The comic book PriceLess tells the refreshing story of a young woman who is prince-less, and she likes it that way, thank you very much. Despite a fairy-tale kingdom that seems bent on making her into a princess, the heroine Adrienne does things a bit differently.
In this interview, I speak with PrinceLess writer Jeremy Whitley. We discuss his comic book writing process, his sources of inspiration, and we get a sneak peek into the future of the comic book!
Becky Jewell: What I like about this book is that life is just as hard for the heroine, Adrienne, as it is for the young suitors who try to win her heart. In the first book, in an extra segment, you show young boys suffering through “Charm” school to become ideal Princes. It is nice to see that balance at work.
The unfortunate princes-to-be in PriceLess are forced to go to Charm School
Jeremy Whitley: Thanks. That was a fun bit to write as well. Telling a story in four pages like that is always a great challenge for me. D.E. Belton also knocked the art out of the park on that one. The idea occurred to me and I quickly fell in love with it. Applying the current military boot camp style setup that we’re all so familiar with to possibly the least hardcore class of guys around.
Becky Jewell: The character design in PrinceLess is excellent. How closely did you work with the artist on character development?
Jeremy Whitley: Goodwin actually worked independently on a lot of the character designs and then brought them to me nearly finished. At the same time, when I introduce a character in a story I often give obscenely detailed descriptions. I love what we ended up with though and I can’t give Goodwin enough credit for that.
the characters in Princeless have attitude and definition
Becky Jewell: How would you describe your comic book writing process?
Jeremy Whitley: Heh…hours of staring out window, at walls, and pretending to do something important while I take little scraps of notes in my notepad or occasionally even on my phone followed by hours of putting all those pieces together.
I always start with the characters I want and give them some room to breath and direct the story. Princeless was even more like this than most. I had the characters of Adrienne, Bedelia, and Devin fully fleshed out long before I had the story actually put together. I find that when you really know your characters it makes writing the book incredibly easy. Also, it means that my characters talk a lot, which drives the artist and letterer nuts.
Sparky the dragon helps Adrienne escape her imprisonment.
Becky Jewell: Do you write anything other than comics? What or who inspires you to write comics?
Jeremy Whitley: I have written quite a few things that aren’t comics. I actually have a degree in creative writing from the University of North Carolina. However, they had very little interest in writing or teaching comics, so I worked pretty solidly within the non-genre short-fiction style for a while. A couple years after I graduated I got hooked back on comics and the transition seemed natural. As far as being inspired to write comics, I love seeing them come together. I feel it’s a medium that combines the writing and art in a way not often seen. Nothing beats seeing the characters I wrote living and breathing in the art.
Becky: Did anything inspire you to write PrinceLess in particular?
Jeremy: Princeless is inspired by three particular women. First is my wife Alicia who didn’t give up on reading comics even though she was a black woman and there was little or no representation of her in the books.
Second is my sister-in-law, Adrienne, for whom the character is named. Adrienne, like the character in the story, has always been the sister in her family whom the others label as “weird”. I love Adrienne because she has no problem being her rambunctious tenacious self and liking the things she likes even when everybody else doesn’t get it.
The third person who inspired me is my daughter, Zuri. Even before she was born, heck before she was conceived, I was thinking about her and the kind of girl I would want her to be. I want my daughter to know that she can do anything, accomplish anything, and that she doesn’t need some guy with a five gold haircut to come along and rescue her from her tower. Girls, women, ought to be encouraged to be comfortable with who they are and not feel the need to fit some Princess mold.
That doesn’t mean I’m banning her from pink clothes and playing with barbies, just that she ought to have the choice between the Barbie doll and the Batgirl action figure. Hopefully, to some girls out there, Princeless will be an opportunity to learn that choice and find the tools to make it themselves.
The options for women warrior clothing seems a bit scant to Adrienne.
Becky: What other projects are you working on?
: Currently I have a lot of stuff going. First and foremost, I have my self-published series with artist Jason Strutz through Firetower Studios called “The Order of Dagonet”.
Dagonet is about the return of all the mystical, magical, and dangerous creatures of Faerie to modern day England. When they return and take over, the only people who can stop them are the knights of England. Unfortunately, the order that answers the call is The Order of Dagonet, an order devoted to the knighted entertainers of England. You’ve not really lived until you’ve seen Ozzy Osbourne and Ian McKellen take on a dragon.
Beyond that, every day at Firetowerstudios.com
we have new webcomics, written by myself and featuring art by Jason Strutz, Charlie Harper, Rich Lombardi, and my lovely wife Alicia Whitley. The topics range from my wife and my journal comic “Hot Interracial Marriage”
to Richard and my werewolf legal thriller “Werewolf D.A.”.
A moment from Whitley's journal comic, "Hot Interracial Marriage"
Also from Firetower I have three new series starting up this summer. ”Illegal” with artist Charlie Harper, which is a sci-fi action story about illegal immigrants in an America where all citizens are identified by a microchip implanted in their hand and undocumented immigrants find themselves hunted in the streets.
“Skip” with artist Rich Lombardi is the story of a woman who learns she a superhero while working for the world’s top super villain. She tries to do what’s right only to find herself in the middle of the violent endgame between the two factions.
Finally, Jason Strutz and I are working on a graphic novel called “The Last Fairy Tale” which is the story of an adventurous girl lost in America after a magical apocalypse. She finds one of the last peaceful refuges only to find it cursed by an awfully familiar spell.
Finally, I’ve also been working with Action Lab
, producers of Princeless, on the miniseries GlobWorld,
an all ages book which ties into the lives of the characters on the anti-bullying website of the same name. That series is also available on Graphicly
and should be wrapping up shortly. Hopefully they’ll let us do some more though, because the first series was a lot of fun to write.
Becky: Can you tell us anything about Adrienne’s future adventures?
Jeremy: Adrienne should be returning to the comic book page later this year. In April we’ll be releasing the trade of first miniseries and by the end of the year the second mini should be under way. I don’t want to give too much away, but the story will continue to feature Adrienne, Bedelia, Sparky, Devin, and will introduce a new member of the Ash family, Angelica. Angelica is known far and wide to be the most beautiful princess in all the world and she’s never let her little sister Adrienne forget the fact. I think our fans and readers will be in for a lot of fun when the next book starts.