I believe that brevity is the soul of wit. Sure, there is something to be said about webcomics crafted over years of dedication and growth… However, there is also something incredibly impressive about a short and sweet story that packs a powerful punch. Princess Princess is the perfect example of how a strong, short story — combined with charming art, and an upbeat plot that harkens back to nostalgic “girl power” themes–can leave a lasting impression.
And it doesn’t hurt that it also has everything anyone clamoring for more diversity in YA fiction can ask for.
Princess Princess is the story about two princesses with two very different ideas of how to approach the conventional expectations that are tied to the title. Princess Amira is a run-away-royal, hoping to make her own way in the world by taking up arms and the role of a dashing hero. On the other hand, Princess Sadie finds herself trapped in a tower in a political conspiracy plot–like any other, properly “helpless” fairy-tale princess. When the pair meet, they form an unlikely and unstoppable team–learning from each other how to believe in themselves, while also forging a new path together beyond the burdens and expectations that come with their title.
So yes, Princess Princess is a very up-beat, very cheerful webcomic with a feel-good message about believing in yourself –all done in just 44, full-color pages. In such a compact page count, Princess Princess plays on tried fantasy tropes with some light humor, a fairly complex plot, and with enough page space to spare for character development, too.
And, in this incredibly contained space of time, readers not only dive into a well-crafted tale–StrangelyKatie also manages to answer some of the most gaping questions about “modern” fantasy. Why aren’t there more women of color/POC protagonists? What about diverse body shapes and sizes? And what about more representation for queer fiction? In this cute short story, StrangelyKatie answers these wants (and more) with her charming cast of characters, who represent all different sizes, shades, and sexualities.
StrangelyKatie’s charming story is made even more remarkable thanks to her striking style. StrangelyKatie emphasizes clean lines and cell-shading, as well as a particularly bright color palette keeps the mood light and buoyant. Also impressive to note: these full-color pages that grace the Princess Princess site are new. You can check out earlier drafts of Princess Princess done up in interesting pastel tones over on the tumblr page. These earlier iterations keep to the same story of course, but for those budding artists out there, I find that these early attempts–especially in comparison to the lush, clean layouts of the “final” comic–are encouraging, pointed demonstrations of how the art of comics (and the mysterious planning of panels, speech bubbles, and actions) is always a work in progress.
I personally prefer the newer, full-color panels to be found on the main site and do recommend new readers check out that side of Princess Princess first, before diving into the archives. And, since author-illustrator StrangelyKatie is a working artist, a trip to her Tumblr is always a treat for more official art and extra commentary, too!
I will also note as a word of caution that sometimes StrangelyKatie seems to have domain issues/pages load slowly on the main comic website; the Tumblr archive is pretty up-to-date with all the pages for easy viewing if need be.
Overall, Princess Princess is definitely something that needs to be checked out at least once. It is a quick a read that is satisfying in its brevity, that shares with its readers a sweet, charming tale that is genuine in its attempt towards presenting diverse female protagonists.
So if you’re looking for a weekend evening read that is sure to leave you smiling–be sure to flip through StrangelyKatie’s Princess Princess! And of course, tune in next weekend for another webcomic to end the weekend on a high note~