Webcomic: Gunnerkrigg Court
Within the first week of my attendance, I began noticing a number of strange occurrences. The most prevalent of these oddities being the fact that I seemed to have obtained a second shadow.Gunnerkrigg Court
is a Science Fantasy webcomic
by Tom Siddell about a strange young girl attending an equally strange school
. The intricate story is deeply rooted
in world mythology, but has a strong focus on science (chemistry and robotics, most prominently) as well.
Antimony Carver begins classes at the eponymous U.K. Boarding School
, and soon notices that strange events are happening
: a shadow creature
follows her around; a robot calls her "Mommy"
; a Rogat Orjak
smashes in the dormitory roof; odd birds, ticking like clockwork, stand guard
in out-of-the-way places. Stranger still, in the middle of all this, Annie remains calm and polite to a fault
Meanwhile, Annie befriends the technically-minded
Katerina Donlan, whose parents both teach at the Court. The two serve as foils for each other: Kat's energetic, outgoing personality plays off Annie's initial reserve, which enables much of their character development.
Kat soon gets roped into Annie's investigations of the Court's mysteries, but every answer they receive raises more questions
: about the school
, about their fellow students
, about the woods just across the river
, and about their own parents
. Soon, they start stumbling on creatures and intricate symbols from all possible mythologies
— as well as plain old chemistry — topped off by the Oasisamerican trickster god Coyote
, who has his own designs for Antimony and the school premises. Throughout all this, Annie and Kat uncover the story of a truly frightening ghost woman, whose portrait is worshiped by Gunnerkrigg's crew of golem robots and who seems to be the key to some of the school's greatest mysteries.
Each chapter is a self-contained Story Arc
. However, after several chapters, connections begin appearing between seemingly unrelated plot threads—but the exact nature of their link remains tantalizingly (or frustratingly) unclear
for now. Although the story draws on some dark childhood fears, there is more than enough optimism (both innocent and realistic) to offset it.
You should start from the beginning.
Don't be put off by the style — the comic's art evolves quickly
The comic is also published in hardcover form.note
So far, the volumes include:
- Gunnerkrigg Court: Orientation (January 2009) collects the first 14 chapters.
- Gunnerkrigg Court: Research (March 2010) collects chapters 15 - 22, plus the City Face bonus comic.
- Gunnerkrigg Court: Reason (August 2011) collects chapters 23 - 31, plus City Face 2.
- Gunnerkrigg Court: Materia (July 2013) collects chapters 32 - 41.
- Gunnerkrigg Court: Refine (June 2015) collects chapters 42 - 49.
The bonus comic City Face
has its own article.
Gunnerkrigg Court contains examples of:
open/close all folders
- Aerith and Bob: There are people named Surma, Antimony, Gamma and Zeta and Sir Eglamore as well as Jack, Janet, James and Andrew Smith, whose magic power is to make things orderly.
- All Myths Are True: According to Jones, Coyote did place the stars in the sky, and so did every other mythological being attributed this task, but she also claims the stars have also always been there since long before Coyote and co. existed.
- All There in the Manual: Tom Siddell has started posting commentaries of each chapter on YouTube.
- Appearance Is in the Eye of the Beholder: In The Realm of the Dead, Antimony and Mort appear to see a land of infinite majesty, wonder and surprise. Kat and the audience, meanwhile, see a cheap haunted house populated by about three people.
Record Keeper: So you use that name as an incantation with the scryer.
Kat: This Rolodex?
Record Keeper: Then you summon the records from the Vault of Memory.
Kat: You mean this cabinet? There's just a VHS tape in here!
Record Keeper: Wow, you must be the life of the party, kid.
- And then in the bonus page we see what Antimony and Mort were seeing, with the implication this might be the True Form, and Kat's mundane take was a Weirdness Censor.
- In the next chapter, there's a vampire guy whom Mort sees ( when he first dies) as a Classical Movie Vampire (maybe edging slightly towards "Halloween costume"), but Annie later sees as a Looks Like Orlock figure with a blood-soaked mouth. He gives her the actual explanation of TROTD, which is "All this is just a creep show. Smoke and mirrors. But the Ether makes it real" (as he pulls his Orlock mask off). Apparently, Kat is more resistant to the Ether than Annie and Mort.
- Arc Number: 113. It appears many times across the comic.
- Celestial Bureaucracy: The Realm Of The Dead.
It's like a department that deals with people who died but didn't get taken into the ether
for whatever reason.
- Circus of Fear: Mort's creation to scare Paz.
- City of Adventure: Gunnerkrigg Court — a school resembling an industrial complex the size of a city (with its own park!), just next door to a creepy forest.
- Dark World: A dark city, the evil twin of Birmingham.
- Eldritch Location: The Forest and the Court don't exactly fit in normal reality. For one, the Court is an enormous city, with multiple parks, lakes, and power stations, but it's almost completely abandoned, and seemingly stretches on forever.
- Extranormal Institute: The Court. Virtually everyone inside it is some manner of bizarre, or related to people who are. There seem to be a few baseline Muggles but they typically have oddities in their jobs, like Eglamore being a Dragon Hunter.
- Floorboard Failure: Jones averts this by bypassing the rickety floorboards altogether.
- Geometric Magic / Hermetic Magic: Mrs. Donlan's magic is highly geometic; Jenny Jack's girlfriend makes a magic circle that's a seeking spell.
- Ghibli Hills: The magical Gillitie Wood is only a bridge away from the industrial Court.
- The Lost Woods: Gillitie Wood.
- No OSHA Compliance:
- The Year 7 dorms.
- The bridge to Gillitie Forest. It's wide enough to not be immediately dangerous unless people walking on it do something unusually stupid, but it does lack railing, since any shadow cast on it would allow the Glass-Eyed Men to cross it.
- Raygun Gothic: The plot of Dr. Disaster's simulator.
- Spirit World: The Aether, which Annie enters when she uses her blinker stone.
- Staying with Friends: Invoked but not implemented. Yet.
- Where the Hell Is Springfield?: We've been given just enough information about Gunnerkrigg's location to know it doesn't fit anywhere on the map of the U.K.
- White Void Room: The inactive holosimulator.
- Wizarding School: The court is a subversion. Even though magic occurs on school grounds, the court considers any and all phenomena as scientific.
- The World Tree: A Cherry Tree (from Gillitie Woods) in the artificial habitat room; it is there Annie starts to open up to Kat. In "Divine" there is a callback to the tree as a place where Annie can put aside her "mask."
- Wretched Hive: In the forest there are some ruins which mark the last human settlement on that side of the divide. Normal forest denizens never go there, and for good reason, since it's full of scary monsters who attack outsiders on sight.
