Comics Spotlight on Girl Genius

Geek Culture

During steampunk week at GeekMom, I was inspired to look for steampunk style comics.

There’s Ruse, of course, especially since the first issue of the revamp came out last week but I’d written about it before and I wanted something new.

Then someone on my flist on livejournal recommended Girl Genius. I’d heard of the comic but I’d never read it. My loss, though the silver lining is that I now I have volumes of great stories to read.

One of the free wallpapers available at Girl Genius Online


Girl Genius is the story of Agatha Clay, a harried apprentice to one of her town’s most prominent scientists. In this world, which the creators call “gaslamp fantasy,” scientists also have a magic called “the spark” which allows them to invent amazing creatures. It’s a fascinating mosh of the Victorian era, magic and emerging technology.

It’s also a great deal of fun, as Agatha has to navigate between warring scientists with the “spark” and the mystery surrounding her background. To provide more plot summary than that would result in too many spoilers but I’ll say that Agatha has only begun to sense the truth about her world and her own powers. Whatever you do, if you don’t like spoilers, stay away from the Wikipedia article. It gives away the mystery of Agatha’s parents right away.

What Kids Will Like About It:

The comic is written in a manga-influenced style which means it mixes wonderful imagery with menace and silly, over-the-top moments. There’s a lot of humor, there are really cool gadgets, fun characters and a likable protagonist. Even though the main character is a girl, I think boys would like it just as much. I know “adventure, romance, mad science!” certainly piqued the interests of all my kids, boys and girls.

People do die, though not graphically, and the comic begins with Agatha being attacked by two men and her locket stolen. I like that scene, especially since Agatha fights back and nearly wins, and it’s done without gore, but it can be a little scary for younger kids. The official website rates the comic for ages ten and above.

What Parents Will Like About It:

It has enough imagination to keep a parent involved, especially with all the politics and infighting among the scientists. And who doesn’t want to see a big mechanical monster attack? This is one case where the medium is greatly served by the subject matter. The world around Agatha Clay lends itself to incredible visuals and the art is lush and allows a reader to sink into the world. I read it online but I would recommend the books over the online experience because I had to scroll down a bit to read the full page and I would rather have read it with the whole page in front of me.

One niggle and that’s the over-exaggerated humor. It took a little while for me to get used to it.

Best Panel:

In the first book, the monster is revealed in a full page spread, impressive not only for the clanking monster but also for the reactions of all the characters.


Phil and Kaja Foglio founded and run Studio Foglio, LLC, and created Girl Genius together. They won the Hugo Award for Best Graphic Story in 2010 for Girl Genius: Agatha Heterodyne and the Heirs of the Storm. Phil Foglio was also nominated for the Hugo Award for Best Professional Artist in 2008.

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