DAMSELS IN EXCESS#1: Who is the Audience for this Book?

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  • Title: Damsels in Excess #1
  • Writer: Vince Hernandez
  • Pencils and Colors: Mirka Andolfo
  • Inks: Simone Di Meo
  • Publisher: Aspen Comics
  • Release Date: July 23, 2014
Cute princesses by Agnes Garbowska!
Cute princesses by Agnes Garbowska!

‘Who is our audience?’

When the creators of Damsels in Excess were brainstorming, I wonder if they asked this question and if so, what was the answer.

The book is billed as a ‘fairy tale adventure’ and you can read more about it through this promotional article/press release. Since one of the ongoing discussions in comics is the dearth of quality comics for kids, I saw ‘fairy tale adventure’ in the promotional materials and thought that maybe this book might be trying to get into that niche.  The comic book form can tell any type of tale and should be able to reach any audience with the right concept and story telling.

So I read the book.  I read the whole thing.  I read it again to see if I missed something the first time and after all of that I have no idea to whom I would recommend this book.  The aspects that might appeal to one group of readers seem to be counteracted by other aspects.  I am left a bit befuddled.

The basic story is that there is a magical kingdom broken into five realms.  All of  the men have been killed (thus the title) by the magic of a queen upset at finding her king sleeping with another woman.  Some years later, each realm is headed by a princess.  The princesses are all about 18 and at the end of the first issue, a secret is revealed that should drive the plot forward in upcoming issues.

The book is described as follows, “Journey to a place where magic is abundant, unicorns and ferrets can command armies, and five women struggle to find balance and power–in an ever-changing fairy tale world!”  This description by itself, along with the variant cover by Agnes Garbowska, might lead you to believe that this book is appropriate for kids and specifically targeted for young girls.  I thought that as well but when I read the book I found that it also features

  • copious cleavage from our princesses and almost all of the women of the realms
  • a depicted extramarital affair (justified by our narrator due to the stress of dealing with the queen)
  • the death of all men in the five realms by the betrayed queen
Our cleavage baring primary princess by Mirka Andolfo.
Our cleavage baring primary princess by Mirka Andolfo.

I looked through the book a couple of times and rarely does a woman that is outside the age range of 18 to 25 make an appearance.  Nearly all the women wear revealing outfits and there is practically no variation in body type. With no men around, it makes one wonder why women wouldn’t choose to wear somewhat more practical clothes since they are responsible for all aspects of society. While I’m sure that high-heeled armored leggings and strapless gowns are perfect for some occasions, I can’t think that said occasions would be frequent.

The artwork and coloring in the book is very clean and shows a fine level of skill, if not flexibility. The book is certainly pretty to look at and it is easy enough to follow the basic plot. The princesses seemed rather shallow for the most part and hopefully they will be fleshed out (their personalities not their bodies) a bit more in future issues for those that choose to continue reading.  I will not be continuing the journey.

The fact is that even really great books can struggle to find readers and some books that I totally don’t understand can become big hits.  If this book finds a waiting readership then bully for the creators and I will stand corrected. Time will tell how the book is received and by whom.

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4 thoughts on “DAMSELS IN EXCESS#1: Who is the Audience for this Book?

  • July 13, 2014 at 1:01 am
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    I thought it sounded like a neat idea and then I noticed all the things you pointed out: they’re all sexy, they’re all in the same age range and I couldn’t figure out who they’re trying to appeal to. It’s like they said “Rat Queens is getting readers, let’s go for another group of women but make them all conventionally attractive and it’ll get all the readers!”

    Reply
    • July 13, 2014 at 7:48 am
      Permalink

      Thanks for the comment Christy. When reading, I thought it strange that all the men men are dead but where are the older women or the middle aged women? I understand why there wouldn’t be babies with no men around but there should be others. Who is advising these young princesses? Also, shouldn’t someone be sad? I mean you have all lost your fathers, uncles, sons and brothers. I know that women are very practical (the clothing shown notwithstanding) but it just seemed like no big thing.

      Reply
      • July 13, 2014 at 5:47 pm
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        No kidding–just because the queen got pissed off doesn’t mean that all the other women wouldn’t miss their male relatives and friends. World building without using logic annoys me.

        Reply
  • July 14, 2014 at 8:42 am
    Permalink

    For those that would like the grown up version (for adults) of this story, I recommend Y: The Last Man. It is one of my absolute favorite stories of all time.

    Reply

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