So Tangent128, lovely person he is, suggested Gunnerkrigg Court. Well, he didn’t suggest it, only mentioned it as something he wanted to suggest because he knew I was going to do it anyway. And I have to say, yes, yes I think I am going to be doing commentary on Gunnerkrigg Court. You know why? I LOVE GUNNERKRIGG COURT.
I’m extremely biased about this, I am aware, but I really cannot give this comic enough praise. I would articulate this praise but it would spoil almost the entire story, which I am NOT going to do, especially with this. I’ll just say that the art is brilliant, Tom Siddell (the lovely British author) is a master storyteller, and if you were one of those kids that devoured every fantasy novel in the kids’ book section at the library (such as yours truly), GC is a wonderful throwback to that genre (though by no means a comparison). And that’s all I’m telling you. READ THE COMIC. AND ALSO MY COMMENTS.
You start here: http://www.gunnerkrigg.com/archive_page.php?comicID=1 . Follow the magic purple arrow and don’t ask questions until you reach the end.
Don't mind the line, I couldn't get rid of it.
1. I’m going to start this by talking about something completely different. This comic’s opening line is,
Annie: My name is Antimony Carver. I would like to share with you the strange events that took place while I attended school at Gunnerkrigg Court.
Reading this again, the first thing I happened to think of was the official description of Cave Story, a non-webcomic.
Cave Story is a jumping-and-shooting action game.
Explore the caves until you reach the ending.
You can also save your game and continue from where you left off.
Explore the caves until you reach the ending.
You can also save your game and continue from where you left off.
Both of these descriptions can be summed up by an observation by one of Cave Story’s fans:
"This description is so humble that it borders on parody. Play now, laugh later."
So, um, yeah. For all my praise, the comic makes itself look pretty humble. Moving on, you many notice that Antimony looks very different than she does in that picture up there. Her head is football-shaped, her eyes are blocky, and her eyeshadow is kind of ridonculous. This is because of something we didn’t really get to see in C&H (stick figures) or DC (no art change): ART EVOLUTION~ A webcomic artist’s art quality usually drastically improves over the course of a comic – in most cases, this is because the artist actually learns to draw as he draws every day. Siddell can definitely draw, as we can see with his complex and detailed drawing of the Court on the next page, but he just needs to work his way into the style he uses to draw humans. I don’t know when this comic started (2005?), but he’s had lots of time to improve.
2. Anyway, let’s get into Chapter 1! The first few chapters are short, but the later ones are longer. Anyway, yes, you see the pretty industrial building on page 2. Now, the weird thing about these early views of the Court is, there are NO OTHER STUDENTS around. Later the halls are crawling with them…
Second shadow. I don’t really like the way this is placed…it almost makes you think this is the central plot. Lol, Annie’s kind of super-short.
You may also notice that underneath the comics there is a commentary box. Tom often writes comments in this box. There are few in the earlier chapters, but later on, with some exceptions, there are Tomments for every page.
3. Shadow 2 looks like a kitty. :3 Wait, what the hell is a “dark recess”? Is that when they let the goth kids out to play on the swings?
That teacher never appears again after the first chapter. I asked Tom about it on his formspring (which you are NOT allowed to read until you finish the comic) and he said, yeah, he’s just a throwaway. The whole chapter has a very disembodied feel, as if Annie really is the only person on the court, and even this guy just feels like a ghost.
I love how the Court prints their signs in Times New Roman. I’m also amazed at how quickly the story is being told – Tom’s usual trend is slooowww.
4. I’m sorry, Annie, but your hair is super awkward here. HOLY CRAP. I NEVER NOTICED THAT SPIDER BEFORE.
Sign: Solitary study means just that
I don’t know, sign, I don’t see you doing anything to enforce it!
5. Even if Tom’s a little green on his people-drawing, you have to admit he knows his landscapes and perspectives! And you have to admit, the idea of a living shadow, with rules for its existence, is pretty clever. It’s only the first of Tom’s many clevernesses…
When I first read this, I thought “Gillitie Wood” and “Annan Waters” were stupid names. I soon learned they were actual place names. I still don’t feel bad for thinking that. Huh, anyone think those lights might be here for a REASON? Also, if you think the Court is big, that’s barely a CORNER of it. C8
6. ANNIE’s HEAD LOOKS LIKE A FOOTBALL IN PANEL 1. Regarding panel 4, GC’s security measures are freakish. You’ll see them later.
Annie: I must construct a robot walking device which will provide you with transit across the bridge!
WHAT THE FLIP? This is the line that tells you that this universe operates on a different level. Also, memorize her face. You’ll want to remember it in 750+ pages.
Also want to make note, Annie’s eleven. Does she act like any eleven-year-old you’ve ever met?
7. Wait – I DIDN’T SEE SHADOW 2 PLAYING PADDLEBALL EITHER. OMG. LOL. Annie’s head is still the shape and size of a football. And she is now going to get SUPER DRAMATIC OVER ROBOT CONSTRUCTION. In panel 3, apparently “tin man” was once “homme d’air,” but Tom changed it because it was too pretentious.
Wait. I LOVE GUNNERKRIGG COURT’S LOGIC. Or rather robot logic. Probably.
8. OH MY GOD. Annie in panel 2 looks AWFUL. 2010 Tom would never allow this…especially with all the pretty detail of the robot parts in that same panel!
SPARE 13. WOO. And all the loneliness makes me think – NO ONE SUPERVISES THESE CHILDREN? NOT EVEN OTHER CHILDREN? How terribly lazy. Even if initial efforts are rarely very polished, GC’s getting off to a very good start and has the seeds of genius. It’s not quite the story yet, but it’s a sort of summary of creative style.
