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Girl Genius

March 19, 2009

My apologies for the no-post yesterday. I’m rectifying it with a post today (Thursday) instead. Friday’s post should be up on time, as in sometime between 8 am and 12 am.

Wednesday was my 21st birthday/I had to study for a final day. So, I was out and about all day yesterday doing birthday things, studying things, napping, or eating. A busy but good day.

On with the post then.

The main problem with my quest to review the 20 best comics list that I found is that most of them are established comics. Meaning their archives go back several years, some with daily updates, some weekly, but all long…

The result is that I’ve completely finished reading only one of the archives that I set out to do (FreakAngels). Honestly, I don’t mind for the previous ones because the comics sucked but getting into something like FreakAngels and today’s comic, Girl Genius, requires a lot more time than I’ve had to devote to the archives.

I do plan on finishing the Girl Genius archives and I might update this post then but for now I’ll give you the first five years that I managed to get through.

Background: Girl Genius was started in 2000 as a print comic by Phil and Kaja Foglio. The first print edition was published in 2001. However, since about 2005 they’ve moved most of their work online. It’s basically a web comic these days but they do print volumes from time to time as collections.

Currently the comic has gone through 7 volumes with volume 8 being the end of what the Foglio’s are calling season 1. The Foglios have won numerous awards for Girl Genius including several Web Cartoonists Choice Awards and two Eisner nominations.

The comic updates 3 times a week.

The creators, the husband and wife team of Phil and Kaja Foglio have been involved in the comics and art industries since the 1990s. They contributed art to the card game Magic: The Gathering. Currently they run a studio called Studio Foglio and the company Airship Entertainment.

I actually met these two at the Anime Con in Portland, Oregon last summer. They’re very nice people, and a little bit nerdy, okay a lot nerdy but that just makes them more endearing to talk too. They seemed a little out of place in their booth set up next to all the Gundam and Pokemon crap but hey, whatever floats your boat, I suppose.

The Comic: The story follows the adventures of Agatha Clay, a young woman who has an ability called the Spark. This Spark allows people to create mechanical things, some have stronger Sparks than others.

I don’t want to give away too much plot or story. Basically, she gets kidnapped from her hometown by a Baron. She learns that she has the spark and eventually escapes the Baron’s flying, mechanical castle. Somehow she ends up with a traveling circus.

The comic is somewhat Victorian-era steampunk with monsters. There’s a lot of back story that the creators haven’t gone into but there’s enough that one feels informed enough to understand the world and the people. It’s been pretty interesting.

Most of the storyline is cliche in that fantasy novel sort of way but I love fantasy stories and sci-fi stories so the nerd in my enjoys these comics.

Fortunately, the writing is good. It won’t break walls down or bring a strong man to tears but its enjoyable.

I really enjoy the art which has this very 1980s Smurfs cartoon feel to it, with maybe some Thundercats thrown in from time to time.

Phil Foglio’s style is fun to look at. While I did just compare it to the smurfs and the 1980s that’s not a bad thing. There is some sophistication to it and it’s very detailed. It just feels like you’re reading a cartoon which is nice. I’m reading a Saturday morning cartoon.

Although, I should note that the first 50 or so pages are in black and white while the rest of the comic is in color. Not sure why the change came about but it doesn’t really hurt the comic. The later colorations do help tell the story though. Pretty sure I just made up a word, colorations…

The characters while filled with fantasy story cliches are engaging, and the drawings give them a life that lets you chuckle at their antics.

I suppose the best way to describe this comic is that it’s like watching a kid trying to act seriously and funny at the same time. It sounds like it should end in disaster but it comes across as charming and balanced.

I’m keeping this one relatively short today.

My Recommendation: The Foglios have created something that is very charming and fun to read. If you don’t mind sifting through the archives to catch up on the story than I recommend you take some time and click through it. Or, you can go to the store and pick up the first couple of collections.

I do recommend this one. It’s good for a chuckle here and there and if you like fantasy stories than this one fits the bill through and through.



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