Christopher Grahame is a high successful children’s author who created a land called Castrovalva in his stories full of lush, peaceful worlds and stories. As with any young dreamer, he put his young self as the main hero surrounded by his friends inspired by his favorite toys. Grahame had grown up and left that world behind. As he struggles with weight of his success, he begins to suffer from headaches and blackouts. Blackouts which lead him back to his childhood world. Castrovalva is not the same however. With the arrival of a mysterious Dictator, the land has become covered with blood,death, and war. Grahame must now find a way to save Castrovalva so he can save his own life.
Kingdom of the Wicked was apparently released as a mini-series during the nineties. The collection has been repackaged with extra behind the scene features courtesy of the author. Reading this from beginning to end as a completed set was a nightmare and a blessing in it self. The need to know what happened next was strong but I also had to comply with the nightmarish images along the way.
There is something so sinister and horrific about reading such a dark fantasy in the style of a children’s illustrated book. It was a gruesome unveiling of one aspect of the story, that you can’t experience the same world you loved as a child with the eyes of an adult. There are horrors uncovered, blood that has brightened, fears that surfaced. It could definitely strip some of the innocence away.
This kind of story is nothing new. I have seen this story over and over, read it again and again. Yet I am still drawn to it. It is almost a self-torture to try to go back, a blatant refusal to acknowledge that time is moving on, adulthood has set in, and whimsy has lost it’s gloss. Definitely some bitterness that the same happy feelings I had as child reading books is not the same if I re-read them now. The adult writer and the intentions can be seen more than the story.
On a story level, the imagined world has already acknowledged that with or without the dreamer, time will move on. It is not static. Even if the dreamer refuses to acknowledge it, the imagined world has already moved on to the next chapter.
Kingdom of the Wicked reminds me of so many movies and their relevant sequels:
- Wizard of Oz and Return to Oz
- Alice in Wonderland(1951) and Alice in Wonderland (2010)… although I consider the video a much more apt horror return to Wonderland: American McGee’s Alice
- Neverending Story and Neverending II
- Pretty much all of the Narnia movies and books.
The graphic novel also brings to mind a Brenden Fraser movie called Monkeybone where Fraser’s character created a successful comic character who also threatens his life.These are just movies, there are countless of books where going back is never the same. Imaginations way of saying that nothing is static,not even fantasy lands.
Reading Kingdom of the Wicked reminded me of everything I loved reading and watching as a child but with a nightmarish twist. So much of this graphic novel was sad and depressing. The Fuzzbox panel during the war tore my heart out. I had to stop reading and cuddle my stuffed creatures (I don’t care. I’m an adult). It was so sad. After going through so much of the sadness, the pain, and the horror, the graphic novel concludes with a sad but very beautiful ending. I actually felt sorry for the little thing. After all that, I still felt sorry for it. It was just lonely after all.
Loneliness was another factor involved in this graphic novel that I can relate to. Even though geek culture has made my favorite books and movies into icons, during that time when I read them, that was my world. This my world before wasting hours away on pinterest or facebook, before I had solid friends, before I had a car and can go anywhere I wanted.Living in an inner city neighborhood means not alot of interaction with the neighborhood kids. My friends were in the pages of a book. Loneliness and isolation were huge themes in this novel that I could relate to.
Yes, this is not a new story. Yes, it’s really sad. Kingdom of the Wicked is a story that is puts to print what alot of us readers and lovers of fantastical worlds feel. It won’t change your perspective or bring anything new to the table. It’ll relate and share the feelings. We all just want to go back, don’t we?
Kingdom of the Wicked is available Jan 6, 2015 from Titan comics at your local comic book retailer.