Whyyyyyy has no one told me about the webcomic Gunnerkrigg Court
until now? (If you did, and I just didn't listen to you, I hereby abjectly apologize.) It is awesome, and I speak as someone who reads basically no webcomics whatsoever because I generally find them boring. GC has a fantastical boarding school that has more to it than meets the eye, laser robot cows ("just like real cows, only with lasers!"), tension between science and magic and humans and fantastical creatures, hilarious spaceship simulations of dooooom, superpowers that include the superpower of being boring -- the scope of invention is just marvelous. And all the characters are so cool. It has a friendship between two girls (well, actually, several of them, but the main relationship is the one I'm thinking of here) that is absolutely lovely. My favorite is the enigmatic Jones, who is matter-of-fact and unimpressed with everything
.A review of it I read
talked about how GC had so many strong women characters, and it, curiously, surprised me, even though when I thought about it, it totally kicks butt in the strong-women category. The reason I had that moment of disorientation is that, I think, there are several ways of doing strong women characters. The first is when you take the main character and make her female and good at martial arts, and basically have her spend the whole book (or whatever media, but I'm used to this character in YA fic mostly) going "Look how awesome I am!" mostly to the guys in the vicinity, especially the Love Triangle guys (there's inevitably a love triangle in these kinds of books *cough*Hunger Games*cough*).
The second way to do strong women characters is to situate them in a men's world, to show them working within the system, to show them powerful in the ways they work with and/or subvert the system. The Good Wife
and Veronica Mars
are both quite excellent at this. I very much enjoy this way of doing things.
And the third is what Gunnerkrigg Court does: you make the women strong characters. You make them human. You make the men strong characters. You make them human. You make the POCs strong characters. You make them human. ...See where I'm going with this? You make the relationships between woman and woman moving and real and complicated (Antimony and Kat have about the most awesome friendship ever, but it still has its ups and downs, and at least one huge gaping issue between them that has not yet been addressed), and the relationships between man and man moving and real. (And you make the relationship between stuffed-animal-demon and girl, or girl and ghost, moving and real. I'm just saying. It's that kind of work.) And there's no difference between the men and women in terms of power or importance. The Headmaster is male; Jones (who may or may not be more powerful than the Headmaster) is female. The simulations teacher is male; the science teacher is female. So what? It just happens to have more female characters than male, and that's just the way it is.
, if you have any disposition towards webcomics/graphic-novels, you need to go read this as payback for TGW :) I promise you it is no Code Name Verity, except in the loveliness of the friendship.)
For those of you who care, it IS a work in progress. I sort of wish a little that I hadn't stumbled on it until it was all the way done (there does seem to be an ending in sight, though that ending, at this rate, is going to be years away). But now is a good time to start, because a big plot arc has just come to conclusion, answering a bunch of extant questions (though, of course, asking new ones).
Let's see, warnings: it's funny and silly and hilarious at times, but it's also dark and getting darker. In terms of specific warnings, death and other darknesses are present in this world, on the level of, say, the third Harry Potter book (so far, and not really all that surprisingly, as I believe Antimony and Kat are in their third year). All of the romantic relationships are het (ETA: This is NOT TRUE, tithenai has graciously corrected me on this, although it may be that many or all of the queer romances are asexual), but most of the really interesting relationships are not romantic, and a whole bunch of interesting relationships feature at least one non-human character.( Mild spoilers: )
So read it! (I will say I was several chapters in before I really got hooked.) And then talk to me about it! :) And write me fic! :) (I am shocked at the dearth of fic for this thing. It seems like exactly the sort of multi-layered, tendrils-in-all-directions, intensely characterized fandom that would give rise to people wanting to write for it.)