Jen Wang's "The Prince and the Dressmaker": a genderqueer graphic novel that will move and dazzle you
I love Jen Wang's work: her debut graphic novel Koko Be Good was thought-provoking and challenging and beautiful; "In Real Life," her adaptation of my story Anda's Game took the tale to places that delighted and surprised me -- today, Firstsecond publishes The Prince and the Dressmaker, which I believe will be her breakout graphic novel.
The Prince and the Dressmaker is the story of Frances, an aspiring dressmaker, and Prince Sebastian, heir to the throne of Belgium and the most eligible bachelor in the elites of Europe at the apex of the industrial revolution, just as the role of royalty is shifting precipitously.
Prince Sebastien is under nearly unbearable pressure: to wed, to assume leadership. But he's also under pressure thanks to his dark secret: some days, when Prince Sebastien looks in the mirror, he sees a woman. He has been stealing his mother's dresses for years and privately dressing in them, with the help of an extremely discreet and devoted servant.
One day, Frances finds herself summoned by Prince Sebastien, and, as she discovers his secret, she also finds in him her most willing patron, canvas, and audience, the first person to truly understand her artistic passion.
The two conceive of an artistic and personal partnership, with Frances helping the prince fashion a second identity as Lady Crystallia, who quickly becomes the toast of Paris and the most mysterious and best-dressed figure in high society. As the pair's collaboration deepens, so does their friendship -- and then it ruptures, when Frances has to confront the fact that she can't be known as Prince Sebastien's tailor and Lady Crystallia's tailor without compromising the prince.
What follows is a wrenching and beautiful story about gender identity, passion, friendship, selling out, keeping your integrity, and the surprisingly capacious limits of parental love.
Of course, it's a Jen Wang book, so it is also gorgeous, with emotive character design, beautifully conceived settings, and a visual rhythm that paces the book so, so masterfully.
I was reduced to happy tears by this book. It is the greatest work yet from a creator with a string of great works in her history.
If you're in Los Angeles, you can come see Jen and I discussing The Prince and the Dressmaker at Chevalier's Books on March 15.
The Prince and the Dressmaker [Jen Wang/Firstsecond]
Veteran reviewer/interviewer Rick Kleffel (previously) has just posted a long podcast interview (MP3) with Neal Stephenson, discussing his latest novel, Fall; or, Dodge in Hell ("a science fiction novel with a fantasy novel stuck inside of it").
A couple of weeks ago, I was thrilled to hear Subgenius founder, the Reverend Ivan Stang, interviewed on the Comedy on Vinyl podcast (previously) and to discover that the Church of the Subgenius was selling a $35 Salvation/Membership/Ordainment kit that was chock full of goodies.
Announcing: the tour for "How To: Absurd Scientific Advice for Common Real-World Problems," Randall "XKCD" Munroe's next book
[Randall Munroe traces the phenomenal success of his webcomic XKCD with this Boing Boing post; and I've avidly followed his career ever since (he's returned the favor), so I was delighted to learn in February that he had a new book coming out and I'm more delighted still to host the official announcement of his […]
Whether you’re an artist, designer or just organizing a photo album, photo editing software is a must. And software designers know it: Platforms like Photoshop and Lightroom have a ton of helpful features, but you’ll pay for them in spades. Luckily, there’s some competition in the photo editing arena. Right now, Skylum’s Luminar software is […]
Who needs a holiday sale? Sometimes there’s no better time than the thick of summer to find deals. We should know – we’ve found ten deep discounts on some must-have items. Whether you’re searching for CBD edibles, exercise gear, chargers or other tech, take a look. But don’t look long – these prices aren’t likely […]
Heading abroad? Even if it’s just a short trip, there’s a lot to prepare for. Travel can be incredibly rewarding, but it can tricky to navigate different cultures and lodging arrangements – and even trickier to do it cheaply. Before you go shopping for suitcases, here’s our pick for a good first investment: The Ultimate […]