the Little Red Reviewer

Girl Genius, volumes 1-3 by Phil & Kaja Foglio

Posted on: September 20, 2010

thanks to TJ at Dreams and Speculation and her article on graphic novels at Dirty Sexy Books for getting me to write an article on Phil and Kaja Foglio’s Girl Genius.

I’ve been working on this article for like three days, and I’m finding it very hard to talk about Girl Genius. Why? Well, I read a lot of dark and tragic stuff. plenty of magic, plenty of violence, plenty of really bad guys, a bare handful of good guys and lots and lots of melancholy. So that’s what I’m used to writing about.

And Girl Genius by Phil and Kaja Foglio is the opposite of all that. It’s a sex comedy with mad scientists and shy students and sentient castles and blimp cities and monster soldiers who have crushes on  monster construct nannies. It’s a riot of science and smarts and silliness and romance and adventure. It’s got it’s own mythology and it’s own cult following. It makes me giggle uncontrollably and want to sign up for Steampunk conventions. Yes, that Phil Foglio of What’s New with Phil and Dixie and Mythadventures.  umm, and SPANC.

and you should be reading it.

AND, I’m even going to tell you what it’s about! Or at least the first three volumes, which I have in a super awesome omnibus edition.

Agathy Clay is a horrible student. Nothing she builds at Transylvania Polygnostic University ever works, and when she tries too hard to concentrate, she gets a killer headache. After a strange apparition over the city followed by a slight disaster at the school, Agatha finds herself aboard Castle Wulfenbach, the floating blimp city of Baron Klaus Wulfenbach.

After a case of mistaken identity, the Baron comes to believe Agatha may be a “spark”, who has the talent to add the spark of life to their mechanical creations. In the meantime, Agatha meets the other “honored guests” (hostages) at the castle, mostly the children of other noble families. And their frightening blonde dominatrix looking nanny, Von Pinn. Agatha’s headaches have started to go away too, and suddenly everything she builds. . .works! In between lab explosions and flying machine crashes, Agatha catches the attention of the Baron’s handsome son, Gilgamesh. She also catches the attention of Othar Tryggvassen, Gentlemen Adventurer ™. Othar is absolutely nuts, and refuses to take a hint. Oh, and there is a talking cat.

At this point I believe some background is in order!

The mythology of this alternate Europe involves the Heterodyne family. Many generations ago, the Heterodyne’s built the sentient Castle Heterodyne, and created the Jagermonsters, a race of hilarious, violent, and klutzy soldiers (the Foglio’s have an utter ball with their german/hungarian accents). The latest serialized Heterodyne adventures involve brothers Bill and Barry, a very young Klaus, and Bill’s wife Lucrezia. And then the Heterodyne boys simply disappeared. When Klaus returned from abroad, his country was in ruins.

It sounds kind of serious, doesn’t it? Girl Genius has elements of drama, elements of seriousness. . . but seriously, it’s a comedy! A sex comedy! And the Jagermonsters are the best comic creation EVER!

Available in stunning full color 9×12 single volumes, and occasionally in smaller format 3 volume black & white omnibuses (onmibusi?? it’s like octopus!) . . . you can even read some of it for free at the Girl Genius website.

Still not sure about Girl Genius? So far it’s got nine volumes for you to enjoy, AND it’s won the Hugo for best graphic story. Twice.

6 Responses to "Girl Genius, volumes 1-3 by Phil & Kaja Foglio"

Really pleased that you reviewed this. I’ve been trying to find out more about it ever since it won the Hugo. I may have to check it out now.


So I shouldn’t tease you by posting a photo of volumes 1-9 that I own? 😉 Go to the website, click “comic”, and it’ll take you to the most recently posted page. There is a way to start at the beginning tho, and you can read a nice chunk of the first volume (or the whole thing) and see what you think.


Oh I haven’t heard of this before but it sounds awesome. I love the artwork on the cover. Thanks for sharing!


The entire story is online, with new pages posted every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. For those who are reluctant to dive into this massive epic, try this eight page short story, set *after* the current storyline.


[…] Need to get caught up on the story? Check out my review of the first three volumes of the hilariously wonderful Girl Genius here. […]


[…] Reviews: Dark Faerie Tales, Little Red Reviewer, Mervi’s Book Reviews, and more at the Book Blogs Search Engine. Have you reviewed this book? […]


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some of the books reviewed here were free ARCs supplied by publishers/authors/other groups. Some of the books here I got from the library. the rest I *gasp!* actually paid for. I'll do my best to let you know what's what.
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