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Fleen Book Corner: AHATCOD

So let’s see: bizarre machines, monsters, battles of wits, mad science, fencing, absurd situations, hilariously quotable dialogue, and even a little kissing? Gotta be The Princess Bride, right? Or maybe Young Frohnk-en-steen? Or possibly the sum total of classic Warner Brothers cartoons?

Or maybe it’s Phil and Kaja Foglio’s Girl Genius, represented in the fourth reprint volume, Agatha Heterodyne and the Circus of Dreams. Agatha, for those who came in late, is the long-lost heir of the Heterodyne Boys, brothers Bill and Barry who travelled the globe doing good deeds and righting wrongs in a world where the Industrial Revolution was dominated by mad scientists (or “Sparks”, to be polite). Alas, the world mostly likes being chaotic, and every power in Europe will try to kill or control Agatha as she makes her way around with a talking cat, a hide-in-plain sight circus of Sparks, and a couple of Jagermonsters.

Oh, right, Jagermonsters … um, it’s a long story, just suffice it to say that they sound like Bela Lugosi, they’re loyal to the Heterodynes on a genetic level, they really like to fight, and they love their hats.

AHATCOD includes material from both the Girl Genius comics (discontinued due to the economics of dead-tree single-issue printing) and the thrice-weekly online installments that started about a year ago. Every page is laid out gorgeously, with incidental details clearly visible instead of jumbling together. The Foglios continue their tradition of being able to put in a punchline nearly every day (often in those incidental details: check out the brick) while still progressing the larger story forward. Sometimes it’s mere moments between pages , sometimes more. And sometimes, it’s a bit of luxury, like this page, which is so reminiscent of Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind that it’s scary.

Some of us grew up on Phil Foglio’s work and will never look at a bowler hat the same way again. Some came later and saw that the same goofball wit that skewered fantasy genres could be applied to sci-fi as well. Some just know that no matter what happens in the world, Winslow is the path to truth (all hail). And some haven’t discovered the Foglio genius yet; if you fall into that latter group, Girl Genius is a good place to start. Grab all four volumes now so you can be ready when volume 5 hits in about two months.

At last a fleen journalist-wannabe who understands the basics. First paragraph tells me why I want to read the rest. Second paragraph fills in the background, in case I don’t know. Links are used to support, but I don’t need to click to find out what’s being discussed or what the viewpoint is.

Hire this guy.


I think that’s because this is a post by Gary.

Yeah, Jon. You should really hire Gary. He writes good stuff. :D

I want whatever graham’s smoking.

Gary, have you perchance noticed the familiar be-bowlered shopkeeper peddling some familiar-looking goggles in the archives of something positive? I was recently compelled to re-read the series and I was fresh from a GG orgy when I noticed there were several Foglio/GG references in the backgrounds.

And before I’d thought it was just Steve Jackson and his various works that Randy liked sneaking backdrop allusions to.

[…] while Foglio has made a wholesale jump to the web (cf: here and here), what of the Pinis, pioneers of the self-publishing movement? From Johanna Draper Carlson: None of […]

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