The Little Prince, a Stupid Smoocher
All the world loves “The Little Prince” by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry. But in reality he is just the fat Princess Petronia's stupid cousin, as cartoonist Katharina Greve reveals in her comic volume.
By Holger Moos
Petronia really doesn't have an easy time of it. There is no room for her in her parents' palace. So the heir to the throne gets her own planet in the infinite vastness of space. The only problem is that it's "perhaps the measliest and most boring clod of earth in the universe. On this clod called W857 the grumpy princess stands, sits and ponders.
She cannot understand why even her cousin, the "Little Prince", has gotten a bigger planet - though he's quite a smoocher who successfully vies for everybody's favour. Besides, he's not exactly the sharpest tool in the shed. Petronia knows what counts far better than he does: "You can see better with a magnifying glass than with your heart".
A shrunken planet stimulates imaginationKatharina Greve, whose web comic Das Hochhaus (i.e. the high-rise) was released in book form by Avant-Verlag, has been publishing her Petronia cartoons since 2015 in the cultural magazine Das Magazin and the daily newspaper taz: With her Petronia comics she has worked off her love-hate relationship to the hackneyed figure of the "Little Prince", as she tells it in a Deutschlandfunk Kultur interview. They have now also been published by Avant-Verlag under the title Die dicke Prinzessin Petronia (i.e. the fat princess Petronia).
In her new work, Greve does not pack the diversity and cacophony of the world into a skyscraper, but instead depicts it on a shrunken planet. The narrowness of the space stimulates Petronia's powers of imagination and thought. Her hobbies are calculating, researching, ruling. She likes to think in opposites: "My planet: tiny. But boredom is infinite." She devotes herself to evolution, the Big Bang, physical and mathematical problems such as the "Schrödinger's Cat" thought experiment.
Dust – the interest yield on our existenceThen Petronia's parents give her the multifunctional worm Mirco as a birthday present. He not only serves as a jump-rope, suitcase belt and headgear, but can also help her on space-time journeys. But it turns out he isn't good for much after all - because of his limited sense of orientation and his great need for rest after every trip through a wormhole, she first ends up in a phone booth at the edge of the universe, then on Planet Nine, where there's absolutely nothing at all, and misses her last chance somewhere else to meet David Bowie alias Ziggy Stardust.
Greve's space comic skilfully parodies various science fiction classics such as The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, Star Trek, Alien and the notion of parallel worlds in the multi-verse. Greve succeeds in depicting her title character's emotional world with just a few strokes.
Petronia is also inclined towards humorous philosophising. She thus wonders whether Camus' Sisyphus would still be happy if he didn't just have to roll the rock every day, but clean it too. And the ill-tempered heroine delivers immortal maxims such as: "Dust – that’s the interest yield on existence".
Greve, Katharina: Die dicke Prinzessin Petronia
Berlin: Avant-Verlag, 2019. 104 S.