Creators: Tom Siddell
Webcomic Link: Gunnerkrigg Court
Summary: Gunnerkrigg Court is the story of Antimony Carver, a young girl who, at her mother’s last request, has begun her life at a new school of science (and strangeness) known as the -you guessed it -Gunnerkrigg Court. Immediately, Antimony begins to experience the supernatural, to uncover mysteries hidden in the Court’s walls. She makes a friend, she makes an enemy, and she begins to uncover clues about herself as well as the peculiar boarding school that she now calls home.
Story: Gunnerkrigg Court has a peculiar story. It is one, that I admit, I have not yet finished; so consider this review your introduction to the introduction. It is broken down into chapters, each one detailing some small journey or obstacle that Antimony experiences. Each contain some gravity to them, some sort of cloying mystery that underlies it all, but are often dabbled with a strangely out of place humor and simplicity. The first several chapters almost feel like episodes of a children’s show (when they do in fact contain morals). But as chapters pass, this fades as well. All in all, I would not call these stories bad. There are cliche elements occasionally, tidbits that I found… bland or overly simple. I think it would be better to call them “light.” Everything I’ve read thus far is simple and appropriate for all ages. It’s something that can be read leisurely throughout an afternoon or with the television going in the background.
The tone and setting of the story is a bit gothic. The school is industrial and shadowy, favoring dark cool colors and occasional ornateness. There is an emphasis on the age of the school, the secrets that it might hold. The lead, Antimony, is quiet and calculating. There are references to various mythologies found in each and every chapter thus far, running the gambit from original to classic Greek. I found this element enjoyable, and it allowed the comic to feel a bit like a television show. Each chapter seems to build slightly, but is self contained, and introduces something fresh with each new section.
Art: The art in Gunnerkrigg Court is initially passable. It is very cartoon-y, simple, and feels a bit copy-and-paste. The characters are drawn as Saturday morning cartoons, and the creatures are almost a bit goofy looking. I emphasize initially because, though I have not read the entire series, I did sneak a peak ahead to get a feel for it, and holy hell does the art get better. While the initial chapters are completely stylized cartoons, lacking any substance in favor of simplicity, the later chapters are truly enjoyable. Visually, they are much more detailed, much more accurate to life, and feel more “adult.” This is not to say that they are no longer kid friendly, but the style begins to trend more towards something like Avatar: The Last Air Bender than Hey Arnold (There’s also an inserted section meant to imitate Native American art that made me positively giddy.)
Conclusion: Gunnerkrigg Court is a tough comic to rate. There are friends I would recommend it to, but it’s hard for me to categorize them easily. The website is nice and easy to use, and I’d suggest anyone who still watches the occasional semi-serious cartoon to give it a shot. Like I said before, it is light reading. It won’t take much investment for someone to know whether or not it’s their cup of tea.