Narrative / Themes
- Achievements in Ignorance: An octopus learns to fly because it never knew it was supposed to be in the ocean (see Brick Joke).
- Aborted Arc: The paintings from Chapter 2: Schoolyard Myths, as seen in page 7 were supposed to be part of a sub plot, but Tom has since dropped the concept.
- Absurdly Sharp Blade:
- Adults Are Useless: Subtly deconstructed.
- A.I. Is a Crapshoot: The court robots start out quirky, but friendly and helpful. But with time, especially thanks to Seraph 13's rumor spreading, the robots grow increasingly unstable. They eventually even go so far as to isolate the students at sea, cut them off from outside help, and unleash some extremely dangerous etheric phenomena. All as part of a project to make a boat robot flesh in order to woo Lindsey, a — happily married — biological entity, as well as to motivate Kat.
- A Mind Is a Terrible Thing to Read: Zimmy is discovering this to be especially true of Annie's mind as of this strip.
- Amplifier Artifact: Blinker Stones.
- Anachronic Order: Chapter 11, "Dobranoc, Gamma", and Chapter 18, "S1".
- Animal Motifs / Animal Stereotypes: Many, including Wolves, Foxes, Cats, Insects, Birds, Coyotes and Owls.
- Arc Words:
"She died and we did nothing."
"The court grew from the seed Bismuth."
"It was worth it."
- Awful Truth:
- Annie and Kat learns that the founders, especially Diego, were responsible for Jeanne's death and Un-Person-ing in Chapter 25: Sky Watcher And The Angel.
- Annie learns that she's responsible for her mother's death by her sole existence in Chapter 31: Fire Spike.
- Back to Front: Jones' backstory in Chapter 40.
- Batman Gambit: Mediation involves noticing hints and predicting people's reaction.
- Blah Blah Blah: From Chapter 21: Blinking: "Chatter jargon strange words."
- Blowing a Raspberry: A truly epic one starts in Page 21 of Chapter 36: Red Gets A Name, and goes all the way through Page 22 (a.k.a. "the best page of Gunnerkrigg Court").
- Big Damn Heroes: Eglamore and Kat, on three separate occasions. Two were played straight, one was a subversion.
- Body Motifs: Lots of emphasis on the eyes.
- Brain Bleach:
- Bread, Eggs, Milk, Squick:
- The bonus page of Chapter 29 features Bobby the robot giving out pigeon facts. At the bottom of the page is this:
One day I saw a pigeon fall from a tree, its body twisted and broken from an attack somewhere above. It writhed on the floor in silence and eventually died. It had no expression, just as I have no expression. I have never relayed this story to anyone.
- It's also placed right next to "Bobby's Fun Corner" for maximum impact.
- "They asked Bobby to put together a fact sheet for the kids. They didn't ask him again after." Can't imagine why...
- Break the Cutie: Chapter 31.
- Breaking the Fellowship: Surma, Anthony, Eglamore, Anja, Donald and (presumably) Brinnie were one inseparable company as students and perhaps for some time later, but before the story started, Surma left the Court and broke all contact with the rest except Anthony, and it's unknown yet when and where Brinnie has gone.
- Breather Episode: After the Wham Episode that was Chapter 39 with Coyote's "great secret", Ysengrin going batshit and the reveal that Coyote's been fucking around with his memories, Mort Fun Time was a welcome respite. The arcs and chapters involving Red, the resident Comic Relief Cloud Cuckoolander, also work as breather and/or bizarro episodes.
- Brick Joke:
- Broken Pedestal: Diego to Kat. Big time.
- Bug Buzz
- Bullying a Dragon: Subverted. Coyote appears to fly into a rage after Annie flicks his nose for being a prat, but it's just another one of his antics.
- Cannot Cross Running Water: The Annan Waters provide a natural and etherically-enforced barrier between the Court and the Wood.
- Notably subverted with Jeanne, who despite Muut's initial insistence to the contrary, can cross the Waters. In fact, she's the one that makes the Waters uncrossable, by dicing up anything that tries.
- Captain Obvious: Touch the bat!
(Kat touches the bat)
Bat: Credentials verified.
Receptionist: That means your credentials are verified.
- The Cavalry: The TicTocs
- Chekhov's Gun: The incredibly metaphor-dense nature of some of the symbols makes a lot of future plot points hinted at way in advance of their actual usage.
- The etheric scar which Annie received from Jeanne's sword in Chapter 8 has been repeatedly alluded to throughout the story, as it remains on her face, clearly visible to all etherically sensitive individuals. Its true significance still remains a mystery.
- Eglamore handed Annie a beacon just in case she was ever in trouble while visiting the Wood. After being forgotten for about 19 chapters, she finally gets to use it.
- The power buttons on top of the Seraph robots' heads. Loaded under everyone's noses all the way back on page 9 finally gets fired on page 1141.
- Chiaroscuro: In the etherium, everything seems to glow in the dark, and highlights and shadows alike are more pronounced than in the ordinary world.
- Clingy MacGuffin: Blinker stones...but only when the owner wants them to be.
- Comically Missing the Point: Jones basically compliments Annie in this page by responding to a description of Shadow's friendliness and open-mindedness with "He sounds a little like you, Annie.", but Annie takes it literally.
- Cosmetic Catastrophe: The results of Kat's first attempt to use makeup were not pretty.
- Country Matters: Ouch.
- Cringe Comedy: The strips of Jack trying to hit on Annie after he was freed from spider control were painfully awkward for the both of them and the audience.
- Crossover Cosmology: Reynardine and Ysengrin are based off Reynaerde/Renard the fox and Ysengrimus the wolf, respectively, from Medieval European folklore tales like Reynard The Fox. Muut, Coyote, and the Glass-Eyed Men are from Native American myth. There's also several ghosts, fairies, and, for good measure, a flashback montage featuring every Psychopomp, ever. Chang'e, Brynhildr, and the Minotaur (of Chinese, Norse, and Greek mythology, respectively) have also made appearances.
- Cryptic Conversation: Invoked and then immediately lampshaded by Coyote, Ysengrin, and Annie:
Antimony: Coyote, can you tell me, what is Gunnerkrigg Court?
Coyote: Why... It is man's endeavor to become God! How is that for an enigmatic answer?
Ysengrin: Very enigmatic. It barely answers anything at all.
Antimony: In fact, it raises more questions than before.
- Curiosity Killed the Cast: Not the lethal kind, but there were rather close calls. Curiosity also starts several plots, and often proves helpful when combined with compassion.
- Curse Cut Short:
- Cutting the Knot:
- Jones' way of dispelling fancy magic runes: crush the devices generating them in her indestructible hands. She later gets past a towering concrete wall, which Jack built a bridge over, by punching her way through it.
