“If you don’t have anything nice to say, you should keep your mouth shut. So I won’t say anything about the political thriller that made Holly Hart’s father a rich man.” This quote, by the all-seeing narrator of COURTNEY CRUMRIN #1, begins the first issue of an adorable, cunning tale of girlhood and magic. Just like the quote above, this comic #1 is witty in its narration, dialogue and story. From the very beginning, it turns tropes and expectations on their heads.

Oni Press originally published COURTNEY CRUMRIN #1 in 2012. But, due to its overwhelmingly positive response, Oni is rereleasing this issue again as part of a special promotion in 2017. It will be out this Wednesday, June 7th.

The Magic of Girl Friendships

courtney crumrin #1
Image courtesy of Oni Press.

Stories about girlhood (especially those with magic involved) warm my heart. Being a girl and having girl friends is a concept the media often paints wrong. There is an overabundance of ideas around girlhood that involve female friendships being full of cattiness, petty insults, and passive-aggressive warfare. During my childhood, this was never the case. I’m sure toxic friendships like those do occur. Every friendship has its tumultuous times. But in the literature and shows and films I saw that perpetuated this idea, there was no nuance in these relationships. They weren’t painted like the groups of boys in IT, THE GOONIESor THE OUTSIDERS.

READ: Do you like strong female friendships in a magical world? Check out our review of DESTINY, NY!

That’s why the friendship between Courtney and Holly is so engaging. For one, neither Courtney nor Holly are perfect. But they aren’t completely evil either. They’re real depictions of young girls — children whose logic and morals haven’t completely developed yet. It’s precisely because of this realness that the events of COURTNEY CRUMRIN #1 unfold.

The Goth Girl and the Sweet Blonde

courtney crumrin #1
Image courtesy of Oni Press.

We’re all susceptible to indulging stereotypes. I know when I first saw the cover of COURTNEY CRUMRIN #1, I assumed the girl wearing all black and glasses would be the witch. The girl on the cover is actually Holly, the unassuming neighbor who moves in next to Courtney, the blond haired, blue eyed witch. This instance was the first of many times that writer and creator Ted Naifeh dissolved my expectations and came up with something new and inventive.

Holly, despite having the potential to be popular (wealthy, interesting, etc.), is an outsider. She always has been. Holly revels in her goth appearance and precocious demeanor, submitting to the reality of being ostracized for the rest of her school career. But as much as her new peers are wary of her, they stop her from sitting next to Courtney. You see, Courtney is in her own new world of “outsider.” Why? Because, according to the students of Hillsborough, “she’s like… a witch or something”.

LISTEN: Want to hear about some more realistic female characters? Check out ComicsVerse Podcast Episode 87!

After saving Holly from an attack in the forest, Courtney proves that she does indeed have magical powers. Instead of avoiding her like Courtney expects, she and Holly quickly become close friends. From there, Holly wants to dig into practicing magic, as anyone would. Unfortunately, she and Courtney have different ideas of how they should use their supernatural skills.

The Good Contradictions of COURTNEY CRUMRIN #1

courtney crumrin #1
Image courtesy of Oni Press.

This comic allows itself and its characters to be multiple things at once. It’s what makes this story, unlike so many other stories about magic and witches, different. At some points, COURTNEY CRUMRIN #1 appears to be created for a young audience. At others, a sense of unmistakable maturity is present. Sometimes Holly seems to be a corrupting influence, and yet by the end your mind will probably change. In addition, this comic can be fun at times and serious at others, offering a dichotomy that so much media seems to have a problem accessing.

I can’t review this work completely without mentioning the art. As I noted above, COURTNEY CRUMRIN #1 has a way of balancing the dark and light aspects of its story. Ted Naifeh’s tight, smooth illustrations reflect this balance perfectly. He draws the characters with an obvious respect to cuteness, as you can tell by the images above. Yet, Holly and Courtney both have their dark moments, and because they are so “cute,” it hits you hard when they break out of that stereotype. In addition, Warren Wucinich’s colors are muted and full of cool tones, reminding the reader constantly that something isn’t quite right in the world of Hillsborough.

The DC Cinematic Universe has repeatedly come under fire for being too grim and moody, while the Marvel Cinematic Universe has been criticized for its childish, sometimes campy films. While these are examples of extreme moods within a story, it only makes me appreciate COURTNEY CRUMRIN more. It balances the creepy and the sweet effortlessly, which makes for a fun read that still has a lasting impact.

Final Thoughts

courtney crumrin #1
Image courtesy of Oni Press.

There’s no wonder this series is up for rerelease. It’s a great way to pull in new readers who missed the comic the first time around. Additionally, for fans who love the series, it’s a chance at an affordable second run-through. COURTNEY CRUMRIN has shown itself to be timeless and full of quality: a perfect series to resurrect for potential new fans.

All in all, COURTNEY CRUMRIN #1 shattered my expectations in many ways. It’s a comic I would recommend to anyone, regardless of age or genre preference. It also ends with a big cliffhanger, one that shows both Holly and Courtney’s true colors while leaving the reader aching to get to the next issue. As a work in the graphic medium, this is a great example of how subtle effects through art, character design and plot can create an enjoyable experience.

COURTNEY CRUMRIN #1 by Ted Naifeh and Warren Wacinich
COURTNEY CRUMRIN #1 is a captivating first issue, complete with strong magic girls, friendship trouble, and an ending you won't see coming.
93 %
A Compelling Start!

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