The Princess


Rating: 5/5 – Newspaper strip style comic exploring the adventures of Sarah, a transgender youth  

Sarah, born Seth, gets into crazy childhood adventures while simultaneously having to deal with the familial and societal issues due to being transgender. There is a rich cast of supporting characters that really flesh out this world with a balance of simple four panel gags and changing into longer storylines given room to explore and expand.

What Makes It Awesome
As previously noted, I don’t read many webcomics at all. Despite being on the computer frequently and loving comics, it just does not scratch any familiar itch. Going even further against my grain is that I have come relatively late to my appreciation of newspaper comic strips which is still woefully underdeveloped. While I have no direct evidence, I get a strong vibe that the creator really found an influence in those old strips. This is a fairly long running webcomic so you can really see the evolution of the visual style, from the constrained black and white beginning to its current expressive colorful panels, with the colors often surging past the borders of the inks. I actually really like the original black and white art but you have probably surmised that I have a contrary streak that is stronger than would serve a useful purpose. It is usually a four panel strip with the final panel being the punchline, in the tradition of newspaper strips. The storyline can be quite involved in ongoing plots, which certainly was not atypical of the older strips. The E.C. Segar Popeye comic had long rambling adventures. There were a few strips early on featuring Sarah’s friend Irma and her pet rat which have not appeared in quite some time. In those strips we have thought balloons of the pets and a few strips of only the pets interacting featuring more of the fanciful elements of comic.
I am ignorant of the issues specific to the transgender community but Sarah and the cast are fully realized characters and more importantly the children feel like children. Too often in media, it feels like children are just miniature adults. Further, there are a variety of viewpoints expressed by the supporting cast. The lead character is just a child having the sort of adventures that would not be out of place in an old timey cartoon, with the overlay of society’s treatment of gender artfully layered in. I think by choosing elements of play that are not tied to particular technology, it helps create a bit of timeless feel but I may be fooling myself as I am not sure kids still have treehouse clubs or dress-up as non-branded super heroes. Clearly gender is an important element but the comic does not usually become polemical and gender is more treated in service of the characters and the story.

My Thoughts
Top notch stuff here. Some reviews give me more trouble than others and I have even axed a few for an inability to adequately service the material. The story of Sarah is good cartooning and interesting. Like much great art, it also leaves me thinking about my own attitudes towards gender and society. It is generally something I have not considered much previously but the strip itself with the comments and links on each page often get my rusty wheels turning. By having different characters expressing different attitudes toward gender, the strip presents the complexity of the issue without sacrificing story. There is a storyline involving a clubhouse with the traditional exclusionary sign found in my old references. However given the breadth of characters, Sarah and Irma know, they have problems crafting the sign to just allow the people they want. Give this a shot but if the older strips are not to your taste, do try the recent ones as you may find the art style more to your tastes.

Reviewed by: Andrew Sanford – Covering the full spectrum of comics culture

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2 Responses to The Princess

  1. JD says:

    Note that The Princess is available in its entirety at Drunkduck has been down for weeks, so it’s actually the only place you can find this great comic currently.

  2. Thanks for letting us know, I updated the link in the review.

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