Girl Genius
Girl Genius

The Black Heterodyne was(?) a member of House Heterodyne. Most of what little we know about him comes from the Girl Genius print novels rather than the comic.

The Comic[]

While Agatha and her compatriots are underneath Mechanicsburg in the Heterodyne crypt the viewer can at one point glimpse a stone door or panel in the background labeled "DO NOT OPEN. The BLACK HETERODYNE WITHIN". The comic has said nothing more about who or what the Black Heterodyne was (or is), and we can only speculate on what would happen were the portal to be opened (though almost certainly nothing good...).

Later on, Carson von Mekkhan implies to Wooster that there is "an ancient, undead, Heterodyne vampire" in the crypt. But fortunately, they aren't going to see him today. He doesn't say anything about it being the Black Heterodyne, but that would be a really good reason for the sign.

The Novels[]

As noted, Agatha H. and the Voice of the Castle offers a few additional bits of information about this fellow, such as his lifespan, 1596-1655.[1] One of his journals (as read by Professor Tiktoffen) comments that things would be much easier if "everybody didn't have those purple insects crawling in and out of their faces all the time."[2] He also visited "the Subterranean Kingdoms" and brought back a sampling of Bloodbats, which then established themselves in the Mechanicsburg area, or at least inside Castle Heterodyne.

Perhaps most intriguingly, he is listed as the brother of The Red Heterodyne, with whom he engaged in wide-ranging and destructive philosophical disputes.[3] Which one of them, if either, was The Heterodyne of the era is not revealed. The Subterranean Kingdoms presumably have at least some overlap with the "Unseen Empire" with which the Red Heterodyne and the Jägers fought. If all this is correct and canon, then he lived.. was born.. about a century before the start of the action in the comic.

His favorite color was "charred".[4]

Possibly Relevant Outside Information[]

Samuel Pepys (pronounced "peeps") 1633-02-23 to 1703-05-26 is most famous for his diary and noted for his ability as an administrator, but perhaps most interestingly was a correspondent of Isaac Newton and President of the Royal Society (analogue of Her Majesty the Queen's Right Puissant Society of Sages, Adepts, and Prometheans) when Newton's Philosophiæ Naturalis Principia Mathematica was published. (Note Pepys' imprimatur on the title page.) However, in Pepys' family tree there are a number of Thomases, including Samuel's grandfather Thomas Pepys "The Black" (? – 1606) and his brother (Samuel's great-uncle) Thomas Pepys "The Red" (? – 1615).


  1. p. 101 note 22
  2. p. 101
  3. Surely an example par excellence of the Heterodynes' checkered history.
  4. p. 101 note 22