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Comic Book / Courtney Crumrin and the Night Things

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Courtney Crumrin is an independent comic book series written and illustrated by Ted Naifeh and published by Oni Press.

Courtney Crumrin is an odd middle-school girl who struggles to connect with much of anyone — including her vapid, self-absorbed parents. When her family finds themselves up to their neck in debt, they move in with her reclusive Uncle Aloysius, at his request, in the ominously unsuspecting upper-class town of Hillsborough. Courtney immediately hates the new locale, including the insipid people who inhabit it... Until she finds out that there's more to her "Uncle A" than at first meets the eye. It turns out Aloysius is a powerful warlock, and upon discovering her own potential for wizardry, Courtney begins simultaneously learning about the mystical Underworld of magi, and the tribulations of growing up.


The series is comprised of the following installments:

  • Chapter 00 Prologue (Featured in Oni Press Color Special 2002, collected in the Volume 6 trade).
  • Volume 1: Courtney Crumrin and the Night Things
  • Volume 2: Courtney Crumrin and the Coven of Mystics
  • Volume 3: Courtney Crumrin in the Twilight Kingdom
  • Volume 4: Courtney Crumrin's Monstrous Holiday (This is a collected edition of:
    • Courtney Crumrin and the Fire-Thief's Tale
    • Courtney Crumrin and the Prince of Nowhere)
  • Volume 5: Courtney Crumrin: The Witch Next Door (This is a collection of the first five issues of the full-color series.)
  • Volume 6: Courtney Crumrin: The Final Spell (This is a collection of the last five issues of the full-color series.)
  • Volume 7: Courtney Crumrin: Tales of a Warlock (This is a collected edition of:
    • Courtney Crumrin Tales: A Portrait of the Warlock as a Young Man
    • Courtney Crumrin Tales Volume 2: The League of Ordinary Gentlemen)


This comic provides examples of the following tropes:

  • Above Good and Evil: Aloysius states that wizards and Night Things (such as werewolves) don't operate by the same standards of good and evil as mortals do.
  • Action Girl: Courtney isn't going to let being small and a preteen get in the way of saving the day.
  • Adults Are Useless: Played straight with Courtney's parents, averted with Uncle Aloysius and Calpurnia Crisp.
  • Affably Evil: Tommy Rawhead. Butterworm could also be considered as such.
  • All Girls Want Bad Boys: Courtney's first crush.
  • Alliterative Name:
    • Courtney Crumrin, Calpurnia Crisp, Hector Hughes, and the Dreadful Dutchess.
    • The colour series introduces Holly Hart, Courtney's new friend, to show how they're Not So Different.
  • Alpha Bitch:
    • A girl in Courtney's new school who wears Ojou Ringlets and starts out the year by extorting Courtney's allowance money from her.
    • Blake in Courtney Crumrin and the Twilight Kingdom counts as a male version.
  • And Now You Must Marry Me: Hermia is under a curse until she marries someone she has absolutely no interest in.
  • Aristocrats Are Evil: If not really evil, the Dreadful Duchess is completely alien to human morality.
  • Batman Gambit: Aloysius is ordered by the Coven of Mystics to capture the wanted Courtney Crumrin. He complies, appearing to be completely in line with their reasoning and oblivious to their planned betrayal of them both — but in actuality he brings Courtney to court only to reveal that he was actually passing judgment on them, and plans to kill the council after they confirm his suspicions of corruption.
  • Be Careful What You Wish For: When Courtney tries to become popular in her school by using a Charm spell. Lampshaded and Invoked by Courtney herself.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: The Twilight King is, differences in morality issues aside, one of the nicest of the Night Things. But do not kill one of his subjects or daughters.
  • Black Magician Girl: Courtney herself.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Courtney is forced to destroy the entire magic community and leave her uncle forever when her parents move. But her uncle will live forever with the Dreadful Duchess happily, Courtney still has her powerful magical abilities, and she has a new brother as a companion.
  • Boom, Headshot!: When Petru attempts to kill Magda, Alexi blows his brains out.
  • Cats Are Mean: Somewhat subverted; most cats Courtney meets are actually helpful, but they are somewhat arrogant to other species.
  • Cats Have Nine Lives: Implied, as any cat in the series who seems to have suffered a fatal injury always turns up unharmed and acting as if everyone should have realized they were fine.
  • Changeling Tale: Several.
    • Courtney babysits a child who is switched for a changeling.
    • A doppelganger of unknown origin tries to take over Courtney's life and erase her from existence.
    • Skarrow was also originally a human who was raised in the Twilight Kingdom.
    • The end of Courtney Crumrin and the Twilight Kingdom suggests that Connie runs away to the Twilight Kingdom. This is later confirmed in the The Witch Next Door.
  • Children Are Innocent: Subverted all over the place.
  • Combat Pragmatist: Aloysius will do what it takes to win, regardless of whether or not it's the most impressive thing he could do.
  • Coming-of-Age Story: Of a kind. Most coming-of-age stories are about children growing into adulthood. Courtney is learning to skip adulthood to be something far cooler—a witch.
  • Dark Is Not Evil: The Night Things aren't necessarily evil, even if they don't think and behave as humans do. Applies to magic users as well.
  • Dead All Along: Malcolm's sick mother is revealed to have actually already died, and her ghost lingers about her home out of fear that Malcolm will be lonely without her there. However, her unnatural presence actually repels him.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Aloysius Crumrin and Calpurnia Crisp.
  • Despair Event Horizon: A very grim one before the finale. Calpurnia loses her magic, Aloysius captures Courtney as part of his bigger plan to take down the coven. It fails spectacularly when his health gives way, and Courtney loses her powers and memory.
  • Everyone Has a Special Move: Implied that most witches have their own unique Secret Art they can tap into (e.g. enchanting dolls to come to life, or even magical poetry) although few actually discover it. Calpurnia admits in all her years of witchcraft, she never learnt her own secret talent.
  • Face–Heel Turn: Aloysius is blackmailed by the council to hunt down Courtney with his life on the line, and does so. He redeems himself later when he wipes the memories of the entire community after Courtney devastates them.
  • Fantastic Nature Reserve: As humanity grew and inhabited more land, Night Things were slowly forced underground to live in what became the Underworld, away from the humans who feared them.
  • Fantastic Racism: The Night Things are widely misunderstood and hated by warlocks and witches.
  • Fate Worse than Death:
    • What did the Twilight King do to the man that killed his daughter? Make him fall in love with her, so he must live with the grief forever.
    • Upon being devoured by Tommy Rawhead, the hobgoblin takes your sentient skull to his lair, where you are damned to live forever in his presence without solace. [[Arson Murderand Jaywalking (You are also subjected to his terrible jokes and bad poetry.)
  • Flaming Sword: Courtney conjures one up from a broken twig she finds on the floor, though it's implied to be just an illusion used to scare off her enemies.
  • Foreshadowing: Courtney's made to read poetry to her class. She chooses a deeply heartfelt poem about her new friend, Skarrow, and is too embarrassed by the situation to notice how a storm brews and the windows crack as she reads. Her poetry is revealed to be her Secret Art, unlocking her most powerful magic.
  • Fungi are Plants: Lampshaded. Courtney is told to gather plants for a spell and chided for including mushrooms in her findings. This also shows her how using magic to get out of actually learning in her classes would still be to her detriment as a witch.
