Courtney Crumrin and the Night Things

Recently I read volume one of the Courtney Crumrin series, The Night Things.  The series is written and illustrated by Ted Naifeh, the former illustrator of the wonderful Gloomcookie series.  The Courtney Crumrin series follows the young eponymous girl as she, along with her greedy and distant parents, moves in with her Great Uncle.  Shortly after moving into her Great Uncle’s old mansion she discovers that her uncle is hiding a strange secret, along with powerful books that allow her to tap into the supernatural.  The Night Things focuses heavily on Courtney’s interactions with the mysterious creatures that she meets, such as goblins, talking cats, changelings, and fairies.

The book seems to be aimed at pre-teens and teens, between the ages of 12-17.  There is also a heavy emphasis on strong and independent female characterization.  The Courtney Crumrin series is a great resource for young adult librarians looking for unique programming ideas.  It is also a good way to introduce young women to the graphic novel medium.  A library program planned around the Courtney Crumrin series could focus on exploring the various folklores that the book touches on, as well as promoting the spirit of learning and wonder that Courtney embodies.  As far as the folklore goes, there are times that Courtney interacts with creatures that have a long history in the mythology of various cultures.  For example, there is a scene where she goes to a fairy world and is warned against eating or drinking anything.  This would be a great way to incorporate Irish folktales that deal heavily with mortals entering fairy worlds and being trapped after accepting food or drink from the fairy inhabitants.  Library participants could write their own stories based on the folklores and mythical creatures that Courtney discovers.  The activity would allow young library patrons to tap into their own creativity, as well as learn more about other cultures and folktales.

Mimi’s Fangirl Moment

Legends of the Dark Knight Panel
Legends of the Dark Knight from left to right: Brian Stelfreeze, Paul Dini, D. Clark, Neal Adams, and Tim Sale. Photo by Terry Bosky

 Greetings Toshokan readers. Long time no see! Last month, I went to Dragon-con. It was awesome, but by far, one of the coolest things I got to do was attend the Legends of the Dark Knight panel with great Batman creators: Neal Adams, Brian Stelfreeze, Tim Sale, and… Paul Dini! It was incredibly interesting. For example, did you know that Batman originally walked around in the daylight in his costume and no one thought anything of it until Neal Adams put him into The Brave and the Bold, effectively turning him into the Dark Knight that we know and love today? Did you know that Brian Stelfreeze’s original drawings for DC were rejected? Or that Terry is Batman? (Ahem, excuse me… Villains of Gotham, this is not the librarian you are looking for.) 

 But I digress, Paul Dini is the creator of Harley Quinn. If you read my bio, you’ll know that Harley Quinn is one of my all-time favorite villains!  I own every Harley Quinn comic ever written, plus the graphic novels. I even have a Harley t-shirt. Sadly, none of these made it up to the convention with me. Luckily, Terry gave me some lovely stickers with art by Mark dos Santos, and I got the autograph that I’ve been waiting for since Paul Dini spoke at ALA five years ago. 

 Also, I was dressed as Zatanna from Grant Morrison’s Seven Soldiers of Victory, and Paul Dini told me that he liked my costume!! He said that he was happy that Zatanna was gaining popularity because he’s got a Zatanna graphic novel coming out in March. I can’t wait to check it out…. And the coolness doesn’t stop there! Not standing two people behind me was Ted Naifeh of Courtney Crumrin and Polly and the Pirates. I totally clammed up from being surrounded by awesome. I turned to Terry and told him that I couldn’t visit Ted Naifeh’s booth in the Artist Alley because not only is he incredibly talented, he’s also incredibly gorgeous! 

Ted Naifeh: Author of Courtney Crumrin at Legends of the Dark Knight Panel

Ted Naifeh, left, at Legends of the Dark Knight Panel. Photo by: Terry Bosky


   Seriously, Naifeh is the author and artist of the Courtney Crumrin series—one of our Halloween picks. It’s a spooky series about a girl who goes to live with her eccentric uncle in the wealthy town of Hillsborough, but something supernatural is going on in the town and Courtney is determined to get to the bottom of it. Courtney Crumrin and the Coven of Mystics gave me nightmares about Rawhead and Bloody Bones, and my favorite character in the whole series is Wolfgang in Courtney Crumrin’s Monstrous Holiday.    

Then, there’s Polly and the Pirates. Polly and the Pirates is one of my favorite comics and with good reason. It’s set in a kind of steampunk London where everything is Victorian except the houses are all on boats and people travel by hot air balloon. It’s the story of privileged Polly Pringle who is kidnapped by pirates from her all-girls boarding school. The pirates believe that Polly is the daughter of pirate queen Meg Molloy and that she holds the key to finding Meg’s missing treasure. There’s only one volume in the series so far, but it’s a great read. I hope to see more!    

Naifeh paired up with Holly Black (one of my favorite young adult authors) to bring us Good Neighbors. I reviewed volume one a while back, and I wasn’t disappointed. We now have two volumes in the series. He also wrote Gloom Cookie with Serena Valentino. Gloom Cookie is a yummy collection of stories about goths: Lex, Max, Chrys, Sebastian, Isabella, and Damion. It starts out as drama surrounding romances at the local goth club, but spirals into the private lives of the characters which are filled with real monsters. It’s definitely a spooky read. Great for the upcoming season. I’m probably going to dress up as one of these characters for Halloween.    

Finally, we have Unearthly, a romance written by Naifeh with art by Elmer Damaso that is truly out of this world. Shy Ann starts dating the unattainable Jem only to discover that he’s not the guy that she thinks he is. She teams up with his over-bearing ex Rae to find out his shocking secret.    

With stories like this, it’s almost like Ted Naifeh sat at his desk and said, “Hmm, what would Mimi like to read today?” And since he’s so talented and so adorable, he can totally just ask me at the next Dragon-con… except, I’ll probably just blush a lot. ;)    

The Good Neighbors: Kin

CoverReally, when I saw this, I was excited. Holly Black, author of the Tithe trilogy and Spiderwick Chronicles, teaming up with Ted Naifeh of Polly and the Pirates and Courtney Crumrin fame to write a graphic novel about fae? Sign me up!

The art style is beautiful. Naifeh’s fae are graceful and strange, and that works great with the graceful and strange story.  In this volume, Rue Silver finds out that her absentee mother is a faerie when her father is accused of murdering both his wife and a former student. In her search to clear his name, Rue is exposed to the dark underworld of faerie/human relationships.

If you are in any way a fan of faerie tales, check out Good Neighbors.