Princess Ulga is doing her best at fancy-pants princess school even if her brogue, body and attitude make her the immediate focus of scorn from her peers.
BE BRAVE PRINCESS UGG
From hair colour to dialect, Ted Naifeh’s Princess Ulga daughter of Thorgrim reads as a slightly more barbaric version of Brave’s Princess Merida and if that’s not a selling point for you, I am saddened. Princess Ugg #2 continues the slightly trope-y tale of a tough girl from a noble line forced to attend proto-finishing school.
Naifeh’s Princess Ugg #2 is narrative by King Thorgrim’s raven in the style of both a letter home and an epic tale concurrently. Princess Ulga lacks refinery – to the point of being questionably illiterate – in all aspects of her life and is, predictably, something of a failure in each class she attends. That being said, Ulga’s failure is charming in its innocence and makes her instantly the focus of readers’ pathos to point where it is nye on impossible not to love her. Even her body is hard and muscled in a way her fellow princesses find baffling as they observe her in a borderline cheesecake-y shower scene that occurs in the middle of the issue.
What sets Princess Ugg #2 aside from so many other similar tales presented for [young female] readers is Ulga’s ability to be both naïve and display restraint at the same time. While she may fantasize about decapitating her roommate – Lady Julifer – Ulga never actively harms anyone, to point where, when she is openly bullied in class Ulga resolves to remove herself from the situation rather than comes to blows and, for a teenaged protagonist, that is an incredibly mature decision, aptly handled by writer Naifeh (whom you may remember from his Courtney Crumrin books also published by Oni), whose love for this tough little princess warrior veritably emanates from the page.
Escape, however, would be cowardly (and negate the entire premise of the comic series), and when a character of some renown expresses interest in Princess Ulga and her activity the catalyst for the remainder of the issues are set, along with Ulga’s resolve.
The tone throughout Princess Ugg #2 is at the same time lyrical (told by the raven, mind you), at irreverent, with an insight and derision for the comic’s setting appearing at different times as the raven relays his observation to King Thorgrim. To his credit, Naifeh has Ulga’s father empathize with his daughter’s fate and appreciate that perhaps princess school was the not the optimal place for his warrior-child.
Naifeh nails everything from characterization to tone and Princess Ugg #2 cements everything readers need to know about the world. If coming issues can play against readers’ expectations of this literary trope than the series is shaping up very nicely indeed.
STORY BOOK ART
Ted Naifeh is here for the art of Princess Ugg #2 in addition to his penning of the series. His linework is given a truly painterly aesthetic with the aid of colourist and letterer Warren Wucinich and the pair’s work coalesces into a final product that could easily have appeared in a children’s story book or an ancient tome filled with legends. Even Princess Ulga, for all her rough-and-tumble ways, is beautifully rendered and ethereal in her strength.
The narrating raven is appears and nothing short of mythic and even the princess school, mostly seen from within, is presented with scale and age that gives it a legendary feeling. Ultimately, the art roots Naifeh’s story and characters in his fairytale world, so seamlessly there is almost nothing to critique.
FUN TIMES AT PRINCESS SCHOOL
Princess Ugg #2 is a lovely book with a cool, if tried, concept and an adorable tough-girl protagonist. It can be enjoyed by any reader and ought to be picked up by anyone with sword and sorcery bents to their taste.