Review Detail

Kids Fiction 1826
That which lurks in the shadows…
Overall rating 
 
5.0
Plot/Characters/Writing Style 
 
5.0
Illustrations/Photos (if applicable) 
 
5.0
When Courtney Crumrin and her social-climbing parents come to live with mysterious Great-Uncle Aloysius in his dusty, dark gothic mansion, she realizes almost immediately things are not what they seem. In the shadowy corners of her new home lurk… things. Creatures. Danger.

First published in 2002, this ongoing independent comic has just been released in a newly colorized version, a move which might – one hopes! -- broaden its appeal and bring it to a wider audience. This is a series that deserves wider recognition. Ted Naifeh mixes the grotesque and the comical in both storyline and illustration, somewhat in the vein of Neil Gaiman. The result is COURTNEY CRUMRIN Vol 1: The Night Things, a darkly funny graphic novel about a girl who seems doomed to be an outsider no matter what world she walks in.

Dark is right. While Courtney herself manages to get through most adventures unscathed, no happy endings are guaranteed. For example, a nerdy student from her new school tries to befriend Courtney, but instead is eaten by a monster, and is never seen again. When the baby she is watching is switched for a changeling, Courtney goes after the stolen child but finds that recovering it is no easy matter.

The illustrations have a sort of corrupted Manga feel, but don’t think Manga too hard or you’ll get it wrong. Think more – cute, but skewed. In this, the drawings match the text (and, not incidentally, the theme) beautifully. Although the colorization is unobtrusive and pleasing, these drawings would do equally well in black and white since the stories seem to be about contrast: the seen and unseen, the acceptable and unaccepted, above and below, human and demon. Dreaming and waking.

We live in a world that has more to it than we dream of in our philosophy, and a big part of growing up is both learning to see that, and learning to deal with it. In this, Courtney is just another adolescent finding her way. Courtney accepts her lack of popularity in the neighborhood, and at school (while not exactly embracing it) and slowly learns that she is far more like her odd uncle than she is like her own parents, a discovery which frees her to start making her own choices. If those choices are sometimes unfortunate, well, what teen doesn’t make mistakes? Courtney deals with her own messes, and for that alone she is a heroine worth loving.
Good Points
Fans of Emily the Strange, take note!
Amazing illustrations
Dark but funny
Funny but dark
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