Author, creator, and She-Ra and the Princesses of Power showrunner Noelle Stevenson is about to get personal. HarperCollins has announced her latest project, a graphic novel memoir called The Fire Never Goes Out. io9 has the exclusive first look, as well as an interview with Stevenson about the experiences that shaped her story...and what we can expect from She-Ra in season three.
The Fire Never Goes Out is a collection of seven or eight years of Stevenson’s personal comics, which come together in a memoir about her life. Some of the comics were previously published on her Tumblr page, but others are stories and comics she’s never shared before. It’s an interesting and unique look into Stevenson’s life, as she was living it, making it less of a retrospective and more of a journey through someone else’s journey.
Stevenson’s graphic novel memoir arrives on January 7, 2020. Above is the exclusive reveal of cover and below you’ll find a peek at some of the pages. We asked Stevenson about the memoir and found out which comic means the most to her, and why she felt like giving her audience a look into what’s essentially become a comics journal. We also asked her about She-Ra’s third season, and Stevenson hinted that Adora and Catra are about to come together in a big, big way.
io9: How did The Fire Never Goes Out come about?
Noelle Stevenson: Over the last about seven or eight years, I’ve been drawing comics just as they come to me. About things in my life, my feelings. For me, they’re just ways of exploring my own feelings and my own sense of self. I really just did them for me. But over those years, I’ve really created a lot of these personal comics, and it’s become a tradition every year that I would combine them together into a little retrospective...I had seven or eight years of these, and my amazing editor at HarperCollins last year reached out to me and asked if I would be interested in publishing these as a collected comic memoir. So that’s what this is.
io9: Do these personal comics tell an overarching narrative about your life, or are they more stream-of-consciousness?
Stevenson: All of these are sort of drawn in the moment, from the time I was 19 years old. [They’re] in-the-moment reflections on my internal life. My life changing...growing up...I think the narrative becomes sort of about those changes. It starts with, you know, sort of being out in the world for the first time, being on my own. And these comics became the best way I could express that. I hadn’t figured out yet who I was and who I was trying to be, and the comics were a way of exploring that.
io9: What story stands out to you among your collection and why?
Stevenson: There’s one comic that, I think, it’s one of the most raw comics that I’ve ever made, because it was this stream-of-consciousness creation. It’s a comic called “Holy Ghost,” and it’s about the first time I ever walked out of church. It started something I ended up doing a lot in the future in personal comics, where it’s all written in second-person—like I’m talking to someone else instead of myself. Lets me get a bit of distance.
It’s this moment, when I was 17 or 18, when I walked out of church for the first time. I drove out into this park and went up on this hill and stood on this hill for an hour, looking for God and not finding him. I created it the first Easter that I didn’t go to church, because I was wrestling with the conflicted feelings of that, and that was the comic that resulted from that. It was pure. I was just drawing, and not even sure what I was doing with that.
I’ve never been sure how to share it before, so I’m glad it’s found a home in this book. I think that was a big turning point for me, just creating the comic and realizing I could talk about these things, even if it was just in a way that made sense to me.
io9: What are you hoping readers get out of The Fire Never Goes Out?
Stevenson: When I made these comics, I was doing them so I would feel less alone. I had always struggled with telling people or showing people how I really felt. Something was getting lost in communication. I was trying to reach out to other people and establish connections. The comics gave me a language to do that that I hadn’t had before.
I hope they make the reader feel less alone. I suspect quite a lot of people feel these stories. I’m sharing what’s in my heart, but asking for people to relate to those, and relate them to their own struggles and their own lives.
io9: You have so much going on, including Netflix’s She-Ra and the Princesses of Power and all of its side projects. How do you balance your work, your comics, and these larger projects?
These comics are...honestly, I treat them like therapy. I’ve kept drawing them no matter how busy I got, because it’s a good way to wind down and sort of spend a little time with myself. I didn’t make them with the expectation that they would be published—that was something my editor brought to me.
Working—especially on She-Ra—working on these properties that are so labor intensive requires so much of yourself. You start to lose touch with yourself as a person, and your own body and your own mind. So these comics became about a way for me to start establishing that I was still this person, that I still have this life and I still had this body. It was something I was doing, even when things were the most hectic, just to keep myself somewhat grounded.
A lot of them are pretty second-long doodles I did on a Post-It sitting at my desk in the middle of a really hectic schedule. Just this moment I would steal for myself to write down what I was feeling and give myself that moment to take my own feelings and my own inner life into account.
io9: What can we look forward to with She-Ra and the Princesses of Power in season three?
Stevenson: I am really excited for everyone to see She-Ra season three. In my opinion, each season just keeps getting better. This season is going to be—there’s a lot of really dramatic stuff happening. There’s some really high-concept episodes coming up. And we really just explore the interiority of the characters more than ever, mainly Adora and Catra. It’s the season where their paths bring them back together, and what comes of that.
The Fire Never Goes Out comes out January 7, 2020. Netflix’s She-Ra and the Princesses of Power returns with its third season, featuring Geena Davis as Huntara, on August 2.
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