Sleeping Beauties #3 from IDW Publishing continues the comic book adaptation of Stephen and Owen King's novel. Written by Rio Youers, drawn by Alison Sampson, colored by Triona Tree Farrell, and lettered Valerie Lopez, the series imagines a world spinning out of control after an illness spreads. Yeah, all too familiar for us 2020 readers. The illness of Sleeping Beauties, though, presents itself in a web-like covering on women's faces when they go to sleep that, if removed, turns the affected into a vicious killer, much like the villains of Avatar's Garth Ennis series Crossed. In the third issue, how does this adaptation of Stephen and Owen King's novel translate to comics?
Sleeping Beauties buckles under the weight of the cast, which is like that of most King novels: real big. The comic would have benefitted from cutting the overall arc and cast down to a more manageable form, but it's by no means a bad read. There are certainly enough undefined characters that certain scenes become confusing, which has been true of the whole series so far. Still, the scenes themselves are interesting vignettes that work even for those who find themselves otherwise lost. Sleeping Beauties rewards repeat readings, but there's still very little to invest in with most of the characters, which makes the thematic statements of the global situation far more interesting than the characters within the narrative experiencing it all. The best part of Sleeping Beauties #3, though, is the scenes with the animals. This isn't entirely new to the series, but there's a new element added in this issue explored through an injured fox, and I couldn't help but wish we spent less time with the people of Sleeping Beauties and more with the creatures.
Sleeping Beauties' artwork by Sampson and Farrell is good, with pages that are designed like fever dreams. It may not work to make the condensing of Stephen and Owen King's novel into a manageable miniseries easier to follow, but it does make for beautiful sequences of artwork. The lettering from Lopez, with standard bubbles in black with white text, continues to blend into the shadows of the pages, which makes for interesting visual effects but muddies the speaking order on more than one occasion. A more straightforward, white on black choice for the human balloons would have worked and would have made the orange and green balloons from the animals an even more compelling choice.
Sleeping Beauties continues monthly from IDW Publishing.