Princess Ugg Volume 1
The first collection of Princess Ugg is due out at the end of November, and the timing is well-chosen, since I’m thankful this new series by Ted Naifeh exists.
As I said in my review of the first two issues, this series is “a social satire, a fresh take on what it really means to be a princess.” Volume 1 collects the first four issues, in which we meet and come to admire the barbarian Princess Ülga.
She’s come to the civilized lands for personal reasons, revealed over the span of the story, and she conflicts with the more proper princesses, who are more concerned with dresses and attention than the earthier Ülga. The contrast provides a good deal of comedy, but there are important lessons as well — about the value of each individual, about different not being bad, about learning to get along with people not like you, of finding knowledge in new places while still valuing where you came from.
When the other girls choose dresses, Ülga selects battle-axes. They use her lack of knowledge of their customs against her, but her ignorance doesn’t make her stupid, as she later proves when training another princess’ unicorn. (Yes, this is a fantasy story.) Not only the author but an authority in the story has a sense of humor, as they send Ülga to room with Julifer, the most precious of the young ladies.
Ülga gets lessons in etiquette and fashion and grace and history, and finally, an ally in the quest to learn diplomacy. In issues 3 and 4, Julifer’s pet, in preparation for competition, demonstrates the difference between a beautiful appearance and an attractive demeanor.
Ted Naifeh’s art is full of detail, whether he’s drawing hordes of warriors on ice-covered craggy peaks or young women surrounded by feudal castle luxury. The characters have great emotion and expressiveness. Ülga is one of several recent characters that young women of many ages can admire for breaking the mold of the typical girl. I enjoy reading her adventures and hope to see many more. (The publisher provided an advance digital review copy.)