Girl Genius

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Girl Genius
Agatha, main character of Girl Genius
Author(s)Phil & Kaja Foglio
Illustrator(s)Phil Foglio & Kaja Foglio
Current status / scheduleUpdates on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays.
Launch dateJanuary 2001 (2001-01) (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.

Publication history[edit]

Kaja and Phil Foglio in 2007.

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!'"[1] 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".[2] After some intensive long-term plotting starting in 1993,[3] 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[4] and was reissued in 2010 colored by Cheyenne Wright.[5] Volumes Two and Three (comic issues 4–10) were colored by Mark McNabb.[6] Volume Four (comic Issues 11-unpublished 14) was colored by Laurie E. Smith.[7] 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.[8] 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.[9] The start of "second season" of the series began March 3, 2014, with "Act 2, Volume 1,"[10] after a two-month hiatus of the main story.

Gaslamp Fantasy[edit]

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.[11]

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.[citation needed]


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.

The Setting[edit]

The Spark[edit]

A Spark is one who has The Spark - a mad scientist of the ilk of Dr Jekyll and Victor Frankenstein. To quote the Professors Foglio, the Spark is "whatever it is that makes Mad Scientists what they are. A poorly understood concept that identifies and incorporates a batch of personality traits shared by those who have it." They are "people who seem to have the ability to tinker with the laws of physics as we know them. They are brilliant, focused, and often impatient with those whose thoughts don't run with the speed or in the direction of their own. Because of this, some of those thoughts have veered off in truly alarming directions. This makes them dangerous and shortsighted..."[12]

The Madness Place or spark hyperfocus, is the term for the fugue state attained by Sparks - characterized by an intense focus on the problem at hand and a warping of the laws of time and motion (among others) in ways that non-Sparks are unable to observe, analyse or even remember even though it happened right in front of them. The highly peculiar charisma associated with Sparks and the madness place tends to inspire intense loyalty in some and hence Sparks also tend to acquire minions - who either enable or moderate their Sparks' natural Mad Science impulses.

The first trip into the madness place is the definitive point at which one may be called a Spark. Most Sparks break through in their teens or even much later and don't live very long past that. This event, called breakthrough is usually traumatic for the Spark and dangerous for bystanders, since breakthrough devices are notoriously destructive. However, if the breakthrough device does not kill its creator and everyone in the general vicinity, and the new Spark also survives the retribution of other survivors, he or she becomes part of the incessant power politics of the Gifted, usually as the pawn of an existing power who noticed the chaos, but sometimes (especially with appropriate protection and mentoring) they become players in their own right.

The Storm King and the Knights of Jove[edit]

The "rightful" rulership of Europa is considered to belong to The Storm King - a title that so far has only belonged to one Andronicus Valois, 200 years before the story. Valois brought about the Age of Enlightenment and created a unified Europa under him, as head of the "Shining Coalition of the West," to keep contained the terrifying raids of House Heterodyne.

The House of Heterodyne is and was one of the oldest and most feared of Europa's sparky lineages who terrorized their surrounding countryside for generations with hordes of fierce Jägermonsters. For some time Andronicus was able to keep them contained to their fortress at Mechanicsburg and the court of the Storm King flourished in Paris. However, he supposedly fell in love with Euphrosynia Heterodyne, a rare Heterodyne daughter. In a series of uncertain events, this led to the fall of the coalition, the Empire and shortly after, Andronicus himself. However, the myth that Europa will only know peace with the union of The Storm King and the Heterodyne Princess is carefully tended to by the Knights of Jove - a group of noble houses descended from Andronicus's many illegitimate offspring who hope to fill this Storm King shaped narrative hole with one of their own.

The Long War and the Heterodyne Boys[edit]

As science and technology became respected forces during the Age of Enlightenment, those who were able to wield it became the nuclei for new and sometimes fleeting series of empires. The Long War was the period during which Sparks became the prevailing power in Europa and the current Great Houses were formed. Sparks began to seize power from the prior feudal warlords, minor offenses became inflamed, slights became major insults, and escalation of "my science is bigger than yours" led to the inevitable long list of local squabbles which segued into an actual War where everybody was fighting everybody else and vast amounts of land were laid waste.

