Interview - Jeremy Whitley (Action Lab Entertainment)

Princeless by Jeremy Whitley is quite the hit. The unconventional damsel-in-distress tale is solid in execution and a refreshing read. There's more in store for Adrienne and Bedelia though, and Whitley was awesome enough to take time out of his ever burgeoning schedule to talk about Princeless, Fracture and digital comics in general.

Omnicomic: Where did you come up with the idea for Princeless?

Whitley: The idea for Princeless came from my wife and i talking about having kids, specifically a daughter. I both wanted to share my love of comics with her and I was creeped out by the Princess culture that we lead our daughters into.

We propose that their heroes be women who are helpless, hopeless, and entirely dependent on others. I want my daughter to be a strong independent minded woman who's capable of saving herself. I wanted to create a character who was these things for girls to read about

Omnicomic: What is it that Adrienne has that her sisters lack? Is it that she's the most like her father, who's equally bold and unyielding?

Whitley: Perhaps a bit.

Among her sisters Adrienne is commonly regarded as the weird one. She has a hard time taking things at face value or buying into fairy tales, even though she lives in what we would term as a "fairy tale world". Things that her sisters find unimaginable seem like the only logical solution to Adrienne.

Omnicomic: What do you consider to be Adrienne's strongest characteristic? Is her personality rooted in someone you know?

Whitley: Adrienne's strongest characteristic is her will. There will be times when the readers (and even Adrienne) wonder why it is that she's continuing with her quest. But for her it's a quest. It has to be done. There is no alternative once you set out to do something.

I often say that Adrienne is based on my sister-in-law (not coincidentally also named Adrienne) but that trait is just as true of my wife. Or her other sister. Or her mom. I'm married to a family full of very stubborn strong-willed women.

Omnicomic: Are you surprised with the reception that Princeless has received, considering it's sort of a fractured fairy tale type story?

Whitley: I'm somewhat surprised. I always expected that some people would really like it and that there would be a market for it among women who like comics, but I've been pleasantly surprised both by how positive the reception has been and also some of the people that are picking it up.

I keep getting Twitter and Facebook messages from fathers that are picking it up for their daughters and falling in love with it themselves. My favorite reviews are from people who loved the book so much they then go had to find some relatives kid to share it with.

Omnicomic: Did you foresee wrapping up the saga in the initial four-issue arc (and realized it could be more as you were writing it)? Or did you always envision multiple volumes for Adrienne and the others?

Whitley: Now, that's a hard question to ask. In my head it was always more as soon as I wrote that last page of issue 1. I hadn't worked out how long I wanted it to be until I was done with the first arc of writing but this is one project I am happy to see balloon and continue beyond its original scope.

Omnicomic: What can we expect in the next volume of Princeless?

Whitley: The next volume will focus on Adrienne's attempt to rescue her sister Angelica. Now, Angelica is renowned to be the most beautiful princess in the world. Unsurprisingly, she has a very different idea of what it means to be rescued that Adrienne does. Also, more Bedelia if there was any doubt she was around for the long haul.

Omnicomic: There's a rumor floating around that the Princeless TPB will have a Skullkickers component. Is that so? If so, how did that come about?

Whitley: YES!

I actually can't take any credit for that. Goodwin, who illustrated Princeless, is friends with Mr Zub of Skullkickers fame. The idea was kind of thrown around half jokingly on a message board that we should do a crossover. Then, all at once, it was happening.

By the way, if you're not reading Skullkickers and you are reading this interview, you should rectify that. Skullkickers is not quite as all ages friendly as Princeless, but it's too much fun for any adult to pass up.

Omnicomic: What can you tell us about Fracture?

Whitley: Fracture is the other ongoing series coming from Action Lab Entertainment. It's written by Shawn Gabbourin, who is my editor on Princeless as well, and illustrated by Chad Cicconi. It's an excellent story and the trade will be out in March, the month before the Princeless trade. I would definitely recommend picking it up for anyone who hasn't.

Omnicomic: Fracture is an interesting look on the dual identity concept that is rife in so many superhero books. Is that a fresh angle that more books should take?

Whitley: Well, I think it's something you can only do so many times before it becomes ineffective, but I think Fracture makes the most of it. The idea of trying to maintain two identities is difficult enough, but trying to maintain multiple lives that you're not even aware of...that's rough.

Omnicomic: What else does Action Lab have cooking and in the pipeline?

Whitley: In February, Action Lab has three original Graphic Novels coming out from several creators.

Dave Dwonch will be releasing a collection of his webcomic "Space Time Condominium" which is based on a non-existent Canadian sitcom where a man is forced to live with versions of himself from parallel universes. It's wacky, it's hilarious, it's too strange for worlds. So long as you're not easily offended, I highly recommend it.

We also have an action sci-fi book co written by Action Lab President Shawn Pryor called Exo-1 and Rock Solid Steel Bots. Also, there is a book by our good friend Super Ugly called "Monsters are Just Like Us" which bears a striking resemblance to the People Magazine article, just with terrifying monsters and in a children's book format.

Omnicomic: Strictly opinion, but do you think all comics are headed the digital route?

Whitley: As a creator, I think the digital route is great. I love that it makes books so much more accessible to so many more people and allows us to do it so much more cheaply. It's amazing.

On the other hand, as a reader, you'll have to pry my books from my cold dead hands.

Omnicomic: What conventions do you and Action Lab plan on making appearances at this year?

Whitley: I will be at Denver Comic Con, Heroes Con in Charlotte, Baltimore Comic Con, SPX in Bethesda, and NC Comic Con in Raleigh.

Action Lab will be making appearances in San Diego, Wondercon, Image's Con, APE, and a few things in Pennsylvania.

Omnicomic: Anything you want to plug while you have the floor?

Whitley: I also do several webcomics with my small press Firetower Studios, which you can check out at our website and Firetower's original series "The Order of Dagonet" is now available on Graphicly (and the first issue is free!). I write that as well and have no problem saying it's a great, fun, and incredibly strange book. Go read it!