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Gunnerkrigg Court by Tom Siddell

October 1, 2012

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Yes, Gunnerkrigg Court is about the lives of some students at a special boarding school tucked away in the hinterlands of the U.K.  But no, it’s not just a remix of Harry Potter.

Gunnerkrigg Court is a three-times-a-week webcomic by Tom Siddell that’s been running since 2005.  Our heroine is Antimony Carver, who has been sent to the Court on her mother’s dying wish.  As soon as she arrives, strange things start to happen.  There is magic, yes, but this Court isn’t a place where cute little kids learn how to become witches and wizards.  Quite the opposite: Antimony’s at a tech school.  The magical creatures in the forest that surround Gunnerkrigg Court resent the school’s presence, and the two have been in a state of cold war for centuries.

When Antimony tries to interfere with the strange happenings at the Court or in the forest, she often makes things worse.

Start reading the strip from the beginning and play close attention.  Siddell is a master at setting plot elements up far in advance, maintaining them through years’ worth of strips, and then bringing them together for a payoff that was the last thing you expected.  That shadow and that robot from the very first chapter?  They’re important.

The best thing about this strip is its complexity.  Sure, it’s funny.  It’s about a bunch of teenagers and their awkward love lives.  But it can get pretty damn scary sometimes and deep at other times.  There are no characters here who are wholly good or evil, and there’s probably more to all of them than you think.

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