Girl Genius
Girl Genius

Among the many visual wonders of Girl Genius are the elaborate double-page spreads drawn by Phil Foglio and colored by one of the several Girl Genius colorists, most recently Cheyenne Wright. Girl Genius fans look forward to these double-size images for a number of reasons. They are a visual treat, often being even more elaborate than the usual pages of the comic. Scenic vistas, action-packed battles, and strange phenomena are among the things that have been portrayed. They usually appear when a major plot development is taking place. (Fans in some Girl Genius online communities have been known to speculate on how soon the next double-page spread will appear in the story whenever the plot heats up.) And they also may result in the Foglios going back and inserting additional pages into the comic after the fact, for reasons explained in detail below.

What Is a Double-Page Spread?[]

The term double-page spread as used here means a drawing that spans two full pages in print, starting on the left-hand page and continuing onto the facing right-hand page. In the web comic version of Girl Genius, a double-page spread is a drawing that is displayed as an image twice as wide as the image of a standard page, although this double-width image may be split into two standard-page-sized images. On the website, both halves of a double-page spread are sometimes posted together on the same day and sometimes separately, spread over two web-comic updates. The pages are more likely to be posted separately if there is a significant amount of dialog on each.

Often full-page images and double-page spreads have a black border around the entire image. (This black border was less likely to be present in earlier volumes.) In the cases where a black border is present, it can provide a clue to let you know whether a newly posted page of the web comic is the left half of a double-page spread posted by itself or a single, full-page image. If the page is the left half of a spread, the black border will be missing from the right side of the page, since the image will continue onto the next page.[1] An advantage to reading Girl Genius online is that each spread is usually accompanied by an "elegant and finely crafted link"[2] that allows you to see the whole double-page spread as a single image.

The Challenges of Printing Double-Page Spreads[]

As mentioned above, double-page spreads are of particular interest to Girl Genius fans because they may result in new pages being added to the comic. By convention, printed books (at least in contemporary times and in English-speaking countries) have even-numbered pages on the left and odd-numbered pages on the right. Due to this fact, for a double-page spread to properly span two pages so as to appear as a single large image, the left half of the image must be printed on an even-numbered page and the right half on an odd-numbered one. If the image meant to appear as a double-page spread is printed with the left half on an odd-numbered page and the right on an even-numbered page, the two halves of the image will appear on opposite sides of the same page, and it will not be possible to view both halves at the same time.

Therefore, special care must be taken when printing a book with drawings that span two pages. Girl Genius is initially published in a different format than the graphic novel form that is used for the printed books. Originally Girl Genius was published in the form of individual comic books, which were later combined in sets of three or four to make up the graphic novels, but after Volume 4, the pages of the comic started appearing on the Girl Genius website first, and then were collected into graphic-novel-length batches for printing at roughly yearly intervals.

When combining comic books that contain double-page spreads into a graphic novel, unless all of the pages of the individual comic books fit together properly[3], the double-page spreads in any of the combined comics except the first may be misprinted (the two halves of the double-page image will appear on the opposite sides of the same page[4]), unless adjustments are made. Once Girl Genius became a web comic, the situation became even worse. Since web comics do not have the constraints of physical books, double-page spreads can be inserted anywhere, regardless of page number. This means that when volumes of Girl Genius that collect material first presented on the web are printed, the Foglios must be even more careful to make any necessary adjustments so that all of the spreads print correctly.

These adjustments can be made by removing or adding pages, but in the case of Girl Genius, pages are always added, when necessary, to properly align double-page spreads. This means that, whenever a new Girl Genius graphic novel that contains two or more double-page spreads is printed, there is always the chance that it may contain one or more brand new pages in the comic.[5] Fortunately for the audience that reads Girl Genius solely on the website, these new pages are also posted there, inserted into the proper position among the existing pages. By paying close attention to the double-page spreads and where they fall in the web comic, it is possible to predict whether any new pages will have to be added to the print version of any new volume. The pages added to the various volumes of Girl Genius to fix double-page spread pagination errors will be noted below.[6] One of the more impressive aspects of these added pages is how seamlessly they blend into the existing story, while, at the same time, usually adding to or enhancing it in some way.

List of Double-Page Spreads[]

The double-page spreads for each volume of Girl Genius are listed below, with a short description of the scene shown in each spread. Notes are included on the pages added, if any, and any special features of how the spreads were presented online, if necessary.

