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Gunnerkrigg Court Vol. 1: Orientation

by Thomas Siddell

Publisher: Archaia Studios Press

Format: hardcover, full color, $26.95

ISBN: 978-1-932386-34-9

Reviewed by: Publishers Weekly

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.