I’ve talked before about how much I enjoy Princeless. The series is fantastic, feminist and hilarious, awesome for young girls and moms alike. Recently, though, I got to check out the spin-off books including Tales of the Family Ashe. I still love the series, and the spin-off is great, with a few minor concerns. We’ll get to those in a few minutes.
Tales of the Family Ashe is set following the second volume, though it’s not important to have been a reader of the series to get it. The issue is an anthology more than anything, with three stories, all written by creator Jeremy Whitley but illustrated by different artists.
The first story, The Princess’ New Clothes, takes place immediately after our heroines Adrienne and Bedelia had saved Angelica, the most beautiful of the Ashe sisters, from her guardian. Angelica, who in the second volume showed herself that she could do good instead of just receiving things for her beauty, is inspired to make something of her life. Unfortunately, the villagers, who have set up a city around her, can’t seem to convince her to pursue what she really loves: making dresses.
She’s afraid of how long making a dress might take. She worries that she is setting herself up for failure by trying to use the most difficult materials there are for a dress. And she hasn’t yet honed her skills. So when Angelica plans a fashion show and selects a handmaiden to model the dress, she experiences her first rejection but, as a result, gains the motivation to actually learn how to sew. It is a simple story, and Adriana Blake and Ricardo Paredes do a solid job on the art and colors respectively. They get the jokes across, the panels are well laid out, and it seems the art is the highlight of the book for most readers.
The second story, The Merry Adventures of Prince Ashe, had more problems, primarily in the formatting. The story is a continuation of a story from the Princeless issue Short Stories For Warrior Women #1, which is somewhat problematic. Not only had another issue of Short Stories For Warrior Women come out since, but the artists on the two chapters of the story were different, and there wasn’t a note about where to read the first chapter.
It is slightly frustrating, especially when a comic shop might not stock the spinoffs of Princeless, leaving the reader to try and find the story via Comixology. But beyond the continuity issues, artist Jessi Sheron shows some fantastically vibrant art and coloring skills that are the strongest in the issue. The story itself focuses on the past of King Ashe, the father of Adrienne, and how he met his wife. It is definitely full of action with a bit of romance thrown in for a solid mix as Prince Ashe seeks to escape the Black Forest.
The final story, Nightlight, with illustrations by Isabelle Melancon sets up the next volume of Princeless by introducing Princess Angoisse and her suitor/savior/vampire-object-of-affection Raphael. The story has some legitimately funny moments between the couple, who are driven for drama (though I think some of it might go over the heads of younger readers).
Overall the issue has a lot of fun moments and some incredibly solid art, but the continuity issues between this and the other short story collections are something readers should be aware of. But, if the worst thing I have to say about a comic is you have to read more awesome comics with cool female characters that are inspirational, I am OK with that.