Each night I plug in my phone and put on my cozy phones (flat headphones in a cozy headband so they don’t hurt your ears, they’re amazing) and choose and audiobook to fall asleep to. During this period of self-isolation and uncertainly, I’ve been listening to and re-listening to Nimona on near repeat. But how does one listen to a graphic novel? Oh I shall tell you!
From the Back Cover:
Nimona is an impulsive young shapeshifter with a knack for villainy. Lord Ballister Blackheart is a villain with a vendetta. As sidekick and supervillain, Nimona and Lord Blackheart are about to wreak some serious havoc. Their mission: prove to the kingdom that Sir Ambrosius Goldenloin and his buddies at the Institution of Law Enforcement and Heroics aren’t the heroes everyone thinks they are.
Nemeses! Dragons! Science! Symbolism! All these and more await in this brilliantly subversive, sharply irreverent epic from Noelle Stevenson, based on her award-winning web comic.
When I was a college freshman and had a single room (which I did not want, but now am grateful for), I was incredibly lonely and often fell asleep listening to the TV or an audiobook – it’s been a calming mechanism for me for years at this point – to get my mind to shut up. My favorite audiobooks have always been the ones with a full cast – a different reader for each character’s dialogue. My favorite audiobook of The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe is done this way, as is The Golden Compass.
When the audiobook for Nimona showed up as an advance listening copy on Libro.fm for booksellers, I was so confused – how would one do a graphic novel as an audiobook? I was intrigued. Well, a graphic novel audiobook is just in just the same manner as my favorite “full-cast” audiobooks! Each character has a different reader and, while one does not get the visual that makes the graphic novel so striking, the different voices make it pretty easy to follow along.
I first read Nimona in early 2016, shortly after I started reading graphic novels with great enthusiasm. It was recommended by a coworker and when I noticed that Noelle Stevenson was also the author of Lumberjanes, one of my early favorite graphic novels, I knew I had to pick it up and it was such a wonderful story. Nimona, always a bit unsure of herself and wielding a power she doesn’t fully understand, postures and struts like she owns the world to compensate for her insecurities. Blackheart, for his desire to be villainous, more often than not comes across as the voice of reason for impulsive Nimona. The relationship between the two of them is my favorite part of the story.
The downside, and I hate to admit it, I do not love Noelle’s art style. It’s very similar to John Allison‘s and while I think both Noelle and John are AMAZING writers, I find myself often preferring their work when illustrated by someone else. Enter, the audiobook! I think the best way to enjoy a graphic novel audiobook is after reading the graphic novel (so you have some indication of plot and pacing which can be difficult at first with an audiobook as you get used to each characters voice) or, if you’re new to the graphic novel world and are not sure how to read panel to panel – then listening while reading would be tremendously helpful!
I would love to see more Nimona and Blackheart, or an additional tale of the secondary characters as a companion book. I highly recommend both the book (at around 250 pages it’s a lengthy graphic novel) and the audiobook, and don’t let my hangup with the art style deter you – the cover is pretty close to the interior in style, so if the cover catches your eye, odds are you’ll enjoy the images throughout!
Rating: 8 out of 10 stars
Where to Buy
In the USA, I recommend purchasing through BookShop or your local independent, in the UK, and many other parts of the world, I recommend Blackwell’s, and if neither of those cover where you live, I recommend checking out your local booksellers! Independent bookstores are vital parts of every local community and I wholly endorse supporting your local stores versus Amazon.