The Immortal Nadia Greene: New Web Comic Starring Black Female HeroSeptember 11, 2015
Everyone fears death, but what if we didn’t have to? In the new web comic The Immortal Nadia Greene, that idea is challenged when Death comes knocking and 15-year-old Nadia slams a door in its face – or rather, a baseball bat. After reading the first few pages of The Immortal Nadia Greene on the comic’s Tumblr page, I was definitely intrigued. A comic book starring a kickass Black female hero who literally punches Death in the face? Sign me up! She’s fierce, she’s unfailingly strong-willed, and she’s got a mean swing. Jamal Campbell – Canadian artist and one of my personal favourite talents – is the mastermind behind this new story, and I recently had the chance to ask him all about his art, the web comic, and how Nadia Greene came into being.
Well, I’m based out of Toronto, and part of a collective called From a Hat. I went to Sheridan College for Illustration, and I’m currently working as a freelance illustrator and comic artist. I’ve done work for Marvel on a few of their covers, as well as for indie comics like The Pride.
Give us a brief rundown of the comic. How would you describe it to new readers?
The Immortal Nadia Greene is about a young girl who has fallen ill and has not been given long to live. When her time comes, and a grim reaper arrives, Nadia decides that she is not ready to die yet. Thus, she takes a baseball bat, beats up the reaper, and refuses to die. The story will go on to showcase Nadia’s literal fight for her life against death and the reapers.
Where did this idea come from? What inspired you to create Nadia?
The idea developed out from my own fears and anxieties about death. Like pretty much everyone, it’s something that I’ve often thought about, but can never wrap my head around or come to terms with. That visceral fear eventually developed a story and character. Nadia herself is the embodiment of the question and fantasy of ‘What if we could fight off death?’
As a Black female geek, I’ve got to say that it’s exciting to see an interesting new character who looks like us. Did the need for diversity in comics influence your decision to create Nadia?
Yeah, absolutely. The conversation about diversity in comics has been growing in the past while, and being black fans, we’re even more so aware of the issue. Black women as protagonists are so underrepresented in popular media that when it came to creating Nadia, there was no question in my mind as to her ethnicity and gender. Showing a black woman in a position of strength with complete agency in her situation, as daunting as it may be, was one of my goals going into the project.
Ideally, what do you want readers to take from this story?
For me, right now, the story is about strength and creating hope for yourself in times where all seems hopeless. It’s also an exercise in introspection. I’ll be injecting a variety of my thoughts, anxieties and insecurities into the story and characters, playing around with them, and seeing what comes of it. It’s almost like a creative therapy session. Similarly, I hope readers can identify with some of those ideas, or even better, unintentional ideas, and discern something from them for themselves. And if not, I hope they find it a fun and dope story.
Nadia’s armed solely with a baseball bat and a will to live. What made you decide to go this route rather than that of the super powered heroes we’re used to?
I want readers to be able to relate to Nadia as much as possible. It’s for that reason I didn’t give her super powers and kept her physical prowess as grounded as possible, given the situation. The idea is that she is exactly like us, only with remarkable fortitude and a kick-ass bat.
Why did you choose to go with a weekly web comic format?
I went with a weekly web comic format mainly because it’s a cheaper upfront cost than print, and at the same time, easier to get out to people. Also, being my first released comic project, the idea of going straight to print was extremely daunting. With a web comic, I can allow myself to make mistakes and learn from the experience, rather than obsessing over making it perfect right off the bat as I would if I was making a physical book. Not to mention, with a weekly release, I can set up devious cliffhangers and page turns.
How do you feel about having your own solo web comic? How has the experience of getting it out to the public been so far?
Having my own solo web comic is equal parts exciting and nerve-wracking, haha. It’s exciting because it’s something creative that I get to put out that’s all me. It’s nerve-wracking because it’s something creative that I get to put out that’s all me. I’m my own writer, artist, and editor, which comes with the most freedom possible alongside all the accountability. It’s difficult, but definitely a good learning experience.
As for getting it out to the public, I think it’s going great. People seem to be really digging what I’ve put out so far, and hearing that response is the best motivation to keep pushing on. So, from here, the plan is to keep producing content, and bombarding the internet with it, promoting it as much as I can, everywhere I can.
What advice would you give to other artists and writers trying to tell their stories?
If I had to give any advice to others who want to tell their stories, I’d say just go for. Don’t worry too much about it, don’t sit on it, just do it. For years, I’ve had my own characters, but hadn’t done anything with them because I didn’t believe the plot or my storytelling to be good enough. Developing and creating The Immortal Nadia Greene, and having no hesitation in going about it, was and is extremely freeing and creatively satisfying.
What do you enjoy most about writing and drawing this story, or Nadia herself?
My favourite part of any comic, movie, show, etc. is seeing the characters develop and change in their circumstances, and it’s the same for this. I’m currently writing upcoming chapters, and showing how Nadia and even some of the reapers react to events and each other, and exploring the fallout from those reactions is the most exciting thing for me. Also, Nadia’s hair. I love drawing her hair.
What can we expect in the coming weeks?
In the upcoming weeks, expect to learn more about the reapers and how their whole society works. There’s also, of course, more of Nadia being a badass. Then looking a bit further ahead, and speaking a bit more vaguely, there will be some shifts that I hope will be fun surprises.