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Characters / Gunnerkrigg Court Parents and Court Staff

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    Surma Carver (née Stibnite)

Annie's late mother; she passed on two weeks prior to the start of the story.

Like her daughter, she was educated at Gunnerkrigg Court. In her first year, she was placed in Chester House — unofficially the house for Etheric beings and other “weirdos” — where she befriended classmates Anja and Brinnie. The Court then revised its opinion and moved Surma to Queslett House for her second year and the remainder of her career at the Court.

Surma's friendship with Anja paralleled the one that their daughters would eventually have; through Anja, Surma met and befriended Donald Donlan, James Eglamore, and Anthony Carver.

Young Surma was a free spirit, with the personality to match her hair and the savvy to break rules without getting caught. She also had etheric talents: Annie's ability to see psychopomps was inherited from her mum, and presumably Annie's other psychic abilities were as well. Surma maneuvered these talents into a position as the Court's Medium, and built up particularly good rapport with the people of Gillitie Wood.

Surma and James Eglamore dated for a time, but she eventually married Anthony Carver instead. Some time not long after, the Carvers left the Court. In her absence, the Court didn't train any new Medium to replace her for over twelve years, and no more humans were invited to visit Gillitie during this time.

She remained bedridden at Good Hope Hospital after Annie's birth, and as her daughter grew older, Surma grew weaker. Mother and daughter were very close — in fact, a promise from Surma to “never send you into danger” was enough to convince young Annie to face down a spectral inferno.

During the time they had together, Surma gave Annie as much of an education — in topics both mundane and etheric — as she could. Before passing, she made arrangements for her daughter to continue her education at the Court.

Associated tropes:

  • Absence Makes the Heart Go Yonder: Why she married Anthony instead of Eglamore after Breaking the Fellowship. She tells Anja that the reason she volunteered to take Donny's place on the expedition with Tony to Brazil is because with them and Eglamore being away, she didn't want to be left alone in the Court. She tells Eglamore that part of the reason she's leaving him was because he was never there.
  • Ambiguous Situation: How much did she know about the fact she'd waste away and die once she had Antimony? Reynard claims "everyone knew" but he doesn't specify when she herself knew. Did she know and go through with it anyway? Was she ignorant of the fact until it was too late? Was she counting on there being a magical solution or a scientific one like Tony promised her he would find? Was she merely in denial that she would die and thought she'd somehow beat the same odds that claimed her mother and grandmother?
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: Details about the past imply that Surma wasn't the beacon of light that her friends constantly describe her as. She is mentioned to have been something of a rule breaker who was able to avoid being caught, actively manipulated Renard into falling in love with her so the Court could capture him, and was said to dislike Jones, someone even her Adults Are Useless minded daughter actually trusts. She also cheated on Eglamore with Tony, and didn't appear to let the former down very gently.
  • Deader Than Dead: Annie drained Surma's power and lifeforce as she grew up. Annie had to take her to the other side herself because the psychopomps couldn't work with what was left.
  • Dude Magnet: Three different guys fell for her, one of them not even human.
  • Does Not Like Shoes: Coyote mentions that, just like Annie, Surma too wasn't fond of shoes in the forest.
  • Fish out of Water: When she impulsively decides to join Tony on an expedition to Brazil, it's not until they reach the base that the purpose was to study insects, not languages (her specialty), that she realizes she's out of her element and has to figure out how to adapt.
  • Heroes Want Redheads: And yet, the most traditionally heroic of her three suitors doesn't marry her.
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners: With Anja. So much so that she left the court partly so her best friend wouldn't have to watch her waste away following Annie's birth.
  • Honey Trap: She lured Renard into the court by making him think she loved him.
  • Lovable Alpha Bitch: She was beautiful and was quite popular at some point — "All people in the Forest" loved her and people in the Court remember her with admiration and/or awe. She actively used her charisma, at least in the Honey Trap gambit with Renard, but was generally nice to people, excluding one jerk.
  • The Matchmaker: Pushed together Anja and Donald who liked each other, but were shy about it. "Those two ended up married, you know."
  • Meaningful Name: The name Surma Stibnite is probably the single most symbolically-dense name in the whole comic. Stibnite is an ore containing the element antimony. Surma's meaning depends on the language: in Russian and several other slavic tongues, it's another name for antimony; in Punjabi, it's another name for kohl, an eye-shadow containing antimony (used in some cultures to protect infants from The Evil Eye); in Finnish, it's a word for death.
  • Missing Mom: Surma's mother died when she was young and so did her grandmother when her mother was young as well. It's In the Blood to die young due to them being fire spirits and passing the spark that gives them life onto the next generation.
  • Mysterious Parent: Surma's powers are more mysterious to the readers than to Annie, but Annie had no idea of her mum's career at the Court, or of her true nature.
  • Oop North: Has a Yorkshire accent
  • Posthumous Character: She died just before Annie was sent off to the Court (so right before the story begins).
  • Strong Family Resemblance: Again, she looks almost identical to Annie — the two even wear identical shades of eye-shadow — no doubt due to the spark she passed down.
  • The Tease: Gone Horribly Wrong. When she led the lovestruck Renard on, people died.
  • What Does She See in Him?: Not an uncommon reaction to her marriage to Anthony. Eglamore and Reynard in particular are not unbiased, though.
  • You Gotta Have Blue Hair: Her hair is pink, the same as Antimony's.

    Anthony Carver

Annie's father; like Surma, notable for his absence. In a story full of mysteries, he's one of the biggest ones.

What is known about Tony: He attended the Court, and was in Queslett House, the same year as Surma. He and Surma married and left the Court, and did not maintain contact with their friends/acquaintances who remained. He worked as a surgeon at Good Hope hospital, the same hospital where his daughter was born and his wife was bedridden. For twelve years, he searched in vain for a way to save Surma from impending death. Shortly after his daughter's enrollment at the Court, he quit his job at Good Hope and completely dropped off the map.

