Meet the comic book world’s 23-year-old queen, Noelle Stevenson
The comics industry is an ever-changing one — especially when it comes to characters, but also in terms of new faces behind the scenes drawing our favorites and telling the stories we love to come back to again and again.
Although the world of comics is still mostly dominated by dudes, there are awesome women emerging to leave their own mark. You might not be familiar with 23-year-old artist and writer Noelle Stevenson, but she’s been accomplishing some pretty great things in the comics industry lately. (She’s also already made it on to our list of female-authored comic books you need to read!)
Stevenson, who tweets at @Gingerhazing and posts to Tumblr under the username “gingerhaze,” first garnered attention on the Internets thanks to some of her fantastic fanart. That soon led to her being the artist behind the fantastic cover of author Rainbow Rowell’s novel Fangirl.
If you already know Noelle’s name, you’re likely most know her for her creation of the webcomic Nimona as well as a head writer on the first 17 issues of the series Lumberjanes — and both will potentially be making it to a movie screen near you soon!
Vanity Fair had a chance to talk with Stevenson about her epic sweep at the Eisner Awards, the issue of female representation in comics and her creation of the Hawkeye Initiative — which started as a joke between Stevenson and friends but quickly evolved into a more serious conversation about how female characters are sexualized on the covers of comic books.
For Stevenson, Tumblr was a place where she could share her ideas freely as a female comic book fan. “Tumblr was a place where, for once, it was a predominantly female crowd. And you could share comics visually, which is one of the strengths of the design of Tumblr. When I saw Thor, I couldn’t go to [comic-book Web site] Bleeding Cool and say, ‘Oh, let’s talk about Loki’s issues with being adopted.’ But Tumblr was totally there to talk to me about that.”
The news that Nimona and Lumberjanes, predominantly female-driven comics, would be adapted by male screenwriters was tough for her. “I think comics has this rap of being misogynistic, and that’s certainly not untrue. But it also is what it is. It’s not that hard to spot. And in some ways, that’s easier to stomach than a world where it’s just like, Well that’s just how it is … we choose the best person for the job … there just were no women. It just happens a lot and we’re a lot further away from being able to have those conversations about Hollywood.”
Since Lumberjanes has a cast of all ladies, the potential for great and diverse representation is already there. “[With] Lumberjanes we said, ‘Let’s not have any of those assumptions to begin with at all. Let’s not introduce a male character for four issues and see if you just have women interacting with other women, what does that free you up to do?’ And then you get to have this variety. Good people, evil people, mean people, nice people, cowardly people, brave people, funny people, serious people. So you have none of this, Oh, she’s clumsy, that’s offensive. Oh, she’s better than everyone at everything, that’s offensive.”
Her advice to aspiring comic book artists and writers is to not be afraid to challenge the rules from time to time. “Anybody if they have access to the Internet and some kind of drawing tool can put a comic online. Question everything, don’t try to emulate someone else’s path, look at what you have, the tools you have, the place you’re in, know the rules, and break them.”
[Featured image via Marvel, Amazon, Boom! Studios]