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CR Review: Princess At Midnight
posted April 8, 2008
 

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Creator: Andi Watson
Publishing Information: Image Comics, softcover, 64 pages, 2008, $5.99
Ordering Numbers: 9781582409283 (ISBN13)

imageThis is yet another in what seems like an endless line of short, self-contained graphic novellas from the cartoonist Andi Watson, so nicely executed on almost every level it's baffling why Watson hasn't been signed exclusively to a major book company's comics for kids effort with a big enough signing bonus to make it stick (I'm only aware of one book last year, Clubbing, for DC's Minx). Seriously, in terms of their craft skill and their seeming potential appeal, Watson's production over the last few years has been the equal of that from some entire imprints, and it would be a minor tragedy (very minor in the larger scheme of things, but still) if these new-format books were to pass through the system totally unnoticed.

That being said, Princess Midnight is in the lower half of Watson's career output, which means it's only better than 85 percent of all comics published in any given month. It feels more slapped together than some of the more recent books, and doesn't quite hold together in terms of a compelling narrative the way one might hope -- the ending lacks energy to the point I had to look not once but twice to see if I had even finished the book. Like a lot of Watson's work, the plot seems familiar if not outright generic: a little girl falls to sleep every night and is transported to a magical land where she is its princess. The strength is in the details, in Watson's charming art and character design (which is more reminiscent of a certain school of children's book illustration than most modern fantasy comics artists ever use), and in the quirks of plot like the children at story's center living in a ridiculous house that only heightens the insularity of our heroine's daily life. In fact, I didn't coming see what is upon retrospect a fairly obvious twist not because it was magnificently disguised but because I was caught in the easy sway of the story's natural rhythm. All in all, this is a modestly charming, pleasurable, largely unpretentious comic book of which one might hope there'd be a more than a few published every month in the magical land of comic books. I hope he doesn't stop anytime soon.

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