The page numbers given below are from both the printed volumes (listed first) and the comic web pages (listed second, in parentheses). If no printed edition exists, only the number of the web comic version of the page is listed, still in parentheses. The web-comic page numbers link to the corresponding web pages in the online comic. If the double-page spread is presented on a single web page, then both page numbers will form a single link to it. If the spread is also presented as a continuous large image, then there will be a link to the full image following the description.

Girl Genius Act 1: The First Journey of Agatha Heterodyne[]

Volume 1: Agatha Heterodyne and the Beetleburg Clank[]

This volume has one double-page spread.

Volume 2: Agatha Heterodyne and the Airship City[]

This volume has two double-page spreads.

Volume 3: Agatha Heterodyne and the Monster Engine[]

This volume has five double-page spreads. The final double-page spread closes the volume. Two new pages had to be added to re-align the double-page spreads when going from individual comic books to the graphic novel, pages 63 and 116.

Volume 4: Agatha Heterodyne and the Circus of Dreams[]

This volume has no double-page spreads.

Volume 5: Agatha Heterodyne and the Clockwork Princess[]

This volume has one double-page spread that opens the volume.

Volume 6: Agatha Heterodyne and the Golden Trilobite[]

The history of how three new pages were added to this volume to fix the layout of the double-page spreads in the print edition is rather complex and can only be fully pieced together by comparing the first and second editions of the printed version and by referring to a PDF document that the Foglios prepared so that people who had purchased the first edition could have access to the new pages without purchasing a whole new book,[8] since the annotation on the web page that displays two of the new pages is incomplete and misleading,[9] and the web page displaying the third new page has no annotation at all.

When the Folgios[10] were compiling the pages from the website to lay out volume 6 as a print graphic novel, they realized that, while the first and second of the three double-page spreads within the volume both start on an odd-numbered page (based on the pagination on the website), the third begins on an even-numbered page. If the even-odd parity of the pages was retained in the print edition and page 1 was printed as a right-hand page, as is traditional, the result would have been that the first two spreads would have been misprinted (the page images making up each spread would have been placed on opposite sides of the same page, instead of on facing pages), while the third spread would have printed properly. Fixing the problem with the first two spreads was easy; pages of extra, non-comic material were placed in front of the pages of the comic and the numbering started with the first page of this additional material, causing the comic to start on page 6 and allowing page 1 of the book to be a right-hand page.

However, if no further measure were taken, this would have caused the third spread to be misprinted. The obvious fix was to add an additional page to the comic, effectively incrementing the pages numbers of the remaining pages in the book by one (including the pages in the third spread) and reversing their even-odd parity. Unfortunately, the Foglios miscalculated and added the new page before the second double-page spread, with caused that spread to be misprinted, even though the third spread did, indeed, print properly. To fix this problem, the Foglios added two new pages to the second edition of volume 6, one before the second spread, to make it print properly, and another after it, but before the third spread, to keep that spread from becoming misprinted.

One the website, these added pages are in two locations. The first and second of the new pages are found together on the same web page, one above the other. The upper page image (identified as page "bonk") is the new page that was added to the first print edition of volume 6. This is page 26 in both print editions. The lower page image (identified as page "squeak") is the first of the two new pages that were added to the second print edition of volume 6. This is page 27 in the second print edition. The third new page occurs much later on the website and in the printed book. On the website, there is no annotation to indicate that it is an added page, except for the fact that it is also identified as page "squeak" (just to add to the confusion). This is page 126 of the second print edition.

This volume has three double-page spreads, the first of which opens the volume.

Volume 7: Agatha Heterodyne and the Voice of the Castle[]

This volume has two double-page spreads. For the second spread, rather than split the image up over two pages of the web comic, as usual, the Foglios chose to present a narrower image cropped from the center of the full image on a single web page. The full image can be seen on the website by following the elegant and finely-crafted link, however.

A new page numbered 52 (047.5) was added to this volume to make the second double-page spread print properly.[11]

Volume 8: Agatha Heterodyne and the Chapel of Bones[]

This volume has one double-page spread.

Volume 9: Agatha Heterodyne and the Heirs of the Storm[]

This volume has one double-page spread. Both halves are included on the same web page. Scroll down to see the right half.

