With Should I Be Reading… ?, ComicsAlliance hopes to offer you a guide to some of the best original ongoing comics being published today.

For just over five years, Action Lab Comics has been one of the key indie publishers leading the trend towards diverse storytelling, and one of the biggest feathers in its cap, alongside series like Voracious, Nutmeg, and Molly Danger, is the Eisner-nominated, Glyph-winning, all-ages fantasy series Princeless, an empowering take on fairytale princess tropes.


High King Ashe is a harsh ruler dead set on maintaining the hardline patriarchy of his kingdom. To that end, he's locked each of his seven daughters up in towers until a handsome prince comes to their rescue. But second-to-youngest, headstrong Princess Adrienne has other ideas.


(L to R, 1st panel): Adrienne, Raven and Bedelia flee pursuers. Action Lab/Rosy Higgins and Ted Brandt


Faking her own death and taking off with her wonderful dragon guardian Sparky, Adrienne sets out to rescue her sisters and prove that princesses can be heroes. With Sparky and the goofy, plucky dwarf blacksmith Bedelia at her side, Adrienne deals with her sisters, their magical guardians, and villains like the mysterious Black Knight along the way.


Princeless is written by Jeremy Whitley, who was inspired to create the series in part by his then-unborn daughter. Whitley is currently Action Lab's Director of Marketing and writes other comics for them such as GlobWorld and NFL RushZone. He's also written for IDW's My Little Pony titles.

Princeless has been drawn by many different artists during its run, including Mia Goodwin, Emily Martin, and Rosy Higgins and Ted Brandt. Higgins and Brandt are Whitley's regular art team on the current Princeless title, The Pirate Princess which, spinning out of Princeless' third story arc, follows fierce warrior and skilled pirate Raven Xingtao as she seeks to reclaim her inheritance as heir to the Pirate King.


One of the go-to marketing tactics in fiction right now is to have "strong female characters" who don't need a man and are entirely self-reliant. It's one thing to pay lip service to that but Princeless actually does it.


Action Lab/Rosy Higgins & Ted Brandt


Adrienne doesn't just rebel against the patriarchy. She smashes through it. She's tough, funny, and prefers eating and fighting to bowing and waving. With Bedalia --- who's like Dumbing of Age's Becky with a hammer --- she's got a capable sidekick.

The only real knock against the series are the trade paperbacks' production values. There are missing words, bizarre caption placements, and a few instances of dialogue being lost by running into the gutter. This is a rather big setback given that traders are almost certainly the way readers --- particularly kids --- will read the series.


Kids who love movies like Brave or Mulan, or shows like The Legend of Korra and Star and the Forces of Evil. Adults who like any or all of the above as wellAnyone wanting to enjoy more diverse fantasy settings.


Princeless and Princeless: The Pirate Princess is available digitally on Comixology, Kindle, Graphicly and from other retailers, and in print from Action Lab Comics at your local comic shop or library.


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