The tips of Annie’s hair look like knives. I never really went to check – I wonder if she still has that blue clip.
9. Annie: Luckily, piecing the contraption together was relatively easy.
Though, from the look of it, not very easy to draw. “Clicka”…that’s a weird sound effect. The perspective in Panel 3 is kind of weird – I can only tell that’s Robot’s head because we saw it in Panel 2. Robot is adorable, by the way! Both in body and in personality. He’s so polite and caring!
Perhaps it’s because it’s early in the story, but he’s also probably the most articulate and sensible of the robots. I can’t really remember if that ever changed. You must admit he’s cute, though! I love his little wings. :3
Also, you may notice that Annie and Robot’s speech balloons are different colors. Great touch.
10. Wait a minute, I thought Annie’s shade was enough to sustain him…whatever, I won’t throw a fit. Wait, it’s cloudy in Panel 3! NOW I’LL THROW A FIT.
Annie: What if you fall down?
Robot: Well, you never know unless you try!
Oh my god I love robot he’s so sweet. Football Annie in Panel 6 again. The walls of the Annan Waters are pretty grey and –
EVENING CLASSES? WHO THE HELL MAKES BOARDING SCHOOL KIDS GO TO CLASS IN THE EVENINGS?
11. Annie’s head is now a slightly fatter football.
Robot: Do I have to come back?
Robot why would you ever ask that ;__; Panel 4 makes me think that no one bothers to care for the grass outside Court limits. (Wait a minute – why are the outer boundaries of the court, Annan Waters and such, so easily accessible to the school students? Shouldn’t there be more barriers? Unless wait no I’m not saying anything else)
How was Shadow 2 transferred? I do not know. Why does Shadow 2 exist? I’m not going to tell you. And so this little glimpse of Gunnerkrigg life is closed. Almost.
Robot: Bye, Mommy!
12. Robot: I’m good at walking. Such a nice evening!
I hate how these cute words are juxtaposed over such creepy backgrounds. Panel 3 is definitely beautiful, but it’s so dark and foreboding – good god, EVERYTHING in this first chapter is dark and foreboding! The tone lightens later on, though it gets no less creepy and isn’t afraid to take the occasional nosedive.
I don’t really have much to say about what’s going on, except that Annie looks very sad to have lost people to interact with. Because her school is ABANDONED.
13. That horrible bird.
ThathorriblebirdthathorriblebirdTHAT. HORRIBLE. BIRD. Have you ever seen a more freakish hell-bird in your entire life? All that black stuff around its eyes, and the foreboding sound effects…
14. These are also some pretty creepy woods…they look so much more lifeless than they do later. Perhaps they’re only dark because we know so little about them? Maybe…
Aww, look at all the glass-eyes! They’re so cute! I don’t think we see this many again…this whole plot with Robot and Shadow 2, indeed, is really in the background for the rest of the story, though it does show up very often. Maybe I just haven’t been paying attention. Rereading this is super fun…
Robot: Hmm, I should look for a new arm!
And this is the part of the story where the hairs on my arms start to stand on end…
15. Hey, it’s that guy agai- wait, it’s not! The guy from before had grey hair, and this guy has black hair! Well, whatever. This guy never shows up again, so it is not your place to care.
And that’s the end of Chapter 1. Gunnerkrigg’s back door has a very fancy keyhole. And still I wonder why there are so few security measures on the Court…let alone why the school opens right on the dividing line. But why it should be divided, I’ll let you figure out the same way the readers did.
16. BONUS PAGE~ At the end of every Gunnerkrigg Court chapter there is a bonus page. Usually the way Tom spaces it out now, chapters end on a Monday, the bonus page is up on a Wednesday, and the next chapter’s cover is up on a Friday. I don’t know if he did this then, but whatever.
Moving on, the British house systems are fascinating! Silly American I am, I actually had no idea that all British schools had houses until I read this. (I thought Harry Potter invented the concept. Don’t kill me.) Good thing Tom explained it below. Otherwise I would have compared more of this story to Harry Potter, which I am not going to do. The houses are visited in more detail later. Hopefully. And the girl is Tea, an author avatar of Tom’s who does not appear in the story proper.
17. OHAY, IT’S A COOL THING AND A NEW GIRL. YAY FOR STARTING OF THE PLOT.
18. Kids: Good morning, Mrs. Donlan.
Wow, these Year 7ers are obedient! What’s “registration”? I have no idea. This lady is a science teacher. You’ll see more of her later. Lots more. Oddly enough we don’t see her teaching much again. I don’t think Annie’s facial expression has changed at all since the beginning of the comic. Mrs. Donlan’s half-face in Panel 5 is really creepy.
Did Tom actually redraw Annie in those two panels at the bottom where she doesn’t move? I think he did! The kid, by the way, is William Winsbury. He looks AWFUL in the older art, but a lot better later –
Here he just looks like a weird ghostly lump. He’s also kind of an asshole.
19. From what I remember, Anj- I mean, Mrs. Donlan’s “Hmm…” in Panel 1 is erased in the published version because it never led to anything. And Willie got told! OH SNAP~
Once again, Annie looks horrid in Panel 3. But I do know how she feels, missing opportunities to get to know people. But everything is going to be okay, because on the second half of the page we meet KATERINA~ Kat is…you thought I was actually going to tell you, didn’t you? Well, NAY! Her pose in Panel 6 is weird. But we love her because she actually gets Annie the social interaction I think she wanted! YAY! And, yes, this is why we call Antimony “Annie.”
