The Courtyard (2003) Review


Writer: Alan Moore
Artist: Jacen Burrows

Like many Lovecraft stories, Moore’s Lovecraftian Courtyard focuses on a racist paranoid who begins to experience reality shift away. The story’s protagonist is a federal agent who is an anomaly theorist, which is being able to find a pattern in anomalies. This ability has our agent tying together clues between a string of cases which involve unrelated serial killers cutting their victims into meaty tulips. Hey, what else would one expect from Alan Moore re-imagining Lovecraft for the modern-day?

From the start Moore laces the story with a lot of Lovecraftian nods. The long jawed, dark-haired, pale skinned agent looks like a hard-boiled H.P. Lovecraft doppelgänger. If that doesn’t convince the reader, then his heavy and superfluous internal monologues will. Since this is a short read it’s hard to mention much more of the references without spoiling the pleasure of reading this tale of madness. Nevertheless, it is worth mentioning that Moore also ties in other literature to expand upon the themes, like the Yellow King in Carcosa. Unlike many other writers of Lovecraftian literature who merely name drop, what Moore does well is craft a story which has the overall feel and tone of Lovecraft. Moore’s name dropping merely establishes the world; whereas, his paranoid and violent characterizations, the lengthy and macabre poetic narrative, as well as the mind-mending and reality breaking themes are what really make this a Lovecraftian homage. Jacen Burrows really nails down the rest of the look and feel of a Lovecraft story. Rather it be the black and white noir style, or the split panel framing which is reminiscent of reading the story out the old Weird Tales prints to the ending’s time and reality warping madness. For example, what do you see in the top right window panel in the second scene? With Courtyard, Moore and Burrows resurrected the madness us cultist mourn for.

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