Hello, lovely patrons! I owe y'all a flash story for the $200 goal--I have sporadic internet as of yet and hope to get that written and posted sometime within the next week. I apologize for the delay and thank you for your patience with me.
Meanwhile, I'd like to report on a delightful graphic novel, Nimona by Noelle Stevenson. It was a National Book Award finalist, although I only found out about it because my sister sent us her copy and it was one of the books to survive the flood. It may now be my favorite standalone graphic novel.
Nimona takes place in a setting that is part medieval fantasy kingdom, complete with dragons and king, part modern-day with news channels and pizza. Lord Blackheart is the designated supervillain, despite his oddly honorable ways. He doesn't approve of killing, and his real goal is to revenge himself on his former friend, hero Ambrosius Goldenloin, who "accidentally" blew off Blackheart's arm with a gun after losing a jousting tournament to him. So far Blackheart is notorious, but his efforts have not been going so well.
Enter Nimona, a young girl. She wants to be Blackheart's sidekick. Blackheart isn't so sure about this, but allows himself to be talked into taking her on when he discovers that she can shapeshift into any existing animal--dragons, sharks, cats, you name it. Of course, it rapidly emerges that Blackheart will have his hands full keeping Nimona in check. Because Nimona has her own grudge against the Institution of Law Enforcement and Heroics for which Sir Goldenloin works, and she is bloodthirsty--very, very bloodthirsty.
Nimona is by turns funny, subversive, clever, tense, and heartbreaking. I loved the story and characters and, well, everything about it. It took me a few pages to get used to the art, which is expressive but very stylized, but once I acclimated I liked it.
The graphic novel is apparently based on Stevenson's webcomic (http://gingerhaze.com/nimona/comic/page-1) if you want a taste. I recommend it highly.