20. Huh, well Panel 2 is weird to see now that we actually know Janet and John’s names. That creature in Panel 3 is horrible, though thankfully, again, we never see him again. This is a neat project they have to do, but one day to do it? ONE DAY? How can you expect kids to do anything worthwhile for that? Lol, Kat’s asleep. Also, it kinda saddens me how taciturn Annie is, or at least shows herself to be.
21. Blah blah blah indeed. Now that I know more about Annie I wonder if she thought of the Minotaur for a reason… and see, aren’t those drawings super cool?! And I love the little release of tension at the end- “Library, then? Indeed.” It’s very British. Also, if Kat confused you in Panel 4, she’s not Asian. She’s half-Roma.
22. This is the most depressing library I have ever seen in my life. Not even any novels? 8[
Kat: Science is this school’s specialty.
Why do I get a sudden foreboding feeling? Kat looks utterly uninterested in the older part of the library. I wonder why it does look so creepy…perhaps trying to keep the students away?
23. This is the SCARIEST library I’ve ever seen in my life! I can’t even see any shelves! It looks super old. I can’t read that directory so don’t even ask. The later part of this page has the same ghostly feel as the first chapter. Also, where are those pictures sitting? Just on a table? Either way, they’re creepy. They kind of remind me of the story of the man walking in the sand with God…
24. Those are the SCARIEST books I’ve ever seen in my life! And, OMG. I really have nothing more to say about this than that. Except that Football-Head Annie is still strangely taciturn…
25. Annie and Kat are truly fearless – I would guess that both of them are used to exploring the unknown. Oooh, the labyrinth looks like a brain! And I never really knew that about the Cretan myth – that there was only one path to take to the Minotaur. But Tom’s the expert – if he said it, it’s more than likely true. Also, look at that neat Greek-pottery art! I’m seriously geeking out over that there. I love rereading this comic.
26. HOLYCRAP PLOT EXPOSITION! Panel 4 is beautiful and also terrifying. This is the strangest family living situation I have ever encountered in my life – though I suppose Surma wanted her daughter with her.
I wish I knew exactly why Surma was sick, though…and why she says so little about Anthony up there. By the way, those are their names, Surma and Anthony. Panel 5 is also gorgeous – probably the best picture of Annie yet. And it’s chilling that Kat cries and Annie does not…
27. I suppose this is a new experience for Kat, a family so fragmented…and, yes, she’s Mrs. Donlan’s daughter. We see her father, Donald Donlan (yes, really) later. Also, I must add that at this point in the artwork Kat’s nose is really weird.
This is my second most favorite moment of the comic EVER. And also my favorite Tom commentary. Start watching that box, there’s going to be important things written in there from now on.
28. BASIL! He looks so scary in Panel 1…though it looks like all it takes to get past the shouty exterior and to a nice and normal fellow is a bit of kindness! If only Thesus had tried that…I love the comparison between their hands and envy Tom’s ability to draw hands. I also like his comfy little chair. It’s so cute.
The last panel is a good summary of their personalities. Annie’s fearless and taciturn, Kat is just…
29. Hah, oh my god, LOOK AT EVERYONE’S FACES. THEY ARE PISSED OFF. (From the left: Janet, John, Winsbury, Paz. They’ll all have minor roles later in.)
I love how deadpan and elephant-in-the-living-room this is played. Now THIS I can safely say reminds me of Monty Python. Just the thought of Annie saying “dreaded Minotaur of Crete” gets me rolling. The kids at the bottom look like glass-eyes. And good question, Kat.
30. Annie: The story of you and Thesus is quite well known. Can you tell us about that?
Basil: Oh, that, sheesh.
Now, THIS is my favorite moment in the comic, ever. It’s so sweet and unexpected and also awesome. It will ALWAYS cheer me up on a rainy day, and someday I want to show it to a mythological expert and see his reaction. I really have nothing more to say. Except, give Basil a hug, dammit!
31. You have to admit Panel 1 Annie has a good point, despite her head is still a football. And also Panel 4 Annie. I kind of wonder if she scares her class a little. Bye, Basil! I hope we see you sometime again…because you haven’t shown up since this D8
And that was Chapter 2. The plot is unfolding, little by little…now on to the bonus page!
32. These dorms are TERRIFYING. What if you have a bed on the upper levels and have to climb that horrible ladder? What if two people are on the ladder at the same time? What if you roll out of your bed and fall out? What if there’s a draft? Alsjdlajsdsa I hate them.
Also, that’s Robot’s arm.
33. The next chapter begins. Annie’s looking a little prettier. No, I’m not telling you what a Reynardine is. You’ll find out soon enough. The middle symbol is the alchemical symbol for antimony (which by the way is an element). This chapter’s a little longer than the other two.
34. For the Americans in the audience, I believe a “Games Lesson” is kind of like gym class. And we’re treated to a scene of Winsbury being an asshole. Winsbury is super pale.
Winsbury looks weirder than usual in Panel 6. Also, Annie’s head looks even more like a handegg in a ponytail! (I just realized that because the comic is British I really should be calling it a “handegg”, not a “football.”) And WOO, SHE KICKED HIS ASS.
35. And it looks like shit is about to go down in those three panels…until we are saved by the VERY VAGUE FACED AND MUSCULAR GAMES TEACHER! Now this is ONE guy who won’t just be disappearing…not-so-spoiler for you there. :3
Annie’s ponytail is really thin in Panel 5. And AW YISS, Winsbury got his ass kicked AGAIN. Also his mouth covers the entire width of his face.
