Gunnerkrigg Court Volume 1: Orientation Hardcover – 30 Jul 2009
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Hardcover, 30 Jul 2009
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About the Author
Thomas Siddell is English, and resides in Birmingham. He has a day job as an animator for a video game company, and he rides the bus to work every day. He hates Boxbot. He really, REALLY hates Boxbot.
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Robots, forest gods, a trickster god, an extraordinarily complicated love story that involves dead parents instead of preteen girls leading to a complicated history, unexplained technology, a dragon, ghosts, possession, death, and friendship are common in this world. This really has something for everyone who wants more than bubblegum in their reading. Please read it. You won't be disappointed.
I read deeper into the thick hardcover collection, and I was actually rewarded for the effort. There's a very distinct point around the ninth chapter, roughly 150 pages into the story, where all of the various elements coalesce into a story that the reader starts to care about. This might seem like the story requires a lot of patience, but once the foundations are set, Gunnerkrigg Court evolves into something that can be both hilarious and moving--even if that Harry Potter stuff is still clinging to its ankles. I don't think that Harry Potter ever had robots, even if it also had talking ghosts, mythical creatures, and awkward teenage romance.
The over-wise protagonist, a girl named Antimony Carver, seems to be a standard in just about every other fictional tale since Alice in Wonderland (and every Neil Gaiman story ever written), and Gunnerkrigg is no different. During the earlier chapters, she's drawn so emotionlessly and hollow that you wonder if she's human at all, but her humanity evolves as the story shifts--which I'm not sure is intentional as much as the artist finding his voice. Again, it takes some patience, but she's likable.
Because this collection consists of webcomics that were originally published online, the art reflects that unique "webcomics" aesthetic--which is occasionally rushed to meet a tight daily or weekly schedule. At first, the drawings come across as lazy and static, but Siddell evolves as an artist as the book progresses, and by the later chapters the art starts to come alive as he perfects his craft. If you pick up the book to scan it for yourself, start with the back pages, as they're more visually impressive.
The story itself hasn't yet reached any revolutionary points, but the 14 chapters within the collection are definitely sequential and hint at larger things in the Gunnerkrigg universe, establishing a mythology that mixes in a certain element of science, a larger conflict, and a fondness for the characters involved.
Parents and librarians should note that there's references to demons, use of the word goddamn, and a brief instance of a demon-possessed doll indicating that he'd like to see two of the young, female characters kiss. I'd still feel comfortable giving it to my nine-year-old niece to read, and I think she'd love the idea of these empowered young girls forging their way through a strange school and building weird flying machines to rescue each other from fairies and minotaurs. I'm looking forward to seeing what happens in book two.
-- Collin David
Together Kat and Annie (as Kat calls her) explore the strange things that are happening around them. This is not an ordinary English school, they soon find out.
This is a perfect father / daughter book, except that dad may wind up stealing it to read himself!
You just can't describe Gunnerkrigg Court with words alone to explain how amazingly original and beautiful this tale of mystery and mythos is. Each page is so lovingly and carefully drawn and colored, each plot point is so well thought out, every chapter leaves you hungering for more. No webcomic series I've read so far has hooked me so quickly and drawn me deeply into such a deep and infinitely interesting world. Reminiscent of something like a marriage of Bone and Harry Potter, Gunnerkrigg Court: Orientation follows the remarkable occurrences surrounding a young girl named Antimony Carver in her first year of school at Gunnerkrigg Court. Accompanied by her steadfast friend, Kat, and her possed stuffed animal Reynardine, she uncovers a world full of endearing characters and locations. The Court and its characters are all vaguely modern/science fiction related but also have some deep roots in world mythology and fantasy. However, it all fits together so naturally in Gunnerkrigg Court- I think it's pulled off very well.
I have a lot of respect for the artist and author, Tom Siddell. He unfailingly updated (and continues to do so!) this comic Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. He has a lot of dedication to his fans on the website and has put a lot of time and effort getting this volume out, and it really shows. He also answers questions from his readers on the site, so a look at [...] is highly recommended!
This book is pretty high quality - a nice heavy hardcover with lovely full-color pages. This is the first in what I hope are many more books to come. I highly recommend this book to anyone who loves graphic novels, fantasy, science fiction, and wants to read a beautiful and original tale of adventure.
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