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Noelle Stevenson is the artist and writer of Nimona, a fantasy/superhero webcomic set to be published as a young adult graphic novel by HarperCollins. Known online as “Gingerhaze,” Noelle is also the artist behind The Broship of the Ring and other witty pop-culture comics. Noelle lives in Baltimore where she attends art school, and likes pirates, bad TV, and making fun of things she loves.

Could you tell us five random facts about yourself?

1. I compulsively chew on objects. My pens are covered in teeth marks and I’ve destroyed many pairs of earphones by biting through the cords.

2. When I was fifteen I wrote a 600-page novel about pirates. Nothing ever came of it, and it’s unlikely to ever reach the public eye, but it taught me loads about writing and storytelling.

3. I have very bad road rage – it’s almost a Jekyll and Hyde situation between regular me and highway me.

4. The only video game I’ve ever played is Crash Team Racing, but I’m VERY good at it.

5. When I was nine I took an acting workshop, and somewhere there is a character on a CD-ROM educational game who is voiced by me.

Tell us about your journey to becoming a graphic novelist.

It began at art school when I ended up in a Sequential Art class my sophomore year, and I was very skeptical about it – I considered comics a sort of exclusive club that I wasn’t allowed in. I didn’t really grow up with comics, besides Calvin and Hobbes and Tintin. I didn’t know the big names. I hadn’t read the must-read graphic novels like Watchmen and Maus and Blankets, which my friends wouldn’t shut up about. But then, unexpectedly, I quickly realized that I LOVED COMICS. I found that I had a voice in comics that I hadn’t had before – that I could say more with some simple words and a few pictures than I could in just writing or images alone. During this class, I read comics more actively, attended MoCCA for the first time, and just generally got excited about comics. Mostly I was interested in webcomics and independent comics – the idea of creating a story entirely on your own terms was very appealing to me, and the possibilities seemed endless.

Then of course during the summer of 2011, a little thing called The Broship of the Ring happened and my Tumblr blog suddenly gained a whole mess of attention. That was also the summer of X-Men: First Class, Thor, and Captain America, which meant that I was a lot more invested in Marvel and superheroes in general than I’d ever been before. I found that I’d been inducted into the world of comics and there was no going back.

Nimona came into existence during my junior year. We were given a 30-minute exercise where we were required to make up a character, and this chubby little pink-haired shapeshifter was what came out of it. I liked her, and so when I enrolled in Advanced Sequential Art next semester, I already knew that I wanted to tell stories with her in them. By the end of junior year, I’d used three separate class assignments to make Nimona comics, and had 16 pages altogether. At the encouragement of my Advanced Sequential teacher, Joan Hilty (a former editor at DC), I decided to expand Nimona into a webcomic.

The webcomic went online in the summer of 2012 – incidentally, I had already fully devoted myself to the world of comics at this point and was interning with BOOM! Studios in Los Angeles, getting a behind-the-scenes look at the comic publishing. Around the time that Nimona went online, I got some attention for my Avengers and Hunger Games fan comics, which brought a literary agent to my blog – Charlie Olsen from Inkwell Management, who, upon reading Nimona, contacted me about representing me. I signed with him at the end of the summer and returned to Baltimore for my final year of school. Charlie was very proactive, getting my comic in front of all sorts of editors while I continued to update the webcomic, and long story short, I ended up striking a deal with Andrew Harwell at HarperCollins for a two-book deal.

What has surprised you so far about the publishing process?

I suppose I’m most surprised that I’m actually going to be published! It’s been such an extreme and unbelievable journey to this point that I’m still having trouble getting my head around it.

Why do you feel drawn to the stories you create?

I’ve always been attracted to moral ambiguity in characters – which often sees me taking a special interest in the villain, and why they feel they have to do what they do. Especially in superhero stories, where traditionally the villain is very archetypal and the line between good and evil is clear. I guess I wanted to mess with that a bit.

Take us through the process of creating a chapter of Nimona.

It starts with scripting. Scripting is actually one of the most fun parts to me, because the jokes are still fresh and since no one sees the script but me, I don’t have to worry about making it look nice, or writing careful descriptions or anything – I just let it flow. Then, I sketch the page out very roughly on Photoshop. The characters are little more than stick figures, just to sort of visualize how everything is going to work together.