The Long War came to a pause of two decades when the Heterodyne Boys took their places as heads of their House. The whitest white sheep of their feared clan, the brothers Bill and Barry were raised by their mother - a brave and noble woman who was forced into marrying their father on threat of harm to her family. Their self-declared mission was to clean up after the Long War, and with their powerful Sparks and the charisma that comes with that gift, they quelled the fighting and restored peace to much of the countryside. Fighting alongside to restore peace were Punch and Judy - a duo of constructs made by the Boys, Klaus Wulfenbach - a powerful spark from a minor barony who was ostensibly their sidekick, and Lucrezia Mongfish - the repentant formerly evil nemesis and eventual wife of Bill.

The legend of the Heterodyne Boys grew to mythic proportions during their lifetime and within living memory - with books, plays, and travelling shows so popular as to be their own genre, and so common and so farfetched that Bill and Lucrezia's own daughter, Agatha, at first had trouble thinking of the characters in them as real people.

The Other and Pax Transylvania[edit]

The two decades of peace came to an abrupt end when the villain known only as the Other came out of nowhere, attacked and effectively destroyed Castle Heterodyne, kidnapped Lady Lucrezia Mongfish-Heterodyne, ravaged Europa, destroyed forty-three major Sparky houses, and harried the normal citizens with mind-controlling Slaver Wasps and the resulting shambling zombie-like Revenants. During the attacks, accusations were thrown around at various candidates, only to see those on the list of candidates being targeted, until the moniker The Other fell into default use. According to reports, the Heterodyne Boys did everything they could to destroy wasp infestations and foil the Other. While some people assume that the Heterodyne Boys won the war, all that can be said for certain is that one day, just as suddenly as it all started, the devastation stopped and the Heterodyne Boys disappeared.

Once the few remaining Great Houses' tattered genetic remnants crept out of hiding to find they were neither hunted nor restrained any more, they took up where their parents and grandparents had left off The Long War. Baron Klaus Wulfenbach returned from the unknown parts where he had spent the last few years of the peace to find Wulfenbach itself being rampaged over — the villagers massacred, the family manor in ruins. He suppressed the ongoing fighting, and began collecting all devices produced by the Other for disposal and/or study. Starting from there, he instituted the Pax Wulfenbachia (also called the Pax Transylvania on the model of the Pax Romana; or the Baron's Peace) — harsher, less forgiving and more heavy handed than the peace created by the Heterodynes' charisma, but peace nonetheless.

The Baron's Peace is based on the simple principles of non-aggression between or against his client states. Violation of this rule is met with swift and overwhelming force and the aggressor's lands and property are forfeit. Through the enforcement of this policy, Wulfenbach's empire has grown from his ancestral seat to encompass over half of Europa at the time of the start of the story. In exchange, the nobles and minor royalty rule their own domains in their own manner without interference - save basic humanitarian laws forbidding discrimination based on race, religion or manner of birth (such as in an incidence of Mad Science) - and become eligible to claim the benefits of imperially-sponsored roads, railroads, communication channels, educational institutions and other such public works.

University Towns and Castle Wulfenbach[edit]

The large Wastelands created as a result of the Long War and the Other War are uninhabitable and dangerous to even travel in. Given the high importance of the Spark and science in the modern politics of Europa, places of learning are very much the centre of Europan high society and considered neutral spaces to be respected from all out Sparky warfare.

Under his rule, Klaus Wulfenbach requires his client states to send in their children to Castle Wulfenbach as hostages supposedly to ensure good behaviour. His school, which teaches the next generation of leaders not only the basics of ethics and administration but also to look upon each other as friends and Klaus as a kindly authority figure, has become the 'centre of the world' and 'the place to be' for pre-university nobility and sparks - ranging from 5-6 year olds to the oldest students being in their early twenties. Beetleburg's Transylvania Polygnostic University is highly prestigious and seems to have counted the Heterodyne Boys, Klaus Wulfenbach and Lucrezia Mongfish all as students/alumni, and much of the current generation of political and sparky leaders seem to have studied together at the Paris Institute of the Extraordinary.