What others have said about him has not been positive: Donald Donlan says that his disappearance has precedent — that he had a habit of taking off on his own for months at a time without telling anyone. James Eglamore (who admittedly may not be completely impartial) claims that he had always been selfish. Jones (another possibly unreliable source, as she admitted to deliberately trying to provoke Annie with this information) claimed that he was completely devoid of emotion and that he rejected anything — such as his wife's skills as a Medium — that wouldn't permit a scientific explanation. Reynardine (incapable of lying, but not necessarily a good judge of character) stated that Tony was incapable of love, or of experiencing anything besides disdain. It's painfully (mostly, for Annie) evident that he's very bad at communicating with people.

Prior to Chapter 37, he only appeared in-comic twice, both in flashbacks. In the first, he was present for a group photo alongside Surma, Anja, Brinnie, Donald, and James. He declined to join James and Donald for lunch immediately afterwards, claiming he had “matters to attend to.” In the second, he was crying at his wife's bedside; he composed himself and silently left the room upon realizing that his daughter was watching. The chapter proper has Donald, apparently his closest friend, reveal the personality hidden beneath his usual stoic mask.

Annie's relationship with her dad is similarly a big question mark, one that Tom has yet to answer any questions about. For what it's worth, Annie said that he must have a good reason for having disappeared, and fully expected him to return for her at the end of the first school year, which he failed to do. Annie's narration stated that it would be over two years from that point in time before Tony contacted her.

Associated tropes:

  • Abusive Parents: After three years absence, he reenters Antimony's life by denigrating her in front of her class, holding her back a year without prior warning (he waited until after the first class of the new year to tell her), forcing her to live in a giant blank white room with barely any decoration or furniture and taking Reynardine away. This is revealed to be the result of a combination of his unresolved guilt from "killing" Surma, being forced by the Court to rein Antimony in, a not unfounded belief that her involvement in the supernatural puts her in danger, and a general inability on his part to express himself in the presence of other people.
  • Alternate Character Interpretation: In-universe example. Before he is properly introduced, his friends, Reynard, and Eglamore all have very different things to say about him, painting him as everything from a Jerk with a Heart of Gold to an egotistical and cold Jerkass. Reynard and James especially play up his bad sides, but it's not hard to see their takes on his personality might be colored by the fact he won the heart of the woman they all loved.
  • Ambiguous Disorder: He legitimately has extreme difficulty understanding people. When he was younger, a potential romantic situation threw him into extreme emotional turmoil for weeks, and even as an adult, he still is by and large stoic. One might compare him to a robot if not for the fact that the Court's resident robots display a fair amount of emotional variety. The flashback chapter "Get Lost" shows that when he's in the field and away from the Court's physical presence, his temperament relaxes considerably. He explains that he can't be himself when he's around more than one person. When talking to Jones in Chapter 80, he describes it thus:
    It's as if...there is a cage around my mind. A cage in which I rattle around and peer out at the world. But the cage forms a barrier between me and my body. It...keeps my body distant, like I can't control it. I can't make it act as I want. I want to take part in life[...] but my mind prevents me. It leaves me unable to interact on a human level with more than one person at a time. When Surma was pregnant, I was hopeful. I thought this time would be different. I could act normally around my own child, surely. But before long, I knew the cage closed once more around my mind. In fact, it was worse. Even when I was alone with Antimony, I was distant from her. I could not be myself.
  • An Arm and a Leg: When he shows back up at the Court, he has a prosthetic for a right hand. Chapter 53 reveals that he cut it off- 'my final surgery'- to help build an antenna to bring Surma back from the afterlife. Kat eventually builds him an advanced prosthetic to replace it.
  • The Atoner: For agreeing to have a child with Surma, which he knew inevitably caused her death. Even moreso if he knew this prior to doing so. Later, for performing a ritual to bring Surma back, which both wouldn't have worked and was killing Annie in the process. He mentions wishing he had simply died after, and that 'Annie's father' is already dead.
  • Cruel to Be Kind: The real reason for his cold, contemptuous behaviour towards Annie. The Court threatened to expel her unless he came back and browbeat her into falling in line with the Court's wishes, although singling her out for her makeup was a "freak out" and he feels terrible about it.
  • Deadpan Snarker: In Chapter 53, Donald visits and snarks that he's got a nice place, as his home is basically completely empty except for a chair facing the window. Tony, with an absolutely deadpan expression, says that it took him a week to feng shui that chair.
  • Death Seeker: After failing to bring Surma back (and nearly killing Annie in the process), the psychopomps dumped him in the middle of the desert. Anthony makes it clear that he was perfectly willing to let exhaustion/starvation/dehydration/exposure do the rest.
  • Did You Just Flip Off Cthulhu?: When Coyote comes to the Court to demand Annie's return to the Forest and goes so far as to knock over a building in his temper, Tony not only refuses but uses Coyote's actions as a reason not to. However, he ultimately relents to Coyote's demand.
  • Disappeared Dad: His absence is noted near the beginning, with Annie narrating that he wouldn't contact her for two years. Him contacting her is simply to pass a message to Donnie ... and to hear his daughter's voice again. And then over another year passes before he shows up in person, having joined the Court staff as a biology teacher. He explains his disappearance as searching for a scientific explanation for his wife's death.
  • Dissonant Serenity: He comes across as almost cheerful when he recounts to Donald how he cut off his own hand in an effort to see Surma again. It is heavily implied that he suffered Sanity Slippage in the lead-up to that decision.
  • Emotionless Boy: To all but a few. This doesn't include his friend the Valkyrie who had a crush on him and his own daughter.
  • Extreme Doormat: To the Court and to Surma. He's tried to escape from the Court before, but they leveraged Annie against him and if he didn't cow to their demands, he risked her expulsion. He initially disagreed with Surma's decision to leave the Court and felt awful that they're betraying Eglamore, but he ultimately listened to her.
  • Fatal Flaw: He has a fierce aversion to emoting or expressing himself while in the company of all but very close friends, which shapes and drives his behavior towards his friends and family. Donald indicates that getting him to actually open up and explain some of his unpleasant actions requires Tony to be alone aside from his best friend and have consumed a healthy helping of liquor.
  • Foil:
    • To Donald Donlan: Closed-off, neurotic, emotionally "unstable" doctor and poor father vs. open, honest, engineer who's a great dad.
    • To James Eglamore: Intellectual, closed-off, devoted to Surma vs. athletic, open, but left Surma for months of training (he said it's all for her; she just wants him to be with her).
  • Freudian Excuse Is No Excuse: As his close friend Donald points out, his behavior towards Annie is thoroughly explained due to his hidden emotional state, but that doesn't forgive the fact he still treats her abominably.
  • Hidden Depths: As a boy, he was known for being stiff and formal. But out in the wilderness, he showed a whole other side to him, as Surma learned.
  • In Vino Veritas: The first time he shows even the slightest hint of emotion after returning is when he's sharing a bottle of brandy with Donny.
  • Jerkass: Most people see him as cold and arrogant, though his closest friend swears he has a Heart of Gold but No Social Skills. What is known is that he cut off contact with his school friends for fourteen years after leaving the Court, did not notify them of Surma's death, does not tell his friends or daughter of his return to the Court, and takes his daughter to task for her appearance and schoolwork rather than engage with her as a father.
  • Jerkass Has a Point: In spite of his surly disposition, many of the things he does to Annie are for her own good, or at the very least could be seen as such from his perspective.
    • Despite his cruelty, deducting two years of plagiarized material from Annie's marks is more lenient than most institutions would be. Oddly enough, Ysengrin seemed to agree with Tony when Annie complains about the cheating.
    • His reasoning for taking away Renard is also sound in his perspective: Renard is dangerous and it would be irresponsible to accept Annie's word that he's totally harmless. Since he would also know what Stockholm and Lima Syndrome are and that Renard is a known murderer and trickster, his caution is justifiable.
    • Forbidding Annie to go into the forest seems quite cruel and senseless given how much she enjoys it there, but Coyote repeatedly, and willingly, puts her in dangerous situations and is overall just an unpredictable and malicious character to be around, not to mention Ysengrin whose stated hatred for humans is accompanied by his steadily deteriorating sanity and history of losing control and trying to kill Annie. Keeping her away is something any other parent would view as sensible. He even calls out Coyote on this to his face, rightly stating that it is dangerous for Annie to be anywhere near Coyote.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold:
    • It's unknown how much of the coldness he has shown his daughter is genuine and how much is an act, but it is clear that he is playing up how much of a Jerkass he really is to hide something from the people around him. He lets it slip a little around Donald when he shows guilt over Surma's death and especially the impact it had on Antimony.
    • He indicates the Court was about to drop the hammer on Annie for her various transgressions, making it an open question as to how much of his punishments on her were his decision after all.
    • Another problem Tony faces is his tendency to immediately clam up when in the presence of anyone but a very select group of people. Kat hated his guts before spending some time alone with him, and afterwards, Annie finds the two of them laughing together. But since Annie was now there, Tony immediately shuts down and curtly departs.
    • It's wasn't Anthony that cut off contact with Donald and Anja. It was Surma that asked for it. She didn't want the court messing with their daughter and didn't want Anja seeing her waste away because of her pride. He offered Surma many times to bring her back to the Court, but she refused. Anthony probably kept up the isolation due to inertia and his growing insanity and guilt.