36. And now Mr. Eglamore is no longer vague-faced! Wow, I remember being pretty impressed with this guy’s old English-sounding name. I wouldn’t want to cross ANYONE who had a name like that and looked like that. (And trust me, you don’t.)
Eglamore kind of reminds me of Samurai Jack in these next three panels, if only for his facial expressions. And it looks like Eglamore isn’t the moral paragon he’s designated to be by his job. (May I mention that he’s also the most fit gym teacher I’ve ever seen in any fictional story, ever, by a LONG shot?)
And if you can’t see the blushes on Kat’s face, there are blushes on Kat’s face! Oho, what could THIS mean? Wow Eggy has skinny legs.
37. CREEPY DORMS. CREEPY. DORMS. I think Annie’s supposed to be playing with her necklace in Panel 3 but it doesn’t come across super well. LOL @ Kat swooning over Eglamore in Panel 4. I wish I could tell you what her shirt meant, but alas I cannot. The scene with the necklace is gorgeous, by the way – I wish I had a hokey necklace like that!
38. VOOP VOOP. What an awful way to be told to go to bed. (Also, keep an eye on that wolf toy.) Panel 2 must’ve driven the shippers mad. (I should mention that there are very few romantic subplots among the main characters. So people can’t comprehend it, and they ship Annie and Kat instead.) CREEPY LADDER. CREEPY LADDER.
OH SHIT ALL MY NIGHTMARES ARE COMING TRUE OH SHIT OH SHIT OH SHIT
39. The giant WHEEOOO should be scary but it does look kind of silly. How did Mrs. Donlan get there so fast? She lives in her own house, I know that much… also, those two girls you don’t recognize? They’re in Queslett South so you never see them again. Hah.
ANNIE’S TRAPPED IN THE CREEPY DORMS OH NO YOU GUYS
40. Annie cannot possibly comprehend how LUCKY she is that she is not dead. Panel 2 looks like something of an artistic improvement. (Again, watch the wolf toy.)
And again, Annie continues her habit of risking CERTAIN DEATH in order to investigate. She is truly fearless, that she is. Either that, or her wolf toy is giving her confidence.
41. PANEL-FILLING THING. HOWLING. AND IN PAIN.
I must mention, Panel 2 Annie is probably the prettiest picture of her thus far. This whole page is beautiful. Also, those buildings in the background? They’re probably ALL part of the Court.
42. Reynardine: Surma? Is that you? Oh, how many years it has been…
In case you didn’t remember from my spoiler, Surma is Antimony’s mother. All of the scenes of Annie’s hair blowing in the wind are beautiful, because they’re artistically unique. And, REYNARDINE. It’s so weird seeing him be so polite! But, REYNARDINE. Omgomg. The plot is moving the plot is moving~
43. What IS that thing stuck through Reynardine’s leg? It looks like a lamppost or a power pole.
Reynardine: If you leave, that man on yonder will take me away.
If you don’t recognize this guy I’m going to have to slap you. Annie, you’d get a slap if you didn’t have that bruise on your forehead. Also, see if you can puzzle out what Reynardine’s saying in the last panel about dragon slayers. One of the best things about Gunnerkrigg Court is the word puzzles…
46. OH, NOT YOU TOO. WHAT IS WITH THIS NUMBER-SKIPPING FETISH COMICS HAVE. Anyway, Annie’s being pretty calm in the face of adversity, and also pretty trusting. This Reynardine guy could, you know, be dangerous…! Though what his exact motives are are yet to be seen and puzzled out…
Wolf toy, watch the wolf toy. And that blood, that blood is CHILLING.
45. Wait, Reynardine, why would Annie’s presence at the Court automatically mean that Surma was dead? Aw, look at him, he’s crying…so he must’ve had some Surma sympathies. Whoever or whatever he is…
Oooh, a Rogat Orjak’s eyes can glow? Or is that just Reynardine? And if you don’t recognize the Dragon Slayer in the last panel, you REALLY need a good slapping. It’s amazing what a false impression of the eventual plot this one page gives.
47. TO THE INFIRMARY. I’d ask where the doctor/nurse is, but I’d imagine she’s off doing stuff. And Annie still has a one-track will and mind. And it is kind of sad how simple the art is now, because it gets much prettier later.
This seems unusually cliché for GC, characters assuming someone is hallucinating because they got hit on the head. But I guess at this point we don’t know enough about Annie to know why she would just go after Reynardine. But yay for Kat for being so sweet to Annie! She already knows she needs her; Annie needs some time to figure it out. (Oh, come on, not like that.)
48. I’m finding myself wondering why she has such an emotional attachment to Reynardine suddenly. Probably because he name-dropped her mother, and she’s trying to go closer to what’s familiar and safe – that is to say, her mummy. All the bubbly bubbles are kind of tacky.
So, yeah. Here Annie goes to save the day! (Watch the wolf toy.)
49. Annie: Judging by the state Reynardine was in, I deduced that his prison was somewhere on school grounds.
I asked Tom something about what this line addresses on his formspring, and he said that Gunnerkrigg Court isn’t so much a school with a lot of secrets as it is a lot of secrets with a school. (Heavily paraphrased, I don’t quite remember what he said.) But then again, Annie probably doesn’t know that yet…I suppose the entire story wasn’t developed at this point, but again, DOESN’T GC HAVE BETTER SECURITY THAN THIS?
Also – WHAT. ANNIE KEEPS HER LOCKPICKING TOOLS IN HER TOY?! The secret as to why she carries him around with her all the time, revealed!
Tic toc. Tic toc WHAT THE HELL ARE THESE BIRDS
50. Woo, halfway through! The restricted areas have the ghostly feel again, as Annie explains below. Here we get a taste of the Court’s rather odd sense of humor – this sign is just the tip of the iceberg.
