Monday, November 16, 2015

Nimona by Noelle Stevenson


      Nimona is the printed published version of a popular webcomic by Noelle Stevenson, who goes by the screenname Gingerhaze online. While Stevenson dabbles in webcomic presentations of multiple types (stand-alones, multi-pannel, fanart, etc.) Nimona was a serial webcomic that she started posting in June of 2012 while attending Maryland Institute College of Art. It doubled as her senior thesis. It was published as a book earlier this year, in May 2015.
     Nimona follows the story of a disgraced knight turned mad scientist, Lord Ballister Blackheart, and his feisty shape-shifting sidekick, Nimona in their quest to overthrow the government through the means of supervillany--all the while being pursued by Blackheart's former friend and now nemesis, Sir Ambrosius Goldenloin. Through the course of the story the alliances and moral codes of the two men begin to warp as secrets, cover-ups, and conspiracies begin to come to light, and the increasingly nefarious government desperately attempts to capture Nimona, who becomes more violent and unstable as the story progresses, causing both Blackheart and Goldenloin to question both their motives and alliances (respectively) as well as reevaluating their long-standing rivalry.
     In a mash-up of both fantasy and science fiction genres, Nimona overturns the traditional good-guy/bad-guy dichotomy and in doing so adds an element of realism that often is absent from many fairytale type stories. By presenting both sides as neither strictly good or strictly evil, the characters are more approachable and more easily identified with, rather than just being caricatures of good and evil. I also think that incorporating both magic and science into the world setting makes the world more believable and easily imagined, and raises so many discussion points about how magic and science intertwine and coexist without marginalising one or the other. Indeed, this is something that I always wanted to see addressed in the Harry Potter universe (in an official canon capacity) but thusfar has only been addressed in speculation on internet forums. Stevenson brings these ideas to life in her comic.
      I really enjoyed Nimona, it definitely is a storyline that I would love to see continued if Noelle Stevenson ever decides to continue the story in a sequel. In the meantime, I will definitely enjoy following her other webcomics, her fanart doodles and blog entries on her Tumblr, and her contributions to the ongoing graphic novels The Lumberjanes.
      Nimona by Noelle Stevenson is available at the Ocean City Free Public Library.

Friday, November 6, 2015

Binge by Tyler Oakley

      If you are a fan of video blog style YouTube channels, then you probably have experienced Tyler Oakley at some point. One of the Internet's most active LGBT+ spokespeople, Tyler Oakley has collaborated with dozens and dozens of other YouTubers and actors including Jenna Marbles, Miranda Sings, Hannah Hart, Grace Helbig, John Green, Dan Howell, Phil Lester, Jim Chapman, Troye Sivan, Oli White, Joey Graceffa, Connor Franta, Darren Chris, and many many more. He has been nominated twelve times for Streamy Awards (and won seven), has a popular podcast which he cohosts with his best friend and fellow YouTubers Kory Kuhl, and since starting his YouTube channel in 2007 has gained over 7,700,000 subscribers. He has even been featured as a guest host on the popular MTV show Catfish. Tyler Oakley uses his presence and online popularity to advocate for LGBT+ rights, especially those of LGBT+ youth, as well as social issues like healthcare and education. One of organisations Tyler is most vocal about in his support is The Trevor Project--"the leading national organization providing crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning (LGBTQ) young people ages 13-24."
      In October of 2015, Tyler published his first book, Binge: a collection of personal essays detailing his life both on and off the internet. In these essays, the tone changes back and forth from the snappy hilarious personality that hooks viewers into his channel, to very serious and touching when he details his struggles with self image and his own mental well-being. The book absolutely covers more topics that I've ever seen him discuss in videos, or even on his podcast, Psychobabble. It definitely allows readers into a deeply personal aspect of Tyler, that hasn't been seen before (even though he is a very open and non-secretive person to begin with). Going into this book, I didn't initially forsee myself needing tissues, but by chapter six I was bawling. Don't worry, not every chapter induced tears. Some induce painful snort-laughter. Either way, maybe don't read it in public where people will judge you for having emotions at written words.
      Binge by Tyler Oakley is on-order at the Ocean City Free Public Library and will be available on the shelves soon. You can put yourself on hold for it here.