Wednesday, 8 April 2015

Alan Moore's The Courtyard Review (Antony Johnston, Jacen Burrows)

Misogynistic/racist/homophobic main character? Copious drug use? Dingy urban environment? Bad music? Monsters/horrors out of space and time? Gory violence? Yup, this is an Alan Moore story alright! 

It’s worth noting that this is a comic based upon an Alan Moore short story, not a comic written by Moore. The Courtyard was a short story written by Alan Moore published in a mid-90s anthology of Lovecraft-inspired tales called The Starry Wisdom; this early ‘00s two-issue comic is adapted from that short by Antony Johnston (author of Wasteland, Umbral, The Fuse), with Moore credited as a “Consulting Editor”. 

Aldo Sax is an undercover federal agent specialising in “anomaly theory” where he looks at seemingly random events and tries to see the links between them. Investigating three ritual murders, his search has led him to a bleak neighbourhood and an underground club where a drug called Aklo, peddled by an odd chap with a lisp and veiled mouth called Johnny Carcosa, seems to hold the answer. 

The Courtyard is chock-full of Lovecraft references, as you’d expect from a story inspired by the writer’s works. The punk band is called the Ulthar Cats, numerous characters speak that weird shoggoth language, and the visions Sax sees are much like the primordial horrors seen throughout The Cthulu Mythos. 

Jacen Burrows’ art makes this comic stand out. He uses page-length panels, two to a page, with the occasional splash page, though I’m not sure why – maybe to make it look like torn pages, so if you tore them lengthwise, you’re exposing layers of the story in other parts. Later on he does insert panels into the backgrounds of other panels, so maybe it’s an extension of that idea, time and space distorted? Even without the format, Burrows’ artwork is detailed, well-drawn, and superbly creepy. 

The Courtyard is an interesting little horror comic. The script is no great shakes and the story isn’t brilliant as it meanders quite a bit, perhaps to deliberately mirror Lovecraft’s own questionable writing skills, though the art props it up and gives it this appropriately nightmarish look. It’s worth checking out if you’re in the mood for an ok Lovecraftian horror comic.

Alan Moore's The Courtyard

1 comment:

  1. Believe it or not, I'm actually reviewing this on Monday. And after that I plan to do the same with Moore's Neonomicon.