Girl Genius

If you would have asked me yesterday, I would have sworn I’d already written a blog recommending Phil Foglio’s work. I would have gone so far as to bet money on it. A lot of money.

And, apparently, I would have lost that money. Because today when I went looking for it, I discovered I’d written no such blog.

So, in an attempt to set things right, I’d like to talk to you about Girl Genius.


I’m guessing a lot of you already know about Phil and Kaja Foglio.  They attend a lot of the big conventions. And, if you’re an experienced gamer like me (and by ‘experienced’ I mean ‘old’) you probably remember Foglio’s comic from Dragon Magazine: What’s New with Phil and Dixie.

Oh, and they’ve won the Hugo Award for Best Graphic Story the last two years. In 2009 they beat out Joss Whedon’s Serenity comic. And this year they beat out Neil Gaiman’s Batman story.

Yeah. That’s right. Their graphic novel Girl Genius not only beat out Whedon and Gaiman, it beat Firefly and Batman, too.

If that doesn’t convince you of how awesome their series is, I don’t know what I can say to convince you. How about we just look at the cover for a moment while I think of something sufficiently gushy:

Simply said, Girl Genius has everything I look for in a story. The worldbuilding is clever and internally consistent. The characters are interesting and multi-faceted. The story is complex while still being clear, and surprising while still being satisfying. (Which is really fucking hard, let me tell you.)

Did I mention it’s funny? It is. Consistently, honestly funny. I don’t need to tell you how rare that is.

It has a strong female lead character who’s good with science, which is nice to see. And it’s perfectly appropriate for just about any age group. In fact, I probably should have mentioned it when was putting together my list of YA recommendations a couple weeks ago.

If none of that convinces you, let me say one more thing. Every time a new volume of Girl Genius comes out, I buy it, then I read all the other volumes leading up to the new one before I let myself read the new one. I haven’t done that with a series since I read Dragonriders back in the 6th grade.

Okay. Enough gushing.

Because Phil and Kaja are really cool, you can read their comic for free over on their website. However, I have to say that the story really deserves to be read in book form, rather than sitting hunched over a computer monitor. I’ve read it both ways and it’s so much more satisfying to read it as a book.

In fact, I like this series so much, I’m going to put my money where my mouth is.

Here’s my offer. If you buy a copy of the first volume of Girl Genius, and you don’t like it, you can mail it to me and I’ll buy it off you for whatever you paid for it.

I’m that sure you’ll like it.

Here are the conditions:

  • If you mail me Volume 1, it has to arrive more or less intact. It can’t be missing pages, crumpled up, or covered in jam.
  • You need to include the receipt showing me how much you paid for it.
  • You need to include a SASE.

As I type this, part of me worries that this might be one of my ideas that seems brilliant when I’m typing it, but later, when I’m not full of coffee and love, I end up kicking myself.

But you know what? I’m fine with that. What’s the fun of being a published author if I can’t occasionally do something lovely and foolish? In my experience being clever and careful is highly overrated.

Here’s the link to the Girl Genius website. Go on. Order the book. I dare you.


Edit: Rest assured that all nine volumes are in print. I know this because I ordered them myself just a couple weeks ago. If you’re having trouble finding them on the girl genius website, you just need to follow this link.

This entry was posted in comics, cool things, Firefly, graphic novels, Joss Whedon, Neil Gaiman, recommendationsBy Pat58 Responses


  1. Posted October 4, 2010 at 7:18 PM | Permalink

    OOooo the blog post I was looking for. Thanks, can’t wait to read it. :)

  2. Posted October 4, 2010 at 7:23 PM | Permalink

    I can’t tell you how very Patrick Rothfuss it is of you to use the acronym SASE and then take the time to link to what the acronym stood for. I imagined that you amused yourself greatly doing that. :-)

    And thanks for the comic. I will read them and then when I have a better job and some money, I will purchase one to support the authors.

    • Posted October 4, 2010 at 8:05 PM | Permalink


    • Posted October 17, 2010 at 10:33 PM | Permalink

      Okay, took me almost two weeks, but I just finished reading it all online. Now I want to own them all.

  3. r_bhatt93
    Posted October 4, 2010 at 7:23 PM | Permalink

    Thank You
    I have been going to your blog everyday since the 24th
    f5; f5; f5; f5
    and no posts :(
    I seriously think if you went pro blogger you could mint millions, you’re blog is a part of my life force


  4. flaime
    Posted October 4, 2010 at 7:30 PM | Permalink

    I’ve read Girl Genius. Honestly, I think Phil and Dixie was funnier. I wish they had continued that after they ceased their association with Dragon.