So now we join Annie as she heads to the – wait.
Annie: As the train sped silently along the tracks,
If it’s being “silent”, why is it making a SHOOO sound? AND WHY DID NO ONE IN THE ROBOTICS DEPARTMENT DETECT THE TRAIN BEING USED? Leaving that aside, I love the last panel to bits because it instills a sense of wonder – that is to say, what is the rest of the Court like?
51. Fsss. I LOVE the eye-crossed-out motifs. As those those in and of themselves are supposed to keep out intruders. Actually, I love the whole feel of emptiness in the scene.
AND THERE’S REYNARDINE AGAIN. He looks to have a different shackle on his arm this time, and the power pole is gone from his leg. Perhaps it was a power pole, then? I have to wonder just why Reynardine got out… I don’t like that evil-looking thing on the ceiling, either…
52. Eglamore: Let’s not have a repeat of last night, eh?
Antimony: Mister Eglamore!
Okay, I’ve said his name twice. You better know who he is by now. Also, I just looked back at the first page and realized that even here, Annie is looking better – her head is still a football, but her lips aren’t as…lippy. So, TIME FOR A PLOT TWIST.
Eglamore looks a lot hunkier in Panel 4 than he does in other panels. But SO MANY QUESTIONS UNANSWERED. Who’s the bad guy? What’s the court doing with giant…whoozits? What? What?
53. And now we’re back here with Annie and Reynardine…AND SHIT HITS THE FAN. OH NO. OHH NOO. Wait, why did Reynardine want to kill Antimony that badly THIS IS THE PART WHERE YOU FREAK OUT. Also, last panel is gorgeous.
55. Really, I thought we were done with number jumping! Wait, what, what is this? Reynardine is not what he appears to be! In fact, he looks…VAGULEY FOX-LIKE. And he’s going for the eyes…what an awesome sequence…AND EGLAMORE SAVES THE DAY. ALL CONFUSION ABOUT ALLIANCES IS RESOLVED SEMI-INSTANTLY.
54. Notice how Reynardine instantly grows far less polite…AND THAT HE GOES FOR THE EYES. This transformation sequence is SUPER AWESOME. Those metal things? They’re the lockpicks, I suppose. I did tell you to watch the wolf toy. Also, make note that neither Annie nor Eglamore saw any of this…
56. Eglamore: I knew you’d be trouble from the moment I saw you.
This line is both adorable and terrifying; you’ll find out why later. Already, within twenty pages, Eglamore looks far better drawn than he did in his first appearance. Panel 2 looks super awkward, with Eglamore looking all well-done and Annie looking so simple.
Sivo’s story is super sad…and Reynardine really does seem terrifying right now, with that horrid description of him. Especially the last panel…you can feel the hurt in Eglamore’s lines, that he’s lost just another friend.
57. He hands her the toy. HE HANDS HER THE TOY. (Again, watch the toy.) Sivo’s dead eyes in Panel 4 are likely the creepiest thing I have seen thus far. And in case you’re wondering why Eglamore isn’t freaking her out or trying to get her memory erased or something crazy like that, it’s a facet of this universe – that she should be used to stuff like this. Or…other reasons that will become clear in another 40 pages. The translation for the Slovenian can be found in Tom’s comments.
58. This is a super-fast page. First we’ve got Eglamore being like DON TELL NOBODY and then Kat being like ANNIE NORMAL LIFE BECKONS TO YE. Also, is it just me, or do Kat’s eyes look a little more detailed than usual?
They do! Yay art development! And, poor thing. It’s kind of sad that she is so easily resigned to death.
So, that was the end of chapter 3. It was the most plotular chapter yet; I loved it. It is however still just a taste of what’s to come…FLAMING WOLF TOY.
I don’t know if we’ve seen the little antimony symbol yet, but it means the chapter’s over.
59. And now for a fake examination of Rogat Orjaks! I don’t know if Tom made these up or if they’re obscure Scandinavian creatures, but you have to admit this page kicks ass. And I had to giggle at this –
Originally procured by E. Gould. Later lost in a poker match in Kursk.
Looks like Mr. Gould was a gambler as well as a sketcher! I love the academic feel here…and also HAH at the dragons. And wow, nice bicep!
Not Very Scary
60. This is a short, filler-y chapter, but no less well done (if unrefined at this point) than the rest. Enjoy.
61. What the hell? Why is Annie tending to a Bonsai tree? She NEVER does this again. EVER. Well, it’s funny all the same. Also, I realized the reason I liked Annie’s art better in Chapter 3 is because she didn’t have her insane amounts of eyeshadow on! She looks better when she lightens up on it in Year 8.
Panel 4 is chilling not because there should be a door there, but because of the Latin beginnings of “Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori.” Also, that “woooo” is the most non-threatening thing ever.
62. MORT!!! I LOVE MORT! He hasn’t been in the comic proper much lately so I broke out in a huge grin when I saw him. Kids, meet Mort, the absolute cutest ghost in all the world. Huh, look at his big glow. I don’t quite remember him glowing so much later…
And aww, Mort, don’t look so disenheartened! It takes a LOT to scare Annie.
63. Ack, I know Mort is trying very hard, but it’s very hard to take him seriously when he looks like he does in any panel he’s ever been in. I have a feeling this chapter is a sort of deconstruction of any old mythical creature, including the “bedsheet phantasm.” Then again, with all Annie’s seen, this is small potatoes for her, so she COULD give him some help with his believability believably.
That aside, I LOVE Mort’s flowers in that last panel! Goof!
