Wednesday, April 18, 2018

"The Prince and the Dressmaker" Graphic Novel Gets Optioned by Universal

If you're not aware of the graphic novel, The Prince and the Dressmaker, and are interested in how fairy tales are being told differently especially now that it's clear more diversity is needed in our collections and canon, you should check out this one by Jen Wang. Here's the description:
Paris, at the dawn of the modern age:Prince Sebastian is looking for a bride—or rather, his parents are looking for one for him. Sebastian is too busy hiding his secret life from everyone. At night he puts on daring dresses and takes Paris by storm as the fabulous Lady Crystallia—the hottest fashion icon in the world capital of fashion! 
Sebastian’s secret weapon (and best friend) is the brilliant dressmaker Frances—one of only two people who know that sometimes this boy is a girl. But Frances dreams of greatness, and being someone’s secret weapon means being a secret. Forever. How long can Frances live in Sebastian’s closet? Jen Wang weaves an exuberantly romantic tale of identity, young love, art, and family. A fairy tale for any age, The Prince and the Dressmaker will steal your heart.
And here's a brief preview of the pages, to give you an idea of how sweet it is.

Wang says the book is close to her heart as it's the first story she's written for her (younger) self:
“I wanted a story that explored questions about gender and self-identity in a way that was also really colorful and fun and positive. The personal themes are there, but also lots of dresses and princesses. The idea was to create my ideal Disney movie, and writing this has genuinely been one of the most fun, liberating, experiences I’ve had making comics. My awkward confused fourteen year-old self would’ve really connected with this book and I hope it does the same for other young readers." (Diversity In YA)
Even with the obvious issues of challenging gender norms, and family and societal expectations (for both the dressmaker and the prince), the book never gets preachy and doesn't words such as queer, gender-norms, LGBT, transvestite, etc, which is one of its most powerful storytelling features. Instead of talking at the reader and giving labels, it just tells the story of two good friends who have their own challenges and dreams, how neither of them fit what is expected of them, and what they choose to do about it. It's a tale in which everyone can see themselves, including people who don't identify with traditional gender identity and expectations - and that's freeing for everyone.

The graphic novel has been a big hit since it was released in February this year, and the lovely balance of storytelling, art and the feel-good story of friendship and reaching for one's dreams, has - as expected - caught the attention of Hollywood.

From Deadline:
Universal Pictures and Marc Platt have snapped up feature rights to The Prince and the Dressmaker, a graphic novel from Jen Wang which has crossover YA elements in it and in more ways than one. The story is a sweet one, it is about the friendship between a seamstress named Frances and a Prince named Sebastian, whose parents are looking for a bride for him. We were told this was a competitive bidding situation.  
...The book, which examines identity, love, family relationships and sexuality, was brought into the company by Marc Platt Productions’ Adam Siegel (Drive). Senior VP of production Kristin Lowe will oversee production on behalf of Universal Pictures.
Will it be animated? It seems there's a good possibility of that, but no development has yet begun for the feature. It's clear Wang would enjoy seeing an animated production so as to be close to "the Disney movie I always wanted", and it would delight the fans, of course. Then there's also the question of "will it be a musical?", which is a fair one with the "Disney-princess-movie-that-hasn't-happened-yet" being the "ideal". The story would indeed lend itself very well to being created as a musical, so we will follow this as it develops with interest.

As to how soon it will see the light of day - it won't be this year and probably not next, considering all that would need to happen, but because it was a "bidding war" situation, with more than a couple of parties (studios) interested, this has a very high chance of being put into production soon, and actually completed too.

Congratulations to Jen Wang and the beginning of some very different - mainstream - princess movies!

1 comment:

  1. i rarely am intrigued by comics/graphic novels...this looks like it may be one of the rare exceptions. thanks for featuring it here!