Agatha Clay/Heterodyne[edit]

Agatha Heterodyne, also known as Agatha Clay: the Girl Genius of the title. Agatha is a powerful Spark, especially talented at creating and repairing electrical and mechanical devices. Among her creations is an ever-present, highly versatile coaster-sized clank named Dingbot Prime,[‡ 2] capable of performing complex tasks without supervision; it can even build similar small clanks to assist it, (making it a self-replicating machine,) though each generation of these clanks is slightly less well-made[‡ 3] than its predecessor (ensuring that they do not replicate endlessly), together they are capable of truly amazing feats of engineering – such as secretly converting Master Payne's Circus of Adventure into a Battle Circus capable of repelling an entire division[‡ 4] of Wulfenbach's troops. Tarvek and Gil have recently discovered that first-generation Dingbots apparently possess the Spark, and therefore are the first mechanical creations with a manufactured Spark.

Agatha Heterodyne has an impressive heritage as she's believed to be the daughter of the heroic Bill Heterodyne and Lucrezia Mongfish, who is the Villain's Beautiful Daughter and evil Spark herself, but who was believed to have turned a new leaf and given up her wicked ways upon marrying Bill. Agatha has inherited both the legendary Heterodyne charismatic genius and the distinctive Mongfish voice. Due to this, she is pursued by many other Sparks. As a Spark of a major House currently without an empire of her own to protect her, she is a potential asset or enemy. Baron Klaus Wulfenbach wishes to imprison her or kill her if necessary, knowing her to be a source of potential discord. Othar Tryggvassen at first wished to kill her as part of his crusade against the Spark, but once he realized that she was the Heterodyne heir, he decides he would prefer to ally with her.

When Agatha was five years old, her uncle Barry Heterodyne gave her a locket containing pictures of her parents, instructing her to never remove it.[‡ 5] The locket secretly contained a mechanism that prevented her from realizing she was a Spark by neutralizing her early attempts to hyperfocus with excruciatingly painful migraines.[‡ 6] Punch and Judy — constructs presumably made by her father and uncle (named for the famed medieval puppets) who took care of her under the names Adam and Lilith Clay – watchfully ensured she always wore it. Punch and Judy settled with Agatha in Beetlesburg, where Agatha attended Transylvania Polygnostic University (T.P.U.) under the direct supervision of the Spark Professor Beetle, who had been briefed on her by her Uncle,[‡ 7] but who had his own ulterior motives. Less than a day after the locket was stolen (by von Zinzer), and in the aftermath of Professor Beetle's accidental death at the hands of Gilgamesh Wulfenbach, Agatha seemingly "broke through" by building her first clank while sleepwalking ("sleep-Sparking"), a quirk she continued to display for some time. Unlike most Spark break throughs, Agatha's was relatively benign in nature (Baron Wulfenbach's assistant Boris labelled her clank "entertaining, but harmless"[‡ 8]). However, through an odd turn of events (the Baron at first believed the clank to be the work of soldier and locket-thief von Zinzer), Agatha still ends up on the Baron's massive fortress airship, Castle Wulfenbach.

Agatha escapes both Castle Wulfenbach and Othar Tryggvassen with her new liege, Krosp I, a talking cat construct, and eventually crash-lands in the Wastelands. After she rescues a traveling circus from a rogue clank, they take her in gratitude. Master Payne's Circus of Adventure gains a new fortune-teller as Agatha learns more about this new wider world outside of the quiet walls of Beetleburg and T.P.U. She becomes "zumil" (daughter-like student) to the Circus's resident swordswoman, Zeetha, Daughter of Chump – the Amazonian lost princess of a civilization about which Agatha's Uncle Barry had told her stories. In appreciation for Agatha's confirmation that her family actually exists and were not fever-dream constructions, Zeetha swears a vow of training and protection to the young Spark, and becomes her best friend. Agatha gains her first sworn servitors: a trio of Jägerkin, who had been searching for the Heterodyne heir and are surprised to find she's a girl instead of a boy as expected. She also proves herself adept at playing the role of Lucrezia Mongfish in the popular Heterodyne plays performed by Master Payne's Circus, an irony which is not lost on her or Krosp, though she keeps her real identity secret from the other members of the Circus.

