Comic Book: Castle Waiting
is a comic book series created, written and illustrated by Linda Medley and published by Fantagraphics. It was originally self-published by Medley, and picked up by the publisher after achieving success. The first volume was published in serialised form in 1996-2001, and the second volume by Fantagraphics in 2006-12.
The story combines many Fairy Tales
and fairy tale tropes together to form a cohesive world. Characters include the enigmatic plague doctor Dr. Fell of the I do not love thee, Dr. Fell
epigram, Simple Simon, and a gold-egg laying hen (a reference to "Jack and the Beanstalk
"). The eponymous Castle Waiting is the castle of "Sleeping Beauty
" fame. Many years have passed since the dim-witted princess left the castle with her prince without a second thought. Only the wall of thorns and three handmaidens remain. Since then, the castle has become a refuge. The main story begins with Lady Jain, a pregnant woman seeking sanctuary at Castle Waiting to escape her horrible husband
The comic was ranked as one of the best comic books of 2006 in a critics' poll in December, 2006, by Publishers Weekly.
Tropes associated with this work:
- Affably Evil: Leeds.
- Aluminium Christmas Trees: The Solicitines have been criticised by some readers as imposing modern feminist ideals on Middle Ages female monasticism. However, they are very similar to the real beguine movement in Middle Ages Northern Europe, which similarly involved women living together as a religious order with significantly laxer conditions than full nuns - notably, and as depicted in the comic, they were allowed to own property and run businesses, and to leave the community without question if they decided that they wanted to marry a man.
- Anachronic Order: We get flashbacks interspersed with the present day story.
- Anachronism Stew: Aside from the characters' modern mannerisms and dialogue, the library has an Oz book and at one point the characters make an Alice reference.
- Arranged Marriage: Jain's did not turn out well.
- To be fair, we don't know that the marriage Jain runs from is the one her father arranged with Tylo. Tylo's family is another merchant family, as Jain's is; however, she runs from a castle/keep at the beginning, one that has guards & fortifications. Considering that part of medieval life was that only nobles were allowed to build castles, one possibility is that the marriage was with the Prince we see in flashback in Book Two.
- Bright Castle
- Broken Bird: Doctor Fell, who has gone insane thanks to his inability to cure the plague.
- Children Are Innocent: The Devil has a problem when you go to curse a baby.
- Close-Knit Community: Ready to welcome Jain.
- Conjoined Twins: Billed as a two headed girl in a circus no less.
- Creepy Twins: Jain's half-sisters, Andreia and Aimee. Brrrrr.
- Appearance-wise anyway. Personality wise, they're quite rotten, but rather silly.
- Curse: the source of all their problems, indirectly
- Dark and Troubled Past: Jain, Henry, and Doctor Fell all have one.
- Delivery Stork: Peace badgers Rackham into posing like this when Jain's son is born.
- Does Not Like Shoes: Simon is usually barefoot, although he does wear shoes occasionally in bad weather. Might be Barefoot Poverty, but then we hear that he's actually quite well paid for his work as a handyman.
- Domestic Abuse: Jain's backstory and what drives her to Castle Waiting.
- Dude Looks Like a Lady: Massively inverted with Sister Peace and the Solicitine Nuns. Wow.
- Even Evil Has Standards: In the retelling of "Sleeping Beauty", Leeds is disgusted with Mald cursing a baby and implies that even Satan would disapprove — and given that it's heavily implied that the false Opinicus that ends up carrying Mald to hell is actually Satan himself, he'd seem to be right. In the second volume, we find that Leeds has a serious discomfort with "the sick stuff" that comes with torturing sinners.
- Familiar: Leeds was the familiar of Mald, the evil witch from the "Sleeping Beauty" retelling, until she got taken to Hell for cursing a baby.
- Fantastic Slurs: Referring to a Hammerling as a "dwarf" can apparently be offensive, but only in certain situations and with a certain manner. Since Hammerlings appear to relate to humans as members of a separate, equally-powerful nation rather than an oppressed minority, this is probably more like British people calling Americans "Yanks" than a serious racist insult.
- Fluffy Tamer: Abbess Clarisse. Widow of a lion tamer, but his lions are still alive...
- Girls with Moustaches: One of the characters is a bearded nun, who comes from a whole convent of such.
- Go-Karting with Bowser: The whole relationship between Sister Peace and Leeds.
- Good Witch Versus Bad Witch: Melora and her friends versus Mald.
