Comic Review: Disney Princess #1 and #2
Last year, I wrote a piece about the state of children’s comics. One of the points I brought up was the lack Disney Princess comics. Well, ask and you will receive! It didn’t come from who I thought it would though.
Disney currently owns Marvel. I would have thought Marvel would have pushed out the title. While they do have some Disney licenses like The Haunted Mansion, they don’t own the Disney Princess line. That luxury goes to Canadian publisher Joe Books founded in 2014. Boy, did they nail this one! Disney Princess #1 debuted last month at #156 out of the top 300 books for March 2016. It’s practically unheard of for an all ages book to place that close to the top half of the 300 especially coming from a relatively unknown company. They even beat out the highly popular Steven Universe comic which is in it’s second run. Boom! Studios has dominated the all ages market, but it looks like Joe Books might give them a run for their money.
Was Disney Princess worth it though?
Short answer: YES!
When I first saw the art in Previews several months ago, I knew I recognized it from somewhere. I looked up the artist and squealed. It was Amy Mebberson. She’s has an ongoing webcomic called Pocket Princesses that has been featured on The Mary Sue. They couldn’t have picked a better artist for this project. Here are a few amazing examples of Pocket Princess from Miss Mebberson’s website:
I originally fell in love with the Pocket Princesses, because they were portrayed as actual humans. Growing up, it was incredibly difficult for me to connect with any princess especially the ones before the first and second Disney Renaissance. I was a tomboy preferring Hot Wheels cars over Barbies. I liked Mulan, but I preferred Lilo and Stitch or Emperor’s New Groove. It wasn’t until 2010 when Tangled was released that I had a princess for me. I connected on a deep emotional level to Rapunzel having been through similar experiences in high school and college. She is my princess and was my gateway to the others. Pocket Princesses took it a step further. Miss Mebberson took those earlier princesses like Snow White, Cinderella, and Ariel that I didn’t care about and showed them with bad hair days. Maybe they caught the flu. They could trip and fall over while dancing. This is the side of the princesses I wanted to see. The movies put these women on high podiums of what a perfect lady should be. I could never reach that. Miss Mebberson brought them down to my level, and she did it again in Disney Princess.
Joined by writers Georgia Ball and Geoffrey Golden in issue one and two, Miss Mebberson continues to humanize these ladies. I love that she brings in the princes too. I hope she continues to develop the men. Many of the earlier princes outside of Eric and Phillip have little to no personalities. Heck, it wasn’t until Cinderella III: A Twist in Time, one of the better sequels, that Prince Charming got to show his dorky humorous side. I would even love to see a “Disney Prince” spin off from Joe Books! I’m digressing from the ladies, though.
The best part of Disney Princess is how relatable the ladies are. Every one of them are put in positions that someone has experienced. What woman hasn’t stood in a gust of wind to have their princess moment, and their hair slaps them in the face? Pocahontas got hair smacked in issue two. Belle sobs when a book is over, because it was too good to end. Tiana is frustrated when she can’t find the right balance of hot sauces for her food. If you’re a cat owner, Jasmine’s plight trying to sleep with Rajah is possibly your nightly routine.
I understand these women better (I write as my own cat sits in my lap. I’m having to reach around her to hit my keyboard). They’re exploring experiences I’ve had in every part of my life. These women are also shown to be dorks and a bit nerdy which I’m perfectly alright with.
The only story that bored me was Snow White’s in issue one. Granted, I’ve never been a fan of Snow. Every iteration of the character from the Brothers Grimm to Snow White and the Huntsman never connected with me. If any actress other than Ginny Goodwin played Snow White in Once Upon A Time, I would probably hate the character more. Snow White is a character that seems superficially good. She’s always written to be perfectly nice, perfectly poised, perfectly perfect at all times. We see this again in Disney Princess #1 where she has four and a half pages of accepting the dwarves’ quirks and flaws. But what are her flaws? I would love to see Snow White have a secret side. At least in one comic of Pocket Princess she’s drawn to fear apples and be an animal hoarder. Now I want to see this in Disney Princess. I think it’s important for children to see these princesses aren’t perfect. Like I said above, I never connected with earlier princesses, because they were too perfect. Snow White is still in that category for me.
The other big criticism is one that many companies do. I’ve complained to Archie Comics through their reboot. IDW does this too. The last quarter of the comic, usually seven to nine pages, is nothing but advertisements. Unlike IDW, Joe Books features their other Cinestories like Zootopia and Descendants. I understand why they’re doing this. It’s a smart marketing ploy. But in an uneasy comic market that’s getting more and more expensive, I want what I pay for. I’m used to a few ads at the end, but nine out of thirty-one pages of a comic (roughly 30%) is excessive.
Finally, I like how almost all of the princesses are featured. Pocahontas and Mulan had their first appearances in issue two. Disney Princess only covers the official Princesses. If you have a favorite among the current eleven reigning ladies, you’ll get to see them at some point. I’m actually happy Elsa and Anna haven’t popped up yet. While I do like Frozen, I’m burned out on it. I suffered through one half season of Once Upon A Time, have three nieces who love it, and still hear “Let It Go” playing in the mall I work at THREE years later. I love seeing the other princesses having their own space away from the powerhouse of Anna and Elsa.
By the way, parents who have to watch movies over and over again with their kids are freaking heroes.
Don’t worry, Frozen fans! Joe Books is releasing a monthly Frozen comic in July. I can only imagine how well this will sell. I can definitely see it selling into the top 150 that month.
Joe Books, go ahead and plan for second printings of Frozen. Actually if you can do that for Disney Princess too, that would be great. All the first printings are back ordered. So push through those second and third printings for new fans!
Overall, Disney Princess is fantastic. There are jokes that both adults and kids will love. The stories they’re telling are universal. I can also see boys really digging Mulan and Merida. Now if they can get Snow White to not be so dated, this would have a perfect score. This is a great read for both casual fans and Disneyphiles.
I gave Disney Princess 9 out of 10.