Following in the fantasy footsteps of Harry Potter and The Wizards of Waverly Place, Gunnerkrigg Court is a funny, off-kilter graphic novel that chronicles the educational adventures of Antimony Carver, a precocious and rather dry seventh grader. Needless to say, the Court is NOT like other institutes of higher learning. Within days of joining the student body, fiery-haired Antimony befriends a Minotaur (“I prefer to be called Basil”), discovers one of her teachers is really a knight, and traps a deadly demon in her stuffed animal. She navigates the peculiar corridors of the Court with her best friend Kat, and together they deal with everything from old-fashioned ghosts and talking shadows to scarlet-eyed mean girls and lovelorn bird boys. When faced with an insurmountable problem, Antimony is never at loss for a solution, whether that involves quickly constructing a winged robot to run an important errand, or blowing up a death ray created by armless space aliens, even though “I can’t help but wonder how creatures without arms could make such a device and tie my friends up.” All the while, Antimony keeps trying to uncover the mysterious origins of her parents, who were former students of Gunnerkrigg Court. But as her mother has died and her father has disappeared, answers are in short supply. While volume one ends with even more questions, this collection of Thomas Siddell’s original webcomic still turns the tired old “magic school” premise on its ear with it’s bizarre manga-esque-looking characters and oddball humor. And I’m not the only one who was wooed by the weirdness: Neil Gaiman called Gunnerkrigg Court his “favorite webcomic” while ALA’s Great Graphic Novels for Teens committee named it to their 2010 Top Ten list.
Gunnerkrigg Court, volume 1: Orientation by Thomas Siddell