After that I tighten up the sketches a bit – it’s still pretty rough at this point, since a lot is still going to change between the sketches and the final lines. This is where I make a lot of story decisions. Maybe something that I wrote in the script turns out to not be working, and so I figure that out. Or a character who was meant to be in the background comes out looking so cool that I write them into a future scene. Or, to spice up a conversation, I’ll draw something wacky to keep the viewer entertained.

After that it’s pretty straightforward – I finalize the panels, digitally “ink” the sketches, color everything in, and then draw the word bubbles and hand-letter the text. It probably takes about 5-10 hours to make one page of Nimona. Because it’s a draw-as-I-go comic, pages get drawn in chunks of 2-4 a week, staying just ahead of the update schedule.

Does writing or drawing take more time to develop? Which requires more editing?

Writing takes much less time. Like I said, the writing tends to flow a lot more quickly, while I don’t solve a lot of my problems until I actually get to the sketch phase. The script is constantly being edited, right down to the moment when I write in the dialogue – because the script is so loose, it allows for a lot of leeway. It’s really more of a guideline for the story than something that’s set in stone.

Do you tend to plan out all the background details and small references in your panels, or do those elements come as you finalize the art?

I usually only plan out the characters, their props, and the parts of the setting that they interact with directly, like chairs and tables – unless the background is very important in that scene, of course. A lot of the details don’t come until I finalize the inks – background characters, for example, exist as only vague shapes in the sketch.

Where’s your favorite place to cook up stories and/or designs?

I LOVE driving and thinking about stories. I also love lying in bed before falling asleep and planning my stories, which is something that I’ve always done as far as I can remember. Also sometimes if I’m in a movie theater and I get bored, I’ll drift off and daydream plot elements as well – something about being in front of a big screen makes me feel very inspired.

How do you approach writing your very shades-of-gray characters?

Like I said, I’ve always gravitated towards villains, especially ambiguous ones. For me the most interesting villains are always the ones that make you think, “Wait, you’re actually kind of right, even if you’re going about it in the wrong way.” I take archetypes that I’ve seen in stories, like Lex Luthor and Superman for example, and think, well, why does Lex Luthor do these evil things, why does he feel he has to do this? Was there a chance for him in the past to do the right thing, to be a good person? Can he be redeemed? And the same for Superman – what are his reasons for doing good, and are his intentions always pure?

What is your favorite panel, scene, or arc you’ve written or drawn recently?

I’m getting a kick out of drawing Nimona’s burly male form, I have to say.

Is there a novel or piece of art which has inspired you particularly?

I get inspired by movies a lot, and most recently I’ve been inspired by a lot of animated movies like ParaNorman, Wreck-It Ralph, and Rise of the Guardians.

Do you have things you need in order to write/draw (i.e. coffee, cupcakes, music)?

Netflix, music or This American Life! I always need something to entertain me while I draw, because drawing comics can get very tedious.

What are you working on now?

I’m still hard at work on Nimona, along with my school and other projects.

For more about Noelle Stevenson:

You can keep up with Noelle and her projects on her Tumblr, Gingerhaze. Follow her on Twitter as @Gingerhazing, and find more information – as well as archives and updates for her comic Nimona – at her website.

Newt’s brother was assigned to search for Grindelwald, new ‘Fantastic Beasts’ prop letter reveals

This likely has major implications for future Fantastic Beasts movies.

1:06 pm EST, December 9, 2016

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them included a mention of Newt Scamander’s “war hero” brother Theseus, and now it looks like the reference was something to think twice about.

Earlier this week Warner Brothers’ Los Angeles Studio Tour refreshed their Harry Potter exhibit with new props from Fantastic Beasts, and in one display is a letter from Theseus to Newt. Take a look at the photos thanks to Snitch Seeker:

fantastic-beasts-theseus-scamander

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Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them included a mention of Newt Scamander’s “war hero” brother Theseus, and now it looks like the reference was something to think twice about.

Earlier this week Warner Brothers’ Los Angeles Studio Tour refreshed their Harry Potter exhibit with new props from Fantastic Beasts, and in one display is a letter from Theseus to Newt. Take a look at the photos thanks to Snitch Seeker:

fantastic-beasts-theseus-scamander

fantastic-beasts-theseus-newt-grindelwald

The letter reveals that Theseus was tasked with searching for Grindelwald himself — a very interesting development for this film series. Though some words on the letter can’t be seen due to another prop covering them up, the note to Newt appears to suggest that Theseus was honored to be assigned the role. Here’s what it says, again courtesy Snitch Seeker:

Well, little brother,

I don’t know how much you have heard wherever you are about what’s going on in jolly old Europe but this chap Grindelwald has been making a lot of noise since you have been away.

