'The Princess Who Saved Herself' is a children's book that's reinventing the princess myth
An acclaimed comic book writer and one of the Internet’s favorite musicians have teamed up to completely reinvent princesses for “a new generation of awesome girls,” with their Kickstarted children’s book, The Princess Who Saved Herself. It’s a story about a kind of princess you’ve never seen before—this Princess plays electric guitar and wants to start a rock band, she tackles every threat to her kingdom head-on by herself, and she can’t help but make friends with everyone she meets. And she’s getting her own book because a bunch of fans asked for it.
The story of how The Princess Who Saved Herself came to be is, like a lot of stories, a little bit of a winding one. Greg Pak is mostly known for writing comic book superheroes—he’s the writer behind the much-loved Planet Hulk arc in the pages of The Incredible Hulk, and more recently kicked off the phenomenal Storm solo series with artist Victor Ibanez in the summer of 2014.
Jonathan Coulton is a singer-songwriter with some of the most meme-able music you’ll ever encounter—his most popular work involves songs like “Still Alive” and “I Want You Gone” from the Portal games—but a lot of his music revolves around a loose set of stories involving the unlikely hero Code Monkey going up against the villains of Skullcrusher Mountain. One day, Pak mused via Twitter that Coulton’s music would make for a great comic book—and so on a lark, they launched a Kickstarter for a graphic novel based on Coulton’s songs called Code Monkey Save World. It was a runaway success, netting 10 times the amount of money Pak and Coulton asked for.
This is where The Princess Who Saved Herself comes in. As one of the Kickstarter’s stretch goals, Pak and Coulton pledged to create a children’s book based off Coulton’s song of the same name if they ever made it past $250,000 in funding (the pair had asked for $39,000; they received $340,270). “The song was dying to become a book,” says writer Greg Pak. “The character is so strong, and the song does this amazing job of laying out what she does—what her challenges are, and how she meets them. You have this kick-ass girl, she encounters the problem, she tackles it head-on, she basically kicks the problem’s ass, and then she responds with compassion. It’s this amazing proactive kid who is not going to get pushed around, but also digs deep and has this enormous heart.”
Coulton wrote the song for his daughter when he was asked to contribute a song to a charity album put together to raise funds for Haiti after the country suffered a massive earthquake in 2010.
“The way Greg talks about the Princess solving problems through compassion–that’s sort of how a kid responds!” says Coulton. “Kids don’t know any better–they don’t know to be vindictive or afraid until you teach them. So the wonderful thing about having children is that you get to watch these pure humans as they exist before you have ruined them with your own baggage. That’s sort of what I was trying to capture, that hidden strength a child has, because they don’t have as many defenses as grownups have, and it’s kind of a beautiful thing.”
Coulton and Pak’s original plan for the book—which would be illustrated by penciller Takeshi Miyazawa, with colors by Jessica Kholinne and letters by Simon Bowland—was to solely release it as a digital PDF for backers who contributed more than $15. But given the immensely positive reception the book has gotten—Pak and Coulton both noticed a new wave of support after they announced Princess would be a stretch goal—the pair have decided to launch a sepeaate Kickstarter for getting it printed. In less than 24 hours, it was fully funded.
If you’re a backer of Code Monkey Save World, then you’ve already received The Princess Who Saved Herself in PDF form, but if this is the first you’re hearing of it, you’ll soon have a chance to check it out in print, thanks to the power of crowdfunding.
In the meantime, you could always listen to the song.