Interview: Tom Siddell

This interview was originally posted at SentientOnline on the 8th December 2009

With me today I have Tom Siddell, the writer and artist of the fabulous webcomic, Gunnerkrigg Court.

Tell us about yourself, and about your webcomic, Gunnerkrigg Court.

I am Tom and I make a comic that I put on the Internet. It’s about two girls who live and go to school at a place called Gunnerkrigg Court, which is a huge city-like complex that stretches out into the horizon. During their every day life they come across robots, myths, legends, demons and hidden mysteries. Annie is the main character, and she finds it easier to talk to ghosts and monsters than to other kids her age. Kat is her best friend, and she can create anti-gravity devices out of household objects. The comic is a lot about the contrast between science and mythology, shown in the girls’ friendship, and also the Court itself, a facility mainly focused on science, but that also happens to border a giant forest in which magical creatures live.

Where do you get your ideas? Do you try to plot and plan, or do you let it take over and follow it faithfully to see where it leads you instead?

Both, really. I have an overall idea of where I want things to go, and I stick to that, but I also let things change along the way if I think they will work better. The base plot has already been planned out and implemented in the comic, so there is a definite path it’s taking, but HOW things happen along the way is still open. I like to keep people guessing, really.

How far ahead have you planned Gunnerkrigg Court, and how many have you already drawn?

I like to have about 30 pages in my update buffer. Sometimes it’s more, sometimes it’s less. The buffer is there so I can make sure the update schedule is consistent even if something happens that makes me unable to work on pages one week.  I generally plan out a full chapter before starting on it, but after that the chapters are just ideas that I flesh out when I get to them.

In other interviews you’ve been asked about your favourite character, Caver and Reynardine, but, just to be different, who is your least favourite to write about/draw, and why?

With the format of the story it’s hard to show all the characters all the time. This is especially hard on fan favourites that people want to see more of. Then I have smaller characters, like Shadow 2, that still have their own little story going on, but I just can’t focus on them as much as I’d like. Shadow is really easy to draw though!

If Gunnerkrigg Court were made into a movie, whom would you want playing Carver? Kat? Who would you like to voice Reynardine?

I do not know of modern day acting people! Maybe a younger Emily Browning for Annie, and a younger Keisha Castle-Hughes for Kat? As for Renard, his voice would be the Super Teddy from A.I. Or maybe Jean Reno with a milder accent (Renard is French, after all).

As a male do you find it hard to write from the point of view of a female, and how do you keep it feeling real?

I’m not trying to write female characters or anything. I’m just trying to write decent characters. I wouldn’t put “female” on their list of personality traits, for example. Annie and Kat are more open with each other than a couple of guys would be, but I wanted that because of the kind of story I was telling. I also didn’t want characters that either always talked about, or are only motivated by things linked to being female, if that makes sense. It’s not a story about girls being better than boys, it’s just a story.

Will we find out more about the pretty girl from the bonus pages?


Your first book is out now in print, and it’s lovely. Is there any hint as to when the second book will be out, roughly?

I do not know! I thought I had an idea as to when it would be out, but publishing can be a tricky business, I guess, because deadlines never seem to be set in stone (unless they are ones I, myself, need to stick to). I’m really hoping there wont be the kind of delay we had with the first book, though. The first book came out pretty nicely, I thought, so I’d love to follow up in good time with an even better product.

On your website your fans are able to heavily discuss every webcomic as it is posted. What’s one thing that your audience seem to get completely wrong? Would you care to correct them on it? Or offer any hints to the right path?

On the whole they are pretty good at picking up what I’m trying to convey. Since this is the Internet, some people tend to take things more seriously than they should, but that’s just the nature of things. Oh, also, Reynardine is not Annie’s dad in any way, shape or form.

Are there any hints you can give us about the future of Gunnerkrigg? What do we have to look forward to?

More interactions with Coyote will be along soon, of course, but also just the continuation of everything presented so far.  Annie and Kat will continue to grow up and learn to live in the world they do, as well as solve the mysteries they’ve uncovered. Some less pleasant than others.

Do you have any last words for our lovely readers today?

I hope any new readers to the comic will find a light hearted, sometimes-serious-but-never-too-serious story that they will enjoy reading.

Read the fantastic Gunnerkrigg Court here!

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