  • Glowing Eyes of Doom: Courtney shows some off whilst summoning a faux-flame sword.
  • Good Is Not Soft: Practically a theme of the whole series. While almost everyone—including the Night Things—can have their moments, the scales tend to run more to justice than mercy. Sometimes they'll let you live...even if you wish they wouldn't.
  • Growing Up Sucks: Played with. Courtney was never very innocent and is more perceptive than most adults, but she is realizing how complicated being an adult really is.
  • Half-Human Hybrid: Skarrow used to be a boy but was turned into a Night Thing by the Dreadful Duchess. Later, we see that she made another one, probably the baby Courtney was previously babysitting.
  • Haunted House: Courtney's friend is living in one. It's his mother's ghost.
  • Heart Broken Badass:
    • Courtney, after Skarrow is killed.
    • Aloysius too, considering how he had to memory-wipe his fiancee, who then found a new beau.
  • Homage/Shout-Out : The entire plot of 'Coven Of Mystics' works as one to To Kill a Mockingbird, which works to tell Courtney's coming-of-age story.
  • Humans Are Special: Even if Human activity drove him and his subjects underground, the Twilight King is not willing to retaliate and acknowledges human mastery of the surface world.
  • Humans Are Flawed: Courtney's worldview. She sees grownups and children alike as superficial, flighty and narrow-minded (and though the witches of the coven prove to be enlightened, they're selfish and power-hungry). In an aversion, she also spends time asking whether she's wrong for thinking this way, and eventually revises her mindset when she realises she needs friends.
  • I Just Want to Have Friends:
    • Despite being a snarky loner, Courtney does occasionally wonder if something is wrong with her and not the world.
    • This is also part of the Dreadful Duchess's Freudian Excuse, and their shared loneliness is how Courtney gets to reason with her.
  • I See Dead People: Courtney can see ghosts as a consequence of being magical.
  • It Gets Easier: Not quite yet, but Courtney shows surprisingly little remorse over her most morally repugnant actions. That is, resurrecting Tommy to kill for her.
  • Kangaroo Court: Upon sending Aloysius to capture the wanted Courtney, the Council of Mystics promises both him and his niece a fair trial. The actual proceeding is anything but.
  • Kid with the Leash: Courtney has Butterworm under her orders thanks to a magic ritual.
  • Kung-Fu Wizard: Aloysius is quite a skilled fighter on top of being a warlock.
  • Laser-Guided Amnesia: The Council uses this as a form of exile for witches. They take away their magic and their memories of ever having it.
  • Laser-Guided Karma:
    • In The Witch Next Door, Holly learns the fate of every single person Courtney used magic in revenge against, and takes it upon herself to use the magic learnt from Courtney to stop her from hurting more people.
    • Soon thereafter, the Council of Mystics discovers that on top of the curses, Courtney murdered Hector Hughes with Rawhead and Bloody Bones, and places a warrant for her arrest.
  • Lemony Narrator: When Butterworm isn't narrating. Doubles as ...And That Little Girl Was Me when the narrator is finally revealed. It's the Dreadful Duchess's white cat — and Aloysius's long-lost brother — restored to human form and adopted into Courtney's family through some fairy magic.
  • Little Miss Snarker: Snark gets Courtney through life, sometimes more successfully than others. Part of being very young, though, means that she's secretly very idealistic and her snark results from very little being up to her standards.
  • Love Cannot Overcome: Despite her cruel fiancé's demise, and winning a battle that saves a tribe of innocent Gypsy-werewolves, Magda cannot give up her comfortable lifestyle to be with a Gypsy man who loves her.
  • Love Potion: Vanya's parents both claim they courted the other by enchanting them with a Love Potion/Charm.
  • Meganekko: Holly.
  • Mage Killer: Deconstructed in the Tales prequels. Normal folk fighting Mages simply doesn't work since magic is, in and of itself, cheating. Only a Mage has any reasonable chance against a Mage.
  • Miscarriage of Justice: Due to the wizarding community's prejudice against Night Things, Skarrow is found guilty of hexing Hermia Harken, and promptly executed.
  • Mysterious Past: We still only know so much about Aloysius Crumrin and his bad history with the Coven of Mystics.
  • Names to Run Away from Really Fast: Tommy Rawhide and Bloody Bones. Even if you don't know that they're basically another name for the boogeyman, the name alone should tip you off that he's not someone to meet in a dark room.
  • Nightmare Fuel Station Attendant: Butterworm makes the opening and closing narration in a casual and even cheerful way. (Again, it's Butterworm...)
  • Non Human Lover Reveal: Magda falls for a Gypsy... who turns out to be a werewolf.
  • The Noseless: Courtney herself. All other characters are drawn more normally, but no one seems to notice this aspect of her appearance.
  • Obfuscating Disability: Aloysius is perfectly sound physically and mentally and doesn't need Courtney's parents to take care of him. He just tolerates them because they make his house less menacing and noteworthy.
  • Old, Dark House: The Crumrin place is infamous as this. Turns out the neighbors are right, but it's not anything like they think it is.
  • Old Master: Aloysius Crumrin looks like a frail old man, but, when needed, he can behead "The Worst Goblin That Ever Was" in one move.
  • Our Goblins Are Different: Every single goblin is different from one another.
  • Our Vampires Are Different: They're more Italian/bird influenced, for one.
  • Our Werewolves Are Different: They're also Gypsies.
  • Parental Neglect: Courtney's parents don't do a very good job of taking care of her. Not out of spite they just aren't very good at giving her the emotional attention she needs. Issue #8 of the current comic series reveals that Courtney's mother actually wants to understand Courtney better but has a hard time doing so because they're so distant. She actually took Courtney's diary to try and get a better understanding of her daughter but admits she hated invading her privacy. She also states that she's glad Courtney has Aloysius because she relies on him so much.