    • Darkblood Skullpulper
      Posted October 4, 2010 at 9:11 PM | Permalink

      Perhaps you didn’t read quite far enough. I think they hit their comedic stride around the end of book 2. There is lots of mysterious backstory to work out in the first few chapters, but eventually the story runs from hilarious to mesmerizing and back again. They can also hit their stride where every single day they just crank out absurdly well-crafted gags one after the other, so one gets a daily comic that tells an entirely self-contained joke while simultanously advancing the plot.

      Honestly, it is no fluke that Girl Genius is winning awards. I am going to follow Pat’s lead and make this same offer to my own friends and associates. I might have a bit harder time with the non-fantasy-inured crowd. Though I mighty find some who “don’t get it”, I doubt I’ll find any who do “get it” but fail to enjoy the books.

  5. ramontgo
    Posted October 4, 2010 at 7:32 PM | Permalink

    dare accepted, pat.

  6. Pilot
    Posted October 4, 2010 at 7:42 PM | Permalink

    I was just about to order it..but!! Volume 2 isn’t available on their site, or amazon, or any of the other sites I’ve seen…
    Any ideas on where we can get it if we love the series as much as we should?

    • Pilot
      Posted October 4, 2010 at 7:43 PM | Permalink

      Oh..I should note you can get it on amazon, but it’s about $100…

    • Posted October 4, 2010 at 7:56 PM | Permalink

      It is available. I ordered a copy just a couple weeks ago:

      Use this link:

      • Pilot
        Posted October 4, 2010 at 8:14 PM | Permalink

        I used the link, but collection 2 isn’t listed?

        • Pilot
          Posted October 4, 2010 at 8:21 PM | Permalink

          Just to make sure nothing crazy is happening, when I go to that link there are only 17 results. (Collection 2 not among them for me…)

          • Posted October 4, 2010 at 8:35 PM | Permalink

            I’m checking it out…

  7. Markyys
    Posted October 4, 2010 at 7:49 PM | Permalink

    I would take you up on that, but I already own all the Girl Genius released to date (and Buck Godot).

  8. Widow Of Sirius
    Posted October 4, 2010 at 7:55 PM | Permalink

    Sounds rocking. I do hope this doesn’t come back to bite you, but I’m thinking it won’t.
    I’ll buy the book. It’ll only be the 6th one I buy this week, and there’s nothing happier than a desk full of books just waiting to be read :)

  9. Posted October 4, 2010 at 7:59 PM | Permalink

    “In my experience being clever and careful is highly overrated.”


    @Tyson: yeah I lol’d at the SASE linky as well. xD

    Off to order a copy… *ninja vanish*

  10. Posted October 4, 2010 at 8:02 PM | Permalink

    I agree with Widow Of Sirius: I hope this doesn’t come back to bite you. Like if the publishers took advantage of your kind offer and returned to you, say… a hundred or so copies?

    Just getting my daily dose of cynic out there :)

  11. Morag
    Posted October 4, 2010 at 8:29 PM | Permalink

    Gotta tell you, Pat, if I still had my copy of Volume I I’d take you up on this – but I’ve long since given it away. I’m a geeky girl who wears glasses and is into science, but I couldn’t get past the constant and pointless appearance of the main character in her underpants. Every time it happened it seemed so jarring that it would knock me out of the world in disappointment.

    The talking cat was awesome, though.

    • Darkblood Skullpulper
      Posted October 4, 2010 at 8:58 PM | Permalink

      Bothered by that? There are also lots of “constant and pointless” scenes of barechested macho science guys later on. The Foglios are just sexy people. I guess you were turned off by the recurring lascivity of “What’s New”… Better stay real far away from Xxxenophile.

      • Morag
        Posted October 5, 2010 at 12:10 AM | Permalink

        I just didn’t find it “sexy”, only vaguely obnoxious. It was the way she kept losing the clothes in her sleep, I think – it came across as vaguely sinister, whereas the barechested macho guys were barechested of their own accord.

        • Posted October 5, 2010 at 9:59 AM | Permalink

          She wasn’t losing clothes in her sleep. She was doing things in her sleep, and waking up in her nightdress. (Which was, I feel the need to mention, victorian, so it left her more fully clothed than about half the college co-eds I see on campus.)

