I’ve loved princess stories ever since I was a little kid. I loved the fantasy setting, the romance of it all, the beautiful costumes and dresses, the exciting adventures and the fairy tale endings. However, being a fat, queer Latina, I often had a hard time seeing myself in these stories that I loved so much. That’s where Katie O’Neill and her comic Princess Princess Ever After comes in.
Princess Princess Ever After is a brilliant all-ages comic about two princesses (as implied in the name) who become their own heroes and find happiness with who they are and who each other are. It’s delightfully cute and wonderfully fun. In fact, we here at Autostraddle loved the comic so much that we gave it our Autostraddle Comic and Sequential Art Award for Best Graphic Novel/Book in 2014. It seems like Oni Press agrees, as they’ve decided to release the book in a new format so that a whole new group of readers has the chance to discover this gem. Ari Yarwood, Oni Press’ Managing Editor shares my enthusiasm for new readers discovering Princess Princess.
I couldn’t be more excited about working with Katie to publish Princess Princess (called Princess Princess Ever After in the print edition). This is a story that would have meant the world to me as a kid, but it didn’t exist. That’s why it’s so important to me to be publishing and distributing this book to comic shops, bookstores, and most importantly, libraries — so that more kids can have access to an adorable story about two princesses finding their own unique way in the world, and falling in love in the bargain.
I talked to O’Neill about why she loves these characters and this story and who her favorite princesses are.
What do you love about princess stories? What do you think draws people to them?
Personally I love all stories that focus on girls and their inner struggles, and princess stories are usually pretty awesome at that, often with some magic and fantasy thrown in to boot. I think one thing people love about princess stories is that they’re characters who are both special and ordinary. They live a life of glamour and adventure, but they also have a lot of personal issues to deal with, as well just regular daily life stuff. That’s definitely something I tried to balance in Princess Princess – the girls get to have sparkles and unicorns and fab outfits, but they also have responsibilities that come with their position of privilege, and they need to think about how they can use that to help others.
Who’s your favorite princess of all time (other than Sadie and Amira, of course)?
I think it has to be Princess Mononoke, from the Studio Ghibli film of the same name. I love how fearless and wild she is, and even though she struggles to accept her human identity, her sense of self is somehow so strong. She’s kind and caring, but ruthless at the same time. One of my favourite songs on the soundtrack is called “Will To Live”, and that’s exactly what I think of when I think of her.
As a fat woman, I LOVE that you’ve got a really cute fat princess in Sadie who’s fine with the way her body looks. Can you talk a bit about her character and why she’s important to you?
I adore Sadie! Sadie’s biggest strength is that she loves without reservation. She loves her friends, animals, clothes, food, the people of her kingdom, the small magic of everyday life — and most of all she loves herself! Sadie enjoys everything life has to offer and who she is without worrying what other people think, and that’s a power I admire hugely in people. I struggle with body image issues a lot, so Sadie was a very special character to write because she’s so accepting of herself and her body. She’s just sincerely cheerful, not oblivious to what people might think of her, but doesn’t put any value on it so long as she and the people she loves are happy. The older I get, the more I feel like keeping a positive outlook is one of the hardest and bravest things you can do. That’s why Sadie is a hero to me.
Princess Princess is a perfect comic for kids. It’s easy to read, the art is adorable and the story is super cute. What do you hope kids who are queer or people of color, or fat, or just any kid who doesn’t fit in, will get out of this book?
At the very least, validation that they exist and that they’re perfect the way they are! Thankfully we’re seeing more children’s media that represents (and ideally is written by) a more diverse range of people. But that “more” is still only an improvement on “next to none,” and there’s still big gaps in representation for kids. I hope that Sadie, Amira and Vladric (their tag-along friend who has reservations about the role of a prince) manage to show someone out there that a princess or prince like them exists, and that they have every right to feel special and good about themselves. In saying that I’m also aware there will be kids who won’t relate to any of the characters, which is why it’s essential to keep pushing for more diversity in children’s books and especially to push for diverse creators.
What are you most excited for in this print version of your book?
I’m so unbelievably excited that more children might have the opportunity to read it! I absolutely love hearing positive responses from readers of all ages, but when I hear that someone’s child enjoyed reading the book, it makes me feel so proud and hopeful. I really wanted it to be a fun, funny fairy tale as much as a queer romance, so being able to create something that kids click with is a huge dream come true for me.
Why do you think queer representation is especially important in all-ages media?
Because no child should have to grow up feeling like there’s something wrong with them. For some kids, the realisation of being queer begins very early in life, and not seeing any media that even acknowledges their existence makes it pretty hard for them to feel accepted or valid or even that they’re supposed to be this way. Queer representation in all-ages media helps children feel more comfortable in their identity, gives them role-models they can relate to, and can help them determine what their orientation or identity might be if they’re unsure.
Is there anything else in particular you’d like to talk about about your book?
Just that if someone is reading who has ever sent a kind word or has come up and talked to me at a convention — I appreciate your support so much! I’ve heard so many wonderful stories from people who told me reading the comic helped them feel better about being queer or fat or out of place, and I’m so thankful for people taking the time to share that with me.
Princess Princess Ever After goes on sale September 7th, 2016 and it will be available on Amazon, at book stores, the Oni Press Shopify store, local comic shops, Google Play, Comixology, Nook, and iTunes.
New Releases (March 16)
Princess: Raven the Pirate Princess #6 (Action Lab)
Adventure Time Vol. 8 TPB (Boom!)
Jonesy #2 (Boom!)
Lumberjanes #24 (Boom!)
Black Canary #9 (DC)
Clean Room #6 (DC)
Red Sonja Vol. 3 #3 (Dynamite)
Monstress #4 (Image)
ODY-C #10 (Image)
Rat Queens #15 (Image)
Captain Marvel #3 (Marvel)
Scarlet Witch #4 (Marvel)
Silk #6 (Marvel)
Spider-Woman #5 (Marvel)
Web Warriors #5 (Marvel)
Welcome to Drawn to Comics! From diary comics to superheroes, from webcomics to graphic novels – this is where we’ll be taking a look at comics by, featuring and for queer ladies. So whether you love to look at detailed personal accounts of other people’s lives, explore new and creative worlds, or you just love to see hot ladies in spandex, we’ve got something for you.
If you have a comic that you’d like to see me review, you can email me at mey [at] autostraddle [dot] com.