  • Power of Love: Pretty strongly deconstructed at first, showing idealism alone accomplishes nothing, and even fighting for what you love may often fail. Then the color series happened and every single decision Courtney and Aloysius made in the entire series, and magic culture in general is deconstructed to devastating effect. Reconstructed again when Courtney connects with the few friends she's made to help her through the climax, relying on Calpurnia's insistence that friends are important — and when The Power of Friendship unlocks her Secret Art, and makes her more powerful than ever.
  • Rage Against the Mentor: Courtney temporarily shuns her uncle after he doesn't save Skarrow. Again in Monster Holiday, after he refuses to help out a group of werewolf Gypsies and a girl who loves one of them.
  • Religion Is Magic: Christians have access to their own class of magic which only works if backed by pious faith. It's also heavily implied that Christian symbols, such as the cross, are repellents against non-Christian magic.
  • Rescue Arc: Twilight Kingdom is primarily about Courtney having to save her classmates after they're sold into slavery in Goblin Town.
  • Running Gag: "Oh, bugger."
  • Secret Test of Character: Aloysius is revealed to have failed one as a youth. The Dreadful Duchess had imprisoned him as a child when his brother Wilberforce offered to take his place... Aloysius lets him, and Wilberforce is turned into one of her pets. The Duchess later revealed she would have let them both go had Aloysius refused to go through with the plan.
  • The Scapegoat: Skarrow.
  • Silly Rabbit, Cynicism Is for Losers!: Calpurnia attempts to teach this to Courtney, forcing her to do her homework when Courtney fails to see the point in school, and telling her about The Power of Friendship when Courtney shows signs of isolating herself.
  • Sliding Scale of Idealism vs. Cynicism: The series is all over the scale - Courtney is cynical, lonely, and jaded with the world, and grows ever more so as she discovers just how treacherous witchcraft and the world is. But Aloysius strives to protect her, recognizing she's still got a life and future ahead of her (whereas he's wasted his own losing all he cares for). It ends on a bittersweet, but still upbeat note, with Courtney finally understanding how importing it is to have friends.
  • Spooky Séance: Courtney holds one to resurrect the disfigured head of Tommy Rawhead.
  • Stealth-Based Mission: When trying to rescue her classmates from the Dreadful Duchess, Courtney offers to distract the Duchess while her classmates sneak out of her house. It fails miserably.
    • Aloysisus manages to do bypass the Duchess's houses' defenses by doing the exact opposite. Apparently the best way to handle the Duchess is by mind-controlling a significant amount of the Night Things, and using them to en masse swarm her house.
  • Surpassed the Teacher:
    • Courtney, when reading her poetry, accesses power Aloysius couldn't dream of even in his prime.
    • Aloysius asks Calpurnia before their duel if the "student has become the master." She seems to believe so. She's wrong.
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: Courtney and Malcolm's relationship feels like this. But in the end the vitriolic won out and they stopped being friends.
  • Weaksauce Weakness: One issue deals with a monster immune to curses famed for killing magic-users. What can defeat such a fearsome creature? [...] Turns out normal weapons work just fine.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: The Marshall's successor and former assistant.
    • Courtney sicc'ed Tommy Rawhide on Hector, murdering him, but ending his rise to power as Corrupt Politician.
    • Aloysius is revealed to have worked as an Occult Detective in his youth, which meant stopping witches from abusing their powers on muggle society, but also assassinating them too.
    • Holly Hart counts as one as well. She only betrays Courtney when she discovers how she's punished the children around the town — which, though well-deserved and done when she was a lot more naive, are horrifying to witness.
  • What the Hell, Hero?:
    • When Courtney and her uncle are on holiday in Europe, Courtney finds herself drawn to the company of a young vampire and starts to find the idea of dying with him to be appealing, since she's tired of everyone she knows dying or leaving her. When her uncle discovers that the vampire has been drinking her blood, he is confused as to how a vampire could get the better of his niece, who is plenty proficient in the use of magic. The owner of the hotel they are staying at promptly tells him off for failing to consider the fact that Courtney is a young girl who had to grow up fast and was thus vulnerable in ways that he was ignoring.
    • Courtney gets this herself a couple of times, related to her possibly excessive revenge against Hector. She even wonders herself if it was really justified or if she had less extreme options.
    • The start of the new series has got new character Holly calling Courtney out on her actions, and we see what's happened to some of the kids she's inflicted vengeance on, and why they were so mean in the first place.
  • When She Smiles: Courtney almost never does this. So when she does, she really means it.
  • Will Not Tell a Lie: Most Night Things don't know the very concept of lying (even if they can hide a truth,) and are genuinely baffled when Humans don't keep their word.
  • Witch Species: Defied. Holly assumes Courtney and Aloysius belong to one. Courtney explains that's wrong - anyone can learn witchcraft. Although, like playing an instrument, it's as much skill as it is hard work.
  • Wizarding School: Magical children have Saturday School where they learn about the history of magic.
  • Wolf Man: One hunts down Holly and Courtney in The Witch Next Door.
  • World's Strongest Man: Aloysius is by far the most powerful character in the series. Until Courtney busts out her poetry book.


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