Courtney Crumrin and the Night Things

25 11 2008

courtney-character

Courtney Crumrin and the Night Things is a comic series written and illustrated by Ted Naifeh.

The ongoing series is published by Oni Press and is rated Y: Youth (7+) Y – Youth (7+) “Bring the kids! This title is entirely appropriate for your little ones. No sex, no profanity, no disturbing themes. And while there may be action, there’s no violence. (Think ‘G’ or ‘PG’.)”

Courtney can be a bit of a caustic personality – she’s the kind of girl who keeps her composure and wit intact in the most trying circumstances. An adventure story can always benefit from a strong and charismatic personality at its center and as an iconoclast who questions authority and takes responsibility for her own actions Courtney is a role model for the skeptical and disenfranchised.

Naifeh’s artwork achieves a great balance of cartoon and detail work. The settings are always carefully balanced and fully imagined (his cross-hatching technique is really solid) while the characters have very simple faces that really show Naifeh’s talent for conveying complex expression. Considering the lack of actual detail used to draw Courtney’s face she can convey an amusing and very intelligible array of expressions.

The stories themselves balance a lot of narrative elements. Courtney’s relationships with adults are explored quite subtly and gradually over the course of the narratives – both her difficulty with her benighted parents and her growing trust and affection for her Uncle Aloysius and Calpurnia Crisp, the mentor he assigns to watch over her. Courtney’s connections with other children create much of the complexity in the stories. Her growing experience with magic may create the framework but there are always some social or emotional dynamics being negotiated.

courtnet-panelThe age rating of this title seems a bit skewed. Courtney’s adventure’s are bloodless only in terms of representation – people really do come to bad ends in this series. By volume two the moral ambivalence of both other children and adults has become an established motif. And Tommy Rawhead and Bloody Bones? That goblin isn’t just sort of scary – he’s REALLY scary. Seems better for a mid teen audience, 12+ at least.

Another good interview with Ted Naifeh…

Naifeh, Ted. Courtney Crumrin and the Night Things v1(2003), Oni Press Inc. ISBN-10:1929998600

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6 responses

25 11 2008
Girls’ Illustrated Primer - Adventure for Young Women « let’s fall asleep

[...] Courtney Crumrin and the Night Things [...]

12 01 2009
darla d

I’ve just discovered this series and think it’s delightful! Nice review. I agree with you about the age range – I wouldn’t give this to my 10-year-old daughter at this point – I think she’d get the humor and not find it as disturbing a few years from now. My library keeps it in the YA section, despite the 7+ age recommendation. I’m looking forward to reading volume 2!

13 01 2009
letsfallasleep

Thanks so much – I’m glad you are enjoying it too.
But I was surprised (or maybe I shouldn’t have been) when I asked my 11 year old niece about the second volume. She was very blasé about the horrific elements of the narrative and did not find the goblin scary (cue eye rolling).
What a tough cookie! I guess it depends on the child. I would have been scared pants-less at her age.

13 01 2009
Darla D

Ha! That is funny. I’m reminded of my kids’ expressions when we first watched The Wizard of Oz and they were totally unimpressed by the Wicked Witch. It was a “you were scared by THAT when you were a kid?” kind of eye rolling. Sigh. :-)

20 04 2013
Lesley

This design is stellar! You obviously know how to keep a reader entertained.

Between your wit and your video, I was very nearly moved to begin my own
blog (well, almost…HaHa!) Fantastic piece of work.

23 04 2013
letsfallasleep

Thank you for your kind words! In defence of blogging, I really appreciate the interest in my old blog posts. They were fun to write and I’m so glad readers are still enjoying them.

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