~by Linda Medley
2007 ALA Great Graphic Novels for Teens
2007 Eisner Award Nominee
2007 Harvey Award Nominee
When I initially glanced at the compilation of the comic series Castle Waiting at my favorite comic shop, I paged through the first section and it appeared to simply be a retelling of Sleeping Beauty. I put it back, despite the wonderful artwork, in the mood for something more original. Several months later, I picked the book up from the library, brought it home, and only then discovered, much to my chagrin, that it was oh so much more. (I really should have picked it up in the first place.) Though the first part is a delightful retelling of an established and well-known fairytale, and there are fairly constant literary references besides (and I know I didn't catch all of them), the majority of the book is its own brilliant and original creation--I was completely taken by surprise. Castle Waiting is absolutely fantastic.
After the retelling of Sleeping Beauty, the comic picks up many years later with Lady Jain. She is pregnant and traveling on her own, hoping to find and take refuge in the legendary Castle Waiting (which was castle Sleeping Beauty abandoned to live Happily Ever After with her prince). Once there she meets an eccentric and unique cast of characters who have their own stories to share. The book, and their stories, are lighthearted and absolutely delightful. (I dare you to read it without smiling.) A large part of the book is devoted to Sister Peace's background. I absolutely adored her, and while all of Castle Waiting's denizens are wonderful, she was my favorite.
The artwork is wonderful. Simple, yet detailed, black line drawings convey an incredible amount of emotion. Linda Medley is a master of her art--she knows when a subtle change is more effective than a more blatant one, and when dramatic action works better than something more quiet. Her pacing is perfect, and not a single panel is wasted. I was tremendously pleased and impressed to find that Medley's work is invariably consistent. The book itself is well put together--it is simply a really nice book physically in addition to the beautifully executed art.
Originally, Medley struggled to have her series published, eventually self-publishing the individual issues of the comic. Eventually, Fantagraphics picked it up and published a collection of the series so far. Medley continued working on the series and a second compilation will hopefully be printed. I would love to see where she takes things. At the end of the first volume there are plenty of threads left open that could be followed. Overall, Castle Waiting, with all its quirkiness, is a marvelous series that I can easily recommend to anyone who enjoys a good story. And I do hope it continues.