“Attend, o travellers from distant lands,
For I shall sing unto thee
Of swords and sorority
Of high adventure
And higher education!” – Princess Ugg, issue 1
Princess Ülga is from Grimmeria where the feats of her warrior mother and grandmother are legend. To keep her promise to learn how to lead by something besides the sword, Ülga does one of the bravest things she’s ever done—she leaves her home and enrolls in a finishing school for princesses.
Ted Naifeh is the writer and artist. The story is so familiar that I feel a personal connection and compassion for Ülga. This is an amazing credit to Naifeh who seems to be in tune with the pulse and mind of the pre-teen and teenage girl. You feel brave, afraid, victorious, alone, embarrassed, arrogant, proud, inferior, awkward… all of the emotions that, quite frankly, women in general never grow out of completely.
In issue one, Ülga enters princess finishing school on her own terms, which immediately sets her apart. Accepting each crazy challenge put before her, by the end of issue two Ülga is ready to give up. The academics are too advanced; the priorities are silly; the social language too foreign.
Among Ülga’s challenges are bandits, bullies, and her pride, but she is learning it’s okay to be who she is and that others rarely are what they present themselves to be. She learns she has something valuable to offer just as some of the nonsense taught in school is valuable as well.
SOME OF THE IMPORTANT THEMES:
- Doing the right thing.
- Never giving up.
- Finding common ground.
- Taking initiative.
- Being respectful.
- Honoring your heritage.
The art work is a perfect pairing with the theme of the series. With such an intimate story I wonder if also being the artist elevates the final result. The details needed to portray a fantasy world are there, as well as the strong lines and colors for the power and courage of Ülga. Naifeh tells so much by visually contrasting Ülga’s textures of leather, fur, and muscle in browns and grays against the pink and gold Disney princess world of silk, veils, and daintiness.
But as much as these visual contrasts emphasize the conflicts between the characters, it also points to how superficial we can be when it comes to accepting others. How much difference does it take before we’re put on the defensive, feeling the status quo is threatened? Sadly, not much.
Do I have anything bad to say about Princess Ugg? Only that it’s currently on hiatus. Come back to us soon, me bonny wee berserker. You’re my hero.
Princess Ugg, volume 1, trade paperback, November 2014, ONI Press
Princess Ugg, volume 2, trade paperback, August 2015, ONI Press
Princess Ugg, issue 1, June 2014
Princess Ugg, issue 2, July 2015
Princess Ugg, issue 3, August 2014
Princess Ugg, issue 4, September 2014
Princess Ugg, issue 5, November 2014
Princess Ugg, issue 6, December 2014
Princess Ugg, issue 7, January 2014
Princess Ugg, issue 8, March 2015