Girl Genius

Filed in Webcomic reviewTags: , , , ,

One problem inherent with epic storytelling webcomics is that it can take forever to tell the story. While this is not necessarily a bad thing (as it almost guarantees the comic will continue updating for years), there is the risk of storyteller burnout. Cartoonists can get bored with their characters and their storyline, and often start looking over older work and growing unhappy with it. (Indeed, a number of epic storytelling comics have undergone a reworking of old artwork or even reboot the entire comic.) But some cartoonists, sensing burnout (or even a decline in story quality) in the wings, go the route of the Japanese Omake and create non-canon short stories to amuse themselves and their readers.

Phil and Kaja Foglio have taken several such breaks with their comic Girl Genius, with the most infamous of these being “The Adventures of Agatha Heterodyne” as told by Professors Foglio and Foglio (the comic-avatars of the cartoonist and his co-writer wife). This naturally gives the Foglios a more humorous outlet for their endeavors (and as any long-time reader of Phil Foglio knows, he is a master of the comedic cartooning crafts).

That is not to say that Girl Genius itself is not comedic in nature; while it is a superb example of epic storytelling, it is also a superb mixture of drama and comedy, with glimmers of humor appearing even in the direst of scenes. But it’s kind of fun to occasionally let loose and indulge in full-scale silliness. The latest GG short story, Revenge of the Weasel Queen, has once again shown that the Foglios are equally at home with pure comedy as they are with epic storytelling, while also remaining true to the Girl Genius universe (meaning fans will see plenty of buxom and beautiful ladies, a sardonic intelligent talking cat, and mad acts of science).

I mean, where else could you see a mad science plan to overthrow a ferret/human hybrid’s control of giant carnivorous rabbits by feeding her plenty of pierogi, heavy on the garlic? Which would have worked too if Ferretina controlled the giant rabbits through scent rather than bribing them with free health insurance. (Why does this sound like one of my old D&D adventures?) The ending, with Ferretina running off with Agatha’s fashion clank and Zeetha telling Agatha that was the best ultimate weapon ever, is just icing on the cake, and proof positive that even when telling a short humorous story, the Foglios are masters of their craft.

Revenge of the Weasel Queen was split into three parts at various points in the two years it’s taken to tell the entire story. Part one can be found here, while Part two continued four months later. The third and final part of Weasel Queen started at the start of June. Other short stories can be found here, including a retelling of the classic Norwegian folk story The Cat on the Dovrefjell, which features the superb artwork of Kaja Foglio and was originally published in the 1997 “Last Dangerous Christmas” anthology from Aeon.