“COURTNEY CRUMRIN: TALES OF A WARLOCK” (Comic Book Review)Book and Comic Reviews,Books/Art/Culture,News Svetlana Fedotov
Though the adventures of young Miss Courtney Crumrin have come to an end with the previous release of COURTNEY CRUMRIN: THE FINAL SPELL, it doesn’t mean that there aren’t plenty of other stories to the Crumrin universe. The newest volume, TALES OF A WARLOCK, further explores the dark corners of the magical world, this time featuring Courtney’s uncle Aloysius in his younger days as a wizard. Exploding with political intrigue, shadowy secrets, and of course, a heaping amount of magic, this is the series for fans who are interested in a more adult take on Courtney Crumrin. That’s not to say that just because the previous volumes focused on a pre-teen protagonist that they were any less appealing (earning itself the coveted ‘all-ages’ tag vs. the limiting ‘young reader’), but it’s welcome insight into the enemies that Aloysius hinted throughout the series as well as a fun peak into his early life.
The story focuses on the little town of Hillsborough in the age of jazz, fast-talking, high pants: the 1920’s. Enter Alice Crisp, the blonde haired secretary of the Anti-Sorcery Society, a group of Hillsborough men run by her father who police the magical world. You see, in their world, witches and wizards must comply to Ravenna’s Laws of Magical Use so as not to use their powers in the human world. But not everyone has agreed to follow the rules and the Anti-Sorcery Society is there to stop those that choose the road less desirable.
As Alice spends her time doing paperwork and cursing her low status at her father’s company, a young Aloysius joins the company as second secretary. He quickly learns of the secret society and eagerly offers to accompany the men on their missions. Alice, though, refuses to be outdone by him and what starts off as a standard stakeout quickly takes her down a rabbit hole that she never imagined. Soon, secrets and powers begin to ripple the surface, forcing Aloysius to use his magic in ways he never wanted to.
As previously stated, this book takes a more mature turn than previous volumes. While COURTNEY CRUMRIN was never one to shy away from dark creatures and heavy subjects, she was also dealing with making friends and going to class which was perfect for her audience at the time. But now, much like HARRY POTTER, the audience has grown up into full-fledged comic readers and with their maturity comes an opportunity to explore more adult subjects such as love, crime, and politics.
Don’t get me wrong though, TALES OF A WARLOCK doesn’t completely toss the fun-loving formula aside that made CRUMRIN so popular. There are still plenty of monsters and mayhem cleverly mixed with one-liners and colorful images and is excellent at bringing back that nostalgic feeling when a reader first discovers the dark fantasy world of the Crumrin family.
The creator, Ted Naifeh, is small-presses answer to Mike Mignola. Mixing his knowledge of the occult with relatable characters and quirky humor, he has managed to create a universe that fits perfectly into our world. With the inclusion of TALES OF A WARLOCK, we essentially get a gothic noir story. Darkened streets filled with malice crawl along the pages while crosses and double crosses slash the story like a murderer’s knife. Throw in some werewolves, fairies, and wizards and you got yourself one hell of a story. With coloring help from Warren Wucinich, we get a complete view of Naifeh’s vision of a world that lies just under our feet.