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Pulp Culture
'Gloomcookie' artist bakes
a new batch of 'Night Things'


February 7, 2002
By Franklin Harris

For the past two years, "Gloomcookie" has been one of the few comic books I read as soon as I get it home.

Actually, I rarely wait that long; I read it while still in the store. (Issue No. 11 is due in comic-book shops next week.)

Courtney Crumrin moves in with her uncle and discovers a world filled with spooky creatures in Ted Naifeh's new comic book, ''Courtney Crumrin and the Night Things.''
Courtesy art
Courtney Crumrin moves in with her uncle and discovers a world filled with spooky creatures in Ted Naifeh's new comic book, ''Courtney Crumrin and the Night Things.''
But while Serena Valentino's writing is as clever and charming as ever, I still miss Ted Naifeh's art, absent after issue No. 6. His clean, angular style always impresses, and the black-and-white necessity of small-press publishing serves him well.

Which is why I'm happy to see Naifeh has a new project due March 13.

This time, Naifeh handles writing chores, too, and if the preview art is any indication, "Courtney Crumrin and the Night Things" plays to Naifeh's strengths — cute girls and creepy monsters.

At first glance, Courtney seems an ordinary girl. But when she and her parents move in with her great uncle, she encounters strange things and unlocks powers she never knew she had.

"Unlike most characters in children's stories, Courtney isn't a cheerful, precocious youth," Naifeh said. "Instead she takes after her creepy old uncle. She's a sullen, grouchy little girl, the kind of kid I can relate to."

Courtney Crumrin
Oni Press, which will publish "Courtney Crumrin" each month, moved the series up from its original summer start date.

"When the opportunity arose to move the premiere up, we jumped at it. Ted's enthusiasm for this project is really contagious," said Joe Nozemack, Oni Press publisher.

"Courtney follows in a long-standing tradition of kids getting thrown into spooky worlds that are only slightly removed from our own," Nozemack said. "Ted's characters could easily fit into a Tim Burton film or a J.K. Rowling book, yet they have unique voices of their own."

For previews of "Courtney Crumrin and the Night Things," see Naifeh's Web site, www.thenightthings.com.

And, for the latest on "Gloomcookie," check out www.gloomcookie.com.

Miller strikes again

The second issue of Frank Miller's three-part follow-up to "The Dark Knight Returns" hit the shelves last week. So, how does "The Dark Knight Strikes Again" measure up so far?

First, I hate DC Comics' decision to market the series as "DK2." It gives me nasty flashbacks of "Independence Day," otherwise known as "ID4."

I also must admit that I'm not fond of how Miller's drawing style has evolved during the past 15 years. It isn't that his characters have become cartoony, although they have, but that they have become ugly. Miller is taking the style of his "Sin City" crime comics to new extremes of the grotesque.

That said, Miller's story is a winner.

Miller is building an even more epic tale than before. It isn't just a Batman story; it's a story about the future of the entire DC Comics Universe.

Some superheroes, like Batman, fight to return freedom to an America that has come to accept a police state as long as the stock market keeps climbing. Others, like Superman, have become sad pawns of the Establishment. Others still, like Plastic Man, The Atom and The Question, turn up in surprising and intriguing ways.

You can't pass judgement while the final act is yet to bow, but Miller's artwork aside, "The Dark Knight Strikes Again," appears to be an entertaining follow-up to the original.

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