- In one of Dr Disaster's simulations, Smitty finds the MacGuffin almost immediately because of his ability to create order.
- Day In The Life: Played with in ch. 40, which, for several pages, is a series of past events in Jones' life, from the day before the first page's events to billions of years previous. Little's been revealed so far except that the next medium has been chosen, based on Jones' recommendation, the previously-hinted-at relationship between Jones and Eglamore has a lot of layers to it, and that Jones doesn't age, and part of her taking others' names is to keep this a secret. She also doesn't consider herself to be alive, and doesn't know what she is.
- Death Glare:
- Deface of the Moon: Thanks to Coyote's friendly help. It's still visible in later portions of the story, at least in the Court.
- Department of Redundancy Department:
- "Spacemonauts! The evil Enigmarons are threatening the Earth from their moon base on the moon!"
- The creepy space aliens from outer space.
- Do Androids Dream?: The Court robots seem to have personalities and their own society out of sight of the humans, and they are explicitly trying to figure out their "purpose" beyond merely being custodians of the Court. One of the biggest questions they seek an answer to is why their creator, Diego, would engineer the death of someone he loved. They also think of Kat as an angel.
- Dope Slap: Gamma to Zimmy
- Driving Question: What exactly is Gunnerkrigg Court?
- Easily Detachable Robot Parts: Sometimes.
- Environmental Symbolism
- Epic Fail: Pretty much any time the court robots try to keep something secret from the students. Like posting signs telling you where the secret stuff is.
- Epic Hail: One of the many uses for Blinker Stones.
- Esoteric Motifs: Strange symbols abound at the school — although some signs are less "mystical" than you'd expect.
- Ethereal Sciences: A lot, but some more than other, like literally Magical Computer.
- Everybody Knew Already:
- Exact Words: When Bobby is asked if he wrote a certain love letter to Kat, he says yes, because he did. But he wasn't the one who came up with the content- that was Paz.
- Explosive Leash:
Tom: Reminder: Coyote ain't your bro.
- Fantastic Aesop: Lampshaded.
Bob: Hmm, there's a lesson in all this... (...) Never let sixty angry kids use a herd of laser cows to take over your house.
- Fling a Light into the Future: The original Magitec robots didn't have the means to reproduce, so they designed the modern court robots as their successors.
- Flipping the Bird: Since he doesn't have fingers, Reynardine does the "up yours" equivalent to Annie for being put in timeout.
- The Force: The Ether, which, like the Trope Namer, infuses all living things, can be directly harnessed only by a few humans, and bestows upon its users the abilities of telekinesis, clairvoyance, teleportation, flight, and superhuman speed and jumping abilities, and can even be used to create Magitek like 'etheric computers', which can project Deflector Shields or bind people/things if their users will it.
- Friend Versus Lover: Antimony, Kat, Alistair.
- Fractured Fairy Tale: Basil's backstory.
- A Friend in Need
- Functional Magic: All kinds.
- Giant Engineer Crab: Lindsey
- Gratuitous Iambic Pentameter: A subtle but very powerful use at the painfully emotional climax of chapter 30:
Jeanne: You come here to mock me with this gleaming heart of yours. Coddled child of that damned place. This luxury afforded by my death... it should be mine to take.
- Green Lantern Ring: Blinker Stones — lenses for psychic powers, whose full uses have yet to be revealed.
- The Guards Must Be Crazy: The Guardbots, Doorbot.
- Ham-to-Ham Combat: Parley and Mort improvised it once.
- Hard Light:
- Dr. Disaster's simulations.
- The Glass-Eyed Men seem to be made of pure shadow, but Kat deduces that they're actually just very thin layer of matter that may as well be a layer of light. Or, you know, dark.
- Harmony Versus Discipline: In just about every sense, from magic, nature, and world view, the Court and Gillitie woods are opposed. The Court favors rational methods, control, and gray expansive industrialization. The Wood represents nature, unbound and at times terrifying.
- He Is Not My Boyfriend: Thanks for clearing that up, Annie.
- Her Boyfriend's Jacket: In Chapter 14 Kat can be seen wearing the T-shirt of her brief love interest, Alistair, who left her his personal belongings after he had to turn into a bird and leave.
- Hot Skitty-on-Wailord Action:
- Hug and Comment: Chapter 32 ends with Annie and Kat hugging, and then Kat saying "Annie ... I love you and everything, so ... it is with love that I must inform you that you really gotta take a shower."
- Humans Are Flawed: Chapter 29:
The Court isn't a big monster that does as it pleases. Es
a collection of people
, working to do what they think is right. And, over time, other people see what is wrong, what mistakes were made, and work hard to fix them.
- I Have to Go Iron My Dog: Annie needs to go... find... a book. To the left. Or to the right. Whatever.
- Important Haircut:
- Inconvenient Summons: Parley, to herself.
- Incredibly Lame Pun:
- Info Drop: This was standard practice in the early run. At the end of each chapter was a bonus page, giving details of the school and surrounding areas.
- Insomnia Episode: Zimmy doesn't sleep. When infected with the spiders around Zimmy's mind, Jack Hyland also becomes sleepless for a short while, and gets more and more mentally unstable until Zimmy finally removes them.
- Insult Friendly Fire
- Interspecies Romance:
- Intoxication Ensues: Cherry-induced tipsiness.
- Ironic Echo: Eglamore responds to the students' complaints about camping in the cold with "Good question. Night!" At the chapter's end, the sleeping arrangements have reversed, and Annie tells Eggers: "You know where the tents are. Night!"
- Is That What She Never Did Tell You: Annie collected a heavy basket of this looking for answers in all the wrong places. Now this began to hit her, mostly in the face. When she finally talked with her mother's best friend directly, she made some... little discoveries. Like why Surma left the Court to never return, or related to Annie the tales of Coyote but didn't mention knowing him or say anything about other notorious inhabitants of Gillitie Wood she knew at least as well.
- It Was a Gift
- I Uh You Too: John and Margo are both adorkable.
John: Uh... I—uh, I mean, it was—I had a... a, you know...
Margo: M-me too!
- Jigsaw Puzzle Plot
- Kill It with Fire: As of Fire Spike, traumatizing Annie is a really bad idea.
- Lap Pillow: A moment of domestic tranquility.
- Laser-Guided Amnesia: Coyote removes the memory of Ysengrin's insane attack on Antimony (and possibly more than that) from his mind, against his will. This apparently isn't the first time this has happened, by far.
- Letter Motif: Gunnerkrigg, Gillitie, Good Hope: the letter G seems to be important. One wonders what this implies about Miss Gamma Czarnecki.
- A Light in the Distance: Annie, lost and alone in the Annan gorge, sees a light on the opposite shore. It's Jeanne. Things don't go well.
