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CASTLE WAITING by Linda Medley


by Linda Medley

Pub Date: May 24th, 2006
ISBN: 1-56097-747-7
Publisher: Fantagraphics Books

Looping fairytale that begins and ends in the same sprawling castle.

Medley is one of the true innocents toiling in the field of graphic fiction, but what this compendium of her award-winning “Castle Waiting” comic series may demonstrate is that her work is a bit much to take in one sitting. Medley starts off nicely with a neat retelling of the tale of Sleeping Beauty, in which a pair of witches—one good and roly-poly, the other malevolent and flinty of eye—fight over the newly born princess whose sleeping-curse will destroy the prosperous kingdom. From here, Medley takes off into the thickets of her own mythology and shows less interest in princes arriving to sweep the girl off to happiness (though that does happen). After the expected dénouement, in which the swept-away princess turns out to be rather a selfish one (leaving her newly awakened subjects high and dry), Medley starts down a different path. Years later, the old castle has become a refuge of sorts populated by a band of eccentrics who welcome Jain, a pregnant young woman fleeing an abusive marriage who arrives after barely surviving a thieving pair of hobbit-looking little people and some murderous gypsies. For a good stretch, the book settles into a cozy rhythm as Jain becomes acquainted with her kindly keepers, whose number includes some twittery old nuns, a couple of half-animal/half-man creatures (one’s part stork; the other, part horse) and a tragically silent man with a literally broken heart. Medley’s tale starts to go downhill past its halfway mark, however, when she starts in on “Solicitine,” a tediously long story about a bearded woman who runs off to join the circus and have adventures with other bearded women. Although Medley critically impairs the book by not knowing when to bring it to a close, her voice is charming and the artwork has an Archie-like freshness that should draw the younger set.

A sweetly appealing tale that’s ambitious beyond its means.