webcomic: Gunnerkrigg Court

One of the things I’m fascinated by is what might roughly be called “21st Century Storytelling” – in other words, ways to tell stories that use modern technology. One example is the collaborative work Shadow Unit which I’ll talk about more as we get closer to their Season Two (March 1st!), but another example is the rise of the webcomic.

Web comics come in a wide range of forms. Some are short, a few panels at a time. Some are much longer, or more clearly fall into a graphic novel format. The quality of the art varies widely (some are beautiful pieces of artwork in their own right. Others – well, there’s one I read that’s drawn entirely with stick figures, to save time on the art.)

I read a number of them. Many of them are gaming related (and not of interest to a broader audience) but I do want to highlight a few that are of more general interest here.

One of these is Gunnerkrigg Court, a comic about the experiences of Antimony Carver, a student at a very strange school (called Gunnerkrigg Court). There are mysteries about her parents, about the Court, about the forest across the bridge, about why there are so many robots. One of the things I love about it are the details and odd little twists: a horse who quotes Milton, the details of shadows,
and utterly bizzarre dorm buildings (the first year dorm is a row of bed spaces stacked high on top of each other, so that you have to climb ladder after ladder to get to the top bunk areas.) And robot parrots.

The genre is somewhere between myth and fairy tale and a science fiction romp (complete with robots and space ships), but defies easy categorisation. There’s a little magic, but it’s the characters and the interactions that drive the stories, not the mechanics of the world or how things work. And of course, we see through Antimony’s eyes: many things are strange to her, but she’s only interested in exploring some of them right now.

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