  • Laughing Mad: Giggles rather humorously a few times while explaining his story to Donald including the part where he chose to cut off his own arm.
  • Magic Versus Science: He sought a scientific explanation for why Surma died after Antimony was born, unwilling to accept the established magical one. However, in ch. 53, after failing to get results his way, he starts looking into magical means. He eventually contacts what he thinks are psychopomps and makes a deal to sacrifice his right hand to create an etheric "antenna" to reach Surma on the other side. However, he is clearly out of his depth, and nearly gets himself and his daughter killed.
  • Maternal Death? Blame the Child!: He is implied to have felt anger towards his daughter, since her birth resulted in her mother's life force gradually transferring to her. Then, he reveals that said anger is directed at himself.
  • Meaningful Name: Carver. He's a surgeon.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Realizing that his scheme to bring Surma back from the dead nearly killed their daughter in the process.
    • Also, he admits that emotionally wrecking Annie when they met again was a horrible thing to do, and begins shedding tears over it.
  • My Greatest Failure: Being unable to save Surma. He even thinks Annie hates him for it (she has never expressed any such thing):
    "How could she live with the man who killed her mother?"
    • And then he almost killed Annie because he wanted to see Surma again during "Divine" (when he realized what he did he wished he could die), then lashed out at her in "The Tree" because he was unprepared for her resemblance to Surma.
  • Mysterious Parent: For over 36 chapters, the available info about him could be written in about a line or two.
  • Non-Standard Character Design: His face is drawn in a more detailed and realistic style than the other characters upon his return in the Court as a teacher, apparently to show old facial injuries and unhealthy weight loss. It gives him an imposing and intimidating figure, and Donny and Anja are both shocked at how weathered he looks.
  • No Social Skills: In his school days, he magnified things like taking a girl to a movie into arduous ordeals. After his return, he smothers the conversation like a lead blanket. "Get Lost" provides a good look as his communication problems when he tells Donnie to stay with Anja in the wake of a death in her family instead of going on their planned expedition. He's clearly trying to console Anja, but he also bluntly says the expedition will have to be canceled as a result, driving Anja to tears again. He flat out told Surma that he can't open up when he's faced with more than one person.
  • Not So Different:
    • To Reynardine. Both did misguided things out of love for Surma, with terrible consequences: Rey killed an innocent man to be with her; Anthony refused to accept that Surma's "condition" couldn't be cured with muggle science, and even after researching the supernatural to look for answers, he was still so ignorant about what actually happened to Surma's spirit that he almost killed Annie by dragging her fire-elemental half (what the aether identified as Surma) out of her. They're also both unwilling "captives" of the Court, but are willing to stay out of love for Annie.
    • To his daughter, Annie. A Stoic who nevertheless feels quite strong emotions behind their emotionless face and dislikes relying on others.
  • Not So Stoic:
    • Apparently, he did have a sensitive side, but Surma and Donny may very well have been the only people who ever saw it. He shows some emotion when talking to Donny at dinner, but then he clams up again and leaves. Later on, Donny brings over a bottle of whiskey and they get to talking; it's here that we see Tony completely open up, although the circumstances are very jarring and eerie. He actually breaks down in tears at one point when he recalls how he's behaved towards Annie.
    • The flashback chapter Get Lost shows that although he tends to clam up among a group, he does care about Donny and Anja. When Surma decides to joins him on the study expedition to Brazil, she notices that he's much more easy-going when he's not in the Court.
  • Omnidisciplinary Scientist: Good enough with etheric sciences to teleport himself, competent enough in electronics and physics to have created a satellite in high school, and a medical doctor on top of that.
  • Parents as People: The revelations of chapter 53 firmly put him in this category, revealing him as a deeply flawed man who's simultaneously made extremely poor decisions and had some extremely poor luck and believes he doesn't deserve to be in Annie's life as a result of his choices. He'd rather die, but has been forced back to the Court by higher powers.
  • Pet the Dog: A small one that only has weight due to his character. Annie feels let down when Donald explains that her father's phone call to her was just to pass a message to Donald. He goes on to tell her that Tony could have gotten the message to him without her ever even knowing and that he involved her because he must have wanted to speak to her, if only for a moment. This is later revealed to be untrue, as he contacted her via an etheric process that only reached her as a phone call and that he didn't want her involved at all. Because he felt he didn't deserve to see her after failing to save Surma. There's a little symbolic truth in it though as Tony does comment that Annie was the first thing he thought of as he began the process.
  • Poor Communication Kills: His return in Chapter 51 is made especially jarring by his failure to explain what the hell he's actually doing, even to his closest friend and confidant. When the explanation finally comes in ch. 53, it becomes even clearer that he's his own worst enemy in this respect: He tells Donald that he was searching for the psychopomps, and put himself through hell in order to do so...but if his communication skills with his wife and daughter were better, he could just have asked Annie to have a word.
  • Present Absence: It takes a long time before he speaks a single word in the present timeline, but he is often mentioned, and his absence is the reason Annie was sent to the Court in the first place.
  • Resignations Not Accepted: He never wanted to return to the Court. However he was forced to do so, when the Court told him that Annie would be expelled and banished because of her activities in the Forest.
  • Sadist Teacher: The first thing he does as the year 10 biology teacher is to humiliate Annie in front of the class, not give her the class materials, and then ignore her for the rest of the course before telling her that he has held her back a year. He later admits that the former three were a horrible thing to do to Annie and starts crying over it.
  • Sanity Slippage: It's implied that his meeting with the psychopomps didn't do his mind any favors, as when he recounts said meeting to Donald he gains a manic look on his face and actually laughs a little.
  • The Scapegoat: When Coyote comes to the Court to find out what happened to Annie they make it out to be Anthony's fault even though they coerced him into enforcing their wishes.
  • Situational Sociability: He's only able to open up if there is no more than one other person present. Around multiple people, he becomes stiff and clinical.
  • Spock Speak: If his first line in-comic is an accurate representation... "who talks like that?"
  • Strong Family Resemblance: His young self looks almost absurdly like his daughter.
    • Becomes even stronger in later chapters, especially when their self-esteem takes a hit: compare Annie's expression while demeaning herself as a "big, dumb giant" in this strip to Anthony's face when making a self-deprecating comment about not being "much of a surgeon anymore". Their faces are constructed differently, but the basic rueful expression is the same.
  • Sugar-and-Ice Personality: To most people Tony is so quiet and reserved that he comes off as rather cold. Around his best friend Donald, however, he has no problem dropping the stoic mask (see above).
    • "Get Lost" shows that when he's in his element (doing entomological research away from the Court) he is considerably more relaxed, talkative, and personable to the point that he unwittingly managed to slowly charm Surma.
    • Kat has always hated Anthony for the way he treats Annie. However, after she spends some time working alone with him, she comes to respect his intelligence and thinks he is actually very funny.
  • That Man Is Dead: Feels this way about himself towards Annie. After revealing he had almost inadvertently killed her, he says "Her father died out there, in those caves."
  • Tin Man: Passionately talking about passions not making sense to him.
  • Took a Level in Jerkass: While he was never exactly Mr. Rogers, his previous characterization when he was a kid was merely aloof, rather than actively cold and unlikeable. It may be a result of Surma's death being a Cynicism Catalyst.
  • Trauma Button: Annie wearing a lot of makeup sets him off, not because he thinks it's delinquent... all that makeup reminds him of Surma. Ironically, he demands for Annie to remove hers, while in the past, it disappointed him when Surma wasn't wearing hers.
  • Unwitting Pawn: Implied. The "psychopomp" who showed him how to resurrect Surma takes the form of a canine corpse, rather similar to Coyote's Nightmare Face.
  • Wiki Walk: What Tony does for fun
  • Younger Than They Look: Whatever he's been doing all this time, it's added twenty years to his face. Ch. 53 reveals that the price he had to pay to get the psychopomps to treat with him took a heavy physical toll; he looks like he was used as a punching bag, and that's not counting the sacrifice of his hand.

