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Agatha, main character of Girl Genius
|Author(s)||Phil & Kaja Foglio|
|Illustrator(s)||Phil Foglio & Kaja Foglio|
|Current status/schedule||Updates on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays.|
|Launch date||January 2001 (Secret Blueprints, Vol. I preview issue)|
February 21, 2005 (web publication)
|Genre(s)||Fantasy, Humor, Science Fiction, Steampunk, Gaslamp Fantasy|
Girl Genius is an ongoing comic book series turned webcomic, written and drawn by Phil and Kaja Foglio and published by their company Studio Foglio LLC under the imprint Airship Entertainment. The comic has won five WCCA awards including 2008 Outstanding Comic, and been nominated for a Hugo Award for Best Professional Artist, an Eagle Award and twice for an Eisner Award; in 2009, 2010, and 2011 it won the Hugo Award for Best Graphic Story.
Girl Genius has the tagline of "Adventure, Romance, MAD SCIENCE!". It features a female lead character in an alternate-history Victorian-style "steampunk" setting, although elements veer from what is usually thought of as steampunk. Kaja Foglio, one of the co-creators, describes it as "gaslamp fantasy" instead to suggest its more fantastic style.
The Foglios have also written three Girl Genius novels, Agatha H. and the Airship City. Agatha H. and the Clockwork Princess and Agatha H and the Voice of the Castle, all published by Night Shade Books.
The specific idea for the style of Girl Genius came about when Kaja Foglio went through some of Phil's loose drawings: "I was going through all of Phil's old files and I was filing all of the old sketches, and I was coming across weird airships and cats in tophats with walking canes, and all of this... wonderful... Victoriana sci-fi stuff... it was like 'Oh, this is everything I love!'" CBR News quoted Phil Foglio as saying, "We wanted to do something with a strong female lead character. We both like the tropes associated with mad science, and I really enjoy drawing fiddley Victorian-style gizmos". After some intensive long-term plotting starting in 1993, the Foglios announced the publication of Girl Genius in 2000.
Girl Genius: The Secret Blueprints Vol. I was printed in January 2001, followed closely by the monochrome Issue 1 in February. Color was introduced in Issue 4 and subsequently, with occasional dips into sepiatone for flashbacks. In the collected editions, Volume One (comic Issues 1-3) was inked by Brian Snoddy and was reissued in 2010 colored by Cheyenne Wright. Volumes Two and Three (comic issues 4-10) were colored by Mark McNabb. Volume Four (comic Issues 11-unpublished 14) was colored by Laurie E. Smith. Cheyenne Wright is the current colorist; his work begins with Volume Five (what would have been Issue 15 onward).
On April 18, 2005, Girl Genius became a webcomic, and quarterly print publication of the comic ceased. The Foglios have since organized the new web-only story into plot-coherent volumes of 100-200 pages each, printed as limited-edition hardback and trade paperback books. The site had two streams, "101 Class" (for pages which had seen print publication) and "Advanced Class" (for new, web-only material) until the older section of the story caught up to the new material, and made the entire comic available to read at a sitting.
In an interview recorded in January 2008, shortly before they began releasing pages of volume 8 of Girl Genius on their web site,[Note 1] the Foglios stated that they expected the climax of Volume 8 to be the rough equivalent of "the end of the first season," and that it would provide a logical break in case of author catastrophe and a fresh jumping-on point for new readers. However, this was an underestimate of the length of the remaining "first season": the end of Volume 13 turned out to be approximately halfway through the planned overall story arc. The "second season" of the series began March 3, 2014, with "Act 2, Volume 1," after a two-month hiatus of the main story.
Kaja Foglio coined the term "Gaslamp Fantasy" to describe her work, as an alternative to steampunk. In her April 24, 2006 LiveJournal entry, Kaja Foglio explained how the term came to be coined:
I called it Gaslamp Fantasy because, around the time we were bringing Girl Genius out, there was a comic called Steampunk on the shelves and I didn't want any confusion. Plus, I've never liked the term steampunk much for our work, it's derived from cyberpunk (a term which I think actually fits its genre well) but we have no punk, and we have more than just steam, and using a different name seemed appropriate. I mis-remembered a term that I had come across in the foreword to an H. Rider Haggard book, where the author was talking about Jules Verne, H.G. Wells, Rider Haggard and that sort of pre-pulp adventure material, and came up with "Gaslamp Fantasy." I felt a bit foolish when I discovered that I had made up my own term, but it works and I like it.
Girl Genius also differs from classic steampunk in that technology is not just limited to machines but also encompasses biology. Thus alongside the clanks (impossibly advanced steampunk robots), dirigibles and walking gunboats of the world there are constructs – biological creations which range from Frankenstein-style creatures to talking cats and mouse-sized mammoths.
In an alternate-universe "Europa", mad scientists called Sparks turned the Age of Enlightenment into a full-scale war that ravaged the continent, until Baron Wulfenbach clamped down with an iron fist. Enter Agatha Clay, a hapless student who can't do anything right - until she breaks free of an attempt to keep her simple and claims her "Spark" heritage. The long-lost daughter of descendant-of-barbarian-hordes-storied-hero Bill Heterodyne and villainess-turned-good Lucrezia Mongfish, Agatha Heterodyne learns to mix scientific genius, a streak of true heroism and an obsessive possessiveness for what she consider her own in order to claim her monstrous heritage and birthright, even as the eyes of all Europa watch her carefully in case she turns out to be one of the monsters herself.
|2014||Hugo Awards||Best Graphic Story||Girl Genius, Volume 13: Agatha Heterodyne and the Sleeping City.||Nominated|
|2011||Hugo Awards||Best Graphic Story||Girl Genius, Volume 10: Agatha Heterodyne and the Guardian Muse.||Won|
|2010||Hugo Awards||Best Graphic Story||Girl Genius, Volume 9: Agatha Heterodyne and the Heirs of the Storm.||Won|
|2009||Hugo Awards||Best Graphic Story||Girl Genius, Volume 8: Agatha Heterodyne and the Chapel of Bones.||Won|
|2008||Hugo Awards||Best Professional Artist||Phil Foglio||Nominated|
|Web Cartoonists' Choice Awards||Outstanding Comic||Won|
|Outstanding Environment Design||Won|
|Outstanding Character Writing||Nominated|
|Outstanding Long Form Comic||Nominated|
|Outstanding Use of Color||Nominated|
|2007||Web Cartoonists' Choice Awards||Outstanding Science Fiction Comic||Won|
|Outstanding Long Form Comic||Nominated|
|Eisner Awards||Best Digital Comic ||Nominated|
|2006||Web Cartoonists' Choice Awards||Outstanding Story Concept||Won|
|Outstanding Science Fiction Comic||Nominated|
|2005||Eisner Awards||Best Writer/Artist--Humor||Phil Foglio ||Nominated|
Volume 5 as well as all future collections reprint the website content from where the comic series was discontinued.
The Foglios have also written three Girl Genius prose novels, Agatha H. and the Airship City, which contains the story of the first three collections of the webcomic, Agatha H. and the Clockwork Princess, covering the same story arc as the next three collections, and Agatha H and the Voice of the Castle, covering the next three. The prose novels are published by Night Shade Books.
In the text, these references are preceded by a double dagger