By Shantelle Flavien
Hey there! I really like reading up and coming comics. Most comics are kinda daunting, since there are so many past issues or prior comics that they refer to for the plot or even character development. It's like getting the fifth book to a series by accident and not really knowing what's going on.
Let me get this out of the way. So, Sleepless is a historical fantasy comic about a princess and her knight that is sworn to protect her so much that he gives up sleep for her, with not one, but TWO POC leads. Listen, I'm here all day for it. Give me more. Please.
There is a lot going for this comic that makes it work on some layers and it really draws me into it. One, diversity. As I kinda hinted to before. We have two POC, People of Color leads in the story. Our protagonist, Pyppenia, or Poppy to her friends, is the lead of the whole tale. That's huge. I mean another comic that is known, well known after discussion from the writer of the comic book series, Saga, Brian K. Vaughan and artist Fiona Staples, about the race of a particular character is Alana, the main character and mother to the narrator and plot driver Hazel, the big deal about being a POC not only in a story, but a story filled with Science Fiction and fantasy elements.
Many stories involving fantasy, paranormal, Scifi or even historical stories, mutes or waters down the presence of diversity in the story. Explanations such as "This level of diversity that we see today in our, "modern society" is not as prevalent in this time period with dragons and magic." Another is is : "We have diversity, I mean look at the Flerbockian. They are a gender- fluid race of sentient crab-like people who have advanced through the power of technology against their oppressors like the Holians, a humanoid but more primitive and violent race of people."
It's another medium that is frustratingly putting diversity on the back burner. It's not like POC fantasy or Science fiction or alternative history timeline loving fans want you to destroy your work and only have People of color but, stop making it like impossible or highly improbable. You have a world where large fire breathing reptiles can conquer people. You have elves, and talking animals and alchemy and magic possible in this world you created but you can not have a black or hispanic or asian person as a knight, or a paladin or a mage or an intergalactic space solider that's not a side character or that isn't one dimensional or a love conquest for the protagonist and who lives beyond season 3 of your game, comic, movie or show. Pass. Hard pass.
Speaking of love conquests, another thing I love about this story is that Poppy is our female lead. She isn't placed in the back, her knowledge of how the courts as well as laws and cultural differences in the kingdom are amazing and it doesn't take anything of her character. I love her wardrobe as well. It may not be seen in the cover but throughout the story her dress that she wears isn't overtly provocative. It's not to say that she can not be gorgeous, because there is a level of beauty Poppy possesses that is not distracting or somewhat irksome as it can be with some female characters.
It's annoying when almost every comic or even book you pick up and depending on the narration or character description, the main protagonist or even love interest has this immense level of sex appeal. Like to the point where it's either distracting, like it's making you think and pulling you out of it or you like deduct points from the character or even the writers or artists for how the character is portrayed. Sleepless doesn't do that. It could be the time period or the fact that Poppy is a princess but it's a relief.
All and all I would say that it's a good read. If you have a love for a historical fantasy comic that you want to immerse yourself into I recommend Sleepless. Below is the first chapter. Enjoy!