Friday, May 6, 2016

The Successor: The Ether

Despite Gunnerkrigg Court taking place in our world, it makes pains to add a layer that is at once mysterious and frightening:  The Ether, the place that is above and beyond everything.

For all it's talk about gods and mythology, the Siddell seems to take pains not to alienate anyone from enjoyment.  There is no Christain God, for example, and the only deities that show up are, well, not really all that powerful, comparatively.  Their power stems from the Ether, and it is something that can only be kind of understood.

The Court does have a school for it, the etheric sciences, where there is an attempt to quantify and study it much as physics and chemistry do to there respective fields.  It's effective enough that Donald and Anja use it rather extensively, and almost easily in some cases.

Even then, though, the Ether remains almost unexplained.  Almost because there are entities that have some information, the Psychopomps.  They are the escorts of the dead, and it's through them we get some hint as to what the Ether really is and what it's for.  In their words, the keeps the world spinning, though I doubt it means that literally.

In any case, it binds everything together.  Every living being must, at some point, die and all of them have a Psychopomps that guide them to the Ether itself, even insects.  It is everywhere and just under what is visible.  It powers magic, IS magic, but it can also be farmed and produced.  Through it many of the characters can interact with the world in a new way, or view it in a different way, and be view through it as what they really are.

It's where the dead go, but it's also used by the dead.  The Realm of the Dead uses it to create the "creepshow" that is the source of ghosts, spooks and scary stories in the world.  At the same time, it seems the world uses it to give life to the myths of the world, including the seemingly powerful Coyote.

In a sense, the Ether unites the living and the dead, the magical and the scientific, and the image with the self.  It's not a Heaven or Hell, a God or anything like that, it simply is, and thus a kind of power source and where everything comes together, in the end.

The Ether and The World form a pair of opposites, but neither is opposed to the other, more like they flow into and through each other.  Complementary without being contradictory, and open enough to allow both to exist without problems.  Which is not to say everything in Gunnerkrigg Court does so.

Next time, The Forest.  Until then kiddies.

Friday, April 29, 2016

I am bad at this

Seriously, how can I not have anything this week either?  ARGH!!

Friday, April 22, 2016

More things change

New state, new house, same job, same batshit schedule.  More things stay the same, and the first nothing of the working year.  Yay. . .

Oh, also I miss timed the second part of The Successor.  I moved it so it should be below this post.  I did by a week, which is why it wasn't there last week.  Whoops.

Friday, April 15, 2016

The Successor: The World

When I say "The World" with regard to Gunnerkrigg Court, I'm not talking about the setting, the environment, the various characters or anything like that.  For one, that topic ALONE would eat about 6 weeks worth of posts, and I'm only giving it one.  Kind of.  The World, here, though, refers to something I think many fans kind of forget about Gunnerkrigg Court:

It takes place in our world.

The Court and the Forest aren't on some magical island seperate from the everything, it is IN our world.  It's often overlooked because of all the supernatural elements going on, but our world is just beyond the borders, to the point that it's visited frequently.

Kat and Paz make frequent trips outside, often on vacation.  Heck, Tony and Surma left the Court outright at one point.  The Court is not a prison in the strictest of senses, travel is easy between it and the world.  It's even visible from space, as a satellite Tony and Donald put up as kids is still in Earth orbit.

Culture crosses through as well.  Kat is a well known geek, with interests ranging from comics to anime.  Language indicates the real outside, from Spanish to Polish, English accents and the odd reference to real places in the world.

History, that appears as well, through the lens of Mort and the fact that the ghost died, as a child, during the Blitz in World War II.  And then there's Jones, the Stone who has seen all of world history, from the formation of the crust, to dinosaurs and beyond.

In fact, she also notes that the science and theories of the world we have today mostly apply to it.  Science functions as it is supposed to, but with the added bits of the "etheric sciences," which is magic by other means.  Despite the mythological creatures like Coyote running around, the world doesn't have a different origin or reality compared to what we see.  Even Coyote notes it, claiming that he "doesn't exist" because of it.

On a whole, Gunnerkrigg Court is one of the prime examples of the Urban Fantasy, which I talked about way back when.  It is one of many, of course, I have quite a list there, but despite this, Gunnerkrigg Court is alone in saying that everything we know IS real, there isn't a lie hidden there.  The Court, however invisible it is, IS there though, and the things that it deals with are real things just under the surface of our world.

I suspect that this is part of the greater appeal of the comic as it puts the magic back in the world without subtracting out the things we know.  Instead of being wrong, our knowledge, history and science are simply not complete, which is a completely different thing and one we can hope to eventually join up with.

Next time on the Successor, The Ether.  Until then kiddies.

Friday, April 8, 2016

Retrospective: Skullkickers

Skullkickers' ending kind of took me off guard.  I mean, it made sense given all the zaniness that was happening in the last few pages, but I wasn't expecting it to END.

It also brings me with a dilemma because, well, there isn't that much to really retrospect about when it comes to the comic.  It's not bad, far from it, it's just very, um, light.  There's not much depth here.

