Queen of the Sea


Dylan Meconis


Science Fiction / Fantasy


Date Reviewed:

September 27, 2022

ueen of the Sea is a graphic novel - 400 pages of story written, drawn and colored by Dylan Meconis. It is hard to grasp just how much effort Meconis must have poured into this work. The art is nicely drawn. In too many graphic novels, the artist is unable to draw unique, identifiable characters, and the sad result is that the reader cannot tell who is who, and what they are doing - bad art leads to confusion. I tend to abandon these graphic novels quickly. In other graphic novels, the enthusiastic colorist obscures the linework with such dark or "stylish" colors, the colors are so overwhelming that it is impossible to guess what the artist has drawn. I am frustrated when I cannot determine what it is I am supposed to be looking at - I give up on these graphic novels too. Some graphic novels hop around too much, as if the writer felt constrained by a page count and so crammed so much narrative into too few panels that I find myself lost as to what is happening. Meconis avoids all of these pitfalls - the hardback version of Queen of the Sea is printed on large 7" x 10 1/4" pages, and with 400 pages, Meconis does not have to rush through the story. The colors appear to be meticulously painted watercolors, so the ink drawings are not overwhelmed. I marvel at how much attention was devoted to each page - clearly this is a labor of love. A successful labor of love! Hopefully there is more to the story forthcoming, because despite the 400 pages, there is clearly more to the story of Margaret that remains to be told.

Although this story contains no magic, dragons or elves, I still categorize it as a fantasy novel since it is set in an alternate world - a world that closely paralles Tudor England. In Queen of the Sea, King Edmund (King Henry VIII) has died, leaving the kingdom of Albion (England) in the rule of his daughter, Eleanor (Elizabeth I), from his second wife. But at the start of this novel, the forces of King Edmund's daughter, Catherine (Bloody Queen Mary), born by his first wife, have seized the throne, and Queen Eleanor is doomed to exile.

The story is told from the perspective of a young girl named Margaret, who lives on an isolated island off of the coast of Albion. The only other residents of this small island are ten nuns who live in a convent. Margaret does not know why she was brought to the island as a baby, her parents are completely unknown. There are no other children on the island, just chickens, goats and a cat for companions. Twice a year, a ship, the Regina Morris, brings supplies to the convent. Then, on one voyage, it brings two passengers, William and his mother - suddenly the lonely Margaret is no longer the only child on the island. Margaret gradually learns that the island she inhabits a prison, and William and his mother are political prisoners.

Margaret questions the nuns, and discovers that they became sisters to escape crimes - some of the women are victims of circumstance, or suffer because of moves their families made, or some actually did oppose the crown. William and his mother are on the island because their clan questions the authority of the crown. But why is Margaret on the prison island? If Sister Agnes, the Prioress, knows why Margaret is here, she certainly isn't saying.

William's mother dies from disease. William has grown old enough that he is taken away to be placed in prison. Then one day, the Regina Morris brings another prisoner to the island, a royal prisoner...

I liked the growth in Margaret's character in this story. She has absorbed the religious ways of the charitable Elysian nuns, and believes in truth and mercy and helping those in distress. So when the outside world brings conspiracy and cruelty, lies and hidden agendas to her sheltered existence, it is an interesting story.

Queen of the Sea came out in 2019. How many years would it take Meconis to create a second volume in this story? I imagine it could take years, but I am sure that the results will be worth the wait. I have no idea if a second volume is in the works, Meconis' website doesn't appear to have been updated since 2019.

I don't review graphic novels - it would take too much time. But I made an exception for Queen of the Sea because I think it merits notice. Here is a list of ten other comic/graphic novels that impressed me (there are many more - I don't have time to review all those that I read!)

Bone written and drawn by Jeff Smith. A 9 volume opus, (or you can buy the entire story in a single 1344 page tome!) probably the best graphic novel ever produced. I loved it.

Asterix Written by René Goscinny, art by Albert Uderzo. Humorous, though the plot lines become a bit formulaic after 30+ volumes. I love the artwork by Uderzo.

Blacksad Written by Juan Díaz Canales, art by Juanjo Guarnido. Excellent stories and tremendous artwork.

Prince Valiant Written and drawn by Hal Foster. A life's work by Foster, with very impressive art and stories that do not grown stale despite more than a 35 year run.

Liberty Meadows Written and drawn by Frank Cho. More tremendous artwork, plus it is genuinely funny in places.

Cadillacs and Dinosaurs Written and drawn by Mark Schultz. Astonishingly good artwork. Plus: it's got dinosaurs!

Monstress Written by Marjorie M. Liu, artwork by Sana Takeda. Densely written story with emphasis on world building. Intricate, detailed artwork.

Vinland Saga Written and drawn by Makoto Yukimura, but he must have an entire team of assistants to produce artwork this detailed.

Gunnerkrieg Court Written and drawn by Thomas Siddell. Mysteries and secrets in a a fantasy world, excellent writing. Siddell's artwork rapidly gets better in the later volumes.

Usagi Yojimbo Written and drawn by Stan Sataki. Cartoon rabbit is a masterless ronin wandering feudal Japan.