Robin, the Runaway Princess of Johan Troïanowski’s delightful new graphic story for kids, is not so much a runaway princess as an exploring princess.
Most of all, Robin’s bored of all the dull princessing things she’s been doing and decides there must be more to the world than her castle. And, naturally, she’s right, though even the intrepid Robin couldn’t have predicted the adventures she encounters or the people she meets on the way.
I’m torn between what the best part of the Runaway Princess is. Is it Robin’s wonderful curiosity? The fun supporting cast? Or the painted-style artwork with lush colors that practically seeps from the page?
But, most importantly, it succeeds as a story for younger readers and becomes one that older readers (including moms) can enjoy as well, especially since certain section invites readers to interact with the story.
In an email interview, I asked Troïanowski some questions that went into the creation of the Runaway Princess.
GeekMom: What made you decide to center the book on a princess? What went into Robin’s creation—her personality and her look?
Johan Troïanowski: I love stories with princesses, sorcerers, and other fantastic creatures. But I wanted to create something different, with an unconventional princess. For Robin, I was inspired by Lewis Carroll’s Alice, Little Red Riding Hood, Astrid Lindgren’s Pippi Longstockings, Miette from The City of Lost Children, and Mathilda from Luc Besson’s Leon.
GM: Paul, Matt, Lee, and Omar act not only as friends but also as a window into other parts of the world for Robin. What do they represent for you?
JT: For the brothers, I was inspired by my own brothers! They all contrast with Robin; they have different personalities, but she’s the exciting one.
GM: The book begins with a wonderful map! Who created the map? Why did you think it was important?
JT: I drew the maps. I’m such a big fan of maps; I love it when books have them. They let you establish the setting, follow the characters’ journeys and imagine the places they could have gone if their stories had taken another path. Maps inspire imagination, I think.
GM: The art style is beautifully painted with an amazing and effective use of color. How did you decide what colors to focus on in certain parts of the story?
JT: The colors create difference and variety in each scene and on each page. You can see when there’s a change in the environment. I started with a dominant color that allowed me to create an ambiance. Then I drew the characters in ink, before enhancing them with colored pencils for brightness and shadows.
For more on Johan Troïanowski, check out his page on Comiclopedia. His story is likely to be the first of many from Random House Graphic, continuing a welcome surge in original illustrated graphic novels for kids and young adults that is best personified by the success of Raina Telgemeier‘s stories.
Disclaimer: GeekMom received a copy of the book for review purposes.