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Eric: Yeah. Back to life.

Gunnerkrieg Court

(From Gunnerkrigg Court. Click on the thumbnail for full sized hidden pubescent passion!)

Are you reading Gunnerkrigg Court? Because you really ought to be. Well, at the very least you ought to be checking it out. It's possible it's not your cup of tea, after all. But it's also possible it is your cup of tea.

It's also possible tea doesn't enter into it. Really, there's a potential balance of tea-to-non-tea ratios here.

For those who haven't had a look at the strip before, it's about a boarding school set in a melange of fantasy and steampunk aesthetics. Each strip is a standalone chapter, and each chapter tells another chunk of the story, and the story itself is slightly odd and beautiful, all at once, and the strip is in general pretty worthy.

Of course, there is an eternal problem with snarking a story-heavy strip. You're never sure when to put up a representative strip, especially if the story is tightly paced. Do you highlight a well executed plot point? Do you highlight a climactic... er... climax? Do you throw up something at random and say "whoooo... look at the pretty pictures?"

In Gunnerkrieg Court's case, I've decided to put up today's strip because it's the first strip of the sixth chapter, and it seems to me that's a good hopping in point. The archive as a whole is only eighty-five strips long, so you could as easily go back to strip one and work your way forward if you want to give this thing a chance.

I like Gunnerkrieg Court because it's got a solid aesthetic going for it -- I don't mean "it's pretty," though it assuredly is. I mean it has a specific aesthetic. A sense of style. Tom Siddell clearly has a vision in his head he's trying to hit, and it doesn't quite look like anything else. I mean, you can see influences, sure, but he's putting them together into something a little different.

The stories reflect that. There is something of the poetic in them, and something terribly mundane at the same time. The stories often have a horror element to them, but there's never actually any fear going along with them. In this century, we often compare any boarding school stories to Harry Potter, but this is more Harry Potter as written by Lemony Snicket and set in an Industrial Complex designed by Lewis Carroll.

And that's pretty cool, is all.

Anyway, have a looksee. Even if you don't cotton to it, you ought to know about it. And a bunch of you will cotton to it, and that's very cool all told.

Posted by Eric Burns-White at January 23, 2006 10:53 AM

Comments

Comment from: Petie posted at January 23, 2006 11:16 AM

Weird. Gunnerkrig Court was recently added to my read list at the insistence of a few of my friends. Four people, independent of each other, screaming "READ THIS COMIC NOW". So I did, and I enjoyed it.

I really love the facial expressions in this comic.

Comment from: Ford Dent posted at January 23, 2006 11:52 AM

I just picked this comic up a couple days ago and have been pointing everyone I know toward it.

Now it's snarked.

Stop reading my mind Burns.

Comment from: Polychrome posted at January 23, 2006 11:53 AM

Reading the first part of this entry all I could think was: "I have both tea and no tea."

10 points to anybody who gets that reference.

Comment from: Egarwaen posted at January 23, 2006 11:54 AM

I've been reading it for months, and really enjoying it. And though I hadn't been able to put my finger on why, you've managed to. It's got style. It knows what it is, and it doesn't try to be anything else.

As an aside, I also sort of get an ICO/Shadow of the Colossus vibe from it, in addition to the ones you listed. Almost like nothing outside of the school is really real or something.

Comment from: Eric Burns posted at January 23, 2006 12:06 PM

As an aside, I also sort of get an ICO/Shadow of the Colossus vibe from it, in addition to the ones you listed. Almost like nothing outside of the school is really real or something.

There is definitely that. And a sense of rules to boot. I'm reminded of this strip. Antimony is forbidden to so much as step off the grounds of the school. Which could mean that it's a rule and rules can't be broken... or that there's nothing actually out there....

(That first chapter absolutely nails the "steampunk fantasy" element too. I mean, trapped shadows and second hand robots?)

Comment from: John Fiala posted at January 23, 2006 12:07 PM

Absolutely marvelous stuff. Thanks for pointing it out!

Comment from: Vincent Avatar posted at January 23, 2006 12:07 PM

Really, what this comic (which I just read this morning, the entire archive's worth of material) reminds me of is the writings of one Neil Gaiman, particularly Coraline. That children's-story-but-not-so-much vibe combined with a fantasy that manages to be both outrageous and mundane at the same time; the unflappable heroine who takes any and all departures from reality with infinite calm and exquisite grammar. I really, really, really like this one.

Comment from: Denyer posted at January 23, 2006 12:08 PM

Wow, random travelling comes in useful at last! Jest po Polsku!

I like how the narrative isn't strung out for the sake of it...

Comment from: Pseudowolf posted at January 23, 2006 12:18 PM

Wow, random travelling comes in useful at last! Jest po Polsku!

What language was that, anyway? Russian?

Comment from: batou posted at January 23, 2006 12:24 PM

Looks like Polish to me...

Comment from: Josy posted at January 23, 2006 12:36 PM

Nifty art. The schoolground style reminds me of a softer Jhonen Vasquez... which would be classified as what, gothic fantasy steampunk?

(I just learned the word "steampunk," so please correct me if I'm misusing it.)

Comment from: Pooga posted at January 23, 2006 12:53 PM

10 points to anybody who gets that reference.

That would be the same place that gave us the thing your aunt gave you that you don't know what it is. A thing I would definitely like to own, but have never seen, even on eBay.

Comment from: J.(Channing)Wells posted at January 23, 2006 12:55 PM

Dang. I wish I had more time today at work to scope this out. It looks quality.

