Girl Genius is the name of the collected early histories of Lady Agatha Heterodyne, from her last days living in Beetleburg to whenever the Transylvania Polygnostic University grant runs out for the Professors Foglio and their associates.


Put another way, Girl Genius is the Foglios' long-running gaslamp fantasy graphic novel, published by Airship Entertainment with eighteen volumes in print as of March 2020, a nineteenth and twentieth volume complete and available on the web, and a twenty-first volume in progress and also available on the web, with new pages coming out three days a week on Starting with the fourteenth volume, Girl Genius is said to have entered Act 2 or The Second Journey of Agatha Heterodyne, with the volume numbers starting over from one. The first thirteen volumes are now known collectively as Act 1 or The First Journey of Agatha Heterodyne. Girl Genius tells of the journeys of a young woman who discovers she not only has great hidden talents for Mad Science, but is the heir to both a heroic legacy... and an evil which nearly destroyed a world which runs on steam, aesthetics, and fabulous improbabilities.

The series started as a quarterly "dead-tree" print comic, with extras like paper cutout novelties on the inside covers, such as a coder/decoder wheel, gift tags and Christmas ornaments. The comic also included extra stories (called "omake" in other realms) such as "An Agatha Heterodyne 1 Minute Mystery" and the Jägershots.

In 2005, the Foglios decided to take what many saw as a risk and change to a webcomic format, updating three times a week, with trade paperback reprints of collected material published about once a year. Girl Genius 101 started reprinting the material in the print comics from page 1; the Girl Genius Advanced Class contained brand-new material posted simultaneously with the older pages.

The experiment was wildly successful; their official fan group on Yahoo! had message numbers climb exponentially for the three months after the launch. Sales became quite healthy, allowing them to create and sell proprietary items such as winged trilobite pins as well as the books and the remaining copies of the original comic issues.

Girl Genius, Volume VIII won the inaugural Hugo Award for "Best Graphic Story" at AnticipationSF on August 9, 2009. [1] Girl Genius continued to dominate this category (with Volume IX winning in 2010 and Volume X in 2011), until Phil Foglio removed the work from contention for 2012 during his acceptance speech for the 2011 win.

The Collections and Other Editions[edit | edit source]

Main article: List of Published Volumes‎‎

The collected material, both from the original dead-tree issues 1-13, and the subsequent web-published pages, are collected in trade paperback and limited hardback editions. There is also a black-and-white omnibus of the first three collected volumes, and various related publications, both physical and virtual.

Defining 'Girl Genius'[edit | edit source]

Phil Foglio was asked in a recent interview[2] to define the term the Studio uses to describe their creation:

Phil: "Gaslamp fantasy" is a term that Kaja made up. She thought she was quoting something else... and actually coined a phrase. A lot of people claim that Girl Genius is steampunk...
Interviewer: Nnn, I wouldn't say that.
Phil: I wouldn't either for a variety of reasons, one of which is that we have no punks. But gaslamp fantasy is that kind of adventure... story pretty much unhampered by actual physical facts, or adheres to the physical facts that were known around the late 1800s....

Inspirations and Influences[edit | edit source]

Main article: Recommended Reading

Kaja: Well, we started doing Girl Genius the way it is with... everybody knows the term 'steampunk'... with that aesthetic... At that time 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 top hats with walking canes and all of this wonderful... Victoriana sci-fi stuff.... ...I love airships, I love mad science, I love the Victorian stuff and the clanky machines and all of that business... I've always loved Jules Verne and H.G. Wells.... I look back more at, like, H. Rider Haggard adventure novels....[3]

Literary[edit | edit source]

  • Jane Austen
  • H. Rider Haggard
  • Kenneth Robeson
  • Jules Verne
  • H.G. Wells

Artistic[edit | edit source]

  • Vaugn Bode
  • Frank Kelly Freas
  • Wendy & Richard Pini
  • Charles Schultz
  • Osamu Tezuka

Animation[edit | edit source]

  • Tex Avery
  • Chuck Jones
  • Studio Ghibli

Archival Sales Data[edit | edit source]

A mr_sites of the Yahoo! group documented these distribution numbers for the print comic as of Mar 29, 2005 after the Professora's announcement of the publishing changes:[4]

Issue Date Rank Sales % Chg (Months)
1 Feb 2001 no data no data n/a  
2 Apr 2001 169 4853 no data 2
3 Jun 2001 178 5580 15.0% 2
4 Aug 2001 178 6113 9.6% 2
Color/price increase
5 Oct 2001 201 5889 -3.7% 2
6 Jun 2002 183 6330 7.5% 8
7 Jul 2002 188 6316 -0.2% 1
8 Oct 2002 175 6490 2.8% 3
9 Jul 2003 210 6406 -1.3% 9
10 Oct 2003 247 6351 -0.9% 3
11 Jun 2004 192 6172 -2.8% 8
12 Aug 2004 193 5790 -6.2% 2
13 Dec 2004 218 5523 -4.6% 4

These numbers were followed up by a comment from Alice Bentley warning of qualifiers to the data.[5]


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