The Princeless Diaries or: how I learned to love the Princess Adrienne
A proclamation by Bob Reyer
As “Princeless Month” comes to a close here at Talking Comics, I must say that I’m at a bit of a loss to find anything to say that hasn’t been been better said through the amazing content that has been presented by our marvelous contributors and of course, Princeless creator Jeremy Whitley, who so graciously gave of his time…not to mention that free download of Raven: The Pirate Princess. Perhaps my best bet would be to describe how someone such as myself who is seemingly way outside the target audience came to read, and then love, the adventures of the irrepressible Princess Adrienne, her comrade-in-armor Bedelia Smith, and the high-flying dragon, Sparky?
Back in 2012, I had scanned through an issue of Princeless at my LCS as it wended its way into someone’s reserve folder; I found it interesting, but as may happen to some of you out there, I’ve grown absent-minded about new things, and so failed to remember to do any follow-up regarding the title. The book passed from my thoughts until I received an “out-of-the-blue” e-mail from Jeremy Whitley!
It turns out that Mr. Whitley had been listening to me ramble on our podcast about proper representation of female characters, and thought that I might be interested in checking out Princeless, thoughtfully sending over a digital copy with his letter. As soon as I began to thumb through it, the charms that I had encountered on that brief look so many months back completely won me over. In Adrienne, all those things that I had been grousing about being lacking in so many comics were made manifest; she was self-reliant, courageous, intelligent, and compassionate, and all in service to a hero’s quest that managed to both celebrate and poke great fun at the traditional narrative as well as comic book tropes through the skills of Mr. Whitley and artist Mia Goodwin.
Here was that title truly for all-ages I had been clamoring for, and that it starred a heroine whose mission was to save herself rather than wait for a rescue, Princeless quickly found its way into my heart. The better material for younger readers can reach the intended audience at many levels, but as with only the best of the lot, this is a series that can speak to everyone in that same way; girls and boys, children and adults, and with positive and empowering messages that are delivered naturally, without once seeming “preachy”, or ever losing its sense of fun.
Since reading that first collection, I cannot count the numerous times that I’ve singled out Princeless to parents looking for a new series for their youngsters to read, and particularly for those moms seeking an appropriate title to act as the gate-way for their daughters into the world of comics. Those recommendations have led to me receiving some of my favorite e-mails from Talking Comics fans, as those correspondents have been unanimous in their praise for this very special book. (As I type this, I’m not even in possession of a physical copy of the first trade collection, as I’ve passed along two copies to date, each of which well-loved!)
Far too often in today’s comics landscape, the titles for younger readers skew very young indeed, but Jeremy Whitley and his talented collaborators continue to deliver issue after issue of rollicking good fun whilst never talking down to the audience, preferring to tell a story through the character of Adrienne that can engage the mind and capture the heart of any child, whether they be 6 or 60. Along with titles that have followed in Princeless‘ wake such as Lumberjanes and Gotham Academy, it is encouraging to see that the positive changes occurring in more adult fare are finding expression in titles that will help to create the next generation of comics, in the form of both readers, as well as future writers and artists.
Long live the Princess Adrienne!
My thanks to Mara and Maria for the use of their column, and for all the great work this month, my congratulations to them, Nikki, and Huw, plus a hearty “Welcome aboard!” to Anna Cocca Goodman and her mom, Carolyn! (An extra special “thumbs up” to Jeremy Whitley for his generosity and consideration!)