And we’re back here with Steampunk month on Cool Things, bringing you another week of coal-fired goodness. This week’s theme: Steampunk Illustrated!
I can only be talking about Phil and Kaja Foglio’s amazing steampunk comic Girl Genius. Unlike many of the things I’ve been geeking about on this blog, Girl Genius is a genuine web-based property, meaning that by following the link I’ve provided you’ll be able to read the entire saga of Agatha Clay as she traverses Europa in a saga of adventure, romance and mad science.
Of course, your time is precious and you may not want to invest the kind of time necessary to get current on a story that has been updating regularly, three times a week, for over a decade. So what is it that sets Agatha’s tale apart from the rest?
For starters, there’s the sense of humor. Steampunk, being mostly rooted in the culture and moors of Victorian England, is not exactly known for it’s laugh-a-minute soundtrack. But Girl Genius spices up it’s Victorian setting and themes with excellent, vaudevillean banter, well timed comeuppances and hilarious sight gags that, odd as it may seem to say about a static medium, are executed with expert timing. The expressions of the characters alone is worth the price of admission, or at least the time invested.
The world of Girl Genius is exceptional too. Europa is very much a parallel to Europe of the past, but rather than being ruled by nations the continent is ruled by sparks, people with the touch of madness that makes them phenomenal mad scientists, among other things. Baron Klaus Wolfenbach is one of the most powerful sparks around, and he collects lesser sparks and channels their studies into avenues that are less likely than most to result in disaster or discomfort for the common man. The eponymous Girl Genius is Agatha Clay, one such spark who has to find her way in the increasingly treacherous world of the Baron and his son without loosing her life or her sanity. The inventions of the sparks are funny and original, and are beautifully illustrated in ways that are both impressive and whimsical.
But most endearing are the characters, from the somewhat shy Agatha to her dim but enthusiastic Jaeger sidekicks, the brooding Baron and his brash son, even Agatha’s small, clockwork robots show more personality than you will find in many titles from DC or Marvel. Whether you’re looking for someone to root for or root against, Girl Genius has what you want.
And on top of all that you can add:
Check it out. You might find you like it.