    Donald and Anja Donlan

Kat's parents. Both of them are science teachers and magicians.

When they were younger, both attended school at the Court. Like Surma, Anja spent her first year in Chester and was subsequently transferred to Queslett. She was close friends with Surma, a friendship that mirrored the one her daughter would eventually have with Surma's daughter. Donald was a Queslett student from the start, and a friend of James and Anthony. Upon becoming classmates, Anja and Donald hit off almost immediately, dated steadily through school, eventually wed, and have remained Happily Married since.

Anja possesses etheric powers — she's demonstrated subtle clairvoyance and the ability to project barriers — but does not like to use them in public, due to having been on the receiving end of anti-etheric prejudice in the past. She and Donald did, however, collaborate on building a Magitek computer, capable of projecting shields and binding Reynardine. Kat was completely unaware that they had these talents.

So far, Anja and Donald have been supportive of all of their daughter's adventuring that they know about. They've also tried to help Annie upon learning of her Parental Abandonment; Annie has so far turned them down.

Associated tropes:

  • Barrier Warrior:
    • Anja. SPANG
    • She later made some sort of magical computer with a similar effect, so adult Donald also can make a barrier strong enough to repel Ysengrin's attack.
  • Black Bead Eyes: When Anja opens her eyes in Chapter 52, apparently out of shock over Anthony's appearance.
  • Cannot Spit It Out: Both of them, when they were students. Surma and Eglamore push them into confessing at various points.
  • Does Not Like Shoes: Anja usually doesn't wear any shoes when she's at home.
  • Expressive Mask: Donald's glasses.
  • Eyes Always Shut: Anja.
  • Eye Glasses: Donald's rarely seen without his glasses on, and as mentioned, they're expressive.
  • Freakiness Shame: In flashback, it's shown that Anja was afraid to show her powers to Donald, afraid that he'd reject her due to the prejudice most at the Court have for "etheric sciences." When she had to finally demonstrate her powers (to save their lives), Donald immediately praises her, obviously having no issue with her powers.
  • Hammerspace: Donald is able to spontaneously store and summon items, as seen here.
  • Happily Married: As Anja put it, "Well, I think there is some life left in us yet."
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners: Anja, with Surma. It was this reason why Surma left the Court; she didn't want Anja to watch her waste away after giving birth to Annie.
  • Inelegant Blubbering: When Anja got news of Surma's death — her eyes were quite red when she tried to hide it from Kat.
  • Interrupted Intimacy: Happens to them. They provide the page image for this trope, believe it or not.
  • Mysterious Parent: They have odd tricks up their sleeves. Kat never believed in “magic” nor saw her mother using a computer, so Anja offhandedly mentioning developing a Magitek-server before her birth was sort of disconcerting. The Power Tattoo issue just finished her off.
  • Papa Wolf: During dinner with Tony it becomes clear that Donald is more than a bit upset over Tony's actions, including disappearing for three years and his treatment of Antimony after his return.
  • Parental Substitute: They try as best they can to help Annie as adults she can turn to when troubled, they also tend to be very protective of her and you can bet whether its the court or her own father they aren't going to tolerate anyone mistreating her.
  • Power Tattoo: Donald, of the eye symbol on the pens where Reynardine was being held at the start of the comic. Anja herself got an amulet of the same symbol.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: Probably the most reasonable adults in the court with very few of the biases toward magic and the forest almost all the other adults have. They have also more or less taken Annie under their wing and often act more like parents to her then Annie's actual parent.
  • Scary Shiny Glasses: Donald does this when pissed off, its an extremely rare occurrence.
  • Tearful Smile: Anja to Kat, after she got news of Surma's death.
  • There Was a Door: Donald can generate a magical "portable door" on top of an existing door.
  • Tranquil Fury: Donnie towards Anthony. He's angry because (among other things) Tony disappeared without telling anyone for several years, but from his posture you'd think he was just making small talk. Ironically, he interrupted Anthony's attempt to make small talk.

    Sir James Eglamore

Games teacher, Dragon Slayer, and valiant Knight in Shining Armor. Eglamore was a childhood friend of Anthony, Donald, and Anja; he and Surma were more than friends. Kat has a huge crush on him.

It's possible that his desire to befriend Annie is interfering with his duty as a teacher; it's certain that his past with Surma is coloring how he treats Annie now. He'll lecture her or give her detention for breaking the rules, then in the next breath, encourage her to try harder to not get caught in the future. He dislikes Anthony Carver, mostly because he ended up marrying Surma.

In spite of this, he's yet to do anything to earn the ire that Annie feels towards him... at least as far as he's concerned. Annie seems to think he went over-the-top in his treatment of Reynardine, as the then-"dragon" showed up in front of her half dead and in pain, and she later saw Eglamore putting him back in captivity with his wounds still bleeding and untreated. For Eglamore's part, he hated Reynardine for killing his old friend, Sivo (said “dragon.”) The fact that Rey once competed for Surma's heart probably doesn't help, either. Antimony thought he has something going on with Jones, he also stated in the flashback that he wanted Jones in their group picture but she couldn't participate since Surma couldn't stand her.

He has at least two BFSes. One of them glows. His armour is blazoned with an alchemical symbol for lead.

