Gunnerkrigg Court

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One of the most insidious problems faced by webcomics is the balancing of artistic improvements and artistic complexity. While cartoonists can limit the amount of complexity found in their comics, critics of the cartoonist may view the efforts to restrain out-of-control artistic improvements as a lack of skill or even laziness. This often leads the cartoonists to present examples of their better work, sometimes offering the better art as computer wallpapers that donators can access or even in the form of prints that are sold in an attempt to make a profit in what often began as a labor of love.

Another venue for artistic improvements can exist in-comic; Gunnerkrigg Court is but one of a number of comics that utilizes a different art-style to designate a different venue for the comic, in this case when Antimony gazes into a spiritual realm to recover a magical stone. While GC uses highlights in hair (to help give the art a feeling of depth, there is minimal shading in the strip, and details are often minimalistic as a result. A sense of inter-panel continuity is also added with Antimony’s hair when she is glimpsing the other-world, with her hair flowing from scene to scene and literally joining Antimony between panels. The effect is quite striking, and in many ways a poetic flow of visual imagery.

The latest strips also emphasize the intensive planning that went into the comic as a whole. The cut on Antimony’s face (that only appears when she is in a spiritual world, and was inflicted on her by a ghost when she was on the banks of the River Annan) is but one of a multitude of elements that repeatedly appear, often planted in previous chapters without explanation and then glimpsed again and again until finally an explanation is revealed. These Chekhov’s guns not only are used for background and to promote a sense of continuity, but can even be the primary focus of stories themselves (with the very first storyline with Shadow 2 and Robot having not only driven the story that led to Antimony being on the banks of the River Annan, but for both characters to join the cast itself).