On the way to her ancestral home of Mechanicsburg with Master Payne's Circus, Agatha's route leads through Prince Aaronev VI's province of Sturmhalten. While she is on stage, the Prince and his son, Tarvek, recognize her voice as a match for their "Mistress". Agatha is ordered to the castle by the prince, forced into a mysterious machine and imprinted with the mind of her mother, Lucrezia Mongfish, resurrecting Europa's deadliest enemy – the Other. However, Lucrezia's plan failed to take into account Agatha's own fury at being violated and her willpower. Through the use of her family trait of "heterodyning", she was able to suppress Lucrezia's consciousness for limited periods of time, during which she did all she could to foil her mother's plans. Eventually, with the help of her locket, which had been retrieved broken from von Zinzer and repaired by Baron Wulfenbach, Agatha had the strength to push Lucrezia down deep in her mind and block any further takeovers. Unfortunately, this came only after the Baron found himself facing the Lucrezia persona,[‡ 9] and he is not yet aware that Agatha is in control of herself.

Agatha hates the locket, a symbol of how bad her life was before she discovered her Spark – the agonizing headaches every time she attempted to use her Spark, self-hatred because of the inventions that never worked, the humiliation of her peers – but she must wear it to keep the Other from possessing her again. Zeetha convinces her that it has become instead a symbol of her strength, and Agatha agrees: It's a symbol of everything she has and will overcome.[‡ 10]

Finally, Agatha reaches Mechanicsburg and meets her greatest challenge yet: Convincing the mechanically sentient and mentally fragmented Castle Heterodyne, given human-like response by her ancestor Faustus, that she is a real Heterodyne. What's worse is that she has to do it while a pretender is trying to kill both her and the Castle. As of the end of Volume XI (November 4, 2011), Agatha had been acknowledged by Castle Heterodyne as the true heir, has begun to learn both her mother's and the Castle's secrets, and is preparing to defend Mechanicsburg from various factions seeking to assume control of Europa. The defense is - surprisingly - so successful, that (as of October 1, 2013) Baron Wulfenbach has apparently put the town into a time stasis, which Agatha escapes only by having been kidnapped by one of Tarvek Sturmvoraus's cousins. This state of affairs has persisted 2½ years in storyline time, during most of which Agatha was herself frozen or lost in time.

Since escaping the time stasis, Agatha has undertaken a quest to find allies who might help recover Mechanicsburg, against a Europa facing the resurrection of the Other (in which form of Lucrezia-controlled minds has not yet been disclosed). This quest has taken her to the stronghold of the Corbetite Monks, from which she recovered the mind of a sentient train prepared for them by her grandfather Saturnus. From there, she went to Paris and received the reluctant aid of the Master of Paris, Simon Voltaire, until he was destroyed by allies and minions of the resurrected Other. She has most recently announced her intention to seek the aid of Queen Albia of Brittania.

Both Gilgamesh Wulfenbach and Tarvek Sturmvoraus are potential love interests for Agatha,[‡ 11] though earlier stories clearly suggested that Agatha would ultimately select Gilgamesh. The significance of her choice cannot be overstated; both her father and uncle's heroism, atypical of the Heterodynes, and the legend of the "Storm King" who last unified Europa by taking a Heterodyne bride (and who is allegedly an ancestor of Tarvek) suggest that the future of Europa might be in her capable but inexperienced hands.

Agatha was ranked 51st in Comics Buyer's Guide's "100 Sexiest Women in Comics" list.[13]

Gilgamesh Wulfenbach[edit]

'Gilgamesh Wulfenbach' ("Gil" to his friends) is the only son and heir of Baron Klaus Wulfenbach. He is a rather likable fellow, more interested in building aircraft and constructs than designing weapons or defending his father's empire. Despite Gil's general lack of ambition and tendency to put his foot in his mouth when discussing non-technical subjects, his own father believes Gil has potential to be an even greater Spark than he; he bases his hopes for lasting peace on his son's generally pacific nature, and his friendships built with heirs of other countries in, and outside of, direct Wulfenbach influence.

