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"Sleeping Beauties #1" Comic Review

Written by James Ferguson

Published by IDW Publishing


Originally written by Stephen King and Owen King
Adapted by Rio Youers
Illustrated by Alison Sampson
Colored by Triona Tree Farrell
Lettered by Christa Miesner
2020, 32 Pages, $3.99
Comic released on June 24th, 2020


Aurora, a strange sleeping sickness, is spreading like wildfire all over the world. It targets women, sending them into a deep slumber and leaving odd, web-like growths all over their face. Meanwhile, a mysterious woman is wreaking havoc wherever she goes, seemingly unaffected by Aurora.

Sleeping Beauties, the novel from Stephen King and Owen King, comes to comics in this ten-issue series. Rio Youers begins adapting it in this debut issue and there's quite a lot to take in. One of the major challenges of taking a novel that clocks in at over 700 pages and converting it into a comic book, even one with ten issues, is that you have to cram the entire story into a very small amount of space.

This issue gives us the rough idea as to what's going on and some characters are introduced, however there's not a lot of meat on the bone yet. It's one thing to explain a strange disease, but it's another to have a reason to care about it. Just look at how the world reacted to COVID-19 and how there are still people that think it's a hoax. It takes a personal connection to bring forth that emotion in some cases and we don't quite have that yet.

Click images to enlarge

That isn't to say that the story isn't interesting. It's just that there are disparate pieces that haven't linked up yet. This, coupled with the exposition-heavy pages, can come across as a little dry at times, especially with all the characters that are introduced.

While there is a lot to digest in Sleeping Beauties #1, Alison Sampson's artwork is the perfect complement to it. She has a wavy kind of style that fits very well with the strange nature of Aurora. It's like we're seeing into a dream concocted by all these sleeping women. There are some off-putting camera angles that put you on edge, coupled with oddly shaped panels.

Triona Farrell's colors sync up incredibly well with Sampson's pencils. They're a little trippy at times, like the colors you see when you rub your eyes too much. Again, this coincides perfectly with the idea of a sleeping disease. Perhaps the creepiest detail in the artwork comes with the webbing that encases a victim's head. It's shown like scribbles all over their face in a bright white. It feels like an angry person crossing out someone's image from a photograph.

Click images to enlarge

Adding to the unnatural appearance of Sleeping Beauties #1 are the black word balloons and white text of the dialogue. Letterer Christa Miesner made an interesting choice here, using the inverse of the traditional format. Again, this lends itself to the strange feeling of Aurora in an eerie manner.

While I haven't read the Sleeping Beauties novel, I can see from this comic how the Kings would have laid out its first few chapters. I'm not entirely sold on this adaptation, as I mentioned earlier, since there's so much ground to cover in such a small amount of space so it's hard to get the full impact of the story. For now, there are some pretty interesting ideas brought in and some trippy artwork to match. The key here will be how much heavy lifting the artwork does to help convey emotion and pull the tale along.


Story: Twoandahalfstars Cover
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Art: fourstars
Overall: 3 Star Rating

About The Author
James Ferguson
Lord of the Funny Books
James has a 2nd grade reading level and, as a result, only reads books with pictures. Horror is his 5th favorite genre right after romantic comedy and just before silent films. No one knows why he's here, but he won't leave.
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