New York Times Bestseller list.
Nimona tells the story of an evil henchman and shapeshifter named (you guessed it) Nimona. She works for Ballister Blackheart, one of the most renowned villains in the world and enemy of The Institution of Law Enforcement and Heroics. It soon becomes apparent that Nimona’s power is beyond anyone’s control and The Institution wants her taken out of the equation. In a world where heroes and villains are governed by certain rules, Nimona breaks every one and makes both sides question where they stand in the world.
That was vague, but I don’t want to spoil any of the great plot moments in the story. Stevenson has managed to do something special with Nimona, crafting a story that effortlessly combines humor and deep emotional exploration. The title character goes back and forth between wisecracking to brooding, though the seemingly contradictory emotions flow fluidly through the narrative. It’s a book that had me laughing at the beginning and on the edge of tears by the end.
The art in the book likely won’t be to everyone’s taste, but the style works well for the book. Personally I’m a big fan of the character design here and I think it works well as a consistent undercurrent to the humor. The characters are stylized cartoons, which lends to the overall genre of fantasy. It also makes for a nice contrast between the light and dark sides of Nimona, embodied by certain transformations and color schemes in the book. All in all, the presentation of the series is top-notch and the material has transitioned from the web to the page beautifully.
Nimona is one of my favorite books of the year. I’m glad to have it on my shelf and will more than likely return to it for another reading before the year is through. Definitely check this book out.