A couple of housekeeping items here first before we go jumping into Gunnerkrigg Court’s industy-versus-nature shenanigans. First off, you may have noticed the site looked a bit different on Friday. Yes, yes, I know. A website on the internet that ran an April Fools Day joke? How original! Well, it went a bit deeper than that. See, April 1 is Faceplant’s birthday! And since we made such a big deal over reaching 100 posts, we were pretty much roped into doing something equally as wacky for the one year anniversary. If you missed it, not to worry! You can read Enosh’s joke post here, and if you’re REALLY bored you can read about my thoughts on reaching the one year mark here. Making Faceplant has been a lot of fun over the last year, and we have you guys to thank for it! Really, awesome.
Anyway, if all that is way too meta for you, feel free just to just keep on reading this article, where I totally promise I’ll start talking about Tom Siddell’s Gunnerkrigg Court comic and the antics therein.
The story of the comic follows Antimony Carver, a serious-faced young girl who was enrolled at the mysteriously industrial boarding school, Gunnerkrigg Court. Antimony has some social issues to work out, and as such doesn’t have much in the ways of a companion during her first week at the school. Well, unless you count the fact that she had somehow obtained a second shadow with a sense of humor.
Antimony eventually works out that her new shadow friend is rather… stuck in Gunnerkrigg Court. He originally comes from the forest, which is separated from the inner court by a huge divide with a large, impassible river flowing at the bottom of it. The only way into the forest is a long and, unfortunately for Shadow 2, extremely well lit bridge connecting the two. Antimony is forbidden by school policy to set foot on the bridge herself, so she acts on the ONLY LOGICAL SOLUTION.
This comic is the story of what happened to Antimony (or Annie to her friends) during her time at Gunnerkrigg Court. During the course of her studies, Annie makes friends with the tech savvy Kat and one or two… unusual entities, who help to flush out her day to day activities. Despite the somewhat unusual nature of the people surrounding her, and the fact that Gunnerkrigg Court is much, much more than just a simple boarding school, many of Annie’s adventures just involve her living and studying at the court. There are notable exceptions to this, of course, and even Annie’s most mundane adventures are riddled with the supernatural elements. One chapter, in which Annie and Kat take a, uh, new student to get a hair cut, is one of the most hilarious chapters so far.
As the years at Gunnerkrigg pass, Annie and Kat get wrapped up in some pretty serious mysteries. From finding out why the waters at the bottom of the canyon dividing the court from the forest is impassible to discovering exactly what the deal is with the messy, black eyed Zimmy, Annie and Kat get drawn more and more into the inner working of the court along with their classmates.
But for me, what keeps me coming back to Gunnerkrigg Court is the court itself. The industrial/technical boarding school is one of the best settings for a web comic I have ever seen. Annie comments that the court is much larger than what it needs to be, and that she has never seen anyone else besides the people in her class. It has everything anyone might possibly need within its walls. Well, everything except for trees, that is. Each year, Annie and Kat’s lodgings change and become more complex and unusual, and her classmates grow and evolve into something more than just rude school children. At times, it’s almost easy to forget where they are at all, but then one of them will show a sudden, freakish aptitude or skill (from archery and playing the guitar to the subconscious power to ‘make everything boring’) and will remind you that Gunnerkrigg Court is not a normal boarding school.
The only negative thing I have to say about this comic is more of a preference than an actual criticism. Information is provided to us at a very slow pace in this comic. Siddell has a tendency to introduce weird shit first, and then try to explain it slowly over the course of many chapters. Some of the revelations were along the lines of simply saying “oh, okay” when you find out the truth about them, but others… well, others hit a little deeper. Some of the information I might not have picked up, if I wasn’t read Siddell’s very brief comments at the bottom of each page. Though most of the information provided there is either just about the student housing situation, the class structure in the court, production notes on the inbetween-chapter production of City Face, or constant reminders that a certain character is “that guy!”
Ahhh, City Face. There have been two installments of this tale. This is a side-filler story done, usually to pass the time between years at Gunnerkrigg, that follows the life and times of City Face the pigeon. City Face has numerous pigeon adventures, from eating a round circular thing on the ground, to learning the pigeon dance to attract a mate, to being the best human businessman he can possibly be.
Aaaaanyway, Gunnerkrigg Court updates every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, and it worth checking out if you’re in the mood for a good old fashioned, coming of age story mixed in with sci-fi, hypertechnical industrial complex shenanigans.
Also there are demon dogs.