- Limited Wardrobe: Averted. The characters wear all kinds of clothes, appropriately to the situation. And the two female protagonists even change their hairstyle regularly.
- Literal Metaphor: Both Renard and Coyote repeatedly told Annie almost word for word "You have a fire in you, fire that belonged to your mother". This turned out to be not a runaway compliment, but a fairly straightforward, concise and accurate statement.
- Living Emotional Crutch: Kat to Annie, Gamma to Zimmy, Annie to Renard.
- Love Transcends Spacetime: Hello Parley! How did you get here?
- Magic A Is Magic A: It's implied that all magic follows specific rules. So far, the best covered is Rey's Demonic Possession — e.g. he's able to occupy a toy simply because it has eyes.
- Reynardine is also bound in the wolf toy and forced to obey Antimony because he chose to inhabit an item she possessed ownership of, which is why he hasn't just jumped to something else.
- Also, when Coyote gives away a power, it gains a side effect it didn't have when Coyote had it, like Ysengrin's artificial tree-body and his atrophied real body, and the fact that if Renard takes over a body, it dies when he leaves and the original owner is extinguished when he enters. There's also the fact that any power Coyote gives, he can't use until he takes it back.
- Magic Versus Science: Mostly because their philosophical disagreement between their practitioners. Ironically, mixing the methodologies seems to bring the most impressive results and according to a history lesson by Jones may have been the Court's purpose in the first place.
- Annie and Kat seem to embody these, respectively.
- Magical Underpinnings of Reality: Where psychopomps are concerned.
- Magitek: What happens when science and the etherical combine; interestingly this also describes certain couples:
- Anja and Donald combine their powers to help the court. Interestingly their abilities are described with technological terms (IE the bindings they put on Rey are "programs" not "spells").
- Paz (and City Face) inspires Kat to create bio-mechanical parts.
- Jenny creates a "seeking spell" to guide Jack's drone.
- Matricide: An interesting example, where Annie kills her mother without realizing it by simply being alive, due to them both being fire elementals. However, in chapter 36, her father is confirmed alive.
- Meaningful Echo:
"I'll save you, little girl!"
- Meaningful Rename: The fox Trickster's proper name is Renard. "Reynardine" he got from Surma. When she played with him. Which changed his life, eventually bringing him into the story's situation.
- Mechanical Evolution: The robots are an inversion: they evolved into simpler forms over time. Their creator was a genius, and the designs of his first generation of robots defied understanding; so after he died, the robots had to simplify their designs in order to maintain themselves.
- Memento MacGuffin:
- Annie's pendant, and later the photo of her parents as children... and the toy wolf.
- Surma's gift James always carries with him. "Handy and practical".
- Metaphorgotten: "Better to have loved and lost than to be... dead or something." "I don't think that's how the saying goes."
- Misfit Mobilization Moment: Occurs in "Residential", when the Queslett students band together to find out where their classmates have been disappearing to.
- Mind Screw:
- Chapter 38: Divine, straight from the get go. Have fun trying to figure it out.
- Coyote's "interesting thought experiment," as Jones calls it: he says he put the stars in the sky and that's true (ditto for all the other powerful beings who claim the same). Jones knows the stars were in the sky before anything existed to put them there (or imagine the things that will put them there) and that's true too. Whether this means that the creation of mythical beings is retroactive or something else entirely is still up in the ether.
- Moment of Weakness: Annie and Reynard do this to each other in Chapter 31.
- Mood Whiplash: Typically occurs for both the characters (i.e. as a narrative trope) and the readers at the same time. Best example so far is probably the scene where Ysengrin goes berserk and nearly kills Annie, and Coyote forcibly removes his memory of the incident. Next page, Mort Fun Time!
- Mundane Utility: The blinker stones' amplifying powers have a wide variety of uses, including signal rocket and instant campfire; Annie has used hers as a torch and a psychic walkie-talkie, among other things. It also comes in handy for temporarily blinding Ysengrin when he's chasing her and Eglamore out of the forest.
- My Sensors Indicate You Want to Tap That: We're not privy as to how far it went but both Reynard and Coyote smell something interesting in chapter 41!
- Ninja Pirate Zombie Robot: Girl riding fox-possessed toy wolf. Branch-armed wolf-tree. A cab pulled by robot horse quoting Milton's Paradise Lost. Lawn-mowing and fire prevention via laser cows. A meteorology robot in a form of head-sized praying mantis. Proselytizing parkour robot.
- Non-Answer: If you ask any of the court's residents how the court was built, they will just say that the founders made it. If you ask anyone else who might know, all they will say is that "It grew from the Seed Bismuth."
- Noodle Incident:
- No Sell: The Court's Seraph model robots are immune to electro-disruptors, a device Kat and her father have previously used to disable robots.
- Oh, Crap:
- A Giant Enemy Crab Kat believes Annie arranged as an apology? Creepy, but manageable. Noticing that Annie is staring in slack-jawed horror/confusion and clearly had nothing to do with it? Yeah, time to be scared. Complete with Wide Eyes and Shrunken Irises.
- Kat's father is very happy when he realizes that the coded message Antimony's father sent makes sense once you include him saying Antimony's name at the start, until he realizes the implications this has for an already upset Annie.
- Ysengrin, after Antimony flicks Coyote's nose as her way of saying she won't tell him stories.
- Our Demons Are Different: Reynardine and Zimmy were called demons at some point. No guarantee in the first case it was not a popular simplification, and the second was confirmed to be only an invective.
- Our Dragons Are Different: Rogat Orjaks ("horned giant" in Slovenian) are explicitly stated to be dragon-kin, but not the same as "usual" dragons. One is quoted making a distinctly Take That remark on the subject of "those [common dragons]".
- Our Fairies Are Different: "Regional Fairies" are so-called because they have spots on their shoulders showing which "region" they're from. They learn little kinds of magic (like rusting metal) and are said to come of age when they make their own clothes. "Red" and "Blue" are the only ones introduced in the main story. Others appeared only after becoming humans, as students in the Foley house.
- Our Ghosts Are Different: Mort, the Ghost with the Sword, the dead boy in the hospital, a blind man's ghost mentioned by Kat in her letters over the summer break, and the dead couple haunting the musical instruments are all different from each other. This will probably all be explained eventually. Maybe.
- Our Souls Are Different: They can be removed and transferred to other bodies, but for all his powers Coyote can't create them "from nothing" (apparently the Glass-Eyed Men don't count).
- Turns out Red and Blue are different from other fairies: they're "hollow fairies" born with their souls almost completely separated from their bodies. This is somehow related to the Court's plans (it "wants what it wants") and presumably applies to all fairies who become human and join the Court.
