A Webcomic Recommendation
The internet is filled with webcomics. There are one-shot joke ones and plot ones; beautifully drawn ones and ones based on stick figures. There is also a wide variety of quality when it comes to webcomics. While there are great ones of all varieties, my personal favorites are usually ones with high quality art and high quality story. If you enjoy traditional graphic novels and you haven’t checked out some of these then you are missing out on the newest home of the media. One of my favorite webcomics is Girl Genius. It is one of the best examples of the high quality of works you can find on the internet.
Girl Genius is a two-time winner of the Hugo for Best Graphic Story and it definitely deserves it. The plot focuses on the adventures of the titular girl genius, Agatha, as she uses her new-found talents and figures out where she fits in the world. Character is one of the best features of the story and Agatha is not only lovable but interesting to watch. She is not alone in this though because each character is bursting with personality. From Gil, the romantic lead to Zola, Agatha’s current nemesis, every character will make you laugh and draw you in. Girl Genius has a fun and fascinating cast which will keep you reading to find out what they will do next.
Aside from the characters, the setting is one of the stories best features. The location of the story seems to be an alternate version of Victorian Europe. This alternate version may come across initially as steampunk but it is slightly more complex then that. While it takes much of its aesthetics from steampunk (gears, brass), the powers of the Sparks seems to extend beyond the realm of what is possible in a normal steampunk setting. Sparks are basically mad scientists and they make up a large portion of the cast. They are each bestowed with a power called the spark. They use this to make anything from a classic ray-gun to biological constructs to performing nearly magical feats. Only those with the spark can complete such projects. The magical nature of their talents has caused the creator themselves, the Foglios, to refer to it as Gaslamp Fantasy instead of steampunk.
The art of Girl Genius is highly stylized but good. If you have ever seen the Brawl set Club Foglio or any of these magic cards, then you have seen Phil Foglio’s work. This stylized nature not only makes the characters distinct but makes it easy to understand the emotions they are feeling via their expressions. As well as being stylized, a lot of detail is put in to each frame. This makes everything look more interesting and adds personality to the world around the characters. As well as having high quality art, after the first volume (which is in black and white) the coloring is also top-notch. Though it has been done by many people over the years, each has brought a vivid use of color to a series which could be overwhelmed with browns and brass. The coloring job emphasizes the personality present in the world and the characters, ensuring that nothing ever appears dull in the world of Girl Genius. The stylized art and bright coloring make Girl Genius one of the best looking webcomics out there.
If you want to start enjoying Girl Genius, I recommend starting at the beginning which is linked above. Even if you don’t enjoy the whole weekly updates thing and prefer to read them chapter by chapter like a book, you will have nine years of updates to read through before you reach that point. You can also attempt to rent or purchase the published book form if you have an aversion to reading things on the internet. No matter how you read it, Girl Genius is a great piece of graphic fiction which I recommend wholeheartedly.