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A slumbering sickness descends in IDW's take on Stephen King's Sleeping Beauties

By Jeff Spry
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To divert our attention from all the uncertainty and worry in this locked-down world these days, and to offer a bit of relief as we begin a new week of quarantine, IDW Publishing is offering an eye-opening comic series adapted from the best-selling horror novel by Stephen King and Owen King titled Sleeping Beauties — and SYFY WIRE is presenting an exclusive preview of its enchanted nightmare.

Adapted by writer Rio Youers (The Forgotten Girl) and artist Alison Sampson (Hit Girl, Winnebago Graveyard), and adorned with main covers courtesy of Annie Wu (Black Canary, Hawkeye), Sleeping Beauties revolves around a mysterious sleeping sickness called Aurora (after the slumbering princess of Sleeping Beauty) that has infected all the world's women and enveloped them in gauze-like cocoons. 

When an odd lady named Eve steps out of the dark woods surrounding the tiny town of Dooling, a bloody trail of death and destruction follows. How can she be the only woman unaffected by the Aurora virus, and what is her link to the sleeping sickness permeating the planet?

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The King family's shocking novel was released in 2017 and suggests a freaky future where some strange fairy-tale-like disease targets only women. If their protective nest is disturbed or punctured, these semi-conscious women suddenly react with extreme anger and primal violence. Eve Black seems immune to this sleeping curse, but people wonder whether she's an angelic medical anomaly or a demon in disguise.

As men divide into conflicting camps, with many wanting to murder Eve and others hoping to save her, violence infects this small Appalachian village, whose main industry is an all-women's penitentiary. 

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"I read the novel when it first came out and thought it was just terrific," Rio Youers tells SYFY WIRE. "I'm a big Stephen King and Owen King fan. I loved Double Feature and Intro to Alien Invasion, so getting my hands on Sleeping Beauties was a no-brainer. It didn't disappoint. A great book!

"This is a deeply troubling time for everybody right now. I'd say Sleeping Beauties -- being about a incurable virus that sweeps the globe -- is more pertinent than ever. But honestly, topic aside, this is a fantastic novel, replete with stunning visuals and terrific characters ... and any time is a good time for a story like this. There's plenty of blood and violence, as you might expect from a King novel, and a growing sense of tension and mystery. And, of course, there's the visual feast of Alison Sampson's illustrations, coupled with Triona Farrell's colors. Every page is beautiful. Readers are in for a real treat."

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For the evocative artwork, Sampson dug into her knowledge of rural life and the mundanity and ordinariness that comes with it, so the people in the book are all the more real.

"However, every character — and there are many — has their own kind of feel in terms of their home setting, whether it is crisp, designed and affluent (e.g. Lila), a strong mature woman at the top of her game (Janice), or slack, run down and uncared for, or reflecting some horrible reality, or whatever," Sampson explains. "I've done my research and some of it was quite shocking to me- I was unfamiliar with the US prison system, for example."

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IDW's Sleeping Beauties #1 arrives sometime this summer.