I’ve got a new review of Linda Medley’s ongoing fantasy series, Castle Waiting, live at PopMatters.com. I even take some potshots at Conan the Barbarian, which I know will displease at least one of my friends. (Hi, Brünhilde!) Anyway, here’s a taste:
Castle Waiting’s concept is simple. The castoffs, also-rans, and other supporting characters—including many created by Medley—of fairy tales and folktales end up at a castle, and live with each other. Various creatures, humans, and minor spirits come there, fleeing their former (and often violent) lives, looking for a chance at reinvention. But whereas Conan, Usagi Yojimbo and their ilk are always questing, in route to somewhere else, Castle Waiting’s misfits stay put. In doing so, the castle gradually builds up a community.
Medley’s comics series involves the creation of a makeshift family, a close-knit group that’s overseen by Rackham, a humanoid stork who’s a bit of a dandy. These generous oddballs must deal with each other’s eccentricities, and pull their weight around the house. Though Medley draws and writes each character appealingly, it’s the larger picture—the family unit—that engages her most. Relationships and community drive Castle Waiting, and everything from potions and spells to individual backstories and mythologies serve Medley’s communal vision.