Robot 6

Princeless rips the cover off comics covers

Let me start with a confession: I have never understood why comics covers are so different from the interiors. In every other part of publishing, editors try to make their covers broadcast the contents inside, but with comics it’s somehow OK to have the interior done by one artist and the cover by another, often with wildly varying styles.

Writer Jeremy Whitley and artist Emily Martin take on that issue head-on with the cover of Issue 2 of the second arc of Princeless. Written for children (but witty enough for adults), Princeless is the story of a princess who refuses to go along with the standard paradigm of being locked in a tower and waiting for a knight to come along and slay her dragon so he can marry her.

Whitley and Martin apparently aren’t going along with the standard paradigm, either. Their cover challenges a couple of comics conventions, both making the characters extra-sexy and having a cover image that has nothing to do with the story inside. In a recent post, blogger Rob McMonigal applauded them for making a statement but questioned whether a children’s comic is the appropriate place to do it. After all, the statement is really about direct market comic books, and children aren’t a big part of that audience.

I’m curious how parents who have been used to giving this book to their kids explain what this cover means. It’s not directed at kids, certainly, but their parents, who now might hesitate to buy the book so they don’t have to explain why a mostly naked teenager was the “original” cover drawing. I also wonder how this is going to play to the library crowd, where the slightest thing can remove an otherwise good book from the shelves.

Whitley responded in the comments section, saying,

This cover is aimed for the comic book buying crowd and will be in the hands of those who buy floppy books. Therefore, if you’re in a comic book store, it’s pretty easy to point to an example of what the cover is talking about…which is of course the point.

That won’t be the cover for the trade, he adds, and that’s the edition the library buyers (and most parents as well) will see.

Anyway, this mockery of comics conventions should come as no surprise to Princeless fans; issue #3 of the first mini-series included a lighthearted discussion of women’s costumes in comics, and their general impracticality. (When I was an Eisner judge, we liked that issue so much we nominated it for Best Single Issue.) Much of this will sail right over the heads of the younger readers, but it gives adults a reason to read — and chuckle.



I think there are some truly amazing cover artists who don’t always translate well to interior work, or simply don’t work at a fast-enough pace. When I was younger, though, it frustrated me to no end to see, say, an Alex Ross cover and open it to see art by a Jim Lee clone.

That being said, and while I understand that covers are often needed before scripts are finished, I get annoyed when cover images totally clash with what’s inside, showing incongruous actions or characters.

I remember having a conversation about Ex Machina and how nice it was that the covers matched the interiors, if not in content, then style.

I pointed at last month’s cover to Earth-2 and told my wife “this scene doesn’t appear in this issue. He’s not even in costume,” And then declared that when I run publishing, the cover of a comic will match the inside.

Which led to my wife saying that the same law needs to apply to books. I think she had the cover of Barryar in mind, which features a woman who is not quite either of the female leads in the story.

Sometimes if the cover features action or characters that have nothing to do with the interior storyline I will be a bit miffed but it doesn’t really matter in the end. Cover art not matching interior art who cares. Really surprised this is such a big deal to some. I want compelling story. Something that 12 months from now I will still be thinking about and when alone in my room makes me want to dance around with a big grin on my face like a 12 year old girl.

While I agree with the general opinion that fake-out cheesecake covers are obnoxious, this one is just as insulting as what it purports to parody. Maybe if it was done with a sense of humor instead of that yelling… thing I’d join the chorus. But I’m apparently alone in finding Princeless as shrill, mean-spirited, & joyless as both its heroine & this cover. Female readers deserve better than such a hateful book.

Mela, have you ever read the book? Cause if you had I don’t think you would use the phrase “Female readers deserve better then such a hateful book”. It is geared towards the empowerment of women,and realizing the power of being a strong girl… If I had a daughter I would want her to read this over any “girl oriented” book from any publisher.

It’s never too early for children to be warned about false advertising. MAD Magazine did it. The Simpsons did it. Why shouldn’t a comic cover display some satirical commentary without paying homage to a previous comic cover?

Besides, when it comes to misleading covers, some old videogame boxart were notorious for showing ultra-realistic hyper-inflated musclebound guys because controlling a cutesy sprite around the screen would be considered too off-putting for the audience back then.

Good on Princeless.
Sticking sexed up looking women, which is totally unrelated to the content, on the cover of a comic book is just a cheap selling trick and its annoying that comics still insist on doing it. It’s unappealing to most potential female readers when the lead female characters are drawn in poses that look like they’ve been traced from porn.

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