Volume 10: Agatha Heterodyne and the Guardian Muse[]

This volume has no double-page spreads in the main story. However, it does have two double-page spreads in the extra art at the end.

Volume 11: Agatha Heterodyne and the Hammerless Bell[]

This volume has three double-page spreads. The first opens the volume and the third closes it.

The first double-page spread is unique in that there are significant differences between how it is presented on the website and in print. Presumably, this is because it is a very elaborate, detailed image, which doesn't look as good when displayed in its entirety, in the lower resolution available on web pages. The spread is oriented sideways in the printed book but is shown upright on the website.[12]

On the web pages of the comic itself, this spread isn't presented as a spread at all.[13] Instead, two web pages (005 and 006) display different parts of the full image, but it is not divided into the top and bottom halves. Instead, different parts of the image are shown on each page, focusing on the most salient details to convey the story. The first web page (005) has a caption that is not found in the book.

The display of the third and final spread on the website is slightly atypical because, at the top of the web page for the spread, a small image of the entire spread is shown, scaled to the same width as single page image. Below that, the full-size image of the left half of the spread is shown, followed by the image for the right half.

Two new pages had to be added to adjust the pagination in this volume. One had to be added before, on page 49 (041b), and one after, on page 118 (109b), the second double-page spread.

Volume 12: Agatha Heterodyne and the Siege of Mechanicsburg[]

This volume has three double-page spreads. For the first double-page spread, the Foglios were trickier than usual, and made the first of its pages look as if it wasn't part of a double-page spread by adding a black border to the right side of the page. (Usually, you can tell if a page is the first half of a double-page spread because it doesn't have a black border on the right, since the illustration continues onto the next page.)

Since first two spreads in this volume start on odd-numbered pages in the web edition, the first page of the story in volume 12 has been placed an even-numbered page (as in volumes 5 and 6), making all of the odd-numbered web comic pages into even-numbered print pages and vice versa. Since the third spread originally started on an even-numbered web-edition page, a printing error would have occurred if nothing was done, but a new page, 149 (143b) has been added between the second and third double-page spreads, so the third spread prints correctly.

Volume 13: Agatha Heterodyne and the Sleeping City[]

This volume has one double-page spread.

Girl Genius Act 2: The Second Journey of Agatha Heterodyne[]

One of the motivations for splitting the Girl Genius saga into multiple parts or "journeys", was allowing the volume numbers to start over at one, to avoid using high volume numbers. However, this requires always including the journey number when referring to a volume to avoid confusion, which is inconvenient. The Foglios themselves often refer to volumes in the Second Journey by the overall volume number, referring to volume 23, rather than volume 10 of the Second Journey. For the sake of brevity and to avoid ambiguity, overall volume numbers are used below.

Starting with the Second Journey, the Foglios seem to have decided to simplify the page numbering scheme for their print graphic novels. In the books in the Second Journey, the first page of the comic is assigned the number 1, to match the first web-comic page number. Naturally, this will cause the remaining web and print page numbers for the volume to match, assuming no additional web-comic pages need to be inserted. This is done whether or not the first double-page spread needs to be adjusted. If it does, the Foglios defy convention and make print page 1 a left-hand page, causing all left-hand pages to to be odd numbered and all right-hand pages to be even numbered.

Volume 14: The Beast of the Rails[]

This volume has no double-page spreads.

Volume 15: The City of Lightning[]

This volume has one double-page spread.

Volume 16: The Incorruptible Library[]

This volume has no double-page spreads.

Volume 17: Kings and Wizards[]

This volume has one double-page spread.

Volume 18: Queens and Pirates[]

This volume has one double-page spread. The single spread starts on an odd-numbered page. To make it appear correctly in the print edition of the book, the Foglios violated convention and put page 1 on the left.

Volume 19: Sparks and Monsters[]

This volume has no double-page spreads.

Volume 20: The Exorcism Engines[]

This volume has one double-page spread.

Volume 21: An Entertainment in Londinium[]

This volume has one double-page spread. This spread is in a short story, "A Mechanicsburg Solstice Story", and probably won't be included in the print edition of volume 8 of the Second Journey.

Volume 22: The Chronometric Lantern Expedition[]

This volume has two double-page spreads. The two double-page spreads in this volume can't both print properly unless a new page is added between them, since the first spread starts on an even-numbered page and the second on an odd-numbered page.

