Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Girl Genius

Written by Kaja and Phil Foglio, drawn by Phil Foglio and coloured by Cheyenne Wright.

Rating: Young adult upwards. Would let children read, they just might not understand it.
Genre / themes: Mad science, alternate histories (Europe, Queen Victoria mentioned), steampunk and politics.
Art level: Colour, consistently good art if you like the style.
Number of Books: Ongoing series, unfinished. Currently nine published books.
Other notes: Husband and wife team. Webcomic.

A long-running and entertaining webcomic, the story of young Agatha Heterodyne's journey to rescue herself, discover who she really is, and take over the known world (mostly by accident so far), while making loyal friends, engaging in hilarious exchanges, becoming the minion of a cat and finding minions of her own and of course, constantly inventing various mechanisms of Mad Science, is one of the most popular webcomics online. The black and white first book has finally been republished with a better quality publisher and I can now happily send people to buy the series!

Agatha Heterodyne is a student at Transylvania Polygnostic University in Beetlesburg when she gets caught up in her professor's attempt to control hivers (slave wasp-type creatures, a weapon left over from wars with the Other). Her pent-up sparkiness causes her to create a clank in her sleep and she gets swept up in a case of mistaken identity, by the terrifying and mostly all powerful Baron Wulfenbach. After escaping from his airship, she is adopted by a circus, has many adventures and starts uncovering her true identity. All around her, politics and power games erupt and continue, and mad science bursts out of every cranny! Matters only get funnier when she meets the Jagermonsters - who swear loyalty to her as a Heterodyne heir.

A very practical, stubborn heroine with a lot of pent-up Sparkiness (i.e. Mad Science), Agatha is an entertaining protagonist who wins friends and hearts as she goes. The Foglios, a husband and wife team, also publish less... family friendly works, such as the XXXenophile comics and this shows in the style of the female characters - but it's a family friendly comic, very colourful and unique.

Award winning

Girl Genius has now won a Hugo Award. for the third year running. Runners up were the previously reviewed Fables and Schlock Mercenary.

Volume 10, Agatha Heterodyne and the Guardian Muse won Best Graphic Story in 2011, following in the footsteps of Volume 9: Agatha Heterodyne and the Heirs of the Storm and Volume 8: Agatha Heterodyne and the Chapel of Bones.

Buying the books
The first edition of Girl Genius has finally been republished in colour as Girl Genius, Vol. 1: Agatha Heterodyne and The Beetleburg Clank - and more importantly, with a better printer! The last version (titled Girl Genius: Omnibus Edition #1) fell apart at the binding after a single reading, and as it was my father's christmas present I wasn't too happy about that... It was also a tiny a5 book, which was very hard to read considering how small the black and white illustrations were. The first part of Girl Genius was drawn in black and white, and then the colour part at the end was printed in greyscale, of all things! Be very careful buying second-hand books, if you're getting the first volume!

However, the second book onwards (and now the new first book) were much higher quality hardbacks, twice the size (although thinner obviously) and in lovely colour.

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