Meet Pascalle Lepas. She’s a talented writer and illustrator from Tulsa, Oklahoma. She’s also the creator of Princess King, a two-panel comic she posted to her tumblr a year ago that took on an unexpected viral life. In the countless re-blogs and shares it continues to receive, Pascalle is, all too often, cut out of the posts, essentially rendering her work no longer hers. So as the proud tellers of the untold stories of extraordinary women, we want everyone to know who the real Princess King is.
When we first reached out to Pascalle, our goal was to get the scoop on her inspiration behind her Princess King comic because we LOVE it. Little did we know there was a much bigger WYSKy story to tell and an egregious wrong to be righted, on behalf of social media users who don’t know how to give credit where credit is due.
“I made it, but it’s not mine anymore. Very few people know about Pascalle Lepas, the creator of Princess King. They just know about this one comic with the angry little girl.”
In an email interview, Pascalle shared with us that SHE is, in fact, the Princess King. “It’s a little auto-biographical comic about a conversation I had with my babysitter when I was a little girl.” Assuming the comic is closely reflective of that exchange, we asked how her babysitter reacted when she made her game-changing regal declaration. Pascalle recalled, “I think she just shrugged and went with it. As long as I wasn’t crying or upset she’d let me be whatever I wanted.”
With absolutely no calculated plans of causing a viral sensation, she made the short, but impactful comic simply to document this funny memory for herself. Pascalle considered it “a warmup before starting other illustration work,” spending only about half an hour on it. She posted it on her tumblr… and it started to get reblogged immediately.
Princess King quickly garnered a growing kingdom of loyal fans, but in a nanosecond, with one influential share, its creator was exiled at the hands of social media, and Pascalle’s work was taken from her.
“Someone tumblr-popular reblogged it, but removed my comments about it being about me.” Her Princess King continued to ride the digital tidal wave of viral fame with no credit to Pascalle. “It’s a weird experience to have something about you blow up like that, and have nobody know what it really is.”
The pain of being involuntarily separated from her comic was compounded when Kelly Sue DeConnick, a revered comic book writer and comics industry powerhouse whose work Pascalle really admires, reblogged Princess King, but from someone who had shared it without proper acknowledgement to its creator. Of the bittersweet moment, Pascalle told us, “There was no way for me to be like, ‘Oh, I’m really glad you like that! I made it and I’m a fan. Or maybe I should have just said that? I didn’t really know how to react to it when it was all happening!”
By Pascalle’s estimation, the uncredited version of her Princess King is still the most reblogged version, which is infuriating to us. She said, “It’s still getting shared, too. I’ve seen it across all platforms, facebook, reddit, imgur, youtube, twitter.”
While this is nothing she could have predicted, the viral success of the deeply personal comic Pascalle created has a silver lining as it’s touched so many people. “A number of transfolk have messaged me about it, or posted it to their facebook groups, because it resonates with them about their own gender identities. I never thought it would reach people in that way!” She added, “I’ve also seen it picked up by feminist groups and parenting groups, too. It’s surreal. I’m very happy that it has had a positive impact on people.”
And that, friends, is why it was so important for us to tell the story of this woman you should know.
What else you should know about Pascalle Lepas…
Aside from being THE Princess King, Pascalle also writes and illustrates Wilde Life, a supernatural adventure/horror online comic series set in a small town in rural Oklahoma. It focuses on stories about creatures from Native American mythology as witnessed and documented by a journalist from Chicago, Illinois. She launched Wilde Life on September 29th, 2014 and the series currently updates on Monday and Thursday. Prior to Wilde Life, she drew a sci-fi adventure webcomic series called Zap!, which ran from 2003 until it’s completion in 2014.