64. Annie’s statement in Panel 1 is something B-movie fans will fight forever. And Mort’s face in Panel 2 is hilarious. Panel 4 has some interesting things in the background…and those bottom two panels must’ve been really easy to draw. Hm, let’s see about this…
65. Ah, what a lighthearted comic. Recognize Paz? This is Paz. I’m kind of super jealous of her perfect hair. She speaks Spanish. Her faces look a lot like what faces look like later in the comic, which is weird.
If you couldn’t figure it out, she’s saying, “Oh! Where is the door? Huh? A balloon!” Roughly.
66. Now, it isn’t just Paz. THIS CIRCUS IS REALLY CREEPY. Paz doesn’t seem as composed as Annie (though no one can achieve that), though I guess she’s still seen enough not to just run off at the sight of a circus where a circus should not be. But really…aack.
Again, the Spanish – “What? Hello? Oh…how horrible.”
67. Those three “clicks” are the creepiest moment in the entire comic. Hands down. Wait, no. That SAW is the creepiest thing in the entire comic. If I’m going to have my eyes hacked out by a weird plastic clown I’d like it to be a clean saw. Tom translates the Spanish below. AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAYYYYYY!!! D8
68. Now, I will admit, that was scary, but why the deuce were they picking on Paz? Sure, she doesn’t play any real role for another 20 chapters but STILL. I suppose it was for the sake of a good mini-story. Which, by the way, is now over. Wasn’t that quick?
Mort: And how did you know that girl didn’t like clowns?
Annie: No one likes clowns.
Indeed, kids. Indeed.
69. Bonus comic – and oooh, it’s Janet! Let’s see if Mort can scare her…nope, nope, and…NOPE! HAHA.
Janet’s lines here always make me laugh like mad, and not only because it terrifies Mort (who seems attached to Annie~!). According to Tom she lapses into Shakespearian English whenever she gets pissed off. Not only that, but apparently these lines are from Timon of Athens, a Shakesperian play I know I hadn’t heard of before this comic. She also falls victim to Muppet-mouth disease in the last panel. Also, because it hasn’t really come to much of anything plot-major yet, she happens to be the Headmaster’s daughter.
Though not quite as mean/insane as Sissi here. (I'm pretty impressed with myself - I made it through 3.5 reviews without dropping any hint of CL!)
Two Strange Girls
70. A new chapter begins. More fun is to occur. For the record, the two strange girls are not Annie and Kat.
71. Another teacher we never see again! There certainly are a lot of these. At least he’s not as ugly as the Mythology guy. This is also the first time we really get to see Kat’s geekiness – she invents an antigrav unit and thinks NOTHING of it, wanting more than anything to show everyone her protein whatevers. AN ANTIGRAV UNIT. I love how the teacher freaks out…
Teacher: A thermos? And…coat hangers?!
I ALSO LOVE THIS GUY’S SCIENCE TIE. GUY, YOU WIN ALL OF THE THINGS.
72. Annie had no idea about Kat’s abilities? Well, she’s about to get schooled quite heavily. Annie’s looking better artistically, I noticed – her head is no longer very handegg-like. I can’t help but wonder what her contest entry was in Panel 3 – it looks pretty scary. Though Kat doesn’t seem that disturbed…
<3 Kat’s technobabble! And also not knowing what half that stuff is. Also like to note that, even with early artistic flops, Tom draws eleven-to-twelve-year-old girls a lot better than most animes, by virtue of the fact that he does not give them all C-cups.
73. I don’t like that floppy-hair thing Kat’s got goin’ in Panel 1 – it looks uberawk. The library does not look so dreary anymore. But it is about to get several times freakier. (I think the Greek says “Silence, please”)
These are two strange girls. One is a very rude girl, and one is a very quiet girl. Kat looks a little better in that last panel, holding IMPORTANT STUFF LIKE SCIENCE
74. And Zimmy shows off her lovely personality already! For the record, Kat doesn’t seem to have a big nose…anyway, insults and attitude are exchanged, all on Miss Zimmy No-Eyes’ part! Chester House is mentioned for the first time. The other houses are perhaps odder than they appear…
I don’t know Polish off the top of my head, but according to the Gunnerkrigg Wiki, Gamma says “Stupid…” and Annie says “That’s not very nice.”
I lied about before; this strip is where Tomments begin.
75. The top two panels are pretty confusing to me but I’m not going to tell you why. AND IT IS ON. OH SNAP. I must say this is a bit of a twist on the old high school science fair plot…(and it’s about to get twistier)
Goodness, however does Annie know all these languages? We shall soon know…just not right now. And Kat does not have a big nose, just a funny-looking one. But I love Annie’s line. It’s so…Antimony Carver.
76. PROTEN IS GREAT! ALL ABOUT PROTIEN! ZERO GRAVITY! Maybe I should take back what I said about Kat not being a strange girl. And it’s Eggers and Anja! Eglamore is in a suit! It becomes him quite nicely. It’s very odd to see Mrs. Donlan with her hair up because we hardly ever see her like that after this. And ooooh, Kat’s blushing!
And good, they finally use Anja’s name so I don’t feel weird using it anymore. Annie seems to be sad, I do not know why…and that girl in the last panel is weeeiirding me out.
77. This page is also hilarious…and it looks as though Gamma is a little friendlier with people she can actually communicate with. (In case you haven’t figured out, she can’t speak English…and she’s a bit dominated by Zimmy.) Again, it looks like Tom redid the art for those two identical panels…
Annie: This is…an abomination.
78. So the twist begins as projects are destroyed. I wonder what houses these two kids are from – they look perfectly normal to me.
