It’s both a blessing and a bane of motherhood: The Disney Princess.
I’m not here to haze on Disney — as evidenced by a “Pirates of the Caribbean” kitchen and “Adventureland” bathroom — but as the mother of two girls, the way-too-perky world of the extra-special-despite-the-world’s-obstacles princesses tend to creep into your everyday life than jump in your face with a “Mom, isn’t Tiana beautiful?” and “So, why are you a Troll” way.
Run-on sentence and quick woman vs. prettier woman style venting aside, I have to give The Mouse House props for having the best marketing strategies out there. However, when you’ve seen your girls (even in their Superman t-shirts) try to mimic that skirt-swooshing turn one too many times, you are ready for something a little less sugary in your life.
It’s time for these gals to get a geek-approved makeover, for geek moms and dads to enjoy.
Fortunately, I’m not alone in my assessment, as there are some artists out there taking these familiar tales and making them their own. In particular, I give you Jeffrey Thomas’s “Twisted Princesses” and J. Scott Campbell’s “Fairytale Fantasies.”
If you glance at Thomas’s take on the comic and pop culture world, you can almost see a smile on his face and twinkle in his eye when he draws. This is certainly the case with his “Twisted Princesses.” Whimsically dark, sometimes disturbing, but never disgusting, he has turned Aurora into a Gothic victim of dark magic, Cinderella into a demonic scarecrow and Mulan into a bewitched fighter that could have taken out the entire cast of “Kill Bill” with one blow.
A couple of non-princess images he has interspersed include a psychotic look at Alice and a still undead Megara (of “Hercules” fame).
The human royalty aren’t the only ones lovingly corrupted, as Nala of “The Lion King” and Maid Marion of “Robin Hood” have been successfully transformed from fluffy to fierce.
Thomas said he has been “floored” but how much people have responded to this series.
“I could’ve sworn darker Disney Princesses have been drawn before so I was confused as to why people reacted so strongly to mine,” Thomas said. “I’m just glad people like them as much as they do.”
His latest efforts are branching out into the fairy realm with “Twisted Faires” (fist-pump “yes”) featuring a steampunk cyborg Tinker Bell and icy Silvermist.
I hope to see more of these in the future.
Campbell’s been giving the male demographic more and more reasons to love the world of make-believe since his first “Fairtyale Fantasies” calendar was introduced in 2009.
Campbell has always had a way of capturing the sensuality of the “good girls” of the world without insulting their intelligence; “Danger Girl’s” Abbey Chase being the most prominent example — take THAT mindless Bond girls.
Both sexy and sassy, these princesses and other fairy tale icons like Peter Pan’s Wendy are reminiscent of the World-War-II era take on sexy that pinup artists Gil Elvgren and Alberto Vargas mastered so well.
The 2012 calendar (a collaboration with colorist Nei Ruffino) takes on the familiar Disney-esque looks of Ariel and Cinderella with other storybook lasses including Little Bo Peep (or peek-a-boo, as the case may be) and Thumbellina.
Signed copies of his calendar are available for purchase from his site at jscottcampbell.com.
Quick mention: for some pre-teen suitable images that still waiver from the traditional, I have to give some credit to the Disney itself for its “The Art of the Disney Princess,” book by Glen Keane that showcases an international bevy or designers, illustrators and artists depicting the princess genre. In addition to some of the more familiar-looking works, are Manga, Art Deco, Retro, minimalist and more. I particularly like the Halo-style Belle and her “beastly” vehicle by Ray Leoncio. It even inspired by 9-year-old to try her hand at “fashion” photography.
So next time you’re knee-deep in the world of plastic tiaras and twirling dress-up skirts (creative exercises I do encourage in my kids, by the way), keep in mind even princesses can’t resist a getting into a little trouble.
Next Month’s Post: A Geek Mom’s way to introduce your kids to the orchestra (don’t yawn, you’ll love it, too).