Hi everyone, and welcome to the first of Altermentality’s webcomic reviews!
"Reviews" may be a bit of a strong word; I don’t feel qualified enough to really pick comics apart for things they could be doing better. "Extensive recommendation" might be a more appropriate term. At any rate, I’ll be using these reviews to go into detail about some of the comics that have moved me, made me smile, and inspired me.
I’m going to stretch my wings with one of my very favorite comics, Gunnerkrigg Court by Tom Siddell. It should be an easy place to start because there are just so many things to praise!
Gunnerkrigg Court has been online for almost 9 years now and is, in my experience, one of the most well-known story webcomics. So you’ve probably at least heard of it, and if you’re not already reading it, I aim to tell you why you should!
Gunnerkrigg Court starts out with a familiar concept: a kid starts off alone at a new school, a strange school, where she must not only deal with trying to make a friend or two, but learn to accommodate the eccentricities of her new environment. It might sound a bit hackneyed, but this familiar storyline is only the canvas upon which the real intensity of the story is painted.
The comic overall centers on Antimony (or Annie), a quiet girl with much more to her past than is first apparent, and her more outgoing and scientifically-minded best friend, Kat. But there are countless other characters, from schoolmates to spirits, ghosts to gods, monsters to machines. The comic doesn’t have one main plot so much as many threads which are woven together; sometimes we diverge to follow one in particular, sometimes they converge, and sometimes we take a detour which may seem like a totally unrelated character development arc but could end up being very relevant later.
Gunnerkrigg Court is one of the most thematically deep and demanding comics I’ve read. I feel that a great story is one that moves the audience and makes them think about the macroscopic issues, philosophical questions, drives and desires that have defined humanity throughout our kind’s existence, while simultaneously providing characters who feel real, fleshed-out and deal with their own personal issues while being caught in these larger currents. Gunnerkrigg certainly delivers.
The comic deals with such huge themes as nature vs. technology, the power of consciousness and imagination, the significance of mythology, and more, while also exploring the direct person-to-person themes of friendship, love, and our individual fearsome duty to face death - both of those we care about and for ourselves. The characters seem real, and the more you read, the more they become like friends and less like distant symbols on your computer screen. Why do I say they seem like real people instead of cartoon cut-outs? They grow and change over the course of the story, they can surprise us, they can make mistakes, they can be weak, they can be surprisingly strong, they themselves are not always sure of what they feel. But we love them.
The story is told in a chapter-based format. The comic has been around a long time and there are 46 chapters at the time of this writing! Nevertheless, the chapters are for the most part self-contained, interconnecting stories, and this format really lessens the intimidating prospect of catching up on the whole comic, because it’s easy to read chunk-by-chunk with clear stopping places. (But when you start reading this comic, you may not want to ever stop!)
Each chapter has a bonus page or a few at the end, which are anything from cute little side-stories to illuminating surprises. Scattered throughout the archive is other material such as handwritten letters from Kat to Annie and drawings by various characters in which their personalities and various styles shine through.
One of my favorite things about GC is how much the art has evolved. As a webcomic artist who has experienced some obvious evolution myself, it’s encouraging to know that a comic can undergo such a significant stylistic shift and still be so beloved. In fact, I think it’s encouraging for any budding artist who may be doubting that they’ll ever improve to read through Gunnerkrigg and see what practice and dedication can do for you.
Now, I’ll be the last person to say there’s anything wrong with a cartoony style, but I do think Tom’s shift from a look that I might describe as “Tim Burton-esque” into more realistic anatomy and sophisticated coloring and layouts fits with the maturation of the characters and story.
His layout, coloring and texture skills have developed to a really impressive level and combine to create some of the most absolutely gorgeous comic pages I’ve seen.
With outstanding art and writing, Gunnerkrigg Court is a treat for the eyes and mind. What’s more, the story is vast enough, and there are so many characters, that it’s truly a comic with something for everyone.
One secret to Gunnerkrigg Court’s success, I believe, is that it’s one of those tales - and Tom is one of those creators - that taps into the spirit of an age and is able to communicate things that many of us really want and need to hear, both on personal and broader thematic levels. It addresses the confusing and often-proclaimed antagonistic roles that science and spiritualism hold in our lives, with great respect for both, and explores the terror, hope, healing and satisfaction that both technology and nature can provide humanity. The vast and mazelike technological behemoth that is the Court itself symbolizes how we can often be trapped by technology lost and listening to our own echoes, while the nature of the forest represents a dangerous freedom from which we have become distanced.
But that’s just what I get out of it. What will you learn in Gunnerkrigg Court?
Cody requested Pamela wearing the Goron tunic (just about the only thing she can wear) a few days ago. Unfortunately, I didn’t finish it in time for it to be officially a part of the OC Art Challenge Week 1. But oh well, I had fun!
One of the lesser-seen, but most fun to draw, characters in my webcomic. I’m really happy with how this turned out and think I’m getting better with choosing and using color.
OC Art Challenge, Week 3: Memory
Things change… I stay the same.
Some of my beloveds with roughly a 25 year gap.
I liked the lineart of my Yarne from last night on its own, so here you go!
I wanted to draw some Fire Emblem characters tonight, but this one alone took me like an hour and a half to figure out. Oh well, it was fun!
Yarne, a character from Fire Emblem: Awakening for the 3DS. I really got immersed in that game, so I’m going to attempt to get some fanart out of my system in the next few weeks.
Favorite Mega Evolution: Mega Kangaskhan
This was one of the easiest decisions in this project. Helped out by the fact that I think most of the Megas are over-the-top and silly.
