Friday, August 03, 2018

Reader's Diary #1882- Jen Wang: The Prince and the Dressmaker

No amount of hyperbole could adequately capture how much I enjoyed Jen Wang's graphic novel The Prince and the Dressmaker.

It is a tale of a Belgian prince, circa the 19th century (this is never explicitly stated, but I'm assuming based on the fashion), who secretly likes to dress in drag. When he meets the seamstress/ up-and-coming designer Frances he knows that this is a rare someone who will support his unusual choices and whose dresses are kick-ass to boot, he immediately hires her. A friendship blossoms quickly.

Of course, themes of acceptance and being true to oneself run loudly, but it never seems didactic. Instead, it's an enthralling story, with authentic characters (slightly flawed but plausible and even likeable), and lots of feels (it's funny at times, sad, hopeful, and heartwarming). I also appreciated that the dialogue was kept modern— not slangy, but contemporary, making it easier to understand and yet not taking away from the setting (it simply felt transcribed for 2018). 

And the art is gorgeous. It has a style and colouring similar to Disney cartoons of the 60s and 70s which fits the story like a glove. It has a fairy tale feel (though no fairy tale elements really), with swirls and swishes that complement the fashion angle. The characters are expressive and rich in movement.

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