If this is the first of the Courtney Crumrin Tales, Ted Naifeh is off to a spectacular start. Fun, entertaining, and incredibly charming, there isn’t anything I don’t love about this. Although, yes, meeting a younger and incredibly dashing Aloysius certainly doesn’t hurt.
Readers of the longer running Courtney Crumrin series already know Aloysius as Courtney’s rather imposing grandfather. After her parents pack the family up and move in with him (something which he is not pleased about), Courtney begins to discover magic, a process throughout which Aloysius, a very powerful sorcerer, is frequently called upon to either help her out of danger or nudge her further into it. All for the sake of learning, of course!
In the Courtney Crumrin Tales, Naifeh promises to share the stories of various side characters in Courtney’s world. This particular tale introduces us to Aloysius through the eyes of Alice Crisp, daughter of Horace W. Crisp, head of the Anti Sorcery Society or A.S.S, a group devoted to eliminating sorcery (and finding a new name.)
When we’re introduced to Aloysius he appears to be a mild mannered young law clerk working in Crisp’s office. Aloysius has his eye on Alice, but she wants nothing more than to help her uncle in his work and join A.S.S. What however does Aloysius want with them? And is he really just a secretary? To answer these questions you need to read the story, because I refuse to spoil the fun.
The art for the comic is typical Naifeh. His particular drawing style is not my favorite– the fast and thick black and white art he throws down always feels a little rushed and lacking in detail to me– but it does the job and the utter fun of the story more than makes up for it. I already loved Courtney, but I think Aloysius just stole my heart when Courtney wasn’t looking.
Courtney Crumrin Tales: A Portrait of the Warlock as a Young Man
by Ted Naifeh
Oni Press, 2005