- Overly Long Gag: Red's ridiculous reaction to Blue wanting to hang out with her lasts one whole page, dedicated to the Red simply going "PPPPBBBTTTTHHHHHPPBPTHTHHHH"
Tom: Here it is. The best page of Gunnerkrigg Court.
- Paper-Thin Disguise: Annie said she was clearly a robot. Just look at her antennae! And robots never lie.
- Parental Abandonment: After Surma's death, Annie's father sends her to Gunnerkrigg Court and then vanishes without bothering to tell her. We are told that she will not hear from him again for two years. Every so often we see beneath Annie's stoic facade to see how much this hurts her. There are hints here and there that he might have always been distant (to everyone but Surma).
- Perspective Magic: Coyote uses this, being one of the fundamental trickster deities.
- Pet the Dog: Ysengrin is the gruff, brutish and misanthropic wolf who ferociously guards the Gillittie Woods. But every now and then he is genuinely kind towards Annie - albeit in his rather gruff way.
- Pop-Cultural Osmosis Failure:
- Powered by a Forsaken Child: The chasm dividing the Court from the forest is guarded, on the Court's side, by a ghostly woman, who Annie learns early on is Barred from the Afterlife for initially unknown reasons. In chapter 25, it's revealed that she was a founding member of the Court, who the other founders sacrificed in some sort of ritual after she spurned one of them for an elf from the forest. It gets worse in chapter 30, when a flashback explains the details of her death: she was sent down into the chasm, forced to watch her lover get shot, then was left to die of starvation and exposure. The Despair Event Horizon she crossed is the source of her power, and the reason why she can't leave.
- Quote Mine: The Arc Words mentioned above:
Diego: She died. And I did nothing.
- Random Transportation: Parley had that going on for a while.
- Rant Inducing Slight: Occurs a few times, with Kat's rant in "A Bad Start", provoked by, well, a bad start to her day, and Annie and Rey's fight in "Fire Spike", beginning with Annie's copying of homework.
- Relationship-Salvaging Disaster: Deliberately invoked by Annie in "From The Forest She Came". Hilarity Ensues.
- Rescue Romance:
- The Reveal: Happens a lot.
- The biggest one though, in chapter 43, answered a question that had been around since almost the beginning of the comic, that is, that Renard actually did try to possess Annie knowing full well it would kill her. Something he horribly regrets.
- Robot Antennae: Antimony invokes this trope by wearing a headband with false star-shaped antennae so she could sneak into an area restricted only to robots. The robot guard is completely fooled by her Paper-Thin Disguise; ironically most of the actual robots don't have antennae.
- Roof Hopping:
- Robot S13's parkour-capable body.
- Rotating Arcs
- Rule of Cool: Laser cows.
Just like real cows! Only with lasers.
- School Uniforms Are the New Black: Averted except for the students who used to be creatures that lived in the forest.
- Science Fair: Chapter 5.
- Secret Legacy: Everything we learn about Annie's parents suggests that she's following in their footsteps. Kat has inherited a thing or two as well.
- Sex Dressed: Relax, it was with Mr. and Mrs. Donlan.
- Ship Tease: Kat and Paz, with a lot of Bait and Switch.
- Shadow Archetype: The recurring theme of duality in the narrative makes this fairly common in both characters and other elements of the world, though it's sometimes difficult to tell who or what the 'shadow' is.
- Shrine to the Fallen: Diego and his robots have one for Jeanne. Overlaps with Stalker Shrine, considering how he acted towards her when she was alive.
- Shapeshifting: Coyote can change his shape at will, usually by stretching himself.
- Sherlock Scan: Ms. Jones, here:
- Shrouded in Myth: "Chapter 48: Tall Tales" starts with two Gilitie Woods-dwellers talking about the amazing accomplishments of Annie and Smitty, the new mediums, before their "proper" introductions to the Woods.
- Signs of Disrepair: John and Margo, looking for a replacement mandolin, came across a closet marked :Cursed instruments.
- Sorkin Relationship Moment: A non-romantic version. Kat calls out Antimony and Reynardine's awkwardness, and demands that they be friends again, while holding a pair of wire strippers.
- Something Completely Different: Chapter 10: "Dr. Disaster vs. the Creepy Space Aliens from Outer Space".
- Splitting the Arrow: "Fancy shooting" as performed by Janet and Willy.
- The Stinger: At the end of Chapter 3.
- Strong Family Resemblance: Annie and Surma. It's strong enough that Ethereal beings occasionally confuse them, and Eglamore calls Annie by her mum's name in the heat of the moment.
- Turns out there's a reason for this: Annie and Surma are descended from fire elementals, and as soon as Annie was born she began absorbing her mother's spirit.
- Summon to Hand: The Blinker Stone allows its owner to do this.
- Suspiciously Specific Denial: The situation does not involve a large monster or two.
- Survival Mantra:
"Always remember one thing..."
- Sweetie Graffiti: "S & B" (Spinach & Beanhead).
- Switching P.O.V.: Mind Screwy version where we, without warning, switch away from Antimony and to a character who believes herself to be someone else.
- Take Off Your Clothes: Invoked by Jack, but denied.
- Tears from a Stone: "Kat forgot to mention the docking station also has tear glands".
- Teleport Spam: Bip. Bip. Bip.
- Tempting Fate: Invoked once (which in itself, of course, counts as a straight use).
- They Died Because of You: Delivered in a devastating, defensive rant by Reynardine to Annie. The effect is instantaneous, and doubles as a Wham Line.
- Time Stands Still: Coyote can do this if he wants to.
- Title Drop: In chapter 46, delivered dramatically by Mort.
- Tongue Tied:
Coyote: If you tell anyone in the forest about the tooth, even Ysengrin, this bind will snip off your hand.
- Trickster Mentor: Seems to be the Court's established modus operandi, at least to a degree: it's the playground for the individual initiative, even if it's occasionally acting "against" the rules or teachers. The unwritten rules seem to include "It's your project, tell me when you finish it" and "Not Cheating Unless You Get Caught". They also teach reasonable level of cooperation.
- They have security measures clearly designed to provide a reasonable level of challenge for students inevitably bypassing them, such as obvious and regularly hacked motion detectors, or security robots that we saw circumvented with tricks, hacking and plain outrunning — compare this to their outrageously advanced and subtle technologies like the tracking system.
- Giving less than waterproof mundane explainations for weird events with a straight face — that's combined with teaching good enough to reap mad scientist grade inventions.
- Unfortunate Implications: The first time Annie's father contacts her in years and it turns out to be a coded message. A coded message that doesn't make sense unless you include her father calling her name at the start of that message.
So... my name was just part of the message? He wasn't really calling me at all?
- Inverted when Donald claims that there are also positive implications. There were a number of ways Anthony could have gotten Donald the message and he chose the one that involved speaking to his daughter.