Kat appears to be in CREEPY DORM bunk 5, which is a lot more decorated than Annie’s. And I still think Kat is pissed off by the big-nose comment. Annie is being the logical one in the situation, wanting to understand them rather than immediately fear them. Also THAT MOTION DETECTOR HAS CAT EARS. AOSJFLASF.
(Speaking of animals, have you been watching the wolf toy lately?)
79. THE MOTION DETECTOR MEOWS? WHY DID I NEVER NOTICE ANY OF THIS BEFORE. And I’m amazed that Annie and Kat are able to find their way around this place without getting lost…
Oooh, look at all the alchemical symbols on those banners. One of them looks like the Anarchy symbol. AND THERE ARE ZIMMY AND GAMMA. OH SNAP, VILLAINY.
80. And now things get weird. Zimmy and Gamma reveal themselves not to be evil, but simply not to care about anyone else. I find myself wondering why Gamma always wears black lipstick. And…
You don’t have to watch the wolf toy anymore.
Oh, because the site mirror actually has dates for these as i discovered, HAPPY 2006, EVERYONE!
Oh, because the site mirror actually has dates for these as i discovered, HAPPY 2006, EVERYONE!
81. EXPOSITION TIME. This is more what Reynardine’s personality will be like for most of the story. And, yes, ANY body with eyes. Even a potato, apparently. Haha, Kat’s confused. And I suppose Zimmy and Gamma don’t care.
Annie: You tried to KILL me!
Reynardine: Oh, don’t be so melodramatic, child! I can do nothing to harm you now.
You’re still brushing off that you tried to KILL her, Rey. And OOH, looks like someone’s about to get told!
82. The first panel is in no way endorsed by Apple or iPod. I like the idea of “old magical laws” as they are in place here, like natural laws of ownership or obedience. They’re all funky and mystical. Rey, too, is funky and mystical. Clearly. Another thing I like seeing is faerie logic like this, untouched by human morality and politesse.
Gypsy, that’s a bit insensitive. For Zimmy, though…yeah, that makes perfect sense.
83. Zimmy, too, doesn’t run on that sort of morality, doesn’t care about politeness, just wants to be left alone. And so, the two strange girls are off. Without so much as a glimmer more of personality from Gamma.
Kat’s hair is weird in Panel 5. And ALSJLAJDLS.
The idea of petting a big scary demon is wonderous to me. C:
84. And the story’s loose ends are tied up. It’s worth note that the chapters are self-contained stories, but all add up to a connected whole. So, let’s see. Kat wins the science fair, no surprise because she BULT AN ANTIGRAV UNIT. Zimmy’s entry gets carted off by HAZMATs (heehee) and Gamma and Zimmy remain mysterious.
Reynardine is, of course, another major character. And he’s being obstinate, so he won’t tell Annie want she wants to hear. But Annie has him told. And the chapter is over until more situations arise.
85. Bonus page! Remember all the extra characters? Well, here all their issues are summed up in one extra page. That is John, and that is Margo. They do not appear to like it when Winsbury (whose eye-shadows are getting lighter, it would appear) and Janet fight, which they appear to do often…EXCEPT NOT REALLY. LOOOL.
There are two things I’d like to note here. One of them is the joke with their names – “Willie O’ Winsbury” is the name of a Scottish folk ballad about a young lad in a relationship with a lady named Janet, kept something of a secret because she is the daughter of the king (though, since the Janet in the song gets knocked up, things go downhill pretty fast...) Janet’s father is the headmaster. Your mind, blown.
The second is this thread. Apparently, when a forum member taught English in Thailand, he used Gunnerkrigg Court as a teaching tool, and even though this was just one comic, the students became fixated on it and wanted them to stop kissing because it was very gross. HOW CUTE IS THAT.
(Psst, here’s another thread about this.)
A Handful of Dirt
86. A short chapter, but a sweet one nonetheless. Trees.
87. I think this is the first time a chapter has directly segued into another! Woo! Reynardine continues to be a mystery. And Kat continues to act like, well, a lovestruck little girl about Eggers! All the little hearts she’s got around her are hilarious. I love Kat at this point. She’s so sweet.
Kat: He’s a friend of my mum and dad, but they never mentioned anything like that. I guess they don’t know.
Katerina Donlan, you naïve, naïve little girl.
88. Annie: I’m not sure. I don’t know what to make of any of this.
And Annie continues to be her reserved self…I love comics like this, that can be silly on the surface and then suddenly pull very well-developed characters out of their nether regions. So, really, her unwillingness to probe sorta mirrors the restrainedness of the school’s weirdness so far…
Wait a minute what is Kat doing OH MY GOD
89. SUPER PRETTY. OMG. CHERRIES. OMG. GIRLS GOOFING AROUND. OMG.
Annie: Shouldn’t these be washed before you eat them?
Kat: We all eat a handful of dirt before we die, Annie. Who cares if it tastes like cherries?
AND YAY FOR TAKING ANNIE OUT OF HER COMFORT ZONE! That’s hardly the most dangerous thing you’ll ever do, Miss Carver. Or even the most dangerous thing you’ve ever DONE.
90. There’s not much to say about this page, except to enjoy the art and enjoy the ride. Really, it’s a breather. Also, Kat’s and Annie’s heads are huge on their bodies right now.
91. And now it’s been a few hours! Every reference I’ve ever seen says that these cherries had some sort of depressant (alcohol, for example) or hallucinogen in them, and Annie and Kat do act very oddly, but the first time I read it I just thought it was them having fun. I guess I was wrong.
