Brains are Beautiful

In keeping with Mark William’s Girls Just Want To Have Fun month, I’ve decided to put up the brainiest girl of them all, Agatha Heterodyne.

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This is Agatha.

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Agatha is the creation of Phil and Kaja Foglio, a demented artist/writer team responsible for reimaginings of Angel and the Ape and Stanly and his Monster, and the amazing Buck Godot comics. They launched the Girl Genius comic in 2001, in monochrome, but it quickly went color. After each chapter was finished, the comics would be reprinted together as a graphic novel. The comic’s popularity really took off after the Foglio’s started putting them up a page at a time on their website for everyone to read, and now thousands follow Agatha’s adventures online and grab the lavashly produced graphic novels as they become available.

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Each book, in a nod to traditional pulp-fiction adventure, is titled Agatha Heterodyne and the (fill in the blank).

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But who is Agatha? Agatha is a “spark,” or mad-girl, or as we would call her, a Mad Scientist in a steampunk world where the scientific revolution escalated to all-out war. The world is ruled by science, and it’s not ruled very well. In a nod to tradition, she starts off as an inept lab-assistant, but turns out to be the secret heir of the vanished Heterodynes–one of the oldest and sparkiest dynasties of Europa. Agatha is a sweet girl with a tendancy for making death-rays, but she quickly finds herself caught up in adventures that take her all across Europa, from Wulfenbach’s floating castle Castle Wulfenbach

to… well, eventually to everywhere. Probably even the lost Americas. The Foglio’s artwork is gorgeous, as you can see, but their humor is the series’ true treasure. Fans of TerryPratchett’s Diskworld books would feel right at home here, and the Foglio’s are masters of both visual and verbal humor. Just one example page: And if that doesn’t peak your interest, you have no soul. So go check out Girl Genius, one of the most successful webcomics (it has even spawned its own fan-created wiki) and graphic-novel serials around. The best part is you can read it from beginning to end online; the worst part is you won’t be happy till the full collection is sitting on your bookshelf, ready to embarrass you when your friends come over.


6 thoughts on “Brains are Beautiful

  1. Girl Genius is one of my favorite graphic novel series! The Foglio’s are just brilliant. I love their mish-mash of steampunk, adventure, silliness, romance, danger, mad science, and plain old fun.

    and the Jagermonsters? oh man do I love them!

    for folks that aren’t quite sure graphic novels are for them, there’s now a novelization of the first 3 GN’s, Agatha H and the Airship City, and it’s excellent.

    1. Who doesn’t love the Jagermonsters? The Foglios certainly caught the steampunk wave with Girl Genius, and I hope they continue writing it for another decade, although I’d love to see them return to Buck Godot sometime (yes, I’m Waiting For Godot). If you like my taste in writers, you should check out my Book Reviews page–there might be a few oldies you haven’t seen before.

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