The Courageous Princess is a comic series by Rod Espinosa.
Mabelrose is princess of the small kingdom of New Tinsley. Not the richest or most fashionable fairy-tale kingdom around, but she has loving parents and gets to play with other kids in her kingdom, so she's a very much sweet princess.
One evening, the dragon Shalathrumnostrium plucks her up and whisks her away to his lair to be an ornament and bait for the wanna-be dragonslayers he so loves to roast. With prospects for a handsome prince coming to her rescue looking very slim, she resolves to escape, aided by her wits, courage, the kind people she meets, and a few magic items pilfered from the horde.
Thus our princess attempts to make her way home, just ahead of one very irate dragon and his monstrous armies.
The series consists of three volumes:
- Beyond the Hundred Kingdoms
- The Unremembered Lands
- The Dragon Queen
The series provides examples of:
- Adipose Rex: Irgerat, who usurps the throne from his brother, is depicted as rather... rotund.
- All of the Other Reindeer: When Mabelrose attends her first ball, the other princesses are uniformly nasty and insulting towards her, making fun of her less flashy clothing and supposed lack of refinement.
- Animate Inanimate Object: The rope, which does a number of things to help Mabelrose.
- Arbitrarily Large Bank Account:
- Mabelrose empties a sizeable portion of the dragon's hoard into her Bag of Holding and is pretty free about spreading it around to the people that assist her.
- When Irgerat gets hold of same, he puts his entire money vault into it. There's so much gold that Mabelrose barricades doors and buries guards with it while being pursued.
- Art Shift: The last two volumes have significantly different art from the first one; the art style is rougher and much less manga-esque, making every character look vastly different (albeit still recognizable) from how they did in the first volume, and plays it faster and looser with body proportions from panel to panel. Most significant is that the hand-drawn backgrounds have been replaced with CGI creations that the characters are pasted onto.
- Big Bad: The dragon Shalathrumnostrium in the first volume, the Dragon Queen Orogigantum is this for the second two volumes. Orogigantum is actually piloted by Mabelrose's evil aunt Ursula, meaning that she's the true Big Bad. Since she is revealed to have also orchestrated Mabelrose's kidnapping, she's retroactively this for the first book too.
- Chekhov's Gunman: Downplayed, but Princess Giovanna, who was introduced as just a prettier princess who upstaged Mabelrose at the ball, is revealed to be her cousin in the second volume and one of a pair of twins who served as Mabelrose's childhood rivals, a fact that Ursula uses to try to sway her to her side.
- The Chosen One: It's revealed in the second volume that Mabelrose was prophesied to save Leptia by a Leptian oracle, hence being occasionally referred to as "the one" in the first volume.
- Conspicuous CG: From the second volume onward, everything that isn't a character is a computer rendered image. It can be extremely easy to tell that the characters were cut and pasted on top of the backgrounds, especially during the scene with the giants' caravan.
- Distressed Damsel: Subverted; Mabelrose starts the story as one, and prays that a prince will come save her, but she eventually decides to save herself.
- Full-Boar Action: Subverted with Mabelrose's talking boar friend; he's actually a nice guy, albeit a muddy kisser.
- Funny Animal: The Anifolk that live in Leptia; they're noted as specifically being different from the talking animals Mabelrose meets earlier in the book (in fact, their belief system claims that the talking animals are normal animals filled with leftover Anifolk souls.)
- Happily Married: King Jeryk and Queen Helena.
- King of Beasts: King Argaile, a Funny Animal lion, is the true king Leptia.
- Magical Flutist: Irgerat usurped the throne via a magic flute, that turns out to be able to do pretty much anything, from Mind Rape to Charm Person to redirecting dragonfire back at its breather. Mabelrose makes use of the flute, and in the third volume obtains a new one that she uses to cast spells.
- Modest Royalty: The royal family of New Tinsley is well-dressed, but certainly not to the same extent as other royals. Made especially clear when Mabelrose attends her first ball, only to be mocked for her comparatively modest dress.
- Non-Human Sidekick: Spiky, a talking porcupine.
- Our Dragons Are Different: Shalathrumnostrium has an army of minions that bring him gold and kidnaps princesses for the ransom their fathers pay.
- Retcon: In the first book, Irgerat usurped power from Argaile after the Leptians went to fight Shalathrumnostrium (as the Leptians cry out that he's the evil they thought they'd already defeated.) Similarly, Nostrium claims to be the one who gave Irgerat his power to control the Anifolk, warning him he can take it away just as easily. The second volume onward insists that the Leptians originally went to war against the Dragon Queen Orogigantum, and that Ursula is the one who gave Irgerat the magic flute, with Nostrium just being a lackey who plotted against Ursula with Irgerat.
- Ring of Power: Mabelrose steals it from her kidnapper, but never really figures out what it does. It hides the mind of the wearer, which is quite useful as Shalathrumnostrium is capable of reading minds.
- Royals Who Actually Do Something: Princess Mabelrose, obviously, but also her father (who sets out on a quest to rescue her) and King Argaile, when he gets out of his funk.
- Running Gag: Mabelrose refusing to believe her rope is alive, despite everything else from the dragon's hoard being magical.
- Shout-Out: A number of them to other fairy tales, often in the form of kingdom names found on the Fantasy World Map. The Slipper Kingdom, Pea Kingdom, and the Kingdom of Dancing Princesses are only the most obvious.
- Talking Animal: Spiky the porcupine and the Boar, subject to Fantastic Racism from some of the Anifolk.
- Treasure Is Bigger in Fiction: Every gem from the dragon's hoard seems to be fist-sized or bigger.
- Two-Part Trilogy: While the entire series is about Mabelrose's return home, the first volume is a contained narrative of her escape from Shalathrumnostrium, ending in his death and her saving the kingdom of Leptia. The other two volumes, together, form a single narrative of Mabelrose besting the Dragon Queen and finally returning home. They also have the same art style, which differs from the first volume.