- The Unreveal:
- Ysengrin told Annie what Jones was. Or tried to. We, however, were not privy to that conversation.
- When Jones herself gets around to giving Antimony the longer version of that story, it turns out to be much, much longer. Jones' conscious recollection begins with the formation of planet Earth itself; even remembering all that, Jones doesn't know what she is, and says she isn't technically immortal because she doesn't even consider herself alive.
- When Annie and Smitty visit the laboratory where the human bodies for transfer students from the Forest are grown they meet an androgynous technician who doesn't appear to be completely human. Annie politely asks them if they were a fairy or a creature and their reply was "Neither, I'm from Cardiff". The next scene is Annie and Smitty walking around after they've left the lab.
- Visible Sigh: Antimony didn't ruin Red's life.
- Weaksauce Weakness: The Court's Seraph model robots are capable of flight, very capable in combat, immune to electro-disrupters, and can be turned off just by pressing a big red button on the top of their heads.
- Wham Episode: So much that it has its own page.
- Wham Line: Pretty much three in a row from the aforementioned Chapter 31.
- First off, Antimony to Reynardine:
Antimony: She never loved you.
- Reynardine's reply:
Reynardine: You are the reason Surma died!
- Finally, Coyote's own revelation to Antimony:
Coyote: Don't tell me no one has told the girl she isn't exactly human!
- When Annie tells Kat about her mother in Chapter 21:
Muut: The day Surma died...none of us came to take her.
Annie: I had to do it myself.
- Annie's first word in her telephone conversation at the end of Chapter 36.
Annie:: ... Father?
- In Chapter 39.
Coyote: The reason I love humans so! The reason Ysengrin seethes with anger! My secret... is this... I. DO NOT. EXIST!
- Living up to the chapter's name (Changes), in Chapter 41, Coyote changes everything.
Coyote: Fire Head Girl! I want you to be my new Medium to the Court!
- From Chapter 42
Paz: The letter was from me, Kat.
- From Chapter 44:
Annie: Who are you?
Spirit: I am the spirit of these ruins. I am The Seed Bismuth.
- Though this is a Subversion, as the spirit was lying.
- From Chapter 46:
Mort: I want you to take me into the ether.
- Wham Shot: This is what Kat looks like to Zimmy's etheric vision.
- What Could Possibly Go Wrong?:
- What the Hell, Hero?:
- Reynardine learning about the Memento MacGuffin bit.
- Later, Jack delivers one when Annie tries to set him up for heartbreak to hurt him for something he did while he was possessed and thus had no control over.
- What Is This Thing You Call Love?: "Love makes you act in strange ways." We have our finest minds analyzing her words. As mere machines we can but hope to understand.
- What Measure Is a Non-Human?: What to do if a robot fancies you. Considering all the Court's robots are "descendants" of a lovesick inventor, this probably happens a lot.
- Whole Chapter Flashback: Chapter 16, "A Ghost Story", Chapter 22, "Ties", Chapter 25, "Sky Watcher and the Angel".
- Wrong Name Outburst: Mr. Eglamore shouting "Surma!" This was not a flashback chapter.
- You Do NOT Want To Know: Perhaps it would be better for Kat if she thought longer than a split-second before answering:
Kat: Say, uh... I don't see him.
Annie: Do you want to?
- You Imagined It: Annie's early Adults Are Useless approach wasn't quite unwarranted.
- Your Mind Makes It Real: Zimmy's little Crapsack World is a sort of collective dream: participants go there and back without anyone else ever noticing.
Zimmy: It's only as real as you let it be.
For a more complete rundown, see the spoileriffic Character Sheet.
- Ambadassador: Being the Medium can be a dangerous job.
Oh, but shouldn't you be helping Ysengrin? He's not as spry as he used to be. Antimony:
How could I possibly help against these monsters? I'm supposed to be a diplomat! Coyote:
Haha! So start speaking their language!
- Armless Biped:
- Artificial Limbs: In a bizarre reversal, Robot was given a prosthetic arm made of wood.
- Beware the Silly Ones: The Court robots seem silly and simple, but then they start worshiping Kat (to a level she isn't aware of), and try to force her to make the cruise ship's AI flesh so it can be with Lindsey, the giant inter-dimensional Cosmic Horror crustacean — who's already happily married, and using Zimmy to alter reality to make it happen.
- Big Guy, Little Guy/Fat and Skinny: The two ghosts unleashed by John and Margo. The male is short and fat, the female is tall and thin; unfortunately they don't get much characterization other than they're terrifying and in love and just want someone to finish their song.
- The Blank: The Nobodies; the cruise ship's sailor-bots, who are the Hive Mind of the ship itself.
- Blonde, Brunette, Redhead: Parley (comparatively reddish-brown hair) and her two friends, dark-slate-purple-(or so)-haired Cookie Monster (Lily Cooke) and a Dark-Skinned Blonde Jan (January).
- Blue and Orange Morality: Annie and Kat ran into this trying to reconcile two ex-fairies. According to the fairies, mutual understanding and respect are not the most important things for choosing your friends, it's cool hair. Later it turns out that once reconciled, these two taunt each other and fight all the time. Other Foley kids merely see it as a sign of strong attachment.
- Blush Sticker: Orchid-haired fairy girl called as "her too" on the Chapter 36 character guide, still has it (both in the real world and in ether at that).
- Cast of Snowflakes: All the characters have very distinct appearances, even in the decidedly-less-polished early artwork.
- Cuddle Bug: Ex-fairies sometimes are like this. Up to an etheric cuddle-pile. Being "a little inspired by Foley kids" may also explain why Lily has No Sense of Personal Space.
- Cute Machines: Several, including the cuddliest clawed metal mantis ever.
- Dies Wide Open: Sivo
- Eldritch Abomination:
- Eyes Always Shut: Anja, tree elves
- Fantastic Foxes: Reynardine is based on the folktales of Renard the Fox.
- Gender Bender + Humanity Ensues: For female animals from Gilitie Wood who wish to become human (the female-only fairies remain female).
- Generation Xerox: Subverted when appears. This generation of protagonists are descended from parents who were also adventure buddies back in the day — but the two generations are different in just as many ways as they are alike.
- Directly defied by Mr. Donlan to Antimony eventually. Antimony for one is glad to be treated as her own person instead of her parent's child, especially soon after this got more unsettling.
- Gentle Giant: Quite a few, such as Lindsey the giant crab. In fact, it's almost a reliable guarantee that the bigger and more intimidating someone (or something) is, the nicer they're going to turn out to be. Eventually lampshaded.
- God Needs Prayer Badly: Coyote says that's how he came into existence.
