The Courtyard

June 2, 2016 at 6:00 pm (Reads) (, , , )

courtyardThe Courtyard by Alan Moore, Jacen Burrows, and Antony Johnston


As mentioned previously, I’ve tracked down some of Alan Moore’s more recent works to get caught up on him. I’ve been a fan of his for a while, though his later work isn’t nearly as good as his earlier stuff, but even then, his stories have a certain style and punch to them that makes it distinctive. The Courtyard is the first in a series of three collections using the Cthulhu Mythos as their center.

In The Courtyard, we meet a government agent in a world very similar to ours, though it’s significantly different. This agent is investigating three different murder cases that seem related, despite the different locations and perpetrators, and his job is to find the connection that links all of those murders. His investigation takes him to a club where he sees a band perform, and then meets a strange man from whom he purchases a drug that he thinks links all of the cases together. He discovers that he is right, but not in a way that he expects.

This is a brief graphic novel (56 pages), so the story moves quickly, and is more build-up than conclusion. Additionally, it’s lacking some of the poignant points that I’ve come to expect in Moore’s work. Instead, it seems more focused on story, but it feels like it’s incomplete. It does seem to be saying something, as Moore appropriates some thematic elements that makes it a commentary on Lovecraft himself. Lovecraft is a troublesome role model, as he was a blatant racist, and Moore makes his main character the same. The thing is, that point doesn’t go anywhere significant. It seems to be there to shock more than anything, which is disappointing when you consider Moore also wrote the classics Watchmen and V for Vendetta, which were all about making a point.

It turns out that The Courtyard is an adaptation based on a prose story Moore wrote for a Lovecraftian collection several years before. Given that the adaptation was written by someone else (Johnston) instead of Moore, I assume that the foibles of the story are due to the adaptation and not the work itself. Either that or the story was just too short to go into the level of detail that I expect from Moore.

I’m interested in seeing where the story goes from here. It’s so short that it seems to require more to fill in the blanks, which I assume will happen in Neonomicon and Providence. I’m not sure if I would recommend it at this point, given that the story is out of print and commanding some high prices on the secondary market. As it is, the minimal story doesn’t justify the prices, but if it serves as the starting point for a larger, more cohesive story in the following volumes, maybe it will be worth it. We’ll see.

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