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Comic Book / Princess Ugg

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Princess Ugg is a Fantasy comic book by Ted Naifeh and published by Oni Press.

The story details the exploits of Princes Ulga, barbarian princess, who ventures to a Princess Academy on the request of her late mother to learn skills her tribe might benefit from.

This comic provides examples of

  • Anachronism Stew: While ostensibly medieval-looking, the history teacher has a modern cigar, the academy has oddly futuristic-seeming plumbing in the girls' showers, and apparently the kingdom is mostly-literate.
  • Amazon Chaser: The History teacher admits that he's always had a crush on one of Ulga's ancestors, a dreaded queen who almost wiped out the other kingdoms a long time ago.
  • Amazonian Beauty:
    • Ulga's mother is tall, beautiful, and has a heavily muscled physique.
    • Ulga looks like a younger version of her mother. However the other princesses see her as more of a Brawn Hilda as they find the idea of a girl being so muscular to be grotesque.
  • Apathetic Teacher: The history teacher, who is angered that his students seemingly do not care about his subject, leading to his big "The Reason You Suck" Speech. Ulga knowing what he's talking about leads to him acting like a Cool Teacher towards her.
  • Beta Bitch: Jasmin seems to have this role, as she is just as harsh as Julifer in criticizing Ulga. She later becomes a Lovable Beta Bitch and stops being antagonistic to Ulga.
  • Big Damn Heroes: Ulga to the other princesses when captured by bandits. Julifer returns the favor when the others are held hostage by her father.
  • Blue Blood: Julifer is very proud of her aristocratic heritage, but the other princesses joke about how many men of proper birth are very unappealing. It later turns out Julifer's family is actually descended from pig farmers, meaning as far as lineage goes, Ulga is actually more royal than she is. And Julifer is having an affair with a captain.
  • Both Sides Have a Point: Both Ulga's culture and the other princesses' cultures have their good and bad points. Ulga's has taught her to be self reliant and strong, but she has no idea what diplomacy is and few responses to problems other than violence. The other princesses have learned grace and riding and other skills to aid in their marriageability, but have not learned other more practical skills more likely to make a prince want to get to know them. Ulga later points out that while her culture and the bandits' lifestyles offer more freedom, that freedom comes without knowing when you will die while civilization has more security - see deconstruction below.
  • Culture Clash:
    • Ulga genuinely does not understand southerners, nor do they understand her.
    • It's implied Jasmin had some issues with this at first, such as not knowing how to use western-style utensils.
  • Deconstruction: Several themes, to which one or several whole issues are devoted. There's usually an appropriate line to sum each one up.
    • The (slightly Übermensch-flavoured) Proud Warrior Race Guy archetype: The frost giants and Ulga's people have been fighting each other for centuries, not even remembering (or caring about) what caused the feud in the first place. They are all very good at war, which makes up most of their culture, but it's slowly driving both to extinction, and neither know how to stop since they don't understand the concept of diplomacy.
    • The Ubermensch archetype in general, with the bandit chief who sees himself as superior, as he follows his will and desires alone and bosses his men around, arguing that their are just "slaves" who need to be commanded. When he proposes Ulga to join him because he sees her as his like, she briefly hesitates, before declining: this was her way of living for a long time, and she's starting to see the fault in it, even pointing out every flaw in the bandit's worldview.
      Bandit chief: I fear nothing in this world.
      Ulga: You're afraid of civilization, where strength alone ain't enough. Where ya gotta trust others, no matter how fickle they are. Things ya can't do. Without civilization, all men are enemies. And only a fool would sleep beside an enemy.
    • Additionaly, a point is made about the relationship between the Bandit Chief and his mooks. He doesn't doubt their loyalty because he views them as slaves, mindless minions who just wish for a master's guidance. At first, it seems he's right, as they keep attacking Ulga even when she slaughters them by the dozen, and tolerate her presence on the ship (although, with her hands bound) afterwards, simply because he orders it. They later betray him at the moment he loses his position of strength, and don't turn back even once no matter how loud he shouts at them. Ulga sums it up:
      Ulga: You won't find no loyalty 'mong slaves, man. They got nothing to get out of it.
    • The classic fairy tale weddings and usual Princess and Prince archetypes. It's shown early how a Princess' grace, knowledge, poise, and talents all serve the same goal: securing a good wedding, which itself is usually little more than a political and economical arrangement.
      Mal: Open up your eyes, Julifer. You're not a princess and I'm not a knight in shining armor. This isn't a fairy tale, it's politics.
  • Embarrassing Nickname: "Princess Ugg" comes from the other Princesses treating Ulga as subhuman and mocking her inability to read and write.
  • Evil Chancellor: Julifer's father, who plans to rule since the queen is elderly and childless. He kidnaps the princesses as hostages to make it happen, but Ulga and Julifer thwart him.
  • Fish out of Water: The premise of the story is what happens when a Barbarian Princess Action Girl goes to a school for Princess Classic style princess?
