Gunnerkrigg Court is a continuing web comic by Tom Siddell about a girl named Antimony Carver and her experiences at a very mysterious boarding school. It is primarily a fantasy, but there are also science fiction elements (with a general theme of science versus magic, or nature versus technology, though a lot of the “technology” later turns out to be some variety of magic). Our heroine has a number of adventures that become increasingly more complex as she slowly learns more about her past and her parents’ connection with the school.
The opening chapters are somewhat episodic at first, before clear arcs begin to form. There is at first no clear idea that the story is going anywhere or that there is anything more than a series of surreal adventures. Antimony’s first adventure is when she helps a shadow from Gillitie Wood get back home. Other early adventures involve meeting the Minotaur (and inviting him to talk to the class), meeting various supernatural creatures and acquiring the at least partially unwilling companionship of Reynardine the Fox, who is currently occupying a wolf plushy. (How this happened is a very long story involving possession and a dragon.)
The later arcs of the story involve the overarching uneasy truce between the school and the powers within Gillitie Wood. It also involves a mysterious woman named Jean who was trapped and betrayed in order to create a barrier between the school and the Wood. (In some respects, the story turns from one of self-discovery to one that is about Antimony attempting to lay an extremely unquiet spirit to rest.)
Antimony is probably one of my favorite characters, followed by her friend Katerina (Kat for short). She is an intelligent, somewhat emotionally withdrawn girl who is not very familiar with social interaction. One of the best parts of the web comic is how Antimony grows throughout the story. The more Antimony learns about herself and her abilities, the more questions she finds that are in need of answers. I like Kat because she is a smart, extremely funny and a very good foil for Antimony’s often more reserved behavior. (Antimony is just as capable of being silly: it just takes her a little longer to get there.)
The art starts out a little shaky but improves a great deal over time. The story telling is top notch, compelling and complex, wandering between the philosophical and the humorous. (And it also wanders between the mundane and the metaphysical. Siddell uses a lot of alchemical symbolism and mythology from both America and Europe.)
The creator of the comic is very good at pulling the reader into the story. One of the things I like most about this comic is that the plot does not get bogged down or go off into tangents very often, even if it looks that way at first. This is a really great web comic and I highly recommend it.