- Half-Human Hybrid: Pindar (human x Leshie) and Simon (human x giant).
- Handsome Lech: Chess. Having a horse's head and hooves obviously isn't a problem. (Maybe the girls assume certain... other parts are also equine?)
- Haunted Castle: Subverted. The castle is infested by poltersprites and houses a ghost, but they are all nice.
- Heterosexual Life-Partners: The Solicitine storyline has Peace and Nessie. Reggie and Alphonse show signs of it too.
- Holy Burns Evil: Subverted. Undead and other "evil" beings who used to be human get burned by holy symbols because they think they should, but actual demons have no such problem.
- Ineffectual Sympathetic Villain: Leeds.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Tylo. Portrayed from the first as a Jerkass little boy, in the second book he gives Jain her racing horse, Rosa, just to make her happy. As he and Jain get to know each other better, they get along a lot more
- The Lad-ette: Sister Peace. Some of the other Solicitines even more so.
- Loophole Abuse: The devil is directly stated to hate this trope by Leeds, and it's one of many reasons the evil witch from their version of Sleeping Beauty ends up on the wrong side of Even Evil Has Standards.
- The Magic Goes Away: Possibly, as part of the background. The Leshies have disappeared and giants are getting smaller with each generation.
- Massive Multiplayer Crossover: For fairy tales in general.
- Master of Unlocking: Tolly is a Hammerling "doorman", which means that he has a near-supernatural talent to sense the stresses and flaws in stone and make holes through walls with ridiculously little effort.
- Meaningful Name: At first. Sister Peace was a well-behaved baby when she was born. That only lasted up until her christening. Too late to change it.
- Medieval European Fantasy
- Mix-and-Match Creatures: The Opinicus, with the body of a lion, the wings of an eagle, the head of a camel, and the tail of... in its most recent appearance, it looks like a lion's tail, but early on it seemed a little snakier.
- Leeds: head of a man on top of the feet/hooves of a satyr.
- Nun Too Holy: All of the Solicitines.
- Orphaned Punchline: At some point, Chess is shown to be telling Pindar jokes, but we only get to read the ending of one and the beginning of the next.
- Our Dwarves Are All the Same: Averted with the Hammerlings. Yes, they're miners and metal workers with big beards and few women, & are called dwarves (though one character in the story thinks the term is degrading), but without the Scottish accents, heavy drinking, and bad tempers. They also love ninepins and have a reputation as spies and manipulators: they're arms dealers who are sometimes suspected of promoting wars for profit. This is because Castle Waiting takes its precedents mostly from fairy tales rather than Norse mythology via Tolkein.
- Overly Long Name: Skeeter's real name is Solicitous Kummernis Eutropia Dignifortis Uncumber Hulfe Reginfledes Liberata.
- Petting Zoo People: Rackham, Chess and a number of other characters.
- Plague Doctor: Doctor Fell is a plague doctor who has been driven mad by his experiences.
- Running Gag: Fairy tale princesses are sweet but not very bright.
- Secret Path: The castle's main keep and tower contain several.
- One of which, to Jain's consternation, had large windows, a comfy nook, and a privy. It turned out to be a trap, however.
- So Beautiful, It's a Curse: The backstory to the Solicitine Nuns — how their order was founded
- The Quiet One/Silent Bob: Henry.
- Rackham's name is a shout-out to the English artist Arthur Rackham.
- When Sister Bridget is planning a St. Patrick's Day festival at the convent, she and the other nuns argue about what type of meat would go with green-coloured eggs.
- Simon is of course Simple Simon.
- Simple-Minded Wisdom: Simon. Although it's strongly implied Simon, being half-giant, is actually mentally still a growing child despite being as tall as a grown man.
- Those Three Girls: Sleeping Beauty's ladies-in-waiting.
- Van Helsing Hate Crimes: Simon's (thoroughly nice) father was killed by Jack the Giant Killer, who he views as a Serial Killer.
- Vitriolic Best Buds: Rackham and Chess.
- Waddling Head: Leeds' usual form consists of a demonic human head on tiny goats' legs.
- War for Fun and Profit: The Hammerlings are sometimes accused of this.
- Wholesome Crossdresser: It's heavily implied that Rackham has tendencies in this direction.
- Zillion-Dollar Bill: Two characters are effectively subjected to this trope when they're given a very valuable coin. Nobody in the town has enough money to make change for it.