  • Girl Posse: Jasmin, Desdemona, and Phonecia serve as Julifer's. Desdemona is a gothic looking princess who seems to go easier on Ulga than the others (to the point that she either points out when someone is being a Hypocrite and is just saying they go too far with their insults), Jasmin is an Asian princess who dislikes Ulga as much as Julifer, and Phonecia is an African princess who seems to serve as the other girls' voice of reason.
  • The High Queen: The Queen is wise, gracious, and poised.
  • Hypocrite:
    • Julifer. She goes on and on about how Blue Blood is important but comes from new money and is having an affair with a captain.
    • She gets it from her father, the Chancellor. When he takes hostages, it's simply business. When Ulga does it, with the same hostages to boot, it's barbaric.
  • Hope Is Scary: A major theme of the series, with the war between the tribes. It's the final line of the series.
    Chief of the Other Tribe: ''(after Ulga offers peace)\\ I don't know why, girl, but you're the scariest person I've ever met.
    Ulga: Haven't you heard? It's hope that makes you fear.
  • Know-Nothing Know-It-All: Julifer in regards to horses. She thinks just because her unicorn is a purebred means it will be easy to control and that giving it treats even when it does not behave is perfectly fine. Ulga tries to impress the need for discipline onto her but Julfer insists she knew best. Julifer only seems to come around when she needs a mount for the show and Ulga lets her borrow her pony, which while scruffy and small is perfectly obedient and able.
    • The Queen later mentions to Julifer that her breed of horse is notoriously unreliable and praises the pony, which Jules has again been lent, as a marvelously loyal mount, furthering the proof that Jules was going by appearance alone.
    • Julifer turns out to be this about princess-hood in general. She bases being a princess on the trappings, has very little royal blood of her own and yet goes on about its importance, has a very skewed view of her relationship with the captain that bites her in the ass, and is bad at keeping friends and allies.
  • Lemony Narrator: Ulga's father's owl, who just loves over-wrought descriptions when telling the king and the readers what is going on.
  • Men Use Violence, Women Use Communication: Downplayed. Ulga's mother was the one interested in finding a nonviolent way to end the skirmishes in the mountains, despite her husband having no problem with them, and sent her daughter to the academy to learn such things, but it is a male teacher who explains that what Ulga seeks is diplomacy training.
  • Never Learned to Read: Ulga, who does not know how to read or write. One of her professors takes time after class to help her with it.
  • Princess Classic: Many of the other students at the Academy. Deconstructed by the history teacher, who points out that their over-focus on the presentation of princess-hood could actually prevent them from marrying since it makes them appear dull and uninteresting to prospective princes.
  • This Is Reality: In addition to his calling out of his class, the history teacher relates the events under which a prince and princess were wed...and how that economically affected both their kingdoms, saving the vegetable market. He also noted that the princess' past dalliances had to be hushed up.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: Ulga, after the hostage crisis. Her father appoints her his diplomat and her price for returning the other princesses home, and keeping them safe in the meantime is... for the best diplomats of the other four kingdoms to get together and work out an alternative to war so nobody is fighting each other when she gets back.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: The history teacher delivers an epic smackdown to (almost) all of his students.
    "Let me ask you something, ladies. While you fill your heads with thoughts of handsome princes, what do you supposed they think about? Never considered it? I'm amazed. The history and glory of their future kingdoms. That's what's on most princes' minds. History, Hunting, and Horseflesh pretty much sums it up. So when you meet your True Love, you may want to have something to chat about beyond sewing tapestries. Otherwise they may not stick around long enough to marry you."
    • Phonecia delivers one to Julifer, after Julifer is acting like an Ungrateful Bastard following Ulga saving them and claiming Ulga will never be a princess. Phonecia reveals she got tired of Julifer whining about breeding, looked up her family lineage, and discovered she comes from a family of pig breeders. Which basically means she's far less royal than Ulga is.
    • Julifer gives a cruel one to Mal when she thinks he likes Ulga. Mal gives an even crueler one back during the second hostage incident.
  • Royal School: Complete with Book on the Head classes.
  • Shout-Out: Ulga's people are called the Grimmerians, a play on the Cimmerians.
  • Succession Crisis: The kingdom of Atraesca is headed towards one, as the current queen has no heirs due to all her children dying.
  • Surprisingly Realistic Outcome: Ulga is from a barbarian tribe that uses oral history traditions. She has therefore never learned to write.
  • Tomboy and Girly Girl: Princess Ugg is the tomboy to the other Princesses’s Girly girls. Unlike her classmates, each of whom is a Princess Classic, Princess Ugg is a badass barbarian warrior who not afraid to fight dirty with her axe.
  • Took a Level in Kindness: Phonecia, Desdemona, and Jasmine gradually become more civil and nicer to Ulga, to the point that they proudly consider her a friend and stick by her after she saves their lives. Julifer goes the same way.
  • Unicorn: Apparently can be bred like horses here, with Julifer having a spirited one named Aurora. Julifer refusing to properly break her leads to trouble.
  • Villain Ball: Seized by Mal the captain in chapter 8, in order to spur on Julifer's Big Damn Heroes by mistreating and mocking her.
  • Ye Olde Butcherede Englishe: Played for Laughs by using it to form the princess' version of Valley Girl speak.