I must have been living under a rock to explain how I missed such an amazing story for so long. Girl Genius is a long-running web comic featuring the plucky hero Agatha Clay, a student at the somewhat sinister Transylvania Polygnostic University.
The Girl Genius story grabs you from the start by setting up a lot of intriguing questions about the setting. No slow buildups here! It’s straight to the action and loads of questions about how the world works and the characters’ relationships to one another will keep you flipping the pages.
It’s billed as a “gaslamp fantasy” though I have to admit I’m not 100% clear on how this differs from steampunk. There’s lots of clockwork men and the usual trapping of steampunk.
Owing perhaps to its roots as a traditional print comic, the art is gorgeous and highly detailed. It is way above and beyond what is often seen in web comics, especially the backgrounds.
The main character at first appears to be Hermione-ish, though she quickly reveals herself to be more of a bumbling diamond in the rough.
By far my favorite part of this series is the delightfully grim humor. One of the punishments we see early on is the habit of Transylvania Polygnostic punishing people by leaving them in giant jars like bugs on the school ground.
As a friendly heads up, Girl Genius is not tailored to younger readers. Per the creator’s website:
Oh, and please be aware that we recommend Girl Genius for an audience of teens and up. Why? Wel, let’s see…..we have lots of running around in Victorian underwear, ocasional inuendo, a certain amount of violence and the occasional “damn!” Wil this deprive us of future happy meal toys? Probably. Are we having fun making our story our own way? Oh, yes! A lot of our readers still say they read GG to their kids, (and, of course, our kids like it,) but now you can make an informed choice. Thank you!
They publish printed graphic novels if you’d like to support the creators. And if you get hooked on the story, you’ll be delighted to know that there is an RPG in the works. However there is no ETA at this point.
It’s a wonderful read that I highly recommend; I’m extremely happy to have found this gem, even if I’m terribly late to the party.