His Spark is particularly powerful; he built his breakthrough creation (a knee-high insectoid construct named Zoing) at the age of eight. He has become increasingly infatuated with Agatha since discovering she was a fellow Spark, as he realized that she was the first woman he had ever met who could understand his love of science at the same level. She seemed somewhat taken with him as well, at least until she witnessed him brutally subduing Othar Tryggvassen (though when the self-proclaimed hero tried to kill her after she helped him escape, she decided she owed Gil an apology).

After being led to believe that Agatha died defending a traveling Heterodyne show from a rogue clank, he spent his time resuscitating Agatha's surrogate parents Adam and Lilith Clay (otherwise known as Punch and Judy, assistants to the Heterodyne Brothers), and taking out his frustrations upon captured rogue clanks, with a side effect of honing his already impressive sword-skills and reflexes. However, upon learning that Agatha's demise had been greatly exaggerated, he became energized to her defense. He sent his butler and friend Ardsley Wooster (under threat of revealing him for a British spy and devastating his homeland) to find Agatha and take her to London for protection. He pointedly demanded that she be kept free there as well as safe – or he would focus all his abilities upon destroying England.[‡ 12]

The identity of Gil's mother has not been revealed. As the Baron has seen fit to warn his son that he may be targeted for assassination by the Skifandrian warrior Zeetha because "I kept you alive",[‡ 13] and as Gil and Zeetha both utilize a secret mental technique to keep working / fighting without sleep for several days, a good guess is that Klaus lived, studied and finally married in Skifander, although he must have left the city on less amiable terms. Many fans believe that Gil and Zeetha are twins because a pre-order book-plate of "Chump" looks like Klaus[14] and the Foglios specially mentioned that the Skifandrians "don't like twins." [15]

Recently, with his father severely injured and unable to actively rule, Gil has found himself having to impress upon others that he is not merely his father's shadow. From fending off assassins[‡ 14] to singlehandedly facing down and defeating a military attack on Mechanicsburg,[‡ 15] others are beginning to take decided notice of his actions.[‡ 16] Baron Wulfenbach, witnessing his son's amazing one-man victory, is as proud a father as any in history.[‡ 17] In the process, Gil himself has begun to see what obstacles his father has had to deal with in constructing and maintaining the empire.[‡ 18]

Gil has assisted Agatha in the defense of Mechanicsburg. As of October 1, 2013, Gil is acting as Baron Wulfenbach, overseeing the Empire during the (time) freeze of Mechanicsburg, but based on the last time she saw him, Agatha is concerned for his sanity. It was revealed at the end of Act 1[‡ 19] that Gil's mind is apparently subject to some sort of overriding control by his father.

Gilgamesh has spent the years of the time slip controlled equally by the apparent fragment of his father downloaded into his head and his frightening obsession with Agatha. He has developed a method of recovering living creatures from the time stasis, and rescued Captain Vole (as an experiment) and Tarvek. In the process, and under guidance of the Castle, he has also discovered a threat moving against the time-frozen Castle from beings who can operate through the time stasis. He was last seen moving towards Paris, but is at present arriving too late to affect events there.

Baron Klaus Wulfenbach[edit]

'Baron Klaus Wulfenbach' is one of the greatest Sparks of his generation with a particular interest in the workings, origins and nature of the Spark. When the Heterodynes began their heroic crusades, he was among the first to ally with them, moved by their idealism and hoping to bring an end to the constant battles between Europa's Sparks. He eventually became close friends with Bill Heterodyne in particular.

Thus he first met the figure that would haunt him for the rest of his life: Lucrezia Mongfish. After she was turned from conquest by the Heterodynes' ideals, a romantic triangle formed between Klaus, Lucrezia, and Bill. Lucrezia, being used to doing as she pleased, moved from one to the other as her whim suited her, until finally settling on Bill (though not before spending one last night with Klaus and drugging him to prevent any disturbances during the rest of her life).[‡ 20]

He then disappeared. Three years later, The Other appeared, waging a war to annihilate Europa's Sparks that only ended with the disappearance of the Heterodynes. When Klaus finally returned with his son, Gilgamesh, the Boys had already been gone for several years – and what was left of Europa was in chaos. Without the Heterodynes' charismatic presence to keep the peace, rampaging conflicts between rival Sparks had reduced society to ruins. Disgusted with what he saw, and less suited to diplomacy than the more charismatic Heterodynes, he adopted a simpler plan.