There's nothing wrong with that, honestly.  For every deep and meaningful comic like Between Failures, there needs to be something less invested around.  A popcorn comic, for lack of a better term.  And to that end, Skullkickers was an amazing success.  It was fun to read, and reminded me of a certain someone's DnD campaign. . .

There was some character development there, of course.  Eventually the two main characters (Shorty and Baldy) got proper names, and even backstories, which were interesting, but not earthshattering.  They bounced from location to location, picking fights and busting heads.  It was fun watching what trouble they would get into, but that's about it.

Honestly the whole Thool storyline got, um, old.  I was just waiting for them to kick his butt, and that was satisfying in the end, even if they didn't really "beat" him.  The silliness of the whole thing at the end just made it hard to follow, so I guess ending was about the only thing left to do.  Hell, they even fired the narrator.

That said, losing it from my read list, while it will make my T-Th-S category a little slimmer, isn't going to really impact me that much.  I wasn't in dire need for this comic, but it was a pleasant diversion and one that while it would be nice to still have  It isn't going to ruin my week or anything.  Nothing wrong with it, fun in it's own way and worth reading, even if it was only for a relatively short time.

Until next time kiddies.

Friday, April 1, 2016

The Successor: Introduction

Schlock Mercenary and Sluggy Freelance actually share a lot of similarities.  Mostly in structure, but even some of the humor, especially early on.  In a sense, The Standard and Best Overall compare the two against each other, highlighting where they matched, and where they didn't, without actually saying it directly.

So in pairing comics up, that means Errant Story, The Classic, should have something to compare it to as well, and it does.  For a long time Errant Story was the king of my comic list, and I suppose the only comic I can really compare it to is the comic that is closest to being it's Successor:  Gunnerkrigg Court.

This shouldn't be a surprise, both because I hinted at it way back here, and also, well, I always speak very highly of it.  It is a very well done comic, and it manages hit just the right notes all along.  The fans are passionate, but when they go too far, Tom Siddell takes the piss out of them.

The comic has grown so much since it first came out.  Both artwise and storywise, and is probably the best example of webcomics as art and literature.  It's a mystery and an adventure.  It taps into history and myth, science and magic, and childhood and adulthood at the same time.  It's about growing up and growing into, finding oneself, and dealing with parents and their expectations.

It covers such a wide breath of topics and ideas that it would be difficult to discuss it as I did the other long series.  While it's episodic, with each chapter able usually able to stand on it's own, it's also a long running epic.  There's continuous evolution of characters and plot, never really sitting in place for all that long.  There are hidden meanings and obtuse connections throughout, and each character has their own arcs and ideas, stories and myths.  There's no easy way to break it up.  And after doing Errant Story, well, I don't think that style will work either.

So instead I'll break it up by something a little more general, yet oddly specific.  Yes, there will be spoilers, yes it will go into fan and personal theories and yes, it will probably take me far longer than I expect.  This method, however, will hopefully describe why I and so many others love Gunnerkrigg Court and why it is the current top dog of the webcomics, at least as far as I'm concerned.

Next time, part one of The Successor:  The World.  Until then kiddies.

Friday, March 25, 2016

Touching Base #25

Still unpacking but I've got time to do some touching base.

Top of the list, Kiwi's By Beat, the site that's home to minus and a number of other really great comics is, um, gone.  Poof, vanished.  So far no one has been able to contact the artist to find out what the hell is going on.  I'll try to keep on top of it.

City of Reality's website is down as well, but that seems more technical than anything else.  It'll be back soon I'm sure.

The Whiteboard hit a Pateron goal that means it'll update 5 days a week.  Which is nice, and means I have to rearrange my folders.  Then mentioned something about everyone being topless as the next goal, though I think that's a joke.  Maybe.

Sunstone (NSFW) and Head Trip did update, as I mentioned in one of my many Nothing posts, but only a little.  Still battling injuries I would hazard to guess.  It's okay, I can wait for them.

Skullkickers ended this last week.  I'm not sure how I feel about the ending, I mean, it really didn't end, and yet it did.  I should have a Retrospective up soon about it.

Blindsprings is taking a break from normal updates to do an episode for something called the Valor Anthology, which is mostly a bunch of fairytales.  Something different while I wait for the other shoe to drop on what the hell is really going on in that comic.

The Meek finally finished Chapter 4 of the comic.  It started in November of 2011, but with all the delays it didn't actually finish for 4 and half years.  Yes, I have been watching this comic the entire time.  Anyway, here's to Chapter 5 NOT taking half a decade to finish.

The Wotch also had some updates.  It'll be a bit before I catch up on what little there is though.

Hopefully by this time next week, I'll have the list resorted for what's active and not.  No promises, of course.  Same with an update as I still have a lot of unpacking to do.  That said, I do have something that's nearly ready, just needs a read through and linkifying to make it ready to go.

So until then kiddies, and thanks for sticking around through this nonsense.