This article contains mild spoilers.
Noelle Stevenson understands characterization.
Last year, I discovered Nimona, an Eisner-nomated webcomic-turned-novel written by Stevenson about a whimsical, enigmatic shapeshifter who befriends an evil figure with an ultimately good heart. I found Nimona at a secondhand bookstore—the kind of store filled with spine-damaged books sporting dogeared pages—and I was surprised by the pristine condition of the copy I found. As I flipped through the beginning of the graphic novel, I saw a collection of glossy, well-preserved, wrinkle-free images.
Then I flipped to a page that contained a profoundly tense moment between Nimona (the shapeshifter) and Lord Ballister Blackheart (the semi-benevolent villain). A previous owner had filled the white border of the page with cartoon stars and bold exclamation points. It looked like a scrapbook page made by Finn and Jake.
Later, I reached that page again during my first read-through of the novel, and I found genuine heartache and refreshingly nuanced character interactions. I couldn’t help but add a few stars of my own to the margins.
Noelle Stevenson understands characterization, and that storytelling skill is evident in her latest creation, Netflix’s 2018 She-Ra and the Princesses of Power. Continue reading