Associated tropes:

    Dr. Randy Disaster

A Large Ham who has a Top Secret Doctorate, he teaches the coolest class at Gunnerkrigg: a full-sensory pulp sci-fi space battle simulator. The Troperrific plot of the simulation seems to runs on Rule of Cool rather than logic, which nearly proves too much for Annie's Willing Suspension of Disbelief.

On a prior version of the Cast Page, Annie described him as "The saviour of the universe, apparently"; presumably she was being sarcastic.

Outside of the classroom, he has a love for B-movies (particularly sci-fi or anything with Vincent Price) and he's infatuated with Jones.

Associated tropes:

  • Amazon Chaser: Gets tongue-tied around Jones and once gives her a bouquet of flowers.
  • Awesome Mc Coolname: One can see why he goes by his surname.
  • Cool Old Guy: Teaches the most popular class in school.
  • Fun Personified: Blasts into the storyline with no warning, shouts about how the world is in danger, and drags the kids off to his VR sims.
  • Large Ham: SPACEMONAUTS! The world is in PERIL!
  • Skunk Stripe: His simulator gives everyone these.


A highly enigmatic and emotionless lady who teaches mediation to future Mediums, “currently, amongst other things.” She's knowledgeable about the Court, the Wood, their history, and other unusual subjects. She has a keen eye for observing crucial details, and she isn't above provoking people to reveal their character. And calmly confirms it when caught. She's not interested in speculation, and tells Annie to only inform her of events regarding the court's history when enough information has been gathered.

While she is employed by the Court, she is deliberately neutral when speaking of the conflict between the Court and the Wood. Her role is, in the words of Coyote, that of a "Wandering Eye".

She has a long, ambiguous history with both the Court and the Wood. She knew Annie and Kat's parents when they were students at the Court (Eglamore wished that Jones could have been in their group photo, but Surma apparently couldn't stand her). She's one of the few people able to walk into Gillitie uninvited without getting killed.

Though more of a diplomat than a warrior, Jones can beat men twice her size in single combat, and with style. Because of this, and because of her personality and physical density (she can punch through a stone wall and sinks in water like a rock), Annie suspected Jones of being a robot, until Reynardine, Kat and Jones herself shot this particular notion down. She remains Ambiguously Human.

There's a very strong bond between her and Eglamore, whom she's known for a few very long time. She's also been on at least one date with Randy Disaster.

Almost constantly wears a seemingly bored Seen It All face (when she once confessed she'd "seen... nothing quite like that", this was treated as disturbing in and of itself). She's also quite beautiful: note that her face is penciled more elaborately than the protagonist's, so it's a deliberate point.

Associated tropes:

  • The Ace: She's both medium (Annie's vocation) instructor "among other things" and embodiment of some sort of perfection with a "Seen It All" undercurrent. The only two limitations mentioned are her inability to use a blinker stone and her abnormal density preventing her from swimming.
  • Alien Non-Interference Clause: Not exactly an alien, but she does try to make as few changes as possible to human society, preferring to observe.
  • Ambiguously Brown: This along with the fact that she's a Dark-Skinned Blond make determining her ethnicity difficult. Justified since she predates life on the planet, and by extension humanity, by billions of years.
  • Ambiguously Human: While she may not be a robot, speculation abounds as to what her actual nature is. Being really, really, really, really old, predating anything else on Earth apart from lava, means she has no idea what she is.
  • Badass Boast: Jones proves that one doesn't need to be long-winded, eloquent, or loud to deliver one of these when she tells Coyote (a god) that she could take Annie back to the Court against his wishes, inside his own domain.
  • Badass in Distress: At the end of 'Evac', she's hurled into orbit, probably by Loup, with no way to get down.
  • Beauty Is Never Tarnished: Unkempt Beauty is pretty much the extent of it since she's tackled rampaging mega-fauna unarmed and almost uncovered, walked barefoot across a desert, caught fire, been stabbed with a spear, parried a sword with her face, sunk into a lake, and sunk in lava with no problem. The worst she's ever been shown to be hurt? Her eyes froze while she stood naked in a blizzard.
  • Chekhov's Gunman: The first reference to Jones (her office door, with her name on it, is shown in Chapter 9) was so subtle that none of the readers noticed it until after Jones herself appeared in-comic.
  • The Comically Serious:
  • Complete Immortality: Her first memory is being buried in the churning magma of the Earth's creation for a few billion years. No one has come up with anything that can scratch her since. In sparring matches, she parries sword thrusts with her face.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Not frequently, but how. Sometimes it's hard to tell for sure — "Full of subtlety"? "Very bright young man"?
  • Emotionless Girl: She claims she has no emotions whatsoever, and therefore has more in common with a stone than a human being. Readers have noted a few discrepancies in that statement, but until we get more detail it's hard to say for sure. Annie has similarly noted that Jones isn't quite as emotionless as she seems, and even in that moment, Jones seemed appreciative of the thought if nothing else.
  • Exposition of Immortality: To Annie, when Annie finally just up and asks her "What are you?"
  • Figure It Out Yourself: In her very long life, she has witnessed all sorts of events that occurred long before humanity, like the dinosaurs. But she won't share any information humanity in general hasn't already figured out for itself and interferes as little as possible, preferring an observer role.
  • Gorgeous Period Dress: Worn by Jones throughout "The Stone" until thousands of years ago when the only thing anyone wore was loincloths.
  • Hidden Depths: More of impenetrable depths. Even not counting the main mystery. We see only the perfect "poker face" with occasional glimpses of double meanings or sense of kinship.
  • I Have Many Names: Coyote knows her as "Wandering Eye", and asks if Jones is the latest name she's “stolen.” Chapter 40 highlights several points in her past spanning a very long time, during which time she used different names, typically at the insistence of the previous owner. On the other hand, most everyone else just refers to her as "Jones".
  • Immortality Begins at Twenty: Is probably the oldest being in the Gunnerkrigg Universe, especially if Coyote's theory is true. Throughout all this time her appearance has never changed.
  • Inexplicably Awesome: So inexplicable that Jones herself doesn't know what she is.
  • Insistent Terminology: She is not "immortal" by her definition, because to Jones, to be immortal, you have to be alive.
  • Implacable Man: The chase partly shown in "Spring Heeled" arc made a lasting impression on Jack.
  • The Juggernaut: According to her, nothing she has ever discovered can so much as cut one of her hairs, and there is no material in existence that she cannot bend or break with ease. She apparently spent the first several millennia of her existence buried in the Earth's crust, largely because she didn't see any particular reason to bother breaking out.
  • Lady of War: She's seen a lot of combat.
  • The Matchmaker: Well, technically, it's a form of mediation too...
  • Mayfly–December Romance: Everyone she's ever been involved with.
  • Mortality Grey Area: Considers herself as such. She's immortal and indestructible and has existed since the Hadean eon, but is The Needless and never changes physically or emotionally. She doesn't consider herself alive because living things change and have needs.
  • The Needless: She's completely immortal and indestructible, and as such probably doesn't need to eat, and definitely doesn't need to breathe. The latter was best demonstrated when she gets thrown into orbit at the end of 'Evac'.
  • Nigh-Invulnerability: Chapter 40 shows her being invulnerable to a spear, fire, freezing, and immersion in lava. Every part of her body, including her hair, is indestructible.
  • Noodle Incident: Has apparently been in orbit around the Earth on at least two occasions.
  • Not So Stoic: Played with. While externally she remains as emotionless as ever, her growing catalogue of altruistic and kind-hearted actions and her interactions with the other characters make her claims of being emotionless somewhat suspect.
  • Older Than They Look: As revealed in ch. 40, Jones is old, immensely so (see Time Abyss below), but her appearance hasn't changed, only her clothes and hair to keep up with the times... and her name. She took the name "Jones" during one of the World Wars. Which one isn't clear.
  • Photographic Memory: Jones has stated that she can recall every moment of her existence with perfect clarity.
  • Robot Girl: Speculated by Annie (and by fans), but ultimately denied and disproven, repeatedly, by everybody up to and including Jones herself, to the point of becoming a Running Gag in the writer commentary.
    Tom: If Jones keeps beeping like that, people are going to get the wrong idea.
  • Sherlock Scan: Seeing through Ysengrin's tricks and catching Sir James's expressions with the uncomfortable efficiency of x-rays applied right to the brain.
  • The Stoic: Her face never registers emotion.
  • Super Strength: She breaks through a stone wall with no difficulty in "Spring Heeled" and has stated that the measuring equipment available to the Court, which is a place of superscience, can't determine her strength, and that the only material on this planet she can't "manipulate like wet clay" is... her own flesh.
  • Team Mom: A quiet version, but she does go out of her way to protect Annie.
  • Time Abyss: She's been around at least since the Hadean eon, making her almost as old as the Earth itself, and she spent at least 3 billion years of that embedded in the Earth's crust.
  • Tin Man: Possibly; she claims to have no desires or dreams (she certainly doesn't have any needs like food, water, air, or sleep) but if that were true she wouldn't be working with the Court, form social relationships, or sound (to us) to be a little sad that humans aren't the same creatures she is.
    • Lampshaded in Tom's comment on this strip, which quoted Jones two strips earlier saying that she has "no capacity for emotional connection", while in the strip itself she's declaring she will be a friend to Eglamore for the rest of his life.
    • Just a small thing: she claims to have perfect photographic memory yet keeps a photo album.
    • Coyote also once claimed he could feel her being anxious, though it could've simply been a taunt. Which then opens up the question of why he'd think taunting her would get any reaction.
  • Toplessness from the Back: In a flashback in Chapter 40, Jones takes down a bison without weaponry or a top.
  • The Unreveal: Zig-zagged. Ysengrin explained to Annie what Jones was over the summer break she stayed in the Woods, but the details aren't revealed to the reader. Reynardine comments that she's "interesting company". Chapter 40 is a long reveal of what Jones is... until Jones says that she doesn't know what she is.
  • The Unsmile: Though we don't see it.
  • Walk, Don't Swim: She prefers to walk across the lake bottom rather than trust her weight to a rickety pier. She can't swim because her body is too dense.

    Headmaster Jonathan Llanwellyn

The rarely-seen-in-story head of the school. He presided over a meeting with ambassadors from Gillitie—the first such meeting in over a decade—acting visibly bored and irritated all the while. Physically, he appeared weak and unwell, with an unnaturally pallid, sunken complexion.

He has a daughter in Annie's class, named Janet.

Associated tropes:

  • "Ass" in Ambassador: His usual attitude when dealing with official functions is to slouch, yawn, and do his best to act like it's all a massively boring waste of his time.
  • Deadpan Snarker: If he's smiling while talking, it's probably because he's being this.
  • Eerie Pale-Skinned Brunette: His hair is black, and his skin is less "pale" and more light grey. Much more noticeable in his second appearance. Coyote even calls him a "leathery bag of bones."
  • Minor Major Character: Despite being the head of the school, he's only had two brief appearances so far.
  • Obfuscating Stupidity: It is theorized that he merely acts bored because it's the only way to get Coyote to get down to business. If you're not interested in Coyote, he can't manipulate you.
  • One Judge to Rule Them All: While Jones said Annie was the best candidate for the position of medium between the Court and the Woods, the Headmaster says that the Court decided to go with Smith. The shocked reaction of the Court members in attendance suggests that the Headmaster himself was the only one to come to that decision.
  • Out-Gambitted: He refuses to make Antimony the new court seer, probably due to a conflict of interest with the forest, though it is unclear as the rest of the court seemed to expect her to be the new seer. Coyote fires back by declaring her the forest seer to replace Ysengrin; something he seemed particularly displeased by. It could be that he deemed that she would be too hard to control or too sympathic with the forest given that she is half fire elemental, but his motives are left intentionally vague.
  • Overprotective Dad: Bud hints he's one, which is why Bud's glad when he thinks Janet and Winsbury are only joking about being involved with each other.

