‘The Fuzzy Princess: Volume 2’ – Trade Paperback Review

St. Paws’ Princess Kat is back in The Fuzzy Princess: Volume 2. She is joined by her human friends, Jackson and Jordan, as well as Gladdie and Tara. Her St. Paws’ companions, Chiro the bat and Kuma the Haiku poet bear, make brief appearances, while a royal visit by Queen Felicia, Kat’s mother, and neighbor Mr. Tim are introduced in this book. This ongoing series is the brainchild of Charles Brubaker (Ask a Cat, The Smell of Despair and Pepperoni), a jack-of-all-trades creator who is a contributor to MAD Magazine and SpongeBob Comics, as well as artist/animator for Pencilmation, Toons These Days, Fishing, and Guard Dog Global Jam.

In this volume, Brubaker has included six stories centered around Kat and her friendships with her human friends. His black-and-white drawing style focuses on the crucial details in each panel, skipping what’s unnecessary. The art is clean and straightforward; as a result, the stories are front and center. Speaking of stories, here’s a quick review of each story:

“It’s All in Your Mind!” – Kat gains control of her detachable tail and anticipates her new ability coming in handy in the future. As a brief two-page story, it links events from the first volume and provides a subtle, or coincidental, foreshadowing of things to come.  

“Kat Burglar” – Brubaker takes the “abandoned house where robbers are hiding out” trope and gives it a fun twist.

“A Fuzzy Christmas” – Jackson and Kat help Gladdie decorate her dad’s store, and, as they do so, Kat reveals she doesn’t know what Christmas is. The expressions on Jackson and Gladdie’s faces as they realize they get to explain Christmas to Kat is priceless. In return, Kat explains a St. Paws’ tradition, Winter Festival.

“Make Way for the Fuzzy Queen” – Krisa escapes and hatches a diabolical plan to get Kat’s tail, which happens to coincide with Queen Felicia’s visit to see her daughter Kat. Bloated Whale returns from the first volume, and it is revealed that Kuma adores the Queen, and she loves his poetry.

“Babysitting the Princess” – The banter between Kat and Tara (a.k.a. Weird Princess) is hilariously fun, as Jackson tries to keep the peace between them when he finds himself in the babysitter role.

“Kat’s Night Out” – Neighbor Mr. Tim believes he is dreaming when, in fact, he is actually awake. Kat and Kuma follow Mr. Tim to the local pub, where Kuma finds a receptive crowd and Kat meets some new people.

Along the way, Brubaker makes references to Hanna-Barbera, Universal monsters (Frankenstein, the Mummy, and maybe even the Wolfman), The Simpsons, Andy Kaufman, and James Bond’s martini. He also makes mention of more adult themes, such as Hollywood executives being crooks, crime rates, punishment and torture (such as waterboarding), royal duty compared to babysitting, the value of local market (for instance, businesses that are family owned and operated), franchises and furniture, and social media.

Brubaker includes a gallery of covers and development sketches of the main characters that’s insightful to Brubaker’s creative process and sheds light on the evolution of character appearances from initial idea to final conception. Additionally, Brubaker notes that Kat’s design is inspired by the depiction of cats in ancient Egyptian art and that her face is always drawn from a side view or ¾ view. There is even an instructional guide on how to draw Kat!

Continuing from the first volume, The Fuzzy Princess is an exploration of interactions between characters and a sensitive evaluation of moral values. Kat’s interest in understanding the cultural practices around her, openness in sharing her own, and then making efforts to blend both into a shared event conveys a sense of genuine compassion and sensitivity for others. Although royalty, Kat feels a sense of responsibility for others, such as Mr. Tim when she realizes that he might need assistance. There’s a “feel good” vibe about The Fuzzy Princess that is reminiscent of Mike Kunkel’s Herobear and the Kid comic book series or as a gentler Jim Davis’ Garfield.

Each story has a takeaway lesson, but Brubaker has a subtle approach, so it doesn’t come off sounding preachy. The Fuzzy Princess is one of those series that thoroughly entertains and warms the heart with likeable characters and engaging stories.


Creative Team: Charles Brubaker (creator), Scott Miller (editor)
Publisher: Smallbug Press
Click here to purchase.

 

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