"Castle Waiting" - Graphic Novel Review

Castle Waiting Vol. 1
by Linda Medley
2006

One of the longest graphic novels I've read at 450 pages: but it goes relatively fast for such a thick volume. The story starts with a retelling of "Sleeping Beauty," although "Beauty" herself is a minor character - we're setting up the people who live in the castle. Then we see the young and pregnant Jain travelling the country to get to Castle Waiting, where she settles in as a new resident among the several oddballs who already live there. But she's not to be the protagonist either, although Medley leaves some significant questions dangling about Jain, who now almost disappears as other people tell very long stories at the castle.

I was particularly amused by her use of Saint Wilgefortis. Most readers will recognize some (although probably not all) of the dozens of other stories Medley is riffing on (the already-mentioned Sleeping Beauty, the Canterbury Tales, Iron Henry, etc.) But I suspect that most people will think she made up Wilgefortis - a bearded female saint. She didn't. I know this because I encountered Wilgefortis in a church in Prague - although Medley has slightly changed the story ... I don't think there were ever nunneries of bearded women.

I found the structure of the story quite frustrating, but at the same time the black-and-white artwork, the characters, the dialogue with its occasionally modern language, irony, and mores, and the stories-in-the-story are all marvelous - to the point that I immediately placed a hold at the library on Volume 2. Has some annoying features and may frustrate those looking for straight-forward story-telling, but overall an elegant and very enjoyable book.

photo: I thought this page was very funny - and says a great deal about the writing style

Chess is uncomfortable arm-wrestling a woman