Noelle Stevenson has left a big cultural footprint for someone years away from her 30th birthday. You might know her as Gingerhaze, her online handle, under which she first posted her viral hipster Lord of the Rings fanart, or you might know her as a co-developer of BOOM! Studios' popular comic series Lumberjanes. You might have seen her credited on issues of Marvel's Thor Annual or Runaways, or maybe you've read her Eisner Award-winning fantasy webcomic-turned-graphic-novel Nimona.
The point is: Noelle Stevenson is everywhere, and now she's the creator, producer, and showrunner of Netflix and DreamWorks' She-Ra and the Princesses of Power, a thoroughly modern reboot of Filmation's 1985 animated He-Man TV show that introduces a whole new generation to the land of Etheria, the magical princesses and their Evil Horde enemies, and the honor of Grayskull. In this version, Horde foot soldier Adora finds herself the newborn avatar of legendary warrior She-Ra -- a warrior who, it turns out, fights for the side she's been trained to fight against.
Noelle Stevenson spoke to Thrillist about updating the show for a new era, and how vital it is for young people to see complicated, diverse characters onscreen.
First off, this has been on my mind since I saw the first images you released: How did you go about redesigning the iconic costume? The new She-Ra has a really distinct look that's a bit different from what She-Ra used to be.
Noelle Stevenson: Yeah, early on in the process, I reached out to a lot of illustrators who I found inspirational, who were working in animation or in comics, and asked them to do their takes on the characters, push the boundaries and just get really out there in a way that doesn't even have to work for animation. Throw all the ideas that you have out there, and go crazy with it. We got all these really cool, really different designs from this batch of artists, and then we went through, identified the aspects that were interesting or inspiring to us. There were a few people who made choices that were really cool and different, things I hadn't thought about before that changed the way I thought about the characters. One of our artists was the first to draw Catra [Adora's frenemy who spends the series trying to thwart her former sparring partner] a little smaller in stature, whereas in the original, she was this femme fatale who was curvy like all the other characters. And then it was like, oh, wait, what happens when she's this scrawny, scrappy character? That changes the way she is in my head.
We're doing a sci-fi fantasy world, but we want it to feel distinct. We want to make choices that feel different from what might be the standard fare. The boots were a big thing. So often in fantasy you end up with the same leather boots, or in sci-fi you end up with more rocket boots. So, how do you find the mix between those two things that also feels fresh and new and distinct to our show? One of our awesome artists did these amazing fantasy magic sci-fi sneaker boots, and that's what I immediately wanted to pursue. Eventually it all comes together into the characters that you see -- after getting weighed in on by a lot of people, especially for such an iconic character -- and then polished and honed until it's animate-able and it feels like something that fits in our world.