Now that I know that it feels like it would feel if you were fifteen and managed to break into your parents’ liquor cabinet and completely ruined your tolerance forever in a balls-trippin’ night with your best friend. Complete with laughter about things that aren’t funny!
92. Annie’s hair looks very pretty in Panel 3…even if it doesn’t look like her clip is clipping anything anymore.
IT’S BOB, BOB THE GARDENER. Did anyone ever watch the Muzzy vids as a kid? I’m not sure if this was what he was named after (probably not, considering his wife we see later is named Marcia and not Sylvia), but I laughed. (On that note, who ignored the tape that was in the other language and just kept watching the English one over and over? I DID)
Kat: We’ve been rumbled!
Why do I love that line so much? LOL, they’re totally not taking this guy seriously at all…
93. Now, in these first six panels, it’s easier for me to believe she’s under some sort of influence. These are the shiniest tears I’ve ever seen…*heartstrings tugged*
Awkward Bob is awkward…why don’t you comfort them, dammit! But I guess Annie actually having fun with someone rather than “swotting around” reminded her too much of the only friend she’d ever had previously… 8<
94. As sad as I am to see Annie cry, it’s beautiful to see her opening up, finally… “I tried not to cry…” 8[ And all the supportiveness…<3
And now we go from supportive people to complete stonehearts. Such as Annie’s father, see.
95. I should mention this, because it’s not a spoiler – we don’t know ANYTHING about Annie’s father beyond his profession and his elusiveness. It’s very odd, too…as open and joyful as she is about her closeness with her mother, her father is usually dismissed in one or two sentences. It’s almost sadder than her mother’s death… (BATMAN)
The way Kat is talking at the bottom, it’s as though she can’t COMPREHEND that a father would ever leave his child, perfect parents that she has. AND ANNIE, DON’T BLAME YOURSELF. IT’S NOT YOUR FAULT.
96. And now I smile again, because Kat’s going to be there to help Annie through anything! And vice versa! Yay! They need to wash their blouses. Also, some people apparently thought they were kissing in Panel 5. They are not kissing.
It may be jarring how the mood is lightened at the end of the page, but I can say that’s pretty normal for female delving sessions. You don’t know how to follow up on soul-crushing revelations, so you just take a stab in the dark. And the chapter is over. It wasn’t a breather really at all. I lied to you.
97. Bonus page! In case you’ve been wondering what Rey’s been doing all this time. Kat’s a bit of a geek. The dolls are Hellboy, Mulder from X-Files, and Batman. You should know this.
This is probably the first indication that Reynardine is not the evil scary thing he pretends to be. So I close the chapter on this note:
Reynardine: I agree, Professor Oswald, the hyacinths have been fairly lethargic this year…OH LORD STRIKE ME DOWN
I love this comic.
Of New And Old
98. Horrible bird. I, too, thank you for reading.
99. Something’s looking rather familiar, isn’t it? Even with the extent of Tom’s powers in Chapter 1, the front door of the Court is looking rather fancier, isn’t it? I love all the towers.
There is a shadow on the stair. Only…one shadow. THAT HORRIBLE BIRD.
Annie: I shouldn’t be here…
My my, whatever could be happening…!
100. This is also happening! Just a note, “jumper” means “sweater” in British English. EGLAMORE. SHIT JUST GOT REAL. LOVE THE DETAIL ON HIS FACE. AND THEY’RE ON THE BRIDGE. THE BRIDGE. WHY IS ANNIE ON THE BRIDGE.
ROBOT. ROBOT WHY ARE YOU ALL BEAT UP. AND WHY IS THERE BROWN WHERE YOUR ARM SHOULD BE. WHY IS THAT BIRD WATCHING YOU.
I’LL SAY. Well, what’s going to happen next? How did we get here? Why did Robot come back?
I would tell you, but it just so happens to be strip 100.
HANGING FROM A CLIIIIFFFF
AND THAT’S WHY HE’S CALLED CLIFFF HANGERR!!!
Sorry, I just had to do that. This is such a perfect place to stop…I couldn’t have planned it better myself. Of course, you could just keep reading without me, but what’s the fun in that? The answer is, IT’S LOADS OF FUN. So keep reading, because it only gets better from here. And don’t worry, this will be continued in good time.
Now, how can you pay back Tom for being so awesome and using so much ink and paint and words? He lives in Britain, so if you are not British he is rather hard to stalk, so instead you must GIVE HIM MONEY. There is a donation page if you just want to give him money without any compensation (and where you used to be able to pay for custom sketches). There is also MERCH, however. Tom doesn’t have much in the way of merch, but what he does have is lovely. There are prints of the three “Treatise” drawings (such as you saw up there), a print with characters that have not shown up in my reviews yet, and two shirts – one with the Gunnerkrigg Court logo, and one with City Face, another character who is yet to show himself. There will also soon be a REYNARDINE PLUSHIE for sale and I will be on that like you have no idea.
There are also two book collections out that are not for sale on that site – Orientation and Research. They are, however, on sale at booksellers in nice hardbacks. They are fairly expensive, but very definitely worth it.
Also, another thing about webcomic sites. Many of them receive revenue from advertising (such as Tom’s PW ads) so if you use an ad blocker such as I do, TURN IT OFF or you’re robbing these guys of their hard-earned moneys. The only comic I would say not to do this with is Concerned: The Half-Life and Death of Gordan Frohman, because whenever I view that site without an adblock my computer crashes. (Still a fantastic comic though)
Anyway, on Wednesday I’m going to continue Dinosaur Comics. So get ready for the action, suspense, and drama! Except not really much action. 8P