Kim lent me a copy of the hardbound first collection of the graphic novel Castle Waiting by Linda Medley and produced by Fantagraphics Books. The story is a sort of feminist Chaucer set in the never never land of fairy tales. It opens with the story of Castle Waiting, a castle set over a land once lush and prosperous until it became the bramble-covered castle of the story of Sleeping Beauty. Once the Prince woke the Princess and everyone else from their century-long sleep the town was gone and the castle destroyed. With the castle abandoned by all but a few, it became Castle Waiting.

The stories in Castle Waiting are charming and entertaining but lack emotional punch. It’s difficult not to be charmed by the book as the stories are light, funny and entertaining. A pregnant woman flees from her abusive husband and falls into peril before she manages to reach Castle Waiting and give birth to her strange green son. A horse-headed knight and the stork-shaped keeper of the castle go into town for supplies and meet up with bandits. A full second half of the book involves the story of the local nun and how a bearded girl joined a circus, left a circus, and found herself among a feminist order in the service of God. The story of the nun goes on too long — it spins into backstories about backstories that have backstories — but is otherwise fun to read. It’s sort of the fantasy lives of the women of various fantasy series while their men go off and fight wars and the great battles between Good and Evil.

It’s a fun read. It’s well and clearly written. The art is top-notch for being b&w. It’s very light. I’m not certain it’s a “read more than once” but it is handsomely bound and looks good sitting on a shelf among other books. It makes a nice introduction to comics for people who aren’t enormous comic-book people and aren’t interested in requiring an encyclopedic knowledge of this universe or that one going back 40 years. Although it has fairy tale references it is a self-contained volume.

I’ll happily read volume #2 when it comes out. This one comes recommended for those looking to get into comics and not knowing where to start, or those who enjoy comics from time to time but don’t want to invest in some huge story. It’s a great intro-story. It may not be a good recommendation for people who are hard core comics nerds who are looking for more meat out of their stories.

(Also, it needs to go back to its owner!)