Spandexless Talks: Jeremy Whitley of Princeless / by Patrick Smith

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Since reviewing the first two issues, Princeless has become one of my favorite titles to read. Its mix of humor, characters, and expressive art style make for a compelling package so when the opportunity to talk to  writer and co-creator (along with artist M. Goodwin) Jeremy Whitley about the book I jumped at the chance (and somewhat for joy). Over the course of the interview we talked about about the completion of the books first arc and future, his philosophy for all-ages stories, and an unexpected crossover.

Spandexless: So hows it feel to have the first arc of your creator owned series out by this Wednesday?

Jeremy Whitley: It feels amazing.  It's been fantastic to get this story (which has been my baby for so long) out in front of people and especially to have such an overwhelmingly positive response.

S:  This book definitely took a lot of people by surprise, myself included, and I think a good deal of that can be attributed to the fact that this feels like a story that you've been thinking about for awhile. What was the genesis for you wanting to do a story about a princess rescuing herself?

JW:  Well, a while back my wife and I were talking about having kids and  personally I've always wanted to have a daughter.  At the same time, I've always been extremely leery of the way that girls are raised and marketed to as it pertains to the "princess culture" and the stories they're raised on and characters they're taught to look up to.  I wanted there to be a character that strong who I felt good about my daughter looking up to. That also intersects with one of my other big motivations behind Princeless in that I wanted to be able to share comics and my love of comics with my daughter and have characters that she can relate to who aren't helpless, aren't oversexualized, and are women of color

S: And that definitely comes across in how Adrienne is written, I'm particularly thinking of the scene in issue three where she basically takes almost every female costume design of the last thirty years to task for not making any kind of sense

JW:  It's true though, those costumes are nonsense. The funniest part is that out of the group I chose, Wonder Woman's actually make the most sense but only because it's so stylized.

 S: Whereas Red Sonya wears a metal bikini and spends a lot of time running around in below freezing weather

JW: Yeah, I'm not sure which is more dangerous to her:  people who have the ability to swing a sword between her breasts and hips or hypothermia. At least when you get horrible ridiculous racist hypersexualized jungle women you don't have to wonder how they haven't lost their extremities to frostbite.

S: Yeah, but as bad as that is though it does books give books like Princeless fodder for some pretty hilarious scenes. Was that something you wanted to convey from the beginning? or was there ever a more serious draft of Princeless at one point?

JWPrinceless was always meant to have elements of comedy.  I think you'll see as story progresses that fight scenes especially get pretty comical.  In fact, I think that things like the lampooning of outfits and fairy tales and princess culture are the important heavy lifting of Princeless.  They make adults who have lived with this stuff go "YES!  THAT!" but hopefully kids who are seeing this stuff for the first time will be conditioned to see those sorts of things as ludicrous from an early age.  It's hard to get bs past kids on stuff like that anyway

S: You seem to have a pretty good handle on what an all ages book  should be, , do you have a particular philosophy when it comes to all ages books or books that you looked at for inspiration when writing Princeless?

JW: To be honest, there are a lot of little bits of inspiration that I've picked up in a lot of places. My hard and fast rule in this and in life is, "Don't talk to kids like they're stupid."  Kids, at large, will be exactly as smart as you expect them to be.  I don't believe in writing down to kids.  My biggest inspiration there were the Disney movies I loved growing up like Lion King, Aladdin, and Beauty and the Beast.  Just look at the vocabulary in those movies, it's amazing.

S: You know I never thought of that, those movies do encapsulate everything an all ages product should be. It’s a shame that they always seem to be "going back into the vault" though.

JW: That's the truth. Somebody has permanently borrowed my Aladdin and when I figure out who it is, they'll answer for their crimes!

S: Well if there's a crime to prosecute it’s that. So now that the first arc is done, and the trade will soon be solicited, what are your plans for Princeless after that?

JW: Well, there will be a little break while we run ourselves ragged promoting this book at shops and conventions over next few months but the plans are already in motion to get book 2 underway.  To give you an idea, in the next arc Adrienne will be setting off to save her sister Angelica.  However, Angelica has some very different ideas about what it means to be saved.  Not to mention, Adrienne's father will be recruiting some of the nastiest baddies in the kingdom to bring down the knight he thinks is responsible for Adrienne's death (which just happens to be Adrienne).  We've got a lot of fun things planned.

S:  And as if that wasn't enough the trade for Princeless will also include maybe my most anticipated crossover of the year: Princeless meets Skullkickers! How did that get set up?

JW: Well, I can take very little credit on that one.  Goodwin and Mr. Zub know each other. Apparently, Zub had thrown the idea out there in a half joking way, but slowly but surely it actually started to take shape.  It's been pretty incredible to watch.

S:  It actually makes a lot of sense as both Princeless and Skullkickers are books that take fantasy tropes and turn them on their head.

JW: Yeah and that was sort of the pitch...well, that and "fantasy comics rock!"

S:  huzzah to that. So I guess all that’s left to ask is when the Princeless collection comes out, and if you have any other stuff coming out?

JW: The Princeless collection is being solicited in Diamond's Previews in February and I just learned it's a staff pick!  Now, of course that means you won't actually be able to get ahold of the book until the April release date, but now would be a very good time to start hassling whoever orders your comic books to put in a large order for the Princeless trade.  Remember with the direct market if they don't order it then you can't buy it from them.

Update: Jeremy was nice enough to remind me that the Diamond code for the first collected edition of  Princeless in February Previews is Diamond Code FEB120706. For other vendors look it up by its ISBN Number 978-1-4507-8475-7. Make sure you preorder! 

Princeless is published by Action Lab Entertainment. You can ask for it in your local comic book shop or pick it up on Graphicly. You can also find his his book The Order of Dagonet on Graphicly, which we also reviewed here on Spandexless (and the first issue is FREE!). You can find more of Jeremy's work at his indie press Firetower Studios, including his journal comic he does with his wife, Hot Interracial Marriage, and the supernatural crime drama ,Werewolf D.A.