He drew a circle on a map, claimed it as his territory and imposed one simple rule: no more fighting. He was not taken seriously at first; but as each outbreak of violence was met with the swift destruction of the aggressors, and those who followed the rule were left to govern their lands as they saw fit, more and more began to grudgingly accept the "Baron's Peace". The circle grows with each passing year, and he is currently the uncontested ruler of much of Europa.[16]

The Baron's numerous employees come from a wide array of backgrounds, as most were once the staff (or captives) of conquered Sparks. There are a number of minor Sparks who perform minor research for him, but his organization also consists of various types of "constructs" (artificial or augmented people), and "clanks" (steampunk-styled robots). He abandoned his destroyed ancestral home in favor of a headquarters with far more security, privacy and mobility: the city-sized airship, the Castle Wulfenbach.

While he is publicly considered a ruthless tyrant, his motives are more complex. Unlike the more maniacal Sparks, he is not obsessed with power for its own sake. He states frankly that he despises politics, considering his job (which consists solely of enforcing a single rule) to be more like babysitting than anything else. He fondly remembers his days when he adventured with the Heterodynes, and had time to pursue his own research. However, he is completely convinced that, without someone to enforce the peace, Europa (or even the world) would once more descend into chaos – and though he has high hopes in his son, Gilgamesh, he can find no one more capable than himself to fill the role until his son is ready to take the metaphorical reins. Thus, he will brook no chance he or his heir will lose that position.

The common folk do not note the discrepancy between their perception of him and his actual actions – among other things, he does not do anything to prevent portrayals of him as cowardly comic relief in popular entertainment. In private, he is actually quite even-tempered (his obsession with brain surgery on particularly troublesome rival Sparks notwithstanding), and has a dry, sardonic sense of humor. Enemy soldiers who are defeated are offered compensation or a chance to join his army at excellent salary – though their leaders are likely to have a far less benign fate. Klaus states frankly that he can be a ruthless tyrant – but he tries to be fair and rational. Needless to say this doesn't always work, and being in a difficult situation, to protect the large empire under his rule, he will resort to military force when needed – overwhelming force, carefully applied to minimize casualties and destruction.

Originally, The Baron pursued Agatha after her escape because of the legendary charisma the Heterodyne name carries with it; even a false Heterodyne attracts devotion, until they are proven false.[‡ 21] To keep the peace, he has to be ruthless, but is nonetheless sympathetic to her plight as well as his son's feelings for Agatha.[‡ 22] However, he is now obsessed with the pursuit of Agatha, because he believes she is Lucrezia and therefore The Other, having recognized her mannerisms and speech patterns while she possessed her daughter.[‡ 23] Because of this obsession, and after several vigorous conflicts with Dr. Sun, the physician in charge of the Mechanicsburg hospital, he has been subdued and isolated for further treatment of his wounds at Sturmhalten.

Lucrezia (in Agatha's body) successfully infected Klaus with a unique Slaver Wasp at Sturmhalten, specially modified to allow the control of a Spark. But whatever control she might have possessed, was broken as Lucrezia's personality was subdued by Agatha's locket. While Agatha has demonstrated some control over her mother's minions and creatures, it remains to be seen if she is willing or capable of controlling the Baron.

As of the end of Volume XI, Wulfenbach is missing and presumed dead in the destruction of the Great Hospital. However, he showed up, apparently unharmed (how Wulfenbach survived the hospital's destruction has yet to be revealed). He is presently (as of October 1, 2013) caught up in the (time) freeze of Mechanicsburg, having initiated the process.


