Tuesday, August 23, 2016
Gunnerkrigg Court Volume 1: Orientation
Written and drawn by Thomas Siddell
Published by Archaia (2009)
Webcomic available at www.gunnerkrigg.com.
Antimony Carver is basically an orphan, though she doesn't know it yet. Yes, she knows that her mother has recently died and that her father has sent her off to boarding school, but she doesn't realize that her father is going to disappear, leaving her at the school for...well, who knows how long? Thankfully, at her new school everything is great, her classmates are very welcoming, nothing weird is going on, and there are absolutely no ghosts, robots, or monsters lurking around.
Oh wait, no, I was wrong. The school is incredibly spooky, filled with strange mysteries, and surrounded by a creepy forest. Plus there are all these classes to attend. Well, at least Antimony is able to (eventually) make some friends, such as Kat, who is a super genius technology whiz, and...Reynardine, some sort of ancient fox demon who is currently trapped in Antimony's plush wolf toy.
Okay, everything isn't that gloomy, Antimony does manage to make friends with a bunch of other characters (including some of the aforementioned robots and ghosts), and there are many fun adventures for them all to get up to. There's also a lot going on in the background, with many of the teachers having mysterious pasts and there being considerably more going on than first seems to be the case. How is everything connected? I'm sure it will all be revealed in time.
Siddell's art hasn't really hit its stride yet in this volume, though comparing the first and last chapters show that he improved dramatically through the course of this book. However, even from the beginning there was something about his art that appealed to me, though at first I couldn't quite put my finger on what it was. While looking back through this volume I realized that I am apparently a sucker for artwork filled big eyed characters with blank/sad expressions (please see exhibit a). That isn't to say that Siddell can't draw expressions well (he does a great job of capturing how the characters are feeling), just that Antimony spends more than a little bit of time looking a somewhat sad and somewhat thoughtful. Adding to this Siddell uses, with few exceptions, colours that tend to be fairly flat, though this works just fine with the wide-eyed cartoony style of the artwork.
I generally think that fonts either work or they don't, and while my first time through this book I didn't notice the font, this time I did notice it. Siddell has chosen to use Ale & Wenches for all of the character dialogue, and it seems a bit...curly at times. Though you might not notice it at all.
When I first started this project several years ago, my goal was just to read every YALSA top ten GN graphic novel, not review them. And so, for about a month or so I read as many of them as I could get my hands on. Gunnerkrigg Court was the first that made me happy that I had started this project, as it was a fantastic book of which I had never previously heard. I tore through the three volumes a local library had, and then caught up reading the comic online. I've since stopped following it online (I found reading a page a day was very frustrating), but I was excited when I was recently able to pick up reprints of the first three books. I can't wait to catch up again.