Charismatic blighter, but the Ministry doesn’t like him and nor does the International Confederation.

He has upset a few of the big wheels and he’s gone underground. I have been chosen to go away and ferret him out. _______ at the chance to be picked, actually, because the whole _______ want to be on this case and it’s taken some _______ hard work to reach this status.

_______ wishing you well – wherever you are. _______ whatever beastly quests you are undertaking!

Best regards,

Theseus

The fact that this letter was made for the movie is very interesting. It suggests that Theseus at one point may’ve had a larger role in the movie — or at least, he could’ve been referenced more than once.

Further, this letter could mean that Theseus’ll have an on-screen role in future movies. In fact, Theseus’ role as Grindelwald Hunter could be J.K. Rowling’s ticket to getting Newt deeply involved with the search for Grindelwald.

johnny-depp-grindelwald

Theseus will surely be pleased to hear that his brother helped capture Grindelwald. Theory time: What if Theseus dies in a future Fantastic Beasts movie as the fight against Grindelwald (inevitably) continues? What if this leads Newt to avenge his brother’s death?

What else do we know about the character? Not much, but Snitch Seeker says that during an interview with Colin Farrell the actor revealed Theseus “was a British Auror with whom his character, Percival Graves, corresponded.”

How do you think Theseus will play into future ‘Fantastic Beasts’ movies?

Daily Show host Trevor Noah takes his experiences growing up in South Africa and puts them together in Born a Crime for our entertainment and enlightenment.

‘Born a Crime’ by Trevor Noah

The compelling, inspiring, and comically sublime story of one man’s coming-of-age, set during the twilight of apartheid and the tumultuous days of freedom that followed.

Trevor Noah’s unlikely path from apartheid South Africa to the desk of The Daily Show began with a criminal act: his birth. Trevor was born to a white Swiss father and a black Xhosa mother at a time when such a union was punishable by five years in prison. Living proof of his parents’ indiscretion, Trevor was kept mostly indoors for the earliest years of his life, bound by the extreme and often absurd measures his mother took to hide him from a government that could, at any moment, steal him away. Finally liberated by the end of South Africa’s tyrannical white rule, Trevor and his mother set forth on a grand adventure, living openly and freely and embracing the opportunities won by a centuries-long struggle.

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Daily Show host Trevor Noah takes his experiences growing up in South Africa and puts them together in Born a Crime for our entertainment and enlightenment.

‘Born a Crime’ by Trevor Noah

The compelling, inspiring, and comically sublime story of one man’s coming-of-age, set during the twilight of apartheid and the tumultuous days of freedom that followed.

Trevor Noah’s unlikely path from apartheid South Africa to the desk of The Daily Show began with a criminal act: his birth. Trevor was born to a white Swiss father and a black Xhosa mother at a time when such a union was punishable by five years in prison. Living proof of his parents’ indiscretion, Trevor was kept mostly indoors for the earliest years of his life, bound by the extreme and often absurd measures his mother took to hide him from a government that could, at any moment, steal him away. Finally liberated by the end of South Africa’s tyrannical white rule, Trevor and his mother set forth on a grand adventure, living openly and freely and embracing the opportunities won by a centuries-long struggle.

Born a Crime is the story of a mischievous young boy who grows into a restless young man as he struggles to find himself in a world where he was never supposed to exist. It is also the story of that young man’s relationship with his fearless, rebellious, and fervently religious mother — his teammate, a woman determined to save her son from the cycle of poverty, violence, and abuse that would ultimately threaten her own life.

The stories collected here are by turns hilarious, dramatic, and deeply affecting. Whether subsisting on caterpillars for dinner during hard times, being thrown from a moving car during an attempted kidnapping, or just trying to survive the life-and-death pitfalls of dating in high school, Trevor illuminates his curious world with an incisive wit and unflinching honesty. His stories weave together to form a moving and searingly funny portrait of a boy making his way through a damaged world in a dangerous time, armed only with a keen sense of humor and a mother’s unconventional, unconditional love.

Born a Crime Trevor Noah

‘Born a Crime’ book review

Trevor Noah is best known for his current hosting gig on The Daily Show where he had huge shoes to fill following Jon Stewart’s departure — shoes that he has, by the way, filled with grace, humor, and a sharp wit.