The Foglios' acceptance speech at the Hugo Awards ceremony 2010.
Year Organization Award Recipient Outcome
2014 Hugo Awards Best Graphic Story Girl Genius, Volume 13: Agatha Heterodyne and the Sleeping City.[17] Nominated
2011 Hugo Awards Best Graphic Story Girl Genius, Volume 10: Agatha Heterodyne and the Guardian Muse.[18] Won
2010 Hugo Award Best Graphic Story Girl Genius, Volume 9: Agatha Heterodyne and the Heirs of the Storm.[19] Won
2009 Hugo Awards Best Graphic Story Girl Genius, Volume 8: Agatha Heterodyne and the Chapel of Bones.[20] Won
2008 Hugo Awards Best Professional Artist[21] Phil Foglio Nominated
Web Cartoonists' Choice Awards Outstanding Comic Won
Outstanding Writer Won
Outstanding Environment Design Won
Outstanding Artist Nominated
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 Comic Nominated
Outstanding Long Form Comic Nominated
Eisner Awards Best Digital Comic [22] Nominated
2006 Web Cartoonists' Choice Awards Outstanding Story Concept Won
Outstanding Comic Nominated
Outstanding Science Fiction Comic Nominated
2005 Eisner Awards Best Writer/Artist—Humor Phil Foglio [23] Nominated

Published collections[edit]

Original Journey[edit]

  • Volume 1: Agatha Heterodyne and the Beetleburg Clank (96 pp) (reprints #1–3)
    • Paperback: ISBN 1-890856-19-3, full color Paperback: ISBN 1-890856-50-9
    • Hardcover: ISBN 1-890856-20-7
  • Volume 2: Agatha Heterodyne and the Airship City (112 pp) (reprints #4–6)
  • Volume 3: Agatha Heterodyne and the Monster Engine (128 pp) (reprints #7–9)
  • Volume 4: Agatha Heterodyne and the Circus Of Dreams (128 pp) (reprints #10–13 + April–June 2005 webcomic)
  • Volume 5: Agatha Heterodyne and the Clockwork Princess (112 pp) (reprints webcomic)
  • Volume 6: Agatha Heterodyne and the Golden Trilobite (150 pp) (reprints webcomic)
  • Volume 7: Agatha Heterodyne and the Voice of the Castle (128 pp) (reprints webcomic)
  • Volume 8: Agatha Heterodyne and the Chapel of Bones (144 pp) (reprints webcomic) Winner of the 2009 Hugo Award for Best Graphic Story
  • Volume 9: Agatha Heterodyne and the Heirs of the Storm (144 pg) (reprints webcomic) Winner of the 2010 Hugo Award for Best Graphic Story[19]
  • Volume 10: Agatha Heterodyne and the Guardian Muse (152 pg) (reprints webcomic) Winner of the 2011 Hugo Award for Best Graphic Story
  • Volume 11: Agatha Heterodyne and the Hammerless Bell (168 pg) (reprints webcomic)
  • Volume 12: Agatha Heterodyne and the Siege of Mechanicsburg (192 pg) (reprints webcomic)
  • Volume 13: Agatha Heterodyne and the Sleeping City (160 pg) (reprints webcomic)
  • Girl Genius Omnibus Edition Vol 1 (2006) (reprints v.1–3 in smaller, black & white edition)
  • Girl Genius Omnibus Vol 1: Agatha Awakens (2012) (reprints v.1–3 in color edition)

Volume 5 as well as all future collections reprint the website content from where the comic series was discontinued.

The Second Journey of Agatha Heterodyne[edit]


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.

Connections to other works[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ The first page of volume 8 is dated Monday, February 4, 2008.[‡ 1]