Probably the most nonsensical thing the Pokemon developers have ever done is invent the concept of baby Pokemon and not have Kangaskhan’s baby be one of those Pokemon. Seriously, why?! And why do they keep not doing it?! Do they think it’s too far gone by now? With every generation that comes out, are they always like “Y’know I think we’re forgetting something… uh… well, I’m sure it’s no big deal.”
At least we get this.
Coolest Pokemon: Krokorok
Why yes, I have already drawn Sandile for this project. And if you think I’m not going to draw Krookodile, you’re wrong.
qbj asked: Why do you like Kremlings? :3
Aw yeah! So it begins.Well, first of all, I’ve been playing the DKC games since I was four or five years old, so there’s some correlation between things I like and what Kremlings are (crocodiles, pirates, game villains) that I can’t entirely be sure if DKC established, or if it just grew in me from multiple sources. But at least for the first two categories, I can say that DKC is almost exclusively to blame, as far as my early childhood goes!Anyway, one big reason I love Kremlings is that they’re the villains of the game. I’ve had a longstanding interest in game antagonists, from the big bad to the common minions, so intense that it drove me to create a webcomic! That all got started when I was very young, and the twin drivers were the Kremlings and the Koopas. In both cases you have a species defined by their very nature as being evil, the “baddies” (especially in the Kremlings’ case, although this was long before I saw Koopas be heroes in Paper Mario). But even from an early age, I thought this was odd and unfair. While I did like the heroes, I was much more interested in the villains, if only because they were more complicated and mysterious. A hero simply reacts, and goes forth to save the princess/banana hoard or whatever. But what was the baddies’ side of the story? Why did they do what they did? Why are crocodiles so interested in bananas, anyway? I simply found them much more fascinating than the good guys.Another big reason is that they’re crocodiles. Crocodiles have long been one of my very favorite animals. I simply think they are amazing creatures, and while humans usually don’t see them as the most charming of animals, the fact is that they’ve been able to survive essentially unchanged since the time of the dinosaurs until now, so even natural selection thinks they’re awesome. (And I do find the little ones to be adorable.) I’ve always had a penchant for anything with sharp teeth, anything intimidating, anything that could kill a human and therefore reminds us that we’re still just another animal on this earth. Crocs, sharks, even hippos - I respect these guys because they could put us in our place if they wanted to.Finally, the pirates. Like many children, I had a fascination with the simplistic idea of pirates as treasure-hunting, seafaring adventurers. As I’ve grown, I’ve become intensely interested in the full brutal history of piracy, especially in the Caribbean. While pirates are far from admirable, I’ve learned that they are extremely interesting. Some pirate stories are as crazy as fiction! Well, minus supernatural ghost ships or whatever. Not all Kremlings are pirates, but many of them are, as seen in DKC2. I always imagined they styled themselves as privateers under King/Kaptain K. Rool and saw fit to take whatever they pleased, thus bringing in most of the wealth of Crocodile Isle and allowing them to do things like… uh, build theme parks. Anyway, DKC2 (and I guess Disney’s Peter Pan) are what originally exposed me to the concept of a pirate, but now that I’m older and have encountered a lot of other pirate fiction, I still adore Rareware’s playful and parodical treatment of the theme, including enemies who threw their hook-hands at you like boomerangs, pirates with two peg legs who had to jump around everywhere, etc.There are a few more things about Kremlings specifically that I really like. One is that there were so many designs. Rareware kept designing new Kremlings for each game, even when they reused a name or concept (compare Kritters and Klaptraps in DKC and DK64). They had a lot of diversity in size and body type.Oh, and the K thing. Rare managed to give every single one of those different designs a name starting with K (or in a few rare - no pun intended - exceptions, at least including the letter somewhere). Kremlings seem totally unwilling to use the letter C when K would suffice, which is the more simple and logical thing to do, really. It was just a little detail that gave their culture some personality. To me it illustrated their bluntness, their unwillingness to mess around with superfluous cultural norms. (Crocodile Isle, of course, being the name given by outsiders like the Kongs.)Finally, their king. K. Rool has long been one of my favorite gaming characters. While many people today are ambivalent about his existence, he was one of the big villains who stood tall in my youth and always will. I always interpreted his new “disguise” and theme in each game as him having a legitimate case of dissociative identity disorder, which would be aggravated by each defeat, causing his subconscious to seek out a new identity which might be strong enough to defeat the Kongs. I can’t help but think of him as a power-hungry ruler, but nevertheless one who wanted the best for his people in the beginning, and endeavored to steal the Kongs’ fruit because the Kremlings’ own island was too barren to grow such things. However, as scheme after scheme was foiled, his mind turned increasingly to revenge- and he managed to mess things up for himself and his people catastrophically, right down to DESTROYING THEIR VERY HOMELAND. I’m sure you can get moral lessons from that, but I just think it’s interesting and a bit tragic.So, after all this, you might see why I miss these guys so much! I’m hoping they’ll show back up in a DK game someday - there’s still a small chance K. Rool might “Ganon-ban” Tropical Freeze, but I’m not getting my hopes up too high. I’ve made peace with Tikis and viking penguins, but in my heart I’m a Kremling girl forever! (What a weirdo, I know!)-Kourtney
Reblogging this because it provides some insight into my character and inspirations and obsessions with things not many people are obsessed with. :P
Kinda forgot Tumblr existed for a while, so I’m going to upload a full set of the DK64 bosses I was asked to do for a Let’s Play recently. There are a couple missing because he wanted to use the old drawings I’d already done of Mad Jack and Army Dillo round 1. Enjoy!
These aren’t THAT old but I feel like I could do them a million times better now, which is a cool feeling.