Back when the deeds of Kyrax2 were making the rounds, we’d tagged a post we never got around to spotlighting by author Diane Duane, who lists her bio as “30+ years in print, 50+ novels, assorted TV and movie work, the NYT Bestseller List a few times, blah blah blah. Also: the Young Wizards series, 1983-2010 and beyond”–the kind of long-lasting, multimedia resume that superior writers build up. In a post on her blog about DC’s women troubles, Duane talked about being a comics reader and creator over the years:
They were split pretty evenly between DC and Epic. At DC they were almost all Star Trek — a pair of books here, a miniseries there, the occasional special thing — but there were occasional forays elsewhere (I still really wish that the Green Lantern Corps book hadn’t been axed just after I sold Bob Greenberger this script). The Epic work was for The Dreamery, where I did the “Tales of Prince Ivan the Not-So-Experienced” (SHAMELESS PLUG: coming later this year in a collection with the newly written addition, “Prince Ivan and the Bachelor Parties of Doom”). I enjoyed doing all of those so much. And even when I’m not doing comics, I’m writing about reading them (“In the Company of Heroes” over here is about how important they can be to have in your life) or otherwise having fun with them: one character in the Young Wizards books is an inveterate X-Men reader: another young wizard’s sister, unable to cope just yet with the issue of his wizardry, has (to his continuing great frustration) made up her mind that he’s actually a mutant. So it goes, for my “real world” is their “real world”, and my real world always has comics in it.
While this in itself is a perfect example of my “Invisible Women in Comics” theory, Duane also captures what it means to be a teenaged comics fan from an emotional standpoint:
It should be made clear here that back then — say between ages six and eighteen or so — I was way less concerned then about any possible question of female roles or female writers in comics than I was about the adventure, as suburban Long Island was pretty short of adventure to my way of thinking. What was important then was that there should be stories, stories that engaged and entertained me. Those comics were a lifeline, somewhere to be when my native world was annoying or dull. Without Metropolis or Gotham or Oa or Paradise Island (this was before Themyscira…), life would have sometimes been intolerable. I didn’t care whether the stories came from women, men, or people from elsewhere in Space Sector 2814, just so they kept coming and were worth reading.
Which is all by way of intro to the reprint referenced above, About Comics new edition of The Misadventure of Prince Ivan, due this October (Cover, above by Ken Macklin), which collects not only the original stories from Eclipse (not Epic as Duane wrote) but an all new 28-page story by Duane and the original artist Sherlock. According to publisher Nat Gertler
This twisted version of the classic Russian folk story was a forerunner to Shrek in many ways, a wacky take on fairy tales and the characters who inhabit them. The story was serialized across half a dozen issues of the Eclipse Comics anthology The Dreamery, and there it had remained, uncollected and unseen by most of Duane’s growing base fans…until now.
In the lead story, “The Adventures of Prince Ivan”, the shy young prince meets and marries the beautiful warrior princess Marya Morevna, and they go off to live in her castle, a pleasant place but for the one room which the prince is forbidden to visit. If the prince merely followed that simple rule, the story could have ended with a “happily ever after” right there… but then, it wouldn’t be much of a story.
In the new sequel story “Prince Ivan and the Bachelor Parties of Doom”, Ivan and Marya Morevna realize that they had simply rushed through the whole wedding process and had never celebrated it properly. When it comes time for the appropriate parties, however, the prince and princess enemies have plans of their own. With a talking donkey, a magic cockroach, exploding pizzas, and more, they’re either having a battle or a really good party. Maybe both.
In a cover letter to the PR, Gertler notes that About Comics has always been female inclusive, publishing early work by Faith Erin Hicks, Justine Shaw, Carla Speed McNeil, Janine Johnston, Jett Atwood, Svetlana Chmakova, and as well as collections by Lela Dowling and Gail Simone (You’ll All Be Sorry, an essential work in the Simone canon.)
Heidi MacDonald is the founder and editor in chief of The Beat. In the past, she worked for Disney, DC Comics, Fox and Publishers Weekly. She can be heard regularly on the More To Come Podcast. She likes coffee, cats and noble struggle.