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Gunnerkrigg Court, Vol. 1: Orientation Hardcover – July 28, 2009

4.6 out of 5 stars 51 customer reviews

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Hardcover, July 28, 2009
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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. This first on-paper collection of a comic that's won several Web Cartoonists' Choice Awards reads like a British boarding school version of Lost, in which each semiexplanation of one mystery leads to a new, larger one. The titular school looks more like a vast modern factory, while across the adjacent, forbidding Annan Waters is Gillitie Wood, home of fairies, gods, ghosts and sentient shadows. In her first school year, Antinomy Carver discovers that the two realms aren't absolutely separate; her little stuffed doggie, for example, soon houses a grouchy but rather protective demon, while the robot she builds out of spare parts lying around the school crosses the Water and comes back with a living wooden arm. Grownups are of little help to the young protagonists, but Antinomy faces difficulties with courage and self-possessed good manners. She and her friend Kat respond appropriately to each fresh bit of weirdness, sometimes taking part in sci-fi space adventures, sometimes coping with the loss of a friend who's changing into a bird. Siddell's stylized manga-like art suggests energy struggling against determined restraint. The result is uncanny, perplexing and oddly compelling. (Dec.)
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From Booklist

*Starred Review* The first 14 chapters of Siddell’s popular webcomic are collected here in an alluring hardcover. The premise, best described as science-fantasy, involves a young girl named Antimony plopped into a strange boarding-school/industrial-complex, which, like the reader, she knows nothing about. Discrete chapters (some of which fast-forward the general story arc while others flit off on whimsical digressions) all feature varying levels of jaw-dropping peculiarity, devilish bursts of humor, and sublime creativity that lurk at the ends of the school’s myriad corridors. The darkly hued artwork is deceptively simplistic and displays a flair for the crucial details of setting and atmosphere; Siddell’s knack for setting enigmatic scenes that take pages to become clear lifts the experience from merely intriguing to simply spellbinding. Yes, there are dull echoes of most boarding-school fantasy (including that Potter one), plumbing the depths of abandonment, burgeoning friendship, and ultimate belonging, and dedicated readers can follow along online for free; but Siddell’s one-man show of weirdly inventive one-upmanship is too good to pass up. That it’s both appropriate and appealing for a wide age range, boys and girls, seals the deal. Oh, and Neil Gaiman’s a huge fan. There’s no reason to think his massive audience wouldn’t also be. Grades 6-12. --Ian Chipman

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 9 and up
  • Grade Level: 2 and up
  • Hardcover: 296 pages
  • Publisher: Archaia Sudios Press; 1st edition (July 28, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1932386343
  • ISBN-13: 978-1932386349
  • Product Dimensions: 6.8 x 0.8 x 10.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (51 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #830,492 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Top Customer Reviews

Gunnerkrigg court is, in a word, AWESOME. It is hilarious. At times, it seems to be parody-esque. At others, it seems to be very serious. The main character, Antimony (Annie), is a clever, reserved girl who has just become a student at the truly spectacular Gunnerkrigg court. It is a tale of all the truly bizarre things she encounters there--shadow creatures, robots, minotaurs, ghosts, dragon-slaying teachers, visual reality rooms... The art is original and gorgeous, and I can't wait for the second book to be finished-- I want to know what happens next in Annie's life!
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Why yes, this is a web comic artist that has printed his collected strips into a printed format. However, it is very much worth owning this volume. The art starts out odd and a bit rough but the story never falters. The setting is dark and very fantastic. The protagonist starts out a bit too cold if you ask me but the reasons for this are well explained and worth overlooking at the beginning just so one can find out what is going on at this strange boarding school.

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.
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I won't lie to you: My very first impressions of Gunnerkrigg Court was that it was yet another story feasting on the bloated, overexhuasted corpse of Harry Potter and the obsessive buzz that the franchise generated. Magic, a mysterious school, a kid with mysteriously absent parents, a cabal of teachers who seemed to know something, lessons in untraditional crafts and skills--it all smacked of dancing around in JK Rowling's ample shadow. Pardon my suspicion.

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.
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This graphic novel has the all-round appeal of the Harry Potter series -- not to name-drop. Drawn with a quirky style that comes alive as the book progress, this series of clever stories quickly pulls you in and takes you to a world of a taciturn pre-teen alone in a English boarding school. Still waters run deep, you soon find with Antimony, as she has the knack for knowing foreign languages or beings able to throw a bully to the ground, but all with a quiet stillness that hides deep wounds. Only her close friend Kat can make her break a smile.

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!
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A British boarding school full of interesting, comical, and intelligent characters, magic and mystery. Where have we heard this before?

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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