Gunnerkrigg Court: A Web Comic Review

Sierra Block Gorman, ’16

“Gunnerkrigg Court” is an online comic that posts a new page every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, and has been one of my favorite web comics for years. It is a sort of fantasy coming-of-age story that details the life of Antimony Carver and her time at a boarding school called Gunnerkrigg Court that is anything but what it seems.

Throughout the story, we discover more about who Antimony is, the world she lives in, the people and creatures around her, and Gunnerkrigg Court itself. Antimony has a complicated past, including a dead mother and a missing father, but we eventually get a glimpse of her parents in their years at the court. She also has various gifts, like a magical affinity and special friendships with several deities.

There are many fantasy, adventure, and even science fiction elements in the comic, yet it is also a slice-of-life, school-themed story in many ways. It is a mix of other-worldly shenanigans and witty everyday interactions.  Not to say that it is totally light hearted. It has its fair share of emotion and turmoil, in a way that gives dimension to the characters.

 The story is very character-based, but it also does some fantastic world-building. The world of Gunnerkrigg Court is varied and intricate, and plays a large part in the story. It is not obtrusive in it’s exposition, though. Rather, it subtly weaves information into the narrative while maintaining an air of mystery.

The world of Gunnerkrigg Court possesses a developed history and mythos that add to the content tremendously. We learn that their world is made up of two opposing forces separated by a chasm. On one side is the forest of Gilithe, a land of magic and nature that is inhabited by spirits and animals. On the other side is Gunnerkrigg Court, a place of technology and science that is inhabited by humans and robots. Antimony has connections on both sides of the chasm, and much of the conflict is centered on her reconciliation of these sides and the parts of herself she associates with each.

Though the story is very well developed and strong, the art is an equally strong selling point for this comic. It starts out a bit rough, but quickly becomes polished, and currently has a detailed and beautiful art style that makes practically every page a masterpiece. The use of color and fluidity, as well as the contrast between cartoonish and realistic styles make the drawings refreshing and organic, setting the mood for the story. It shows a rare combination of beautiful artwork and excellent literary style. It makes utmost use of the medium to tell a story not just with words, but with images. “Gunnerkrigg Court” is a gorgeous, funny, touching comic that I highly recommend to anyone looking for a good graphic novel online.

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