Kat’s Music and Comics Corner Vol. 2 Issue #4
The world is oversaturated. So much is going on all at once and we are all filled up to the brim with disappointments and expectations of what life should be like, but isn’t. Is there a way to enjoy a smaller, sweeter, more manageable world that is easy to digest in less than 30 minutes? Are there such characters in the existence of all graphic novels that depict the people we hope to become and we hope for others around us to be like? Usually, I would say ‘if this place and these people did exist they’re just a figment— a coping strategy that is provided by art and good writing’. But in Katie O’Neill’s Princess Princess Ever After, I feel, these characters and their story provide this and so much more than the simple children’s fairytale it appears to be.
In this graphic novel, we are introduced to two teenaged princesses who offer a juxtaposition of two different young females’ sense of self. Amira, a young tomboy princess with great hair, is cool-headed and brave. A young lady who puts duty above pride and values the lives of everyone even annoying, sexist princes. It is with these principals that she exemplifies the confident knight in shining armor that we all wish we could be in order to save ourselves and even others as Amira does when she comes across the fair maiden Sadie “singing” (screeching?) in a doorless, stair-less tower. Sadie is both parts sass and softness. She’s the epitome of sugar, spice, and everything nice. Although both girls grew up with the privilege of royalty, they both grew up to be very different individuals. Sadie represents the parts of girls that are most vulnerable, quite the opposite of Amira who is a shining image of strength both mentally and physically. Throughout the entire story, Sadie is teased abusively by her older sister and is constantly called fat. That one cuts deep with me. As a young woman, I’ve dealt with an unhappy and unsatisfying body image that has caused me to question my self-worth and has kept me captive. As much as we may love the people who raised us and supported us, blood relation or not, when these people aren’t the ones you can count on and who are there to uplift you through bad times it really comes to question the definition of family; the dynamic of Sadie and her older sister is a good arguing point for this type of discussion. Unfortunately, as interesting and mysterious as Sadie’s older sister is we do not get to explore her backstory much so that’s left to the imagination but it doesn’t take away from the story.
Princess Princess Ever After is a very modern book, because of it’s loose writing style that allows for a conversational flow that wouldn’t normally happen in real life and also because of its presence of same-sex couples. For example, when Sadie talks to the ogre that’s destroying a village and asks him about how he can better direct his aggression through sparring with Amira and dancing with her we know that this is not realistic. Although, it is not true to reality it is a great way to develop Sadie’s character as my friend pointed out to me when we were discussing the book right after he read it in less than ten minutes in a Panera Bread café. The U.S. just legalized gay marriage not too long ago and seeing this subject matter makes it less of a “subject matter” and a part of society and of culture. It makes it not just tolerable but acceptable and allows for a safe space for young blossoming girls questioning their sexuality to feel okay about themselves. I won’t spoil the epilogue but let’s just say you got to read it to get the Princess Princess Ever After you’re looking for.
– Kathryn “Kat” Fornier