Okay, so my main hobby is reading. Not just comic books, but pretty much anything I can find that's remotely interesting. Since my family is well aware of this I happily end up with many B&N gift cards every year for my birthday. This year I received about $75 in B&N gift cards which was excellent. When I was browsing the graphic novel section a few weeks ago (mostly out of curiosity, I already have tons of graphic novels and Jim sends me most of the cooler ones) and came across what looked to be an old hardcover novel - like the old Nancy Drew or Anne of Green Gables books I had as a kid. I was curious what it was doing in the graphic novels - much less a book store that only carried newer editions. Imagine my surprise when I saw that it was a graphic novel! I ended up buying it despite the $30 price thanks to my awesome gift card collection, and I'm very happy I discovered it. It was published in 2006 and the original comics were published much earlier than that (I think around 1997), and I had never even heard of it before. Of course that was sophomore year of high school during which I was mostly out of the comic book loop except for maybe some DC stuff. Anyway, I'm glad to have discovered it as the creator, Linda Medley, recently found a publisher to pick up the series again. The next volume is supposed to come out this year I believe! Anyway, onto the review!
Castle Waiting is a collection of fairytales, some that a reminiscent of fairytales already known, and some that take on a life completely new and exciting.
As I said above, the format of this collection is what first attracted me to the book - mostly because it stood out. The pages itself are in black and white although you can order colored faceplates if you desire a dash of color. The size is nice for traveling - it fits nicely into my Indiana Jones bag (the only bag I use on a regular basis). Reading Castle waiting in the format was enjoyable, I can't describe exactly why, but it was nicer than a normal graphic novel and yet not as tiny as some of the manga style formatting. Overall, it worked for this particular story.
The art was simple and beautiful. It very much reminded me of Jeff Smith's early Bone work (I feel that his art became rushed during the end of the series). It also has some Of Charles Vess' magic and line work reminiscent of working with ink etching in art class. I especially enjoyed how distinct and alive Medley manages to make her characters. The work with their scenery without blending into it, and it's not only easy to distinguish the characters - their emotions are accessible to the reader as well because Medley's art expresses it so well.
The stories were so much fun! I really appreciate it when comic books are broken up into seperate arcs while still maintaining an overall plot. Honestly this seems less and less likely to come across these days. I got to sit down, relax, read part of the book and then come back to it later without feeling pressured to read more right then and there. I rarely find a book that's enjoyable to read in such a way. That seems silly, I know - I mean most people want their story to be the type that keeps you waiting in suspense for next issue. Really, though, I get more than enough of that from every other comic. I still came back to read more of this book, and I'm happily anticipating vol. 2, but I'm not driving myself crazy wondering about what's happening next - I'm just enjoying the stories. Another plus, this book is very re-readable and fairly close to being an all ages book. There are some adult issues presented, but they are handled in such a manner that it would be fun to share this with kids.
The actual plot is the overall story of Castle Waiting - it's a place that used to be the home of Sleeping Beauty before she ran off with her prince. Now it's a refuge for those who need to get away from the world while the residents wait for the day the castle has a King again. Each resident has their own unique and fascinating tale to tell and this first volume only touches on a few. Let me just say, any writer who can make the life and times of bearded lady nuns not only entertaining but heartwarming at the same time has my regard and respect. Linda Medley has created a great story with Castle Waiting and I encourage everyone who likes to try out different comic books or just loves a good fairytale to try this book out.