Best. Schools. Ever.
Aug 24, 2009
September brings the end of summer, and with it a new school year. The “fun” of summer has drawn to a close and its time for all boys and girls to head back to school. But does going back to school have to remove the element of “fun” from the equation? In a perfect world; a world where the fictional institutions of higher (and sometimes lower) learning actually existed alongside those of our own world; would there be any doubt that places like Riverdale High (where you never age) or Hogwart’s School (where you learn the arts of magic and friendship) would not have mile-long waiting lists of eager and potential real-life students?
Schools shape and mold young minds into the individuals we are today. But if we could, just for a while, transfer to a new district, one that catered to “Gifted Youngsters” or “Heroes in Training”, wouldn’t you? Yeah. We thought so. And with that in mind, we cordially invite you to hop onto the FlipSide bus and take a tour of a very unique school district; a place of heroes and villains, witches and warlocks, eternal teenagers and rambunctious 8-year-olds, a place filled with the Best. Schools. Ever (and the hot lunch ain’t half bad…).
If you’re of a mind to become a wizard, witch or warlock, you can’t go wrong with Hogwart’s School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, home to the “Chosen One” himself, Harry Potter. Be you muggle or magical, you most certainly should be on your best behavior while attending Hogwart’s, because competition is fierce, and the faculty do not suffer fools well. And you’d best be on your guard, for although Hogwart’s is a school, it’s also a very old, very dangerous place. And as many of you know, one wrong step can land you in hot water… or tumbling down the wrong flight of stairs, mocked by the many haunted portraits that decorate the school’s ancient walls as you tumble head over heal. Being zapped into cinders by Voldemort would probably be less embarrassing…
Across the pond, in the quiet town of Springfield (which, incredibly, simultaneously borders the states of Ohio, Nevada, Maine, and Kentucky!), life is simple.
The children of the town attend classes at Springfield Elementary School.
Chief architect of schoolyard mayhem, Bart Simpson, is an atypical example of the caliber of student to be found in its less-than-hallowed halls.
Frankly, the kids in Springfield are all a little weird. Perhaps it has something to do with the nearby nuclear power plant, or maybe it’s just the “role-models” they’re subjected to?
Principal Seymour Skinner, teacher Edna Krabappel, or surly Scottish groundskeeper Willy, for example.
Regardless, in a town dotted with centers of learning (12 and counting!), Springfield Elementary is the lesser of evils!
Located in the borough of Queens in the bustling metropolis of New York, Midtown High School is the alma mater of native son, Peter Parker.
It was while attending a school field trip that young Peter Parker was bitten by a radioactive spider and soon found that his wiry frame had been forever altered by the spider’s irradiated DNA, giving him the powers of a spider!
Well, most of them… the jury is still out on the whole “webbing” thing.
We’re not saying that attending classes at Midtown will net you super-powers, but amazing things do happen, even in Queens.
Elsewhere, in upstate New York, you’ll find one of the most prestigious and, at the same time mysterious, schools on the East Coast: Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters (at once know as “The Xavier Institute for Higher Learning”). The private school, once the ancestral Xavier family estate, was built in the late 1700's and has, over the years, played host to some of the world’s most unusual young people. You don’t just need to be smart to join the student body of this prestigious academy, you’ll need a very different set of skills: namely mutant powers. And those don’t come easily. Still, like Hogwart’s, Xavier’s School can also be a dangerous place to study, what with the threat of aliens, evil mutants, out-of-control powers, or even anti-mutant zealots, so being a mere human could prove a major roadblock to gaining admission. Perhaps a side-trip back to Springfield’s nuclear power plant might be in order?
SCHOOL IS “THE PITS”
Across the country, in California, there used to be a high school, in fact an entire town, that was swallowed up in a supernatural cataclysm of epic proportions. Home to Buffy Summers and her “Scooby Gang,” Sunnydale High School served as their part-time headquarters in their ongoing war against the forces of evil. The entire town (and the high school) all sat atop a “hellmouth”, a nasty place of focused supernatural energy, where the door between Hell and Earth was as thin as a shower curtain, meaning every cloven-hoofed freak and bloodsucker was drawn to it like moths to a flame. When the “hellmouth” doorway was finally slammed shut, thanks in part to the noble sacrifice of a vamp named Spike, it was “bye-bye Sunnydale, school’s out forever!” Still, there’s a lovely crater where the town once stood, making it a great stop-off on your fall orientation tour.
FOUNTAIN OF YOUTH?
Like some kind of teenaged Shangri-La, Riverdale High’s student body has remained unchanged since the 1940s. There’s no explanation why the students never age, but one thing is clear: the world continues to change around them, and they adapt. Be it music, fashion, food or fads, the kids of Riverdale High are always on the cutting edge of what’s hot. One thing that doesn’t change or age however, are the school’s beloved faculty, lead by principal Waldo Weatherbee, some of whom should be well over a century old! Perhaps, like Sunnydale, the town of Riverdale rests over a unique location that slows or halts the aging process? What else could explain a populace that hasn’t aged a day in over 60 years? Clean living? Regardless, if you’re looking for a timeless educational experience, then perhaps Riverdale is in your future.
YOU KNOW, FOR KIDS.