  1. ^ "Interview with Phil and Kaja Foglio, Part 2 of 2, 7m:15s". The Biblio File. TalkShoe. 27 January 2008. Archived from the original (MP3) on 20 July 2011. Retrieved 3 December 2008.
  2. ^ Jordan, Justin (12 February 2007). "Getting Smarter: Phil Foglio Talks "Girl Genius"". CBR News. Retrieved 3 December 2008.
  3. ^ Scheff, Meredith (9 March 2008). "Meredith Scheff Interviews Phil Foglio". The Steampunk Workshop. Retrieved 3 December 2008.
  4. ^ Brian Snoddy Art Archived 23 July 2008 at the Wayback Machine.
  5. ^ "Welcome". ArcaneTimes.Com.
  6. ^ "Home".
  7. ^ Laurie E. Smith at Prism Comics Archived 21 February 2009 at the Wayback Machine.
  8. ^ "Interview with Phil and Kaja Foglio, Part 1 of 2, 33m:45s". The Biblio File. TalkShoe. 27 January 2008. Archived from the original (MP3) on 13 April 2014. Retrieved 3 December 2008.
  9. ^ "We are Kaja and Phil Foglio creators of Girl Genius". AMA. Reddit. Retrieved 8 July 2013.
  10. ^ "Girl Genius Comic for Monday, March 03, 2014". Livejournal. Girl Genius. 2014-03-02. Archived from the original on 2014-03-10.
  11. ^ Foglio, Kaja (26 April 2006). "Dirt, Collection Vol. 5, Furniture and Gaslamp Fantasy". Archived from the original on 13 March 2007. Retrieved 3 December 2008.
  12. ^ Phoglio, Phil and Kaja. The Secret Blueprints, Volume One. p. 2.
  13. ^ Frankenhoff, Brent (2011). Comics Buyer's Guide Presents: 100 Sexiest Women in Comics. Krause Publications. p. 37. ISBN 1-4402-2988-0.
  14. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 23 May 2015. Retrieved 5 July 2014. 7 October 2010
  15. ^ [1] 30 May 2013
  16. ^ Corgi, Hound of the Internet. "Quoting the Secret Blueprints, Vol. I". Archived from the original on 10 July 2012. Retrieved 3 December 2008.
  17. ^ "2014 Hugo Award Winners". 17 August 2014.
  18. ^ "2011 Hugo Award Winners". 21 August 2011.
  19. ^ a b Cavna, Michael (5 September 2010). "'GIRL GENIUS' wins Hugo Award for best graphic story". Comic Riffs. Washington Post. Retrieved 9 September 2010.
  20. ^ "2009 Hugo Award Winners". 9 August 2009. Retrieved 21 January 2010.
  21. ^ "2008 Hugo Award Nominees". World Science Fiction Society. 21 March 2008. Retrieved 6 August 2008.
  22. ^ "The 2007 Eisner Awards: 2007 Master Nominations List". Comic-Con. Archived from the original on 8 August 2007. Retrieved 3 December 2008.
  23. ^ "The 2005 Eisner Awards: Nominees". Comic-Con. Archived from the original on 19 February 2009. Retrieved 3 December 2008.
  24. ^ "Girl Genius Sourcebook and Roleplaying Game". Retrieved 2 January 2017.
  25. ^ Girl Genius Online 19 March 2007
  26. ^ "GIRL GENIUS, Monday, September 08, 2008".
  27. ^ Phil and Kaja Foglio, Girl Genius Volume 6: Agatha Heterodyne and the Golden Trilobite, page 62

Primary sources[edit]

In the text, these references are preceded by a double dagger: ‡

  1. ^ "Girl Genius web comic volume 8, page 001". Girl Genius. Airship Entertainment. 4 February 2008. Retrieved 23 April 2014.
  2. ^ Foglio, Phil; Foglio, Kaja. "Girl Genius Complete List of Absolutely Everybody!". Retrieved 3 December 2008.
  3. ^ Girl Genius Online 5 April 2004
  4. ^ Girl Genius Online 25 December 2006
  5. ^ Girl Genius Online 19 November 2003
  6. ^ Girl Genius Online 22 November 2002
  7. ^ Girl Genius Online 11 December 2002
  8. ^ Girl Genius Online March 12, 2003
  9. ^ Girl Genius Online 6 December 2006
  10. ^ Girl Genius Online 23 February 2007
  11. ^ Girl Genius Online 21 November 2008
  12. ^ Girl Genius Online 6 March 2006
  13. ^ Girl Genius Online 16 July 2007
  14. ^ Girl Genius Online 11 June 2007
  15. ^ Girl Genius Online 16 November 2007
  16. ^ Girl Genius Online 23 June 2008
  17. ^ Girl Genius Online 3 December 2007
  18. ^ Girl Genius Online 5 March 2008
  19. ^ Girl Genius Online, accessed 10 March 2014
  20. ^ Girl Genius Online 10 December 2004
  21. ^ Girl Genius Online 4 June 2007
  22. ^ Girl Genius Online 29 November 2006
  23. ^ Girl Genius Online 6 December 2006

External links[edit]