Monday, May 28, 2012

Review >> Courtney Crumrin Volume 1: The Night Things

Courtney Crumrin Volume 1: The Night Things by Ted Naifeh
Courtney Crumrin Volume 1: The Night Things by Ted Naifeh -- April 11, 2012 -- Hardcover, 137 pages, Oni Press (9781934964774)

"'Careful now. Old Professor Crumrin doesn't take kindly to youngsters gally-vantin' in 'is backyard.'"

The already eccentric loner Courtney Crumrin has enough to deal with in her life, but now her moocher parents have run out of money and have relocated the family to the posh town of Hillsborough to live with Uncle Aloysius in his creepy mansion. Now poor Courtney has to deal with being an outcast at her new school, making new friends, adjusting to life inside Uncle Aloysius's mansion, and dealing with dopplegangers, spellbooks, goblin cities, and the creatures that roam the shadows called "the night things."

Courtney Crumrin, why are you just now making your way into my life? I am such a colossal fan of dark, fairy-tale like stories featuring the timeless "girl and her monsters" tale, and this series has just the right amount of twisted cuteness to satiate my hunger. Volume 1 of the Courtney Crumrin graphic novel series features a bind-up of the first 4 comic books, and follows Courtney's adventures as she discovers secrets hidden in every corner of Uncle Aloysius's isolated mansion, from hidden libraries and ancient tomes to the very creatures that haunt our nightmares.

Courtney may in fact be one of my top favorite literary heroines of all time due to her devil may care attitude, her snarky responses to people and situations, and her fearless and adventurous spirit. It doesn't hurt that she manages to outsmart a Night Thing in the first segment and orders him and his companions to hunt down a fellow classmate who was bullying her for a little "harmless" revenge. She's the type of heroine who manages to find humor and excitement in every aspect of her life and seeks adventure where there should be none to be found. If you tell her that a certain room is off limits, you can be certain she's gonna sneak in to uncover its secrets. And if the child she's supposed to be babysitting is replaced by a doppleganger, of course Courtney will hunt down the Goblin market to retrieve him, no matter how ugly that baby might be (she still needs the money, you know). She's also a snappy dresser and has no nose, but I digress.

Courtney Crumrin makes spell casting and goblin hunting look like fun! It's true, these stories made me want to befriend my own Night Thing. What girl wouldn't want her own monsters to help manage the annoyances of adolescence. Got an unwanted boy trying to steal a kiss from you? Send in the Night Thing! Is a classmate bullying you on your walk home from school everyday? Send in the Night Thing! They're not afraid to do a job that might be a little messy for a young girl, especially when said girl may not wish to ruin her dress with blood. I am hoping the Night Things will be featured more prominently in the next volume because they were just so damn fun!

Cosplay by Clef
There's an interesting sort of paradigm presented in these stories which I think most adolescents can relate to, and which adults may still be experiencing. Growing up is tough business, that's for sure, and it's made all the more complicated when you don't possess your own horde of nightmarish creatures to take care of business for you. Each story featured in this volume covers issues I think most people can relate to, such as not fitting in, fears of responsibility, wanting to be loved, etc. Although Courtney enlists the help of a few furry friends, and occasionally her mysterious Uncle, she is ultimately responsible for working out her own issues, which is a powerful message to anyone who has ever felt helpless. I guess I might be a smidgen late jumping on the Courtney Crumrin bandwagon, as the series iteself has been around since 2002, but I am extremely excited to see how the rest of the series pans out, and hope to see more action from the Night Things in subsequent volumes! And just for kicks, here's one more shot of this awesome Courtney Crumrin cosplay from Clef!

Cosplay by Clef
If you liked Courtney Crumrin Volume 1: The Night Things, you might also like:

Coraline by Neil Gaiman
Un Lun Dun by China Mieville
The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland In a Ship of Her Own Making by Catherynne M. Valente

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