COMIC BOOK REVIEW: KINGDOM OF THE WICKED / AUTHOR: IAN EDGINTON / ARTIST: D’ISRAELI / PUBLISHER: CALIBER COMICS / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW
Originally published in 1997, Kingdom of the Wicked marked the first creator-owned series for prolific comics’ writer Ian Edginton. Now published in this lavish collection topped and tailed with a cheery introduction and fascinating commentary from artist D’Israeli. If you’ve yet to give it a read, you’ll soon see why Kingdom of the Wicked is up there with Sandman and The Dark Knight Returns as masterpieces of the medium.
The book follows troubled children’s author Chris Grahame; grouchy, neurotic, and brilliant in all the ways expected of writers. Chris has experienced blackouts and headaches since he was a kid crafting his own fantasy world of Castrovalva, and they’ve gotten worse. Now he’s returned to his childhood creation and it’s a desperate and damaged world, ruled over by a sociopathic dictator.
With a plot so concerned with the magic and escapism of storytelling, it’s little wonder you get a sense of many authors, from Terry Pratchett and C.S. Lewis to Clive Barker’s Abarat, but particularly Neil Gaiman who, like Edginton, has captivated people young and old with his enigmatic creations. D’Israeli’s brilliant exaggerated art is reminiscent of Grayson Perry and captures the complexity of the prose.
It’s a terrifically witty story, often funny but never a page or two removed from its inherent darkness. Edington and D’Israeli offer a hallucinatory take on real word events, the most poignant of which is World War I. Like Maus, sometimes straight interpretations of historical events can’t capture the horrors of war.
Kingdom of the Wicked is an essential, multi-layered story, as beautifully written as it is affecting. For all those who were whisked away in fantasy worlds as kids, whether in those you’ve written or read, expect a tear or two.
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