By Julz Hendricks
The Princess Who Saved Herself will be making its way to a lot of happy backers soon. One can tell from just a glimpse at the project how fabulous it is. Greg Pak and Jonathan Coulton are the masterminds behind it, and they are here to talk about their magnificent project.
Greg Pak: The book tells the story of Gloria Cheng Epstein Takahara de la Garza Champion, an awesome princess who lives with her pet snake and plays rock 'n' roll all day — which greatly annoys the classical guitarist witch who lives down the road. Hijinks, conflicts, and a fun reconciliation ensue, all showcasing determination, bravery, and understanding. It's based on the classic Jonathan Coulton song and written by yours truly with art by Takeshi Miyazawa, colors by Jessica Kholinne, and letters by Simon Bowland.
JH: Fairy tales shape us from the time we are little and stay with us throughout our lives. What would you love for the next generation of fairy tale readers to take away from this story?
GP: I love the way the princess always tackles each problem with fearless aplomb and will kick a dragon's butt if she has to. But in the end, she always reaches out, always finds the compassionate way to handle the challenge. That's hugely brave and really what makes her a hero. I'd like to be like her when I grow up.
JH: Is the plan for The Princess Who Saved Herself a self contained story? Or will we possibly see more stories?
GP: It is indeed a self-contained story within this book. But we'd love to tell more stories about Gloria — and who knows, if the demand seems strong enough, we just might!
JH: How did you and Jonathan meet, and whose idea was it to plan out this epic adventure together?
GP: We met a million years ago in college, actually. And then we met again years later in New York and started hanging out again. Meanwhile, I'd bought all of Jonathan's music from his website and listened to everything over and over, because it's awesome. And one day I realized the characters in his songs could make a pretty awesome super villain team up comic book. I joked with him about it on Twitter, he said DO IT, and we did! That's how the Code Monkey Save World book came to be. And then during the Kickstarter for Code Monkey Save World, we hit a stretch goal to make a digital children's book of Jonathan's "Princess Who Saved Herself" song, and here we are!
JH: Every little girl wants to be a Princess, Jonathan, and your song reinvents the whole Princess idea. That she is instead this fully capable little girl that can do absolutely anything. Not just a damsel in distress waiting on Prince Charming to save her. Can you let us in on your main inspiration for this sweet song?
Jonathan Coulton: Mostly it was my own daughter. She's always been an awesome kid – obviously I'm biased, I'm her dad. But in watching her learn how to be a person over the years, I've been struck by how kids start out as these fearless, luminous beings, until eventually we teach them all our bad habits. She was (and is) very active and positive in that guileless kid way. She was really into princesses then, having found her way to them by whatever mysterious cultural indoctrination many girls experience. So I guess I wanted to create a character that had that tank-like positive attitude, a princess who was just fine and didn't need any help with anything.
JH: When I was a little kid, I loved the book with the cassette tapes that I could sing along with. So I think little kids will adore this. Are there any other all ages songs that are in the works for you?
JC: I always have a few in the back of my mind, and someday I'll do a whole album of them. I think kids don't get enough credit for being able to enjoy "grownup" songs though. It's been very instructive discovering that there are some of my songs that kids really latch onto, even though ostensibly I wasn't writing for them. I mean, kids love zombies.
JH: From what I heard, Kickstarter is a full time job, but rewarding. What is your favorite part of doing a Kickstarter?
JC: Mostly it's the validation that the thing you're working on is interesting to other people! And I love how it enables us to make something that's as big or small as it wants to be. The Code Monkey Save World project gave us the opportunity to make this whole other new thing that didn't exist before, and now this project is allowing us to create real physical printed copies of it. It's like a magic trick.
JH: What was the one Fairy Tale that ruled all the other Fairy Tales for you growing up?
JC: I loved The Hobbit as a kid. That counts right? There's a dragon anyway.
GP: I remember being really hard hit by The Steadfast Tin Soldier. I was NOT prepared for the end. Might be the first brutally unhappy ending I ever encountered.
JH: You both worked on Code Monkey Save World, and as a stretch goal, backers received the PDF for The Princess Who Saved Herself. Do you think we may be treated to another announcement with the stretch goals for this Kickstarter?
GP: You bet! So far, our backers have hit our first big stretch goal, so we're making a digital Princess Who Saved Herself Activity Book for kids, which we'll deliver as a PDF to all backers. Our next stretch goal is to make a digital Princess Who Saved Herself Script Book, which will include drafts of the outlines and scripts of the book along with color commentary about the making of the book. If we hit that goal… well, we have some big plans — fingers crossed we'll be able to undertake them!
JH: Speaking of goals, can you let our readers know about all the really great rewards they can earn?
GP: The main reward is the book itself, in a beautiful hardcover. We also have a level that includes a signed bookplate sticker, and another level that includes the Code Monkey Save World paperback. And then there are two packs, three packs, and ten packs of the Princess book. Also, stickers!
Separately, we're running a Teespring campaign where folks can get Princess Who Saved Herself T-shirts.
JH: What has been the most rewarding part of working on The Princess Who Saved Herself?
GP: I've just loved the experience of watching the book come together. Our artist Takeshi Miyazawa is just amazing. We've worked together a lot over the years, and he just kind of lives in my brain, I think. He knows what I'm going for with every little moment and brings out such great humor and drama. And colorist Jessica Kholinne went to a whole new level with these vibrant but still subtle watercolor-like colors, and letterer Simon Bowland put a bow on it with the perfect font and style choices to match the handmade, accessible feel of the art.
JH: Thank you so much for giving us your thoughts! It's been such a pleasure!
GP: Thank you!
There are still a few days left to get in on this already massively goal-surpassing Kickstarter. I can tell you that this book has a huge fan base, and you really don't won't to be left out like the Evil Queen. Go, Pledge, Win!