Polychrome: May I claim my reward in the form of small bits of lint instead of in points? I could really use a little prognostication right now, and with a little effort I'm sure I could find a sauna bath and a good solid pot.

Comment from: Darrin_Bright posted at January 23, 2006 1:39 PM

Pooga, you don't have to look for it on ebay. You can play it for free through a java client:

http://www.douglasadams.com/creations/infocomjava.html

(Type 851108 into the "Go" box to start the client.)

Comment from: Egarwaen posted at January 23, 2006 1:47 PM

There is definitely that. And a sense of rules to boot. I'm reminded of this strip. Antimony is forbidden to so much as step off the grounds of the school. Which could mean that it's a rule and rules can't be broken... or that there's nothing actually out there....

Yeah, I think it was something to do with that, and the great big long bridge, and the mysterious watching bird... Oh, and the girl with shadows pouring out of her eyes is just creepy.

Comment from: Pooga posted at January 23, 2006 2:11 PM

Pooga, you don't have to look for it on ebay.
Actually I meant the thing your aunt gave you. Even if I wasn't aware of Douglas Adams's site (which I was, but thank you for the link), I'm fairly sure I've got an Infocom collection with the game that will still run on my current system. :)

That's the nice thing about the old text adventures. They don't run into the new system incomatabilities that other older games do. I've tried a half a dozen things to get the sound working un WinXP on my old Discworld game. I can play it without sound, but I miss Eric Idle's Rincewind.

Comment from: miyaa posted at January 23, 2006 2:44 PM

I particularly like the 2nd chapter.

Antimony (lovely name) reminds me of Wednesday, the Addams Family girl, NOT our Wednesday. She's perhaps a bit more civilized than usual in such a Victorian-ish setting.

It would be very interesting to compare this with Waspi Square and other such macabre webcomics.

Comment from: siwangmu posted at January 23, 2006 2:47 PM

Eric... Idle's... Rincewind?

Thank you in advance for bringing this into my life, I hope, in some form or other, when I track it down.

Comment from: Kirath posted at January 23, 2006 3:47 PM

That damned thing followed me around no matter how I tried to get rid of it. Then I figured out that I could open it and put things inside. Not unlike, perhaps, a semi-sentient chest with hundreds of tiny little feet. (Dresser? I can't remember for sure and I haven't read a Discworld novel in a couple of years.)

Comment from: Kate Sith posted at January 23, 2006 4:28 PM

Dude! I've read this since early on and was just thinking to myself recently that 'dude I should get other people to read this cos it's all cool'. Awesome.

Funnily enough, I found this when he linked it on a forum under his handle of 'Tea-san'.

What's not to love?

Comment from: chalcara posted at January 23, 2006 5:23 PM

Goddess, I instantly fell in love with this comic! The art, the characterisation...

And the heroine just rocks.

Thanks, Eric, for pointing this out!

Comment from: NthDegree256 posted at January 23, 2006 6:35 PM

Josy:

Invader Zim is the only Jhonen Vasquez I've been exposed to, but I'm inclined to agree. As an addition... the first thing it reminded me of was the character design from Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker.

As a side note, I've instantaneously fallen in love with this comic. Wow.

Comment from: Archon Divinus posted at January 23, 2006 7:21 PM

This is truly a great comic. I read through the archvies before breakfast this morning, in about half an hour.

The school vaguely reminds me of Ohtori Academy (from Revolutionary Girl Utena), though they look nothing alike. I guess it's because they both have really strange architecture and layouts.

Comment from: miyaa posted at January 23, 2006 9:09 PM

You know, come to think of it, the artwork has a kind of a Where the Wild Things Are meets Edward Gorey combination to it.

Comment from: Tyck posted at January 23, 2006 9:12 PM

Cottoning right now. To add to the list of things-brought-to-mind by this comic, the first couple of pages almost instantly reminded me of the hPlaystation 2 game Okage. Evil King Stan, dude.

Pooga:
You may have a use for VDMSound. It's a project put together by people who got tired of dealing with those issues and stepped around them by emulating the older hardware.

Comment from: Abby L. posted at January 23, 2006 10:38 PM

I read this a bit ago and I quite liked it. I haven't really been keeping up, though. Something to do at work. :)

Comment from: DarkStar posted at January 23, 2006 10:50 PM

On Discworld Games:
If you want to play the original discworld game, look to find it on www.the-underdogs.org - There are some occasional audio glitches, but overall, it is choice.

VDMSound works wonders (usually) and I've certainly played it with sound under WinXP.

Unfortunatly, the second discworld game (from the underdogs) lacks the audio data. While it can be run, why would you want to read all that verbose crap when you can't also hear the wonderful voice acting.

Oh... and if a Discworld Movie ever gets made, Eric Idle will HAVE to play Rincewind!

Comment from: 32_footsteps posted at January 24, 2006 8:18 AM

Invader Zim messes with my mind. Not the actual content itself; due to various mishaps, I've still never seen it.

It's just conceptually. See, I read Jonny the Homicidal Maniac and Squee. Even both Fillerbunny minicomics. You've got a comic about a serial killer, a child who is constantly neglected and facing horrible fates, and a genetically engineered bunny that constantly begs for death. How does all that get someone a show on Nickelodeon?

Comment from: Josy posted at January 24, 2006 4:49 PM

Well, Invader Zim didn't stay on Nick very long. And all who HAVE seen it tend to agree that it's terribly inappropriate for children.

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