Women in Comics: Princesses with a Twist

Tales of princesses are timeless and, generally, adhere to a host of tropes and conventions. These representations exist in comics as well, but the comics in this post all combine some of these tropes with a twist that modernizes the storyline and makes it far more thought provoking than more standard adaptations. Whether you are generally a fan of princess stories or not, the books here are sure to spark your interest and keep you reading.

Spera coverPart-Time Princesses coverPrincessLess cover

Spera by Josh Tierney with art by Kyla Vanderklugt, Hwei, Emily Carroll, Olivier Pichard, Jordyn Bochon, Cecile Brun, Luke Pearson, Leela Wagner, and Matt Marblo – This story stars not one but two princesses! When Princess Pira arrives with news that her mother has killed Princess Lono’s father, Lono is thrust into a life of adventure that she never expected. Together with Yonder who can appear as either a human or a fire wolf at will, they set off for Spera, a place they have heard of in tales and stories. Along the way they encounter a variety of spirits, demons, and even a warrior cat. This volume includes four chapters and five short stories, all illustrated by different artists, which gives readers several different interpretations on the characters.

Part-Time Princesses by Monica Gallagher – Serving as a part-time princess at a local theme park seems like a pretty mundane job to friends Michelle, Amber, Courtney, and Tiffany. They are about to be seniors and have big dreams for life after high school. But, as those dreams start to look a bit farther from their reach than they thought and the theme park ends up targeted by a group of criminals, they discover a commitment to the park and uncover their true passions. This is a fun read about discovering your path, embracing responsibility, and growing up.

PrinceLess by Jeremy Whitley with art by M. Goodwin – Princess Adrienne isn’t the standard fairytale princess. She is logical, blunt, and a bit of a tomboy. As the comic opens, she is a young child questioning a fairytale that her mother tells her at bedtime and this sets the tone for the rest of the story. When, after her 16th birthday she ends up locked in a tower guarded by a dragon, she quickly tells off a prince aiming to rescue her, chastising him for describing her as “fair” (as she is a person of color) and sending him off before saving herself with an assist from her dragon Sparky. This is just the beginning of Adrienne’s adventures with Sparky as she sets off to save her sisters from a similar fate. PrinceLess is a fun romp with colorful and engaging artwork. Adrienne is a strong heroine and the supporting cast is great as well. This book was included on the 2013 Amelia Bloomer List and was nominated for an Eisner Award.

Princess Princess Ever After coverAnother Castle cover

Princess Princess Ever After by Katie O’Neill – This story takes on many of the standard biases and assumptions that appear in fairy tales, starting with perhaps the biggest: why does the princess need to be rescued by the prince? As the book opens, we find Princess Sadie in a tower, but she isn’t looking for a prince to rescue her. And, in the end, it is Princess Amira who rescues her and their relationship continues to blossom over the course of the story. Along the way, O’Neill tackles body image, self confidence, stereotypes, and the challenges of finding a place and family for yourself. This is a very fun take on fairy tales that offers a fresh take on princesses.

Another Castle: Grimoire by Andrew Wheeler with art by Paulina Ganucheau – With a combination of dark humor and a princess determined to enjoy the pretty dresses AND be a hero in her own right, Another Castle delivers a fun princess story that turns many tropes on their heads. Along the way, readers get action, adventure, heists, and battles, all led by a princess who refuses to simple be married off to either a villain or a hero. Instead, she makes her own choices, fights her own battles, and protects those closest to her. Another Castle: Grimoire, which will be released early in 2017, will make you laugh out loud and keep you turning pages until the very end.

These are only a select few princess comics. Which are your favorites? Let me know in the comments!

— Carli Spina, currently between books

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