- Happiness in Slavery: Diego's Golem/Robots consider activity itself to be the best thing about life, and thus consider working for humans self-rewarding (not that they need a concept of "reward").
- Humans Through Alien Eyes: On Andrew's first trip into the forest, he meets a Chickcharney who has lost a treasure he received long ago. A "shining sphere of unmelting ice! Trapped inside were brilliant colours from the rarest flowers". Andrew immediately produces a marble. "Did it look like this?"
- Looks Like Cesare: Martin.
- The Men in Black: The Court agents, though only seen for a brief glimpse, invoke this kind of imagery.
- No Antagonist: The comic presents many opportunities for villains to cause mayhem, but they either never act out on it or are revealed to be misunderstood good guys.
- Ridiculously Human Robots: The various Court Robots are comically incompetent in ways that are nevertheless far beyond the capability of any Real Life AI. Probably a result of their magitek origins.
- Suspiciously Specific Denial: This appears to be the only way robots understand deception. They feel the need to explain exactly what it is that isn't happening.
- Theme Naming: Antimony and Surma; Zeta and Gamma; Reynardine and Ysengrin.
- Tomboy and Girly Girl: Kat and Antimony, respectively.
- An Aesop: From Chapter 24: Residential:
- Animesque: Tom Siddell, the author and artist, cites Gunnm, Nausicaš of the Valley of the Wind and Dragon Ball as artistic influences, alongside Western comics like Hellboy and Tank Girl. He incorporates elements from all of them into his own art.
- Art Shift:
- The City Face specials, which are canon.
- Also, a slight shift when Annie is using the Blinker Stone. (Everything is generally more detailed and her hair connects panel to panel.)
- Art Evolution: Tom is consistently evolving his art. It's most noticeable in Annie's case: Compare her design on page 18 with her design on page 435 (which, incidentally, is a Flash Back to the same scene from page 18). Now compare with page 1148.
- It's even lampshaded in this strip, which refers back to an earlier incident in which Annie tricked a group of robots by disguising herself as a robot. The robots have drawn a Wanted poster of the unknown "robot", complete with football-shaped head. (One possible explanation is that the changes in art style reflect actual changes as Annie matures physically.)
- And Now For Something Completely Different: City Face.
- Audience-Alienating Premise: The Rant occasionally makes a joke out of this:
"Thank you for reading this chapter about girls getting haircuts."
"Thank you for reading this comic about magical boots and awful hats."
- Author Appeal: Given Jack's spider motif, the Whitelegs themselves, and Tom's tendency to have spiders in his◊ self◊-depictions◊, one can't help but think that he likes drawing them.
- Confirmed with an entry from his tumblr account wherein he says "Try and tell me they are not beautiful" regarding photos he snapped of a spider in his bathroom.
- Author Catchphrase:
- "Mystery solved!" in the commentary when something random and completely unexpected sheds a little light on a previous question while raising far more questions.
- "It's that guy!" and "The big guy is Eglamore" are everywhere, too.
- More recently, there seems to just be a variation on "This guy", including "These guys", "That guy?", "Those guys", and any other variation of that phrase you might think of.
- Blatant Lies: T-shirt coming soon.
- Breaking The Fourth Wall: Doesn't happen often, but if anyone is going to do it, Coyote will.
- Call Forward: Somewhere between this and Early-Bird Cameo, the adult City Face was (possibly) introduced in an Omake published between arcs that most likely happened before he was born.
- Continuity Nod:
- Deadpan Snarker: Tom, in his rants.
- Deliberate Values Dissonance: Used to comedic effect between the friendships of humans and the friendships of fairies. Also pointed out to be a dominant cause for the strained relationship of the court and the woods.
- Deliberately Monochrome: Dr. Disaster's simulation.
- Don't Try This at Home:
- Double Meaning Title: All over the place with the chapter titles. One of the most prominent is the title "Fire Spike", which uses meanings for both the noun (a surge in power) and verb (to add a small amount of one substance to another) forms of "spike".
- Early Installment Weirdness: Mechanically unskilled Antimony building a robot (since Retconned), Basil the Minotaur living in the Court's basement, Zimmy willingly partaking to a large gathering of people with no visible signs of discomfort, and many other instances conflict with the setting and the characters of later chapters.
- The Faceless: Tom has made something of a Running Gag out of never showing his real face anywhere online. Twitter posts claiming to have a photo of him appear regularly, but invariably there will be something in front of his head or it'll be a picture of something else entirely.
- Fan Vid: Broad Spectrum Studios are currently producing a voiced dub of the comics. Although the addition of voices and sound effects is a nice touch, perhaps the most notable feature of the dub is the surprisingly fitting original music score by Neil Lee Griffin. After watching a few of the existing episodes, you may find yourself humming the Court Theme throughout the comic.
- Fisheye Lens: When things aren't quite normal and/or there's an actual camera involved, and to emphasize Annie's Heroic BSOD.
- Flashback Effects: Textured backgrounds and rounded panel corners.
- Foreshadowing: There's a lot of instances, seen here.
- Girl-on-Girl Is Hot: Invoked by Reynardine when Kat and Antinomy are having a heartwarming moment. Plot point, too, because it's the reason Antimony orders him not to speak until she commands it, which prevents him from warning her in time when he realizes something's wrong.
- Goggles Do Nothing: Averted, and then lampshaded in Tom's rant here.
- Invoked Trope: In case Zig-Zagging Trope just isn't awesome enough, here's a recursion: Tempting Fate in What Could Possibly Go Wrong? way via intentionally invoking Tempting Fate and What Could Possibly Go Wrong? (as tropes), snickering.
- Kudzu Plot: Comes with the Jigsaw Puzzle Plot.
- Lampshade Hanging: Just take a look at this page.
- Loose Canon: Bonus pages are distinctively one step away from the main continuity and may bring extra exposition, or teasers, or comedy, or something wild — or all at once.
- Mind Screw: Samples this whenever the characters end up in Zimmingham, particularly in Chapter 28 (which has triggered so much Wild Mass Guessing and speculation among the fanbase that it can only be described as the Epileptic Trees equivalent of the Cambrian Explosion).
- Mood Whiplash: Much.
- Chapter 6: A Handful Of Dirt - Our characters go from laughing their heads off to bawling their eyes out in a single page. Yay.
- Chapter 19: Power Station is dark and depressing, but still manages a genuinely heartwarming moment on page 466... then yanks the rug out from underneath Annie and the readers on the very next page.
- Chapter 25: Sky Watcher And The Angel - "Oh no!" "A sad face!" "The saddest face!" Due to the phrase's use as an Ironic Echo.
- Chapter 27: Spring Heeled Part 1 - A guard robot is the subject of a joke about learning to whistle—then gets Killed Mid-Sentence.