     Juliette and Arthur 
A fine lady in glasses working in the Court (security, operating "ether stations"), and her humanoid robot friend. When idle, they amuse themselves by playing amateur theater without viewers.

Associated tropes:

  • Body Surf: Arthur's consciousness has been transferred to dozens of more advanced models throughout the decades. He and Juliette both hope that Kat can help him gain an organic body so they can finally be together.
  • Childhood Friend Romance: The two have been friends since Arthur was newly made and Juliette was a student at the court. Like a lot of robots, Arthur developed feelings for Juliette, and while she turned him down like she was supposed to, they remained friends for years. Eventually, when they were grown up, they both realized they really were in love with each other.
  • The Dog Was the Mastermind: As of Chapter 63, it seems they have a much more significant role to play than previously thought.
  • Meaningful Name: Juliette has a similar name with another woman in a forbidden relationship.
  • Meganekko: Juliette's a beautiful, intelligent woman in glasses.
  • The Men in Black: They're part of a group evocative of this which is known as the Shadow Men. They're part of the Court but not connected to the school and monitor students, creatures and events that are particularly extraordinary. Their group was first seen trying to apprehend the possessed Jack.
  • Odd Friendship: She likes playing amateur theatre with her robot friend.
  • Pinocchio Syndrome: Arthur wants to become human, or, at the very least, attain an organic body so he and Juliette can finally be together.
  • Secret Relationship: Since the Court forbids romance between humans and robots, they've had to keep their relationship a secret. Kat's the first person they've told. Given the Court's track record, the possibility exists the Court would either destroy or reprogram Arthur if they found out.
  • Star-Crossed Lovers: The Court forbids human and robot romance. Arthur can't leave the Court as they destroy or reprogram any robot that tries and Juliette refuses to leave without Arthur.

A mysterious and rarely seen person. Aata is the highest ranked member of the Shadow Men seen to date and can speak for the Court regarding security matters.

Associated tropes:

    Bob and Marcia 
The keepers of Young's Park. Bob is also the one in charge of the Decontamination Habitats.

Associated tropes:

  • Green Thumb: Marcia can communicate with, see through and control both natural and magically altered plant life.
  • Our Nymphs Are Different: Marcia is a dryad who typically resembles a normal human woman but can turn into a Plant Person should she choose to, and can extensively control plants.
  • Plant Person: Marcia's true form resembles a human woman with wooden flesh and leaves for hair.
  • Hair Colors: Green for Marcia. Because, you know, dryad.

     Lindsey & Bud 
Two married creatures that watch over the Year 9 dormitories (Lindsey watches the girls, Bud the boys).

Associated tropes:

  • Bizarre Sexual Dimorphism: Lindsey is a giant house-sized crab. Her husband Bud can fit in a normal-sized bucket. Apparently they're also a bit different personality-wise: He seems more fun-loving while she's a somewhat serious PhD.
  • Eldritch Abomination: They may be friendly, but they still look like something out of Lovecraft's sketchbook. Notably, a portion of Lindsey's brain functions in a different dimension. That's not getting into what their etheric forms look like.
  • Eyes Do Not Belong There: Lindsey has 47 eyes and 15 "not-eyes".
  • Gadgeteer Genius: Bud appears to be able to talk shop with Kat.
  • Obfuscating Stupidity: Bud acts like a real chum and pal hanging out with students, but he's really a powerful psychic who keeps an eye on them and is apparently capable of preventing any possible trouble.
  • Out of Focus: Aside from a few cameos, they didn't play a large role since their introduction until Lindsey's received a story arc centering around her, or rather the robotic cruise ship with the creepy crush on her.
  • Renaissance Man: Lindsey has a doctoral degree in structural engineering, and is also an accredited couples counselor.
  • Shout-Out: They share names with two of the main characters (also married) of The Abyss.
  • Tiny Guy, Huge Girl: A rather extreme example. Bud is slightly larger than an ordinary crab while Lindsey is the size of a house.

A former fairy who "teaches" students in Foley House, after graduating from Foley House herself. Her students used to live in the forest, just as she once did.

Associated tropes:

  • Apathetic Teacher: The court had to give Bugsy a job, but she had no aptitude for anything. They made her a teacher for lack of any other ideas. Her entire teaching technique apparently entails her giving lectures so boring that even she sleeps through them - but it's unclear if the Foley House students even need instruction, so it works out pretty well.
  • Big Beautiful Woman: She's drawn as being more voluptuous than the remainder of the cast; best seen in Chapter 58: A Big Day!
  • Cloud Cuckoolander: As with most of the former residents of the forest, by human standards anyway. Related to somewhat different moral reasoning.
  • Hidden Depths: Puts forth a reasonable case as to why the Court is a preferable way of life to the forest for some people, despite some of the restrictions on it.
  • It's All About Me: Her brief flashback focuses exclusively on her receiving her name and job; everything except her is completely featureless, including the guy naming her.
  • Meaningful Name: Averted - the Court employee who named her happened to have a copy of the 1991 gangster biopic on his office shelf. Although ironically, the subject of that film hated to be called "Bugsy".
  • Sleepy Head: In her first appearance, she's sleeping as her body gives a lecture, and is annoyed when awakened.
  • They Call Me MISTER Tibbs!: She doesn't understand why people persist in calling her Ms. Bugsy.


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