Part-Time Princesses

Writer / Artist
Part-Time Princesses
Part-Time Princesses review
  • North American Publisher / ISBN: Oni Press - 978-1-62010-217-6
  • Release date: 2015
  • Format: Black and white
  • UPC: 9781620102176
  • Contains adult content?: no
  • Does this pass the Bechdel test?: yes
  • Positive minority portrayal?: yes

Amber, Courtney, Michelle and Tiffany are the popular hgh school girls who all have summer jobs playing the part of princesses in the local rundown theme park, into which they carry their snotty attitudes from school. Each has their ambition for what lies ahead now they’re in their senior year, but discover the world doesn’t realise it owes them what they want. They decide their best short term option is to sign up for another summer playing princesses.

The title and cover of Part-Time Princesses makes it seem as if it’s a young adult graphic novel, and it stars four girls in their senior year, but Monica Gallagher’s themes and dialogue flag it as a level above. None of the leading characters is likeable, but that’s the point, as Gallagher’s story is about how experiences shape people.

Artistically, Gallagher can draw and has a style, but it’s functional rather than decorative, with the occasional place where what’s happening isn’t clear. The pages don’t look very interesting, and that impacts on everything. She also takes a very long time to move things forward, part of the problem being that there are four princesses, so each has to take a turn in the spotlight. Reducing the cast would have enabled all the same points to be made, but also allowed for greater character development, and a greater injection of plot.

It’s halfway before the girls come to the decision they need summer jobs again, and that’s when the real plot kicks in. The park is becoming so tatty that it’s attracting muggers, with the publicity about that impacting on business, and in a roundabout way it gives the girls a focus they previously lacked. However, even when trying to do something that’s not just about themselves for a change, the cast still aren’t very likeable, and a relationship that develops between two of them comes out of nowhere and transmits as box-ticking. Gallagher injects a major dose of ScoobyDoo over the final chapters, which is a familiar touchstone, but doesn’t rescue what never gels.