- Chapter 30: The Coward Heart goes from being reasonably upbeat, to horrifying revelations about a character's death, then the same character trying to kill the protagonists... and finally then ends with two characters admitting their love for each other.
- Chapter 31: Fire Spike - It begins with undefined unease, explodes into anger, and ends in tears.
- Chapter 39: The Great Secret - From silly (fun times with Coyote!) to Wham Line ( the aether is human imagination!) to scary ( berserk Ysengrin!) to Wham Episode ( Coyote eats Ysengrin's memories to make him loyal!) and finishing off with MORT FUN TIME.
- Chapter 49: The Torn Sea - Yay vacation cruise! No, Jack and Zimmy (and Gama, whew) are here! Yay, fun dance party! No, the robots want Kat to make them flesh, they even stole her latest prototype! Wait, the ship itself wants Kat to make it flesh — because it's in love with Lindsey! What the EFF and they're gonna use Zimmy's reality-warping powers to do it?! What the Christ and then the Seraphs duct tape hardhats to their heads because they remember Annie's mystical power button pressing powers...
- Mundane Made Awesome:
- Red starts Blowing a Raspberry on page 994 aaand...
- In a hilariously roundabout way, Antimony and Mort's experience in the Realm of the Dead. To ether-attuned beings like Antimony or Mort, the Realm of the Dead is (apparently) a vast labyrinth, Final Records is a huge, many-roomed library, the Scryer is a complex magical artifact, the Vault of Memories is just that, a vault, and the Records Keeper is a massive and horrifying creature who is practically invisible. To the technically-minded Kat (whose point of view we actually see), the Realm of the Dead is a tacky cardboard haunted house, Final Records is a closet with a single book sitting on a shelf, the Scryer is a Rolodex, the Vault of Memories is a cabinet with a single VHS tape inside, and the Records Keeper is a human guy in a black cloak that has the price tag on it wearing a dimestore Halloween costume glove who sticks out like a sore thumb.
- Narrator: Two of them, Annie for the main story and Tea for bonus pages and announcements from Tom.
- Never Trust a Title: Chapter 34: Faraway Morning (And Three Short Tales), where some characters tell three short tales. Sounds like a short chapter, right? It's the longest chapter to date thanks to all of the Character Development and plot revelations going on between each of the tales.
- No Celebrities Were Harmed: Parley Sr. won millions of pounds for successfully completing the "Eugene Gould" Psychic Challenge.
- Odd-Shaped Panel: Pages where Annie looks into the ether tend to have no panels borders at all. Even more trippy is when the etheric forms of characters themselves become the panel borders. Annie's flowing red hair goes from one "panel" to another, reconnecting with her head multiple times one one page. In "Fire Spike", the perspective starts to warp after The Reveal, in order to convey Annie's Heroic BSOD.
- Frame Break: When Annie puts up a wall of flames between herself and the Court, it burns the panel dividers up.
- Possession Burnout: Whitelegs causes this.
- Running Gag:
- Tom's comments below each comic sometimes are variations of Epileptic Trees, the line "Oh. It's that guy." or "[Obvious event in-comic]! ([Obvious event in-comic])". Or explaining who is/isn't Mr. Eglamore. When Trees Attack, "Eglamore looks pretty different. (This was a joke, that is not Mr. Eglamore)". When the Minotaur returns, "It's this guy! (It's Basil, not Eglamore)". At one point in a flashback between Eglamore and Jones, the page caption was, "Reassuring?". Everyone in the comments demanded to know who the strange man on this page was.
- The fans even get in on this. Whenever a new character shows up, someone comments on how different Mr. Eglamore looks on that page. To date, he has been "mistaken" for a sentient crustacean, an elf like forest dweller, a Canvey Island monster, and a perky goth girl (who no one could have possibly mistaken for Zimmy).
- Jones. She's still not a robot. The next time, when something makes a sound in her pocket:
If Jones keeps beeping like that people are going to get the wrong idea.
- Shout-Out: Check the page.
- Shown Their Work: Attention to fine details in itself became yet another layer of fun. If something looks dubious, usually this get fixed by more research on the viewer's part. Mongolian draw and archery bracers? Baby pigeons◊? Canine skulls? Moon pools? A girl musses her hair up after removing the hair tie? Check-check-check...
- Silent Scenery Panel: Often used to signal scene transitions.
- Sliding Scale of Silliness Versus Seriousness: Entire chapters can be either silly and hilarious or serious and downright horrifying. Compare Chapter 24 to Chapter 27-28.
- Generally, anything involving Coyote, the fairies, the court robots, and Dr. Disaster are on the silly side. Anything involving the psychopomps, the founding of the Court, Zimmy and Gamma, and Antimony's father are treated very seriously.
- Speech Bubbles: A subtle example of Medium Painting: the background color in speech bubbles is different for different characters.
- Stealth Pun:
- Jack got HIJacked.
- A very subtle one. One of the strips is just a random collection of real photos. One of the pictures is of a mineral called Stibnite (it's easily identifiable by it's bladed crystal habit). Not only is that briefly mentioned as Surma's maiden name at one point, there's also the fact that the mineral contains an element that isn't found in many minerals; Antimony.
- The Laser Cows all have a serial number that starts with LC. Elsie is a popular cow's name, thanks to being the name of the mascot of the Borden Dairy Company since the 1930s.
- Strip Buffer: A nice thick one of 30 strips.
- Take That: A regular occurrence.
- They Do: In Chapter 30, Parley finally admits that she's in love with Andrew. Word of God already said they were totally going to get married.
- Unsound Effect: Used repeatedly. Lampshaded in this page's comments from Tom.
- Viewers Are Geniuses: It helps a lot that the forum community is comprised of readers from all over the world (some of the most frequent posters are from places like Russia, France, Spain, and Alaska) and so most mythology symbols, folk songs, and bilingual bonuses can frequently be first noticed/explained by a native of the region in question.
- There was one instance when the fandom (using a bare minimum of information) figured out that Brinnie's "Old Man" is Odin from Norse Mythology, and shortly after, that Brinnie herself is Brynhild the valkyrie. The full extent of the information they had? Brinnie is Scandinavian, and she uses triangles in her magic.
- Less than a day of this page going up and people wondering whether the girl was Chinese, Japanese, or Korean, a bunch of posters on the Gunnerkrigg forum immediately identified her from Chinese mythology.
- People immediately recognized this symbol as a Valknut, a symbol of oaths/promises (which is appropriate, since Annie is promised that he will come to save her).
- Visual Pun: Annie burning bridges.
- Wall of Blather: Used to represent the 'Background Noise' of 'Zimmingham' here.
- Zig-Zagging Trope: Sivo is a case of a triple subversion of the Knight vs. Dragon story.