Friday, March 28, 2003

Alan Moore's The Courtyard, Issue Two, written by Alan Moore, artwork by Jacen Burrows, sequential adaptation by Antony Johnston

Since the first issue of this Avatar Press mini I've done my research and discovered that Moore had a short story called "The Courtyard" in an anthology called The Starry Wisdom : A Tribute to H P Lovecraft. Hence I am assuming that "sequential adaptation" refers to, well, adapting the short story into comic form. It brings to mind the recent graphic adaptations of Neil Gaiman's stories Murder Mysteries and Harlequin Valentine. It says something--and I'm not sure what--that while the Gaiman adaptations received lushly painted treatments at the hands of John Bolton and P. Craig Russell, while Moore gets a B&W treatment by a virtual unknown.

No disrespect to Jacen Burrows is intended. He does a nice job with the adaptation, with an attention to detail that is reminiscent of Geoff Darrow without approaching the frenetic pace of a Darrow panel. Burrows's details are less fantastic and more a reflection of the squalor of the urban setting, and the four-panel, two-page image which opens and closes the story is quite effective. At times the background lines threaten to overpower the action, though, and I thought the use of the panels was less than inspired overall. This despite the Bosch/Breugel-like triptych of pages 14-19, which has some disturbing imagery but is also reminiscent of John H Williams III's other-worldly (literally) depictions in Moore's Promethea series.

As for the story, well, it's based on the Lovecraftian mythos, which is not one of my favorite things. I know this is not entirely the case, but I often feel as if all stories of this type end with the protagonist(s) witnessing something terrible and either dying or losing their minds as a result. I don't find this particularly interesting, and while Moore places some new ideas in the story, they are little more than asides and are overwhelmed with the predictable horror of the story. Sadly, I can't recommend this comic to any but completist fans of either Moore (that would be me) or Lovecraft and his tales.


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