Located three miles below Excelsior School, the somewhat secret ps238 is a school for “Metaprodigy Children” or, put simply, the children of superheroes. And unlike Xavier’s place (which requires all of its students to be X-positive), ps238 will take pretty much any kid — powers or not — as long as one of their parents are a super. The faculty is made up of former superheroes, and what they lack in teaching experience, they more than make up for in enthusiasm. As to why a group of superheroes would open a school, well, that’s up for debate. So, if public schools just aren’t giving you the kind of curriculum you need (flying lessons, X-ray vision training, etc.), and your mom or dad is not just “super” but really super, then you’ve got a shot.
We’ve barely scratched the surface of the unique and wonderful places of learning that have come to us through our favorite works of popular entertainment. Smallville, the Terwilliker Institute, Little Dipper School, James Woods Regional High School, Bedrock High… the list goes on and on. Of course, these schools aren’t real, but it’s nice to imagine what it would be like to attend them. One thing is for certain, school is as fun and fulfilling as you make it, so our warmest Back to School wishes go out to you!
Want to learn more about some of our favorite schools and their most popular students? Then check out this reading list of best-selling trade paperbacks and collections!
The Simpsons Extravaganza TP (Vol. 1)
The Big Book Of Bart Simpson TP
Marvel Masterworks: The Amazing Spider-Man Vol. 1 TP
Spider-Man Lover Mary Jane Vol. 1 HC
Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters
Marvel Masterworks: The X-Men Vol. 1 TP
X-Men: First Class: Tomorrow’s Brightest TP
Archie Americana Series TP’s
VOL. 1: THE ’40s (OCT07 8489) $12.95
VOL. 2: THE ’50s (STAR15493) $10.95
VOL. 3: THE ’60s (STAR01270) $9.95
VOL. 4: THE ’70s (STAR08202) $9.95
VOL. 5: THE ’80s (APR088293) $11.95
VOL. 9: THE ’90s (AUG083747) $11.95
Gunnerkrigg Court Vol. 1: Orientation HC
One of the most fantastic schools around these days is the mysterious academy of Gunnerkrigg Court. Part-Science City, part-Hogwarts, the adventures of Antimony “Annie” Carver are chronicled at www.gunnerkrigg.com, where creator Tom Siddell updates his ongoing web series three times a week on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday! This month, Archaia Studios collects the second book in the series (see Page 192!), collecting the further genre-bending exploits of Annie, her best friend Kat, and the mysterious (and cranky) demon-turned-plush toy, Reynardine.
Speaking of Gunnerkrigg Court...
Creator Tom Siddell took time out of his busy schedule to answer a few questions, beaming his answers swiftly to us from his home in the UK…
PREVIEWS: The world of Gunnerkrigg Court is a true melting pot of genres — fantasy, science fiction, mystery, mythology and the supernatural — what brought you to create this unique setting?
Tom Siddell: I really wanted to make a comic set somewhere between mythology and technology. Not just in theme, but as a physical location. I thought it would be interesting to show a tension between two factions that basically characterize and exaggerate myth and science. In the middle of all that, that's where I wanted Annie so she could hear both sides of the story and play a part in what happens in the larger story.
P: What can readers expect from Antimony Carver’s second year at Gunnerkrigg Court?
Tom: The title for the book is "Research" which hints at the reader getting a lot of insight into the backgrounds of the characters and the Court. We'll learn a little about the time Annie spent growing up in a hospital, as well as events that occurred right at the creation of the Court that are still influencing things in the present. At the end of the first book the headmaster asked Annie if she wanted to take lessons in mediation and we'll start to see that in Volume 2. This leads directly to a visit to Gillitie Forest to meet the trickster god Coyote himself and hear his stories in one of my favourite chapters.
P: Are there any pantheons of gods and goddesses that are “off limits” to visiting the world of Gunnerkrigg Court?
Tom: I'd like to think not! I like to keep things fairly universal in terms of content, so I have to be selective about what mythological stories I can and can't show. Coyote certainly wasn't a saint, and there are all sorts of fun stories about him that I could never include in the comic, but he's still in there as a character. I love including myths and legends from all cultures, so I'd never discount anything I thought was interesting. My story can get fairly dark at times but I'm not going to do anything distasteful that would potentially alienate a certain group of my readers for the sake of shock value. I'm not going to have Priapus running around, for example. That guy is not as fun as you'd think.
P: What’s a typical week like for you, creatively? How much of it is dedicated to the production of the ongoing online Gunnerkrigg Court strip?
Tom: I work full-time during the week, so I only really have time to work on the comic at the weekend, during which I need to get three pages done in order to maintain my update schedule and page buffer. I like to have the script for the current chapter finished before I start drawing it, and then I'll lay out pages as I come to them. I usually get one page done on Saturday, and then two on Sunday. This does mean getting up at 6:00 in the morning on Sunday though…
P: How far off have you plotted Gunnerkrigg Court? Is there an end in sight?
Tom: I work a few chapters ahead, normally. Beyond that I have plot points I want to arrive at that will tie everything together and reveal more story, but the details are less concrete, so I have the freedom to change things around if I need to. I do have an end in mind, but it's still a fair ways off, and is liable to change by the time I reach it. In the meantime, though, I have a definite course I'm following as far as the plot is concerned.