Earlier this year, we sat down with Princeless creator Jeremy Whitley to talk about his unique comic series in which African-American princess Adrienne sets out to save her sisters – and herself. While paying tribute to earlier princess classics, Princeless takes pleasure in smashing the many tropes attendant to the typical princess narrative. It’s a unique adventure for young girls and comic fans alike.
Cue Emily Martin, fantasy illustrator and sketch artist, manga fan, and educator. Martin, whose whimsical style is part anime and part dungeons-and-dragons, took the artistic reigns for Volume 2 of Princeless. Her style and background suit the young, fearless princess well.
Nerdy With Children: What’s your take on Adrienne?
Emily Martin: Basically, [she’s] a young Princess who decides to take her life into her own hands. Instead of waiting around to be rescued, she dons armor, arms herself with a sword and befriends her guardian dragon to go on adventures as a young lady warrior. As the tagline says, Princess Adrienne “saves herself.”
NWC: How was it to pick up the sword, so to speak, for the art in Princeless?
Martin: I must admit that I jumped at the offer. I was really excited. However, it was a little tricky because I knew readers were already invested in the story with the previous artist, and my style is quite different. It’s a really interesting and fun challenge — but a challenge nonetheless — to maintain consistency with the artwork and designs. Working with Jeremy is great, though. We have a lot of fun developing the characters, and he is generally pretty easy-going, although his characters are strong enough that I get the idea of them pretty easily in design.
NWC: Is there a character you enjoy drawing the most?
Martin: I can’t say that there is any one character, but there are certain characters I especially enjoy. I really love drawing Bedelia, as she is so versatile. She’s alternately serious and goofy — the most “cartoony” of the characters so far. I also really enjoy drawing King Ash. He is so ANGRY all the time. I have fun giving him the “disappointed dad” look. Finally there is a new character, Kira, who I also really enjoy, mainly because she is sharp and cute.
NWC: What issue does she appear in?
Martin: Issue 3 of Volume 2. I don’t know how much I am allowed to say, but I am super excited for her introduction. She is also in an upcoming short stories collection. I believe it will be coming out after Issue 4. It collects a few stories about side characters, featuring all sorts of awesome artists. Jeremy knows more of the specifics than I do, but I have seen a few of the pages and they look sweet! There are some previews on the Princeless tumblr.
NWC: How did you get into comic art?
Martin: I started illustrating my own stories since I was very young — as early as I can remember. I think it was sort of a logical progression. I just kept at it, and continued through high school and college. It was in high school I think that I really knew that my passion was comics. I got a fine art degree in college, but I continued drawing comics on the side.
That’s when I started to mentor kids in comic drawing, [which] sort of happened by accident. There was a local after-school art center for kids and a bunch of the drawing students wanted to draw comics and manga. The drawing teacher brought me in to give a lesson, and the kids kept asking for me to come back. After a while, I set up my own class. It has really grown and developed over time, from a once-a-week class of about seven kids to classes every weekday with about 60 regular students between them.
NWC: What else are you working on?
Martin: An urban fantasy comic called Otherkinds. It’s a young-adult comic about a few magical denizens of San Francisco discovering the more supernatural and mystical elements of the city. There’s a lot of magic and danger and fun. Otherkinds is a bit on hold while we finish up Volume 2 of Princeless, but I will be featuring the first issue of Otherkinds this summer at Comic Con.
Nerdy With Children: Can you tell us anything about upcoming episodes?
Emily Martin: We have a lot of awesome stuff in store. I have read the scripts for Volume 3, and I can’t wait! Also, Princeless is featured in a Free Comic Book Day split with Molly Danger, which everyone should check out.