This week we have some indie love coming at you here at Tradio...Eisner nominated indie love at that. This week I give my thoughts on Princeless, Book One: Save Yourself, written by Jeremy Whitley with art by M. Goodwin and published by Action Lab Comics.
Princeless starts out like any run of the mill Disney princess story, with a fair maiden in distress in a tower, an evil dragon protecting her, and a brave prince rescuing her...all on the very first page. What we see with this basic setup is just how silly such a scenario is to our Princess Adrienne, who is a young, proud princess of color, as her mother reads her your basic princess in peril story. Adrienne is too wise for such hogwash and proceeds to point out all the plot holes with a heavy helping of sass. She vows to never get herself in that sort of situation, but as fates (and her parents) would have it, she is there...stuck in a tower with a dragon and brave princes trying to rescue her. She's over it and decides to leave her tower and save her sisters who are also locked away, waiting on silly boys to come and rescue them as well. From this simple set up, we get the first four issues of Princeless contained in the Save Yourself trade. Not to give too much away, but Princeless proceeds to turn many of the basic troupes of princess stories on their ear in a fun, brisk, all-ages romp through a distant kingdom that doesn't seem quite all that distant at times. We meet a wide cast of characters and are set up on a "road trip" with twists and turns aplenty.
Two pages in and you will see why Princeless is a great read and nominated for an Eisner. Four pages in and you will see why Princeless has already won three Glyph awards. It is really that good. Sharp, smart, funny and self-aware in a very good way. The dialogue by Whitley is breezy and really lends itself to getting to know the characters by letting the characters "speak for themselves" and the art by Goodwin is expressive and fun. You get a good idea of what the characters are feeling from their reactions and expressions. These first four issues set up for a lot of good things to come in the series and it will be interesting where different characters end up. This is Adrienne's story, but there is a lot to be told about several other people you meet in these first issues and I really hope that Whitley explores them. In a short amount of time, Whitley and Goodwin set up Princess Adrienne to be a much stronger character than her only modern counterpart in The Princess and The Frog's Princess Tiana and they don't need bad musical numbers and talking anthropomorphic stereotypes to do it. It's a testament to their skill and any and all praise they get from this series is more than earned. Read it and share it with others. They will thank you.