It’s amazing what writers do sometimes; they take worlds from their own minds, or minds of others in some cases, and put incredible amounts of passion into them to ensure they’re the best they can be. Yet sometimes, what a writer makes can be both surprising and enlightening.
Greg Pak is already an established writer: a comic book writer to be more specific. He’s currently writing Action Comics for DC and has done many other titles in the past. Recently, he did a Kickstarter for a graphic novel called Code Monkey Save World. One of the stretch goals for that Kickstarter was a children’s book called The Princess Who Saved Herself. They reached that goal and now Greg Pak has launched a Kickstarter to bring The Princess Who Saved Herself to many more people. But what is this children’s book? And why is Mr. Pak making it? I got to chat with him about the title and let me just say, this sounds like a lot of fun.
You can pledge to the Kickstarter here! by the way…
FTN: So, what is “The Princess Who Saved Herself”? And who is this princess who saved herself?
GP: The Princess Who Saved Herself is a brand new children’s book based on the beloved song by Jonathan Coulton. It tells the story of Gloria Cheng Epstein Takahara de la Garza Champion, an awesome princess who eats cake, has a pet snake and plays rock ’n’ roll guitar all day. Of course, the wicked hipster witch who lives next door plays classical guitar and hates our heroine’s music. So hi-jinks ensue.
“I hope awesome kids see themselves in Gloria and keep on being awesome.”
FTN: This was a stretch goal for a recent Kickstarter you did. Was this one that you really wanted to do then, to have it as a stretch goal? Has this idea been in your head for a while?
GP: When Jonathan and I started talking about making a graphic novel called Code Monkey Save World based on Jonathan’s songs, we really wanted to find a place for The Princess Who Saved Herself, because the character and story in that song are so strong. But she didn’t really fit into the world of Code Monkey Save World. But that turned out to be perfect, because we were able to add a digital children’s book of The Princess Who Saved Herself onto our Code Monkey Save World Kickstarter as a stretch goal.
FTN: You mentioned that this story is based on the Johnathan Coulton song, I checked it out, it was pretty rad. Is this story an extension of the song? A comic version of the song? Or did you take the characters from it and just write out what you thought would be an epic story?
GP: The song does an amazing job of creating this living, breathing, awesome kid princess character and establishing the themes and what she does — i.e. she encounters problems and overcomes them with a combination of kicking ass and compassion. To turn that into an actual book, I dug a little deeper, built up the queen as an antagonist, teased out the actual conflict between the princess and the queen and fleshed out the plot a bit. It was a challenge, but the character and the themes are so well laid out right there in the song I had a great head start on everything.
FTN: Was it fun for you to make a story about a princess who saved herself? To show others that there doesn’t always need to be a princess that needed saving?
Greg Pak: It’s been a total blast. It’s always hugely fun to write characters who don’t ask permission, who just get out there and do what needs to be done. And of course it’s great when you dig a little deeper and tap into the consequences of those actions and are able to show the character learn and grow a bit.
“The character and the themes are so well laid out right there in the song I had a great head start on everything.”
FTN: On the concept art, you show the dragon playing a bass guitar, which is from the song and totally epic. Will the dragon be a big character in the story? Or will he just be there to play guitar?
GP: The princess’ main antagonist is the queen who lives down the street. The dragon is one of the queen’s minions. But yes, he is awesome, and he plays a big role.
FTN: What other characters might we possibly meet in this comic?
GP: There’s also the pet snake that Jonathan mentions in the song. And we added a giant bee for the book. She’s pretty cool.
FTN: So your artists for this book are Takeshi Miyazawa and Jessica Kholinne. How did this team come together?
GP: Tak and I have been working together on various projects for about ten years ever since co-creating Amadeus Cho at Marvel. When Jonathan and I were putting together our team for the Code Monkey Save World graphic novel, Tak came to mind as an amazing artist who would get the big, comic and fantastical elements of the story but also really bring home the emotional story with character design and expressions that felt real and relatable. All of his amazing talents made for a perfect match with the princess book as well.
Jessica colored some of the stories I did on the X-Treme X-Men series a few years ago, and I just loved what she did. She’s not afraid of bold color, which I think makes sense for a project like this. But at the same time she’s got a good, subtle eye and knows how to serve the story. She’s worked up a great water-color style for the book that I just love.
FTN: Continuing with the art, what kind of style can we expect from this book?
GP: I basically let Tak do what he does, but I made a point of vastly reducing the number of images per page from what you’d normally see in one of our collaborations. This is a picture book, not a traditional comic book. So most of the pages have a single image, which is both a challenge in terms of telling the story and a huge bonus in terms of letting your artist cut loose with big, fun images.
FTN: You say this is a children’s book but would other ages enjoy this is as well? I’m in my 20s, but I want to read this just so I can see a dragon play guitar.
Greg Pak: Absolutely. It is a kids’ picture book with an economy of words, so it’s really best read aloud with a small person. But anyone with an affection for scrappy heroines, rock and roll, and dragons and giant bees should love it.
“This is a picture book, not a traditional comic book. So most of the pages have a single image, which is both a challenge in terms of telling the story and a huge bonus in terms of letting your artist cut loose with big, fun images.”
FTN: Finally, for you personally, what do you think this book will mean to readers? Because this isn’t standard, and it’s (to me) awesome because of that. What message do you think this will send to the people who read it?
GP: I hope kids get a kick out of it and parents think it’s fun and funny. In particular, I hope awesome kids see themselves in Gloria and keep on being awesome.
At the time of this posting, the Kickstarter for The Princess Who Saved Herself has already met its goal. You can check out the page via the links above and below!