“Princeless” Comic Book Series, Feat. Girls Who Don’t Need A Prince, Being Turned Into A Film

Darn it! Where was this comic book series when WE were growing up!?! We ain’t mad, just glad that finally we get to witness a movement of female empowerment that starts at a young age, sending messages to the next generation of girls that they don’t need to look for a prince to find happiness, self-esteem or value in themselves.’Princeless’ is a comic book series created by Emily Martin and Jeremy Whitley. Other artists credited in the series include Rosy Higgins, Ted Brandt and Brett Grunig.

‘Princeless’ is soon going to get an even bigger audience, according to a major recent announcement. During a panel at San Diego Comic Con, Action Lab broke the news that Sony has optioned the rights to make ‘Princeless’ into a feature film. There is no set date for release just yet, and they have not attached a director, but so far writer Stefani Robinson (‘Atlanta’, ‘Man Seeking Woman’) has been announced as script writer.

Given all the buzz around ‘Wonder Woman’s incredible success this summer, this announcement is very timely. We also hope Sony will hire a female director for this project, as we’ve seen what Patty Jenkins did to make ‘Wonder Woman’ the most successful domestic release from the DC Extended Universe.

Just like Diana Prince didn’t need Steve Trevor, or any sort of “prince charming” figure to save her, the ‘Princeless’ series carries a similar theme, enabling readers to get immersed in a world where lead female characters are just as capable of carrying out missions and adventures as the men.

The other super cool aspect of the comic series is that the female characters are predominantly women of color. The first volume released in 2014 centers around Adrienne Ashe, a young black princess who breaks out of her tower, forms an alliance with the dragon assigned to guard her, and sets off to rescue her 6 older sisters who are also trapped in towers.

“Adrienne Ashe never wanted to be a princess. She hates fancy dinners, is uncomfortable in lavish dresses, and has never wanted to wait on someone else to save her. However, on the night of her 16th-birthday, her parents, the King and Queen, locked her away in a tower guarded by a dragon to await the rescue of some handsome prince. Now Adrienne has decided to take matters into her own hands!” says the description on the Action Lab website.

These characters fight zombies, monsters, swamp creatures, all while battling sexism prevalent in the princess culture. It’s no wonder the series has gained some pretty major critical praise. It was nominated for two Eisner Awards and won numerous other awards, including multiple Glyph Awards for Story of the Year, Best Writer and Best Female.

Another prominent character in the series is the Pirate Princess Raven Xingtao, also known as the Black Arrow. She was introduced in volume 3 after being rescued in one of the towers by Adrienne. Initially the two appear in stories together, and don’t always get along. Eventually Raven’s story continues in its own series, with a female posse of her own. Raven is written as an Asian woman, and as Keri Crist-Wagner points out at Bookriot.com, is more than just a token nod toward diversity.

“Princeless – Raven is as close to a perfect comic as I’ve found. For me anyway. Humor? Oh yes. Meta? Waves to Kelly Sue, Marjorie, and Willow. Feminist themes? So, so many. Queer lady pirates who flirt? Hello, sailor. And on top of all of that is the most inclusive cast I’ve ever seen in a comic book. Women of size. Women of color. Straight women. Queer women. Butch women. Femme women. Women of varying ability, religion, and skill set,” she writes.

The women are the main characters, they are diverse, and each story hinges on their abilities and decisions, something young girls especially need to see more of.

“Here we see an Asian woman portrayed as a strong but imperfect leader. She’s not fetishized or tokenized, but is allowed to make mistakes and grow as a character. She’s not always the best fighter or most successful strategic thinker. She stumbles and she leans on the women who surround her. Raven is young, queer, and bent on revenge, but she’s also kind, confident in her own abilities, and willing to listen and enact change,” writes Keri.

While we have no doubt the forthcoming feature film, as well as the current comics, target a variety of ages, it is important not to underestimate the impact it could have on especially younger audiences. As research from San Diego University’s Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film shows, females are more likely to have roles that define them as mother, girlfriend, or wife. Roles that determine their worth based on who they marry or are attached to.

“A larger percentage of male characters were shown in the workplace — 59% to 41% — while 85% of men had identifiable jobs, compared to 75% of women. Sixty one percent of male characters were identified only by their professional roles, whereas only 34% of females have that kind of designation. In contrast, 58% of females were identified by the roles they assume in their personal lives such as wives or mothers. That’s the case for only 31% of male characters,” writes Brent Lang at Variety.

While the film and TV world has a long way to go despite making incremental progress over the past few years with franchises like ‘The Hunger Games’ and the aforementioned ‘Wonder Woman’, seeing comic books like ‘Princeless’ being optioned for a feature film production is good news. These are female characters who go beyond the stereotypical cinematic heroes, as they are complex as they are flawed and badass. They also represent characters we don’t get to see enough of, as Keri from Book Riot explains.

“The women of Princeless – Raven are from the margins, the underprivileged, the exploited, and they are looking to change things,” she writes.

We can’t wait to update you with more news about the ‘Princeless’ film as it becomes available, but in the meantime you should head over to the Action Lab Comics website and purchase each available volume immediately!

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