Monday, 4 April 2011

A New Thing

Hey guys. Posting's been... well, yeah, it's been basically non-existant for a while. Things have been happening and then deadlines crept up on me and there was a mad dash to the finishline for an essay. But now that I have a teeny bit of breathing space in between that essay and my next couple of assignments, I thought I'd actually write something worthwhile.

Well I say worthwhile. I'm actually going to review a webcomic, but that's worthwhile for a student, right? Anyway, in order to actually keep my blog semi-alive, I'm planning on making this a monthly occurrence, since I read so many webcomics that I've lost track, and therefore I'll have plenty of material.

So, for our first review: Gunnerkrigg Court. Warning you now, there will be spoilers.

And so, onward!

On the face of it, Gunnerkrigg is your typical urban fantasy/science fiction webcomic, set in a mysterious UK boarding school. And then you read it, and suddenly you are presented with a seamless blend of world mythologies, magic and science. Almost anything goes at this school, and it's amazing.

Also, do not be put off by the early art. The art evolution is astounding; best illustrated by these two pages: Chapter 2, Page 2 and the same scene in flashback in Chapter 18, Page 41.

The Setting

Gunnerkrigg Court, while a school, also seems to be a gigantic self-contained city/science lab/countryside/massive unexplained building thing. As well as regular school subjects, the students also have lessons featuring insane simulations involving aliens, there are robots running around the hallways, a minotaur in the library and a rookie ghost hanging around the spare classroom.

Across the gorge outside lie the Gillitie Woods, in direct opposition to the Court. Where the Court values science and technology, the inhabitants of the Woods live by nature and magic. Also living in the Woods is the trickster god Coyote, and much of the story revolves around relationships between the Woods and the Court's chosen medium. Or in the case, mediums in training.

The Characters

Antimony 'Annie' Carver is the main protagonist of the story. Presented as being equally as strange as the school she begins to attend in the beginning of the comic, Annie is almost constantly stoic, never surprised by anything and always very polite. As it turns out, this isn't because she's just a boring mary sue narrative character.

Annie begins attending the Court after her mother's death and her father's disappearance. While there, she makes many discoveries about both herself and her parents, not least about their time as pupils at the Court.

As Annie develops and matures over the course of the story, she makes friends with Katerina Donlan (see below), she accidentally enslaves a demon in her plush toy wolf, steadfastly holds by her belief that she has to do everything herself and gets in and out of more trouble in two years than most people see in a lifetime. Most importantly, she comes to realise her true potential as a medium for the Court, and as her mother's daughter.

Katerina 'Kat' Donlan is Annie's best friend at the Court, and the daughter of two of the science teachers. Coincidentally, or maybe not, Kat becomes friends with Annie in much the same way as her parents became friends with Annie's mother back in the day.

Kat is a steadfast believer in the power of science, and she's a scientific genius to boot. While Annie has her affinity for nature and magic, Kat has a natural talent for physics and especially robotics. Much more easy-going than Annie, Kat balances out the friendship by providing humour, video-game geekery and terribly cheesy lines, which she gets away with by being damn adorable about it.

The Story

While featuring easygoing humour and some lighthearted storylines, Gunnerkrigg is an intricate web of interwoven storylines, intrigue and overarching plotlines that disappear just long enough for you to think they've been forgotten, only to resurface in glorious fashion. It's clever, it's elegant, and it's also really enjoyable to read through again, if only to see all those little bits of foreshadowing you might have missed the first time round.

All in all, Gunnerkrigg is my favourite webcomic, and it's a solid, captivating read. Yes, the art is initially a bit... off, but as already stated (and shown) it gets much better, and is continuing to improve with every page that gets put up.

For those interested, Gunnerkrigg updates Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.


  1. Ooh! I'll pick it up, not found a new webcomic in a while...

  2. I may just be adding it to my own list... Thankee Kindly, Pretty Lady...