Part Time Princesses
Written and Illustrated by Monica Gallagher
Published by Oni Press
Part Time Princesses is an exploration of childhood hopes, dreams and the entering of the mature world of adulthood. Readers are treated to the development of four individual young adults into more world wise individuals who seek to establish themselves and assist their fellow teenagers to have a place of their own. The story provides the importance of standing together with other human beings and finding common causes to work toward. Furthermore, Part Time Princesses reveals that although adulthood may mean dreams are pushed aside or placed on pause by reality, it does not mean the magic of imagination and goodness must be lost as well. For goodwill toward fellow humans and friendship provide their own enchantment and magic in our world.
The story is about Courtney, Amber, Tiffany, and Michelle who are setting out with great expectations of their futures. One wants to be an actress, another wants to be model, the third one want to be a cheerleader, and the last one wants to go to college. However, their dreams come crashing down as reality of the world sets in and their hopes are dashed. The four friends have little choice but to return to their former jobs as part-timers at the amusement park known as Enchanted Park. There the friends serve as princesses. Together they work to improve the park and save it from ruin as someone plots to bring down the amusement park.
Part Time Princesses offers a brilliant coming of age story with a contrast between reality and what expectations people have for the future. Gallagher provides her tale by well-rounded characters who show gradual changes over time. Additionally, Gallagher produces dramatic foils to the four main characters through the princesses they represent. For example, Courtney, a young woman who wishes to become a cheerleader, first appears as Cinderella. She is portrayed as verbally unkind to her co-worker, showy in her performs, and a very self-assured young woman. In the story she goes as far as accusing her co-worker of having a foot fetish, because he must take photos of her for his job. The redeeming aspects for Courtney is her tenderness to her friends and supporting their dream, even if they get lost. The dramatic foil aspect comes from how Courtney dresses as Cinderella. Traditionally in the tale of Cinderella, the young woman is to be kind, brave, and hard working. In the beginning of the story, Courtney does not embrace these traits outwardly to other as she could be seen as lazy and rude. When the story closes, Courtney shines with kindness to her friends and a hard working attitude toward saving the park. Gallagher continues in depth character development with Amber, Tiffany, and Michelle.
Gallagher strengthens the characters by their journey’s arc from being spoiled children to caring about the world surrounding them. The teenagers begin as spoiled girls who are self-centered. They treat other individuals poorly such as when Courtney accuses her co-worker of being obsessed with photos of her feet. Or when Tiffany demands her lunch from her co-worker rather than thanking him. The young women goes as far as to view others as servants who are to be addressed as “nerds” or “losers.” The development beyond the self starts as the girls turn in time to their co-workers for help in defending the park. The girls point out during the staff meeting for the main characters realize teens may not knowing what to do and how autonomy of the teen depend on the park because it helps them grow and get to the paths they wish in the world. The young women realize by thinking of amusement park not as any one person’s but as “our” own place it gives them somewhere to belong to. It is true the four main characters will show self-interest and immaturity toward the end of the story, but it should be noted the young women are still developing. With the incomplete nature of their characters since they are all youths one can expect over time they should finish maturing into adults. By the closing scenes, the read will see the young women crediting the saving of the park to every one of their coworkers with gratitude to them.
Although the four teens start off as spoiled and self-centered individuals, they evolve and learn at the end of the tale. Here at the end of the tale each person grows into the true nature of a princess. The four grow into people who work of the good of their kingdom. Their kingdom being their hometown and their friends and others. Still the reader will feel how a person may never be too old for fairy tales as they can teach a person much about the world. Fairy tales can give courage, hope, and something magical to believe in. Even more importantly the story provides the magic of the daily action by goodwill and standing up for what is right.