SLEEPLESS #4 by Sarah Vaughn, Leila Del Duca, Alissa Sallah, Deron Bennett
Sarah Vaughn's skill for world-building shines through as the dangers mount against SLEEPLESS's hero, Lady Pyppenia. Ornately illustrated by Leila del Duca, SLEEPLESS #6 captures the challenges of life at court and excitingly sweeps the reader into an enchanting world of politics, relationships, and beauty.
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Sarah Vaugn‘s harrowing first arc comes to a tumultuous climax in SLEEPLESS #6. The Image Comics series traces the border between life and death, using sleep and the visual motifs of skulls and poppies to emphasize the main themes. SLEEPLESS #6 highlights the courageous Lady Pyppenia’s relationship to her illegitimate royal family and her loyal Sleepless Guard, Cyrenic, as they navigate life in a hostile court. With dreamy artwork by Leila del Duca, SLEEPLESS #6 brings the series arc together, leaving readers with more questions than answers.

Art Nouveau Meets Comics in SLEEPLESS

A World of Political Intrigue

Sarah Vaughn masterfully captures the fraught politics of life at court. The medieval-esque fantasy comic plays with political turmoil, and Lady Pyppenia is at the center. In SLEEPLESS #6, Pyppenia struggles to secure her place in the court at Harbeny, where she is seen as an illegitimate member of the royal entourage. Additionally, Pyppenia has few allies. Her mother lives in the far off land, Mribesh, in order to help maintain the relationship between the two cities. While Harbeny is ruled by a system of time-keeping, Mribesh functions through astronomy. Alone in Harbeny, Pyppenia links the two cultures together. However, evil forces threaten Pyppenia’s life at every turn as different factions vie for power. Vaughn crafts the world carefully, emphasizing the political intrigue motivating Pyppenia’s decisions. Indeed, SLEEPLESS #6 hints at the relationship between Harbeny and Mribesh, and puts Pyppenia’s life in the balance.

Image courtesy of Image Comics.

SLEEPLESS #6 proves Vaughn’s skill for comic writing. Building on previous issues, Vaughn hints at just enough backstory to keep the political pieces in motion. Simultaneously, Vaughn focuses on Pyppenia’s precarious decisions, giving readers a worthwhile heroine and adding drama to the comic. Indeed, Pyppenia is easy to admire, and readers will follow her in step with the faithful Cyrenic. In SLEEPLESS #6, Pyppenia and Cyrenic must desperately fight against the clock to unravel the mystery behind who threatens Pyppenia and the political power at court.

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Deciphering The Symbols

While Vaughn gives SLEEPLESS #6 its political intrigue and charged relationships, del Duca lends her exquisite artwork to the story. In particular, del Duca’s character design — from beautiful and expressive faces to ornate costumes — make the characters in SLEEPLESS #6 burst off the page. Del Duca successfully fills the vibrant characters with emotion, exposing their fears and frustrations to full affect.

Image courtesy of Image Comics.

Like previous issues, SLEEPLESS #6 relies on floral motifs to give added depth to the comic’s main themes. In particular, the poppy features heavily in the series, being a symbol associated with sleep and death, as well as Lady Pyppenia herself. Along with poppies, SLEEPLESS #6 includes skulls, referencing the dangers surrounding Pyppenia and Cyrenic. Additionally, the lilies associated with Cyrenic come into full bloom. Lilies often indicate virtue or chastity, but can also symbolize innocence after death. Together, the floral motifs tie Pyppenia and Cyrenic together as del Duca uses the two flowers as intertwining borders throughout the comic. Moreover, the flowers suggest that the two character’s fates are inherently linked. The ominous images make the mystery in SLEEPLESS all the more exciting as the issue progresses.

SLEEPLESS #6: Keep A Watchful Eye

As Vaughn carefully wraps up the end of the first arc, she provides a few hints as to how Pyppenia and Cyrenic will manage their latest conflicts. Cyrenic’s Sleepless Vow binds the two together. As her constant companion, the young man stubbornly fights against all sides to keep her safe. However, with political conflict growing and Pyppenia’s welcome at court running out, SLEEPLESS #6 provides little clarity for what will happen next.

Image courtesy of Image Comics.

SLEEPLESS #6 leaves readers on a tantalizing path, always one step behind Lady Pyppenia and Cyrenic. Pyppenia’s relationship to her mother’s country, Mribesh, will hopefully feature more in coming issues. Additionally, Pyppenia and Cyrenic’s bond and the threats they face will surely intensify as the series progresses. With Vaughn at the helm, and del Duca’s artistry, SLEEPLESS continues to be a detailed and exciting series. Future issues are sure to carry readers into the dreamy and captivating world.

Find SLEEPLESS #6 and the rest of the first arc here.

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