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The comic is centered around Antimony “Annie” Carver, a girl who has just begun attending an unusual boarding school called Gunnerkrigg Court. Her life rapidly grows complicated as she becomes involved in the politically intriguing relationship between the Court and Gillitie Wood, a forest near the school. Not all of the comic, however, is about intrigue. It also focuses on Annie’s relationships with her classmates and her best friend, Katerina “Kat” Donlan.
Throughout the story, there are often allusions to mythology. Siddell, however, doesn’t only allude to Greek or Roman myth. He also draws from stories from the British Isles as well as Native American mythology.
For mythology nerds like me, it is immensely entertaining to spot the connection and see how Siddell intertwines it with the world of Gunnerkrigg Court. A few notable examples include the Minotaur of Crete, Ysengrin (the wolf from the medieval epic Reynard the Fox), and my personal favorite, Coyote from Native American myth.
While the many connections to myth are an added bonus of ‘Gunnerkrigg Court,’ it is the characters that really drew me in and have kept me reading for several years. Siddell’s character’s aren’t static, and from a storytelling point of view, that pleases me. While the cast is large, each character is given a chance to grow from their experiences, and it’s rewarding as a reader to see a character’s evolution.
A prime example of this natural change is Annie. At the beginning of the comic, she is unemotional and somewhat closed-off. These aspects of her personality prevent her from being surprised by supernatural beings and mysterious events, but have caused her to be self-reliant almost to a fault. As time goes on, and she grows as a character from various experiences, she’s able to be more open about her feelings and accepting help from others.
Besides his characters, Siddell’s art has evolved as well. Since the comic launched in 2005, there are years of improvement between the first few chapters and the last‘s art. While the style that Siddell draws people and creatures in has gotten more realistic, the backgrounds continue to be filled with incredible detail. The intricate architecture of the Court and the mysterious flourishes of the Gillitie Wood are gorgeous backdrops for Annie’s many adventures.
Since the comic has been going on for so long, there’s quite an archive to go through, but don’t let that scare you away. Just think of it as a present that’s waiting to be unwrapped. Even when you get through the archive, Siddell never fails to update every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Overall, ‘Gunnerkrigg Court’ is a wonderful urban fantasy/science fiction webcomic with ever-improving art, clever allusions and attention-grabbing characters. Check it out. You won’t regret it.
By Kira Lubahn