Girl Genius
Girl Genius

Kjarl Thotep, previously known on the wiki as Purple[1], is an extradimensional being of uncertain origin. Due to his nature, Boilerghast (and, er, Boilergast) redirect here as well. His name was formerly spelled "Karl," but as of 2/14/2021 Phil decided to make it "ever so slightly weird."[2]

Kjarl Among the Europans[]

Kjarl first appears[3] in-comic next to Tarvek and Higgs as they stand on a balcony located in the depths of the undersea dome of The Queen's Society, preparing to intervene in the summoning by Snacky and his fellow Grey Hood conspiracy-members of another extradimensional being. Kjarl needs the duo's help, but has trouble explaining the specifics because he gets confused about whether he's talking about the past, present, or future. All of time is the same to him, which is how we know he's an extradimensional being.

After his arrival, his presence causes Tarvek and Higgs to start making short, random hops forward and backward in time between frames of the comic, Tarvek more than Higgs because, we soon learn, Higgs' extremely long life anchors him somewhat in time.  Kjarl borrows some time-stability from Higgs to give to Tarvek. He also comments that Tarvek is scheduled to go mad at some point. This all deals a fatal blow to the whole "thwarting" plan, and the other Being finally snags Tarvek with a flailing tentacle, cutting the conversation short.

Kjarl next appears down on the main floor in medias res, where he meets Dimitri Vapnoople, who tries to tell him why people need monsters, but can't quite explain himself because the Baron "took my words." (ie, drilled into various bits of his brain.)  Kjarl can observe the confusion in Vapnoople's thoughts, is curious about what he would say if he could, and therefore, with a hand placed on the other's head , repairs his brain.[4]  (Why Kjarl suddenly doesn't know what his conversation-mates are going to do or say is another unanswered question.)

This act turns out to be unfortunate, because, along with his words, Vapnoople regains his (typically crazy Spark) intention to improve the human race by creating monsters superior to people, so that only the best (smartest, strongest) human beings survive. Demonstrating his point, Vapnoople summons up a further mass of monsters to battle the one controlled by Snacky.

This distresses Kjarl, and he nervously lets Agatha and Tarvek use him as bait to lure all the critters in and reverse the summoning process. And then, when Vapnoople steps through the now-closing dimensional portal to go seeking after the power offered by the realm on the other side, and attempts to drag his unwilling new "apprentice" Agatha along with him, Kjarl pulls her and Krosp out of range. Once the portal is closed and the machine that created it reduced to slag, only Tarvek and Higgs can still easily see or hear Kjarl.

Events progress in their usual chaotic fashion, the dome's self-destruct mechanism is engaged, and Kjarl tags along with Our Heroes as they flee in a pair of submarines. Everybody gets swallowed by a Great Cetacean, and Agatha is tapped to meet with the Cetacean's spokesguy. Kjarl tells Tarvek that getting this meeting wrong will be disastrous for.. well.. pretty much everybody, but he is unable to pinpoint exactly what should be or not be done, just that something "improbable" has to happen. Agatha fortunately comes up with just the solution: ordering her newly-constructed mermaid costume to be stripped of all Sparky weapons. On the "bad news" side of the situation, probably, Tarvek suddenly becomes unable to see Kjarl anymore, just as he comments that they need to do something about the latter's "instability". He and Agatha and the various other Sparks in her social circle work together and achieve that stability, resulting in Kjarl being visible to everyone and looking rather more human than before.

Gil is then dispatched back to The Continent to deal with an invasion by the Polar Ice Lords. Kjarl is among those who accompany him, in the hope that he will be able to help with the time-stop currently afflicting Mechanicsburg. Arriving at that stricken city, Kjarl begins constructing possibly-useful devices with the Sparky assistance of Othar.

Back story[]

Back home, according to Kjarl , he was "but a simple vozzler... Children love us!" For a clown (juggler? ice cream man?) also to be a superb brain surgeon is particularly surprising — if we do not count that he is from a higher dimension and able to view Vapnoople's brain from a different angle. It's also possible that his extratemporal nature let him simply 'reset' Vapnoople somehow, not so much 'healing' him as moving him around in the timestream so that he 'was not injured'.

The occupation of vozzler is later said to be topologically similar to knitting socks , though somewhat more dangerous. (It may be noted that knitting, while usually useful and sometimes beautiful, is a null operation topologically. A stage magician or clown often undertakes similar operations with metal rings or ropes.)

Kjarl also (similarly) describes himself as a friend of smeerps .

However, Kjarl also remembers himself holding an object shaped like a watering can over something looking like a patch of plants when he was shifted out of his own and mostly into our plane of existence. Perhaps these "plants" are the smeerps. Or maybe he was simply watering whatever substitutes for plants in his native dimension.

Following the shift, he evidently spent thousands of years (of our time) in the temple over which the Queen's Society Dome was built.

The Boilerghast[]

And so, he's also been lurking about the dome before we and Our Heroes get to meet him; he was able to communicate with the now late Professor Homlomium, and his out-of-dimensional-phase presence evidently provoked stories of "The Boilerghast" among the other dome inhabitants.

On the other hand, it's not necessarily the case that all actions that might have been attributed to the Boilerghast are due to Kjarl.

See Also[]

Eye Guy

Possibly Relevant Outside Information[]

It seems likely that the name Kjarl Thotep is a play on words based on H. P. Lovecraft's fictional extra-dimensional horror Nyarlathotep.

Kaja: "Karl Thotep was originally supposed to be a character in a gothic horror-themed story we abandoned a couple of decades ago." (Patreon post, available to patrons only.)

The 'smeerps' he was a friend to are a reference to the Turkey City Lexicon and its description of a trope of bad writing, "Call a Rabbit a 'Smeerp'" - a term for having an ordinary animal/object/concept but calling it an exotically alien name. The Professors are not the first to play with this; Larry Niven did the same, literally naming a rabbit-like alien in Ringworld Throne "smeerps".


  1. Kjarl's name was originally revealed (as "Karl") via a title in the "Jump to a Scene" menu on the Girl Genius website, but after a long delay, it was finally mentioned in-comic as well.
  3. As far as we know for certain. However, he bears a resemblance to Eye Guy and is the same shape as the character speaking with Smokes immediately prior to the latter's murder.
  4. Compare the healing effect of the touch of this purple guy with the healing power of the Purple ray.