Volume 23: Escape from the Island of the Rat Queen[]

This volume has one double-page spread. It starts on an odd-numbered page, so the Foglios will either have to make some kind of adjustment to the page numbering when the book is printed or violate convention by making page one of the printed graphic novel a left-hand page, as they did with Queens and Pirates.

Volume 24[]

There are no double-page spreads in this volume so far.

Other Stories[]

The Quest for Gold and Sequels[]

This book is a stand-alone side story and is not part of the sequence of volumes making up the main narrative. Each page number in the online edition, on the regular Girl Genius website, has a page number starting with the text "Extra Story Page", and that is reflected here.


  1. There has been at least one exception, see volume 12.
  2. The phrase "Follow this elegant and finely crafted link" or some close variant is almost always used for the links to the large single-image versions of double-page spreads on the Girl Genius website.
  3. If the last page of the comic itself (as opposed to a page containing printing or copyright information, lists of related books, afterwards, postscripts, or epilogues, etc.) in any comic book among those being combined falls on an odd-numbered page, when it is combined with the following comic book, all of the even page numbers in the following comic book will be become odd page numbers, and vice versa. This means that any double-page spreads in that following comic book will be misprinted if no adjustments are made.
  4. Such a printing error occurred in the first edition of volume 6: Agatha Heterodyne and the Golden Trilobite. This error was corrected in the second edition.
  5. For volumes with only one double-page spread, the pagination may have to be adjusted to prevent the spread from being misprinted, but this can be done by adding pages of non-comic material (such as a summary of the story so far or a cast list) to the volume before the first page of the comic. And, in fact, a new page has never been added to to the comic itself in a volume with a single spread.
  6. This should be a complete list of inserted pages. It was compiled with the help of many Girl Genius fans and confirmed with information kindly provided by Phil Foglio in an email.
  7. Only the page showing the left half of the double-page spread is shown on the comic website. To see the full image, you must use the "elegant and finely-crafted link".
  8. The PDF document containing the new pages added to the second print edition of volume 6 is still available on the Girl Genius website, although there no longer seems to be a link to it anywhere on the site.
  9. At the top of that page it says,"Here are two pages we added to the collected comics. That happens sometimes... Make sure to scroll down to the second page, if you want to read both!" But the two pages were added at different times to different print editions.
  10. This type of work is usually done primarily or solely by Kaja Foglio.
  11. This statement is a deduction rather than based on an annotation on the website or other direct authorial statement. The supporting evidence is listed below:
    • The web pages numbers for the second spread show the left half of it to be on an odd-numbered page and the right half on an even-numbered one, the opposite even-odd parity of the first spread.
    • Web page numbers don't normally end with ".5".
    • The web page that display the page image is dated Thursday, June 14, 2007. (Girl Genius pages are normally posted only on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. Occasionally a page is posted on the wrong day of the week by mistake or due to a delay; but, since there are also pages for Wednesday, June 13, 2007 (047) and Friday, June 15, 2007 (048), that doesn't seem to be the case this time.)
  12. The print edition of volume 11 actually opens (on page 7) with a single-page version of the first double-page spread with no characters visible in the scene, displayed upright and reduced to fit on a single page. This page displays a speech bubble that is not present in the web comic. This is followed (on pages 8 and 9) by another version of the spread, this time with characters shown, oriented sideways and enlarged to span two pages.
  13. On page (006) of volume 11, an extra page image is displayed for the first double-page spread, below the primary image, showing the whole spread. There is also an "elegant and finely crafted link" to a larger version of the spread. This is still not quite the same as the spread printed in the book; the positioning and connections between the speech bubbles isn't the same.
  14. 14.0 14.1 14.2 So far, no elegant and finely-crafted link that shows this double-page spread as a single image has been posted. Hopefully, this omission will be corrected some day.
  15. The page on the website referred to as (151) is actually unnumbered, but is in between pages numbered (150) and (152), so it seems quite reasonable to assign that number to it.
  16. Kaja's note on page (029) (Monday, July 12, 2021), which reads: "Monday and Wednesday's pages are two halves of what will be a double-page spread in the published book." refers to the wrong days of the week. She should have written "Friday and Monday's pages".