Noah has been candid about growing up in South Africa under Apartheid and the troubling parallels he sees developing in the United States, especially since Donald Trump’s rise to power, but Born a Crime puts a spotlight on his childhood adventures in a way that his segments on The Daily Show cannot.

Born a Crime is an interesting mix of heartbreak and humor. There is no denying that Noah’s childhood was not easy. He talks extensively about trying to find a place for himself at school and in life. He was too White for the Black kids and too Black for the White kids. As a child, what do you do when you have nowhere to belong?

You adapt.

Unless it wasn’t abundantly clear already, Trevor Noah is an intelligent man. Born a Crime documents the way he viewed the world and used his situation to his advantage while living in South Africa. He learned dozens of languages, either in part or in full, in order to survive the endless dangers of his hometown. He found a way to make money and build himself a tiny empire using only a computer and his wits. He took what was given to him, which was, honestly, next to nothing, and found a way to make his life fulfilling.

Born a Crime Trevor Noah feature

Noah’s mother has a huge impact on the stories presented in this memoir because she had a huge impact on her son. Strong, independent, stubborn, reliable, hardworking, clever, pious, strict, and loving, Trevor makes it explicitly clear that his mother is the reason he turned out the way he did. We should all give thanks to her.

Her story is tragic, as is growing up under Apartheid, but despite their circumstances, both led vibrant lives in which they became partners in an us-against-the-world kind of way. Hearing Noah speak about his mother infuses you with a warmth and respect for a woman you have never met, and yet that feeling is as genuine as they come.

For his part, Noah was a handful as a child and a teenager, though it’s that spunk and comedy that we so look forward to seeing now. He got into trouble — he even broke the law — but he experienced life and all the ups and downs that comes with it. He is a wealth of knowledge because he has gone far and wide to gather that knowledge himself.

Born a Crime will certainly make you laugh far more than it’ll make you cry, but don’t be so bold as to put the tissues away before the final chapter of the book. This memoir is a lesson in humility, love, faith, and perseverance. Hopefully it will affect you as strongly as it has affected me, especially if you are so lucky as to be able to listen to Noah narrate the book himself on Audible.

Add ‘Born a Crime’ to your Goodreads list or purchase it on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or IndieBound

The first full Spider-Man: Homecoming trailer aired on Jimmy Kimmel Live! tonight and we once again got a great look at Tom Holland as Peter Parker.

The first Spider-Man Homecoming trailer is here, and it doesn’t disappoint! In what totally feels like a coming-of-age/high school flick (but with a Marvel twist!), Peter Parker decides he wants to grow up and fight like the Avengers. But is he ready? Maybe with a little help (and no hug) from Tony Stark, he will be.

Watch the full-length trailer for ‘Spider-Man: Homecoming

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The first full Spider-Man: Homecoming trailer aired on Jimmy Kimmel Live! tonight and we once again got a great look at Tom Holland as Peter Parker.

The first Spider-Man Homecoming trailer is here, and it doesn’t disappoint! In what totally feels like a coming-of-age/high school flick (but with a Marvel twist!), Peter Parker decides he wants to grow up and fight like the Avengers. But is he ready? Maybe with a little help (and no hug) from Tony Stark, he will be.

Watch the full-length trailer for ‘Spider-Man: Homecoming

The main theme of Homecoming certainly seems to be Peter’s desire to prove that he’s a capable member of the Avengers team. If you remember in Civil War, Tony wouldn’t let him get too deep into the fight, for fear that he wasn’t ready. But Peter doesn’t want to be treated liked a kid.

Except he definitely is a kid, and it’s a nice break from the other Spider-Man movies we’ve seen so far, which depicted an older Peter Parker that never quite fit the high school vibe.

Tom Holland’s Peter is undoubted an awkward teenager, and the younger character lends itself to a lighter, more humorous tone for the movie. Marvel has always been good at balancing action and comedy in their movies, and Homecoming is already promising to be a fun romp.

We get a lot of great looks at other characters in this trailer, too, including a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it cameo from Donald Glover and Zendaya. Michael Keaton will be playing Vulture, and of course we also get Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark/Iron Man.

How cool was it to see Spidey swinging along next to Iron Man like an equal?

As is often the case for Marvel movies, ABC and Jimmy Kimmel debuted the trailer for Homecoming following pretty high expectations from fans. Did it live up to your hype?

‘Spider-Man: Homecoming’ hits theaters on July 7, 2017