Prism Comics is is a nonprofit organization (and amazing website) that supports lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) comics, creators, and readers.
I was recently contacted by Prism Comics' Paige and Kevin and asked if I would like to do the occasional review of kid and teen comic books for their "Color Commentary" feature... and I said yes!
My first review (of "The Princess" Gals’n’Pals Digest Issue #1) was published online yesterday,
and today I'm sharing it here:
Feature: Color Commentary
The Princess: Gals’n’Pals Digest Issue #1
by Lee Wind
Seth feels that he’s really a girl and wants to wear a dress. In fact, he’s decided to call himself “Princess Sarah!”
His mom is not supportive, ordering him to change. “PANTS, SETH. NOW.”
His dad (his parents have split) is supportive (bought him that dress), and tells the mom she’s over-reacting. She explains that life is hard enough, and she’s just trying to protect their son.
Seth sneaks out as Princess Sarah (in her dress) and while some kids point and laugh, she makes a new friend, Irma. After Seth explains why he’s wearing the dress to her, Irma says
“So…. You’re a girl. Okay. What should I call you?”
“Well all right. Sarah it is!”
Turns out Irma loves “boy” stuff as much as Sarah loves “girl stuff.” They hang out, watch monster movies together, and become friends.
In the morning, on the way to school, Seth encounters Chuck, who freaks out about Seth wearing a dress and stuffs him in a trash can.
Irma is incensed, and she digs into her costume box and transforms them into The Black Terror (Irma) and The Pink Pixie….err, The Red Bee (Sarah).
The new superheroes face down the villain, and the outcome isn’t what you might expect.
While like most comics on the first blush it looks like it’s just for kids, there was so much here for every reader. Deep issues and themes are at work in Christine’s comic book, smoothly inserted within the plot. From a great analysis of Japan’s fascination with monsters to a plausible cause for why the bully Chuck is a bully after all, there’s so much to think about and love about this comic.
Princess Sarah (Seth) is really likable, with her passion for being herself and not being deterred from that goal by anyone or anything.
Irma is a great best friend, and her open-hearted acceptance of Sarah made me adore her.
The mom’s objections don’t seem cruel to be cruel – she has her reasons to want Seth to conform, and we see her struggle.
It’s nice that the opposing forces Sarah faces aren’t two-dimensional (though they’re drawn that way!) which makes the resolution much more satisfying.
My only quibble is that I thought the color cover was overly pixilated with shading that felt amateurish – and that the cover might hold people back from reading this great comic book. In contrast, the black and white art inside felt more carefully executed, and worked really well in service of the story. The hand lettering helped carry the mood of each speaker, and facial expressions are deftly portrayed. There’s also a nice abstract way that backgrounds are dealt with that fills things in and makes the focus of each panel really clear.
The panels throughout the book stayed the same square shape, eight panels per page, and I’d love to see Christine experiment more with the form - some panels of different shapes and sizes, and perhaps letting some moments impact visually rather than have dialog or text for each one.
Overall, “The Princess” is a comic book that packs a punch: good characters that I cared about, interesting themes that I’ll be thinking about for days, and a fun style.
I’ll be looking for more of Princess Sarah’s adventures, and more from Christine Smith!
Editors' Note - Princess Sarah, Irma, Chuck, and all the rest can be found at http://www.drunkduck.com/The_Princess/ where the story continues Mondays and Fridays! Thanks for reading! - PKA
LEE WIND’s award-winning blog, “I’m Here. I’m Queer. What the Hell do I Read?” covers GLBTQ Teen books, culture and politics, and has had over half a million visits from teen readers and their allies. He is the Advisor for the Trevor Project’s book club and visits middle and high schools to create Safe Space and lead Smashing Stereotypes workshops. His interviews and articles have been published on-line and in print, and he is a founding member of SCBWI Team Blog. A co-Regional Advisor for SCBWI Los Angeles, he is currently writing both a YA and MG novel. You can find out more about Lee at www.leewind.org
The Princess: Gals’n’Pals Digest Issue #1 © 2010 Christine Smith. Review © 2011 Lee Wind.
My thanks to Paige and Kevin for the opportunity.
And please add your review of "The Princess" Gals 'n' Pals Digest Issue #1" in comments!