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.
The 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