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The cover of PrinceLess: Save Yourself sets the tone for the stereotype-flipping protagonist.

Diana C. Nearhos,

There’s something awesome about a sassy protagonist. A sassy heroine who blatantly turns stereotypes on their heads? Sign me up.

I saw Raven: The Pirate Princess on a list of must-read comics of 2016, and was intrigued. But it’s a spinoff of PrinceLess, so I figured I should start at the beginning.

I requested PrinceLess: Save Yourself from the library and fell in love from the start. The cover shows a badass black princess in full armor. That’s a good start.

As you can probably guess, it’s the story of a princess who doesn’t need a stinking prince to save her, she’ll save herself thank you very much. And it’s dripping in sass from the first page. Well, technically the second page since the first page is the fairy tale her mom is reading her.

Adrienne, shown at probably around age 7 in the first scene, calls bull on the story of Prince Charming saving the beautiful princess from the tallest tower. Actually, the word she uses is hogwash.

“He climbed ‘the tallest of tall towers,’ then managed to get this helpless princess of his down without any kind of magic?” she asks. “Did you see that girl’s arms? They’re pipe cleaners! She’s not climbing down anything!”

Adrienne ends up locked in a tower guarded by a dragon on her 16th birthday (apparently that’s the only way her father knows to find a suitable heir to the throne since he daughters obviously can’t inherit). When one prince attempts to free her, she calls him on his use of the word fair, as in white — she’s black.

She decides to get herself out of this mess and then go save her sisters, too.

In the process, Adrienne calls out the usual costumes worn by female superheroes (“What if someone stabs me in the stomach?”) and the gender norms that forbid her brother from being the poet he wants to be.

It’s exactly what your daughters — and sons — should be reading.

My request for the second volume just came through at the library and I’m looking forward to diving back in.

Follow Diana C. Nearhos on Twitter @dianacnearhos.


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