24 Hours of Webcomics: Gunnerkrigg Court

Gunnerkrigg Court is a comic that I find myself trying not to visit for as long as possible, only so that I can then drink up a nice long chunk in one go before reluctantly slithering back into withdrawal. The plot is always veering off in spectacular new directions, with cliffhangers and revelations and I WANT TO KNOW MORE!

gunnerkrigg 24 Hours of Webcomics: Gunnerkrigg CourtWhen I first read Chapter 1, The Shadow and The Robot, all those years ago I was immediately intrigued by the premise and the writing: a spooky school, female protagonists(!), and a very clear sci-fi/fantasy scope. The characters of Shadow and Robot caught my imagination completely, and Antimony Carver was an intriguing lead – her look was a little unconventional, particularly in respect to the detailed background art, but it has been wonderful to see Tom Siddell’s art progress over the eight years that the comic has now been running.

The sheer scale of the story is, I think, pretty unparalleled in any other comic, incorporating science, magic, fantasy creatures, mixed mythology, mysteries, political battles, sci-fi elements, friendship, romance, parental relationships, betrayals, alchemy… all with two young girls at the centre, Carver and her best friend Kat. And her other friend Reynardine, a creature who is a wolf shape trapped in the body of Carver’s stuffed toy.

gunnerkrigg 02 212x300 24 Hours of Webcomics: Gunnerkrigg CourtMuch of the drama is down to the setting, the mysterious Gunnerkrigg Court boarding school and its antagonistic relationship with the neighbouring Gillitie Wood – a clash of science versus nature, technology versus magic – and Carver’s ability to transcend and blur the borders. Flashbacks help fill in the gaps of the story that took place years before between Carver and Kat’s parents and other members of the school.

The Wood is home to Ysengrin and Coyote, magical creature and god respectively, alongside a host of mythical creatures, while the school has students like Zimmy and Gamma, a mysterious pair that can travel inside dream worlds. As the story progresses, Carver finds out more about her unique heritage, while Kat becomes the savior of the robots due to her incredible tech skills, and the pair make friends at school while navigating the more traditional teen waters as well as their more ethereal adventures.

There’s one little chapter of Kat and a boy, which I won’t spoil, but man. The feels. And of course the intermittent adventures of City Face, the famous pigeon are hilarious to read.

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From 2006-09, Gunnerkrigg Court won six Web Cartoonists’ Choice/Webcomic List Awards, and earned thirteen nominations. Siddell has also chalked up more nominations and awards around the world, and Gunnerkrigg Court is one of the few webcomics to have generated a huge Wikipedia entry and its own Wikia.

The comic has been collected in three volumes thus far with a fourth out later this year. They can be bought via the website’s shop, or at any online/offline book store. And as with all webcomics, the entire series can be read for free at the website – so indulge yourself today!

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Laura Sneddon is a comics journalist and academic, writing for the mainstream UK press with a particular focus on women and feminism in comics. Currently working on a PhD, do not offend her chair leg of truth; it is wise and terrible. Her writing is indexed at comicbookgrrrl.com and procrastinated upon via @thalestral on Twitter.

Comments

  1. One of my all-time favorite comics, be it digital or paper. Or both, actually, since I read it online three times a week and still eagerly await the hardcovers. Kat is just the best. And Coyote is the source of some truly amazing art.

  2. The hardcover collections are exceptionally pretty – I couldn’t resist picking them up at Thought Bubble last year. Along with a sketch of Reynard! Both are a great way of supporting webcomics I think :)

  3. It is also worthwhile to note that since the comic started eight years ago Tom has never missed a single update. The comic updates MWF like clockwork.

    When he takes a “vacation” he updates 5 days a week.

    The man is an absolute machine. He just quit his job and went full time working on the comic a couple months ago so everyone should buy his books and wallpapers and everything.

  4. likefunbutnot says:

    I choose to wait for the hardcovers. They’re completely gorgeous. The temptation to tear through all the webcomics is enormous, but I know that if I do it will just be that much longer before I can go back to that particular well.

  5. I wish I had the willpower to do that! As it is, I usually only manage a few weeks at most before having to catch up.

  6. “I choose to wait for the hardcovers.”

    That cannot be easy. I was just rereading a bit, and saw the cliffhanger mystery the upcoming fourth book will be ending on. The wait for the resolution was bad enough while reading online!

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