Metro Weekly

‘Nimona’s’ ND Stevenson on the Power of Transforming Myths

"Nimona" creator ND Stevenson is fine, just fine seeing his signature shape-shifting adventurer leap from page to screen

Nimona: Chloë Grace Moretz -- Image: Netflix
Nimona: Chloë Grace Moretz — Image: Netflix

Where some might turn to a diary or social media to process the stresses and joys of their everyday lives, ND Stevenson — cartoonist, author, and creator/producer of Netflix’s She-Ra reboot — can draw his bustling life into a frame, one panel at a time.

Filling the pages of candid, witty webcomic I’m Fine I’m Fine Just Understand with expressive line-drawn vignettes, or, say, early sketches for his award-winning science fantasy graphic novel Nimona, Stevenson, who is trans and married to fellow author/creative Molly Knox Ostertag, chronicles his own adventures in simply getting through the day.

It’s a safe space, he writes, “to post little comics and updates about transition, mental health, career, and life in general.”

“I just feel like comics is something that I kind of can’t not do,” Stevenson tells Metro Weekly, zooming in — before the current WGA and SAG strikes — to chat about Netflix’s new animated feature adaptation of Nimona, starring Riz Ahmed as interstellar knight Ballister Boldheart and Chloë Grace Moretz as the beloved, shape-shifting title character.

NIMONA  - with Chloë Grace Moretz, Riz Ahmed -- Image: Netflix
NIMONA – with Chloë Grace Moretz, Riz Ahmed — Image: Netflix

Traveling the globe on behalf of the film, directed by Nick Bruno and Troy Quane, Stevenson has recently devoted several amusing pages of I’m Fine I’m Fine to recounting his “adventures from the Nimona press tour.” The webcomic travelogue marks a full-circle moment for the artist and the character who helped lead him out of a self-described time of darkness.

“I think the character specifically was at that particular time in my life,” Stevenson recalls. “I was 19 and in a very transitional period, as I think most young adults are at that age. Kind of going from being a teenager to being an adult, and being independent, and also just kind of questioning what my place was in the world and who I was, and also just feeling maybe I was nobody.”

Nimona, a mischievous shape-shifter, who appears usually as a human girl but might just as well turn into a giant, pink rhinoceros, became a way for Stevenson to express emotions he knew no other way to express.

“For the fantasy of, ‘I want to be able to turn into a dragon or into any person or just have complete control over my body and my presentation and my appearance and everything, the way the world interacts with me,'” says Stevenson. “But also all of these feelings of being lost and being sad and feeling lonely and feeling angry, which are all, I think part of that emotion soup that is part of being a young adult, I think, for a lot of people.

“So all of that went into that character, and it was just a way of getting those feelings out, because it was not working to bottle them up. And I was having a lot of trouble expressing them in any other way.”

First sharing artwork on Tumblr, then serializing Nimona’s adventures as a webcomic, Stevenson found not only a liberating channel for self-expression but a community he’d never known.

NIMONA  - with Riz Ahmed and Chloë Grace Moretz -- Image: Netflix
NIMONA – with Riz Ahmed and Chloë Grace Moretz — Image: Netflix

“People were reading the webcomic and relating to it and rooting for the character and rooting for me,” he says. “And it kind of changed everything for me. It just became this source of community that made me feel less alone, and made me realize that I wasn’t alone in these feelings either. And that I did deserve love and connection and community and all those things I was struggling to find.”

Stevenson later would compile many of his more personal stories into an acclaimed illustrated memoir, The Fire Never Goes Out: A Memoir in Pictures, but credits Nimona as the hero who first lit the flame.

“The character came out of this darker place,” he says. “But by the end of the story, it had really taken on this much more positive light, which I think is really interesting — like watching the way that that’s built into the movie, and how it does have that much more hopeful ending. I think that it’s been just kind of the journey of starting to really see what that character means to so many more people than I thought.”

Nimona is available for streaming on Netflix. Visit

ND Stevenson’s comics blog I’m Fine I’m Fine Just Understand can be found at

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