    • sunsetacker
      Posted January 6, 2011 at 2:19 PM | Permalink

      I found the combination of grease and underwear quite hilarious actually, though it was really surprising

  12. NoirRosaleen
    Posted October 4, 2010 at 8:29 PM | Permalink

    I adore these folks. When I am no longer Student Extraordinaire, I’m buying the full series (although a friend has been buying me the series slowly but surely – lovely man!).

    I got to meet Phil last year, a bit before I ran across ComicCon in too-small boots to meet you (Silk Spectre 1 – I got pics&gave the guy ahead of me a tongue-lashing for not having read your book yet *lol*). I was despairing over not knowing which character I could cosplay, and he looked at me, tilted his head a bit, and said, “You’d make a really good Zeetha, I think.”

    …guess what costume I’m trying to learn how to build by next July (missed this year due to sell-out time being last Nov >_<)…

  13. Liam
    Posted October 4, 2010 at 9:13 PM | Permalink

    Perhaps the conditions should be amended to preclude “unreasonable” purchase prices? Say a purchase of a signed hardcopy for $140,000 on eBay? Because technically someone might be able to sue you to enforce that. It probably also wouldn’t be a bad idea to put an expiry date on that offer (or an upper threshold on what you’re willing to purchase, though I suppose that kinda defeats the whole point).

    (damnit…stupid law school. Rather than “oo cool, another cool web comic recommendation” all I saw was “Wow, Pat really opened himself up to a potentially huge liability here. I wonder if a judge would read an implied ‘reasonability’ provision into that guarantee, or if they’d go the Carbolic Smokeball route? I wonder if it’s limited by statute too? I could probably look that up…”………FML)

    • Posted October 4, 2010 at 10:26 PM | Permalink

      That law gobbley-gook sounded awesome, although it has made me slightly worried for everyone’s favourite overlord…

    • DoodleDad
      Posted October 7, 2010 at 7:47 AM | Permalink

      You see, as a lawyer myself, I don’t think this is about the law.

      If someone paid $140,000 for a copy, the chances are that there is a reason it cost that much – i.e. it is likely to be (more or less) worth that much – so Pat might be temporarily out of pocket for the time it took him to sell it on (assuming he wants to – I mean, to be worth that much it must be the platinum-plated Lesbian Unicorn special edition or something), but then he could recover his costs by realising its value (i.e. selling it on).

      The other alternatives are that someone pays way over the odds in order to shaft Pat, or because they are idiots (or both). The idiots won’t think to ask Pat for a refund (because they are idiots), and the nasty people don’t exist. Or if they do, they don’t read this blog. Or if they do, they have better things to do with their empty, meaningless lives.

      Unless, perhaps, they’re lawyers.

  14. Katienooklover
    Posted October 4, 2010 at 10:30 PM | Permalink

    Thank you for posting again so quickly! I was starting to show withdraw symptoms while you were on vacation. I’m glad you had a great time with your family. I’ll have to wait until next month to get any Girl Genius because I already spent my budget on books. :( But The Atrocity Files are great, so I shouldn’t complain. Charles Stross is like an angrier, more profane, nerdier Terry Pratchett. I love it!

    (Yes, I know nerdier isn’t a word. I don’t care, it conveys the right essence.) :)

    • Mickey
      Posted October 5, 2010 at 4:58 AM | Permalink

      I don’t speak for everyone when I say this, but people round here get all giggly and excitemable if someone ( usually Pat ) makes up a great new word. On the other hand some of them may have been a typo…

    • Posted October 5, 2010 at 9:56 AM | Permalink

      “Charles Stross is like an angrier, more profane, nerdier Terry Pratchett.”

      That’s a great blurb.

  15. Matt
    Posted October 4, 2010 at 10:46 PM | Permalink

    Pat, what you remembered writing was your positive review on Goodreads.

    Girl Genius is one of my two favorite webcomics, the other one being Order of the Stick.

    I asked once before in your blog, and wonder if I’m horribly transgressing in asking again: in Girl Genius, we meet a traveling circus and theater troupe, led by a husband and wife team. A brief conversation reveals she is nobility and he is a commoner. I’ve wondered if Kvothe’s parents were influenced by the Paynes, or if it’s a coincidence. Perhaps both you and the Foglios are referencing a third work that I’m unfamiliar with?

    Anyway, Girl Genius is great.

  16. Kendall
    Posted October 4, 2010 at 10:50 PM | Permalink

    Pat: Girl Genius and the Foglios are great, but they didn’t win the Hugo for Best Dramatic Presentation (which goes to things like movies). They won for Best Graphic Story.

    BTW, that Hugo category (as a permanent category) is only two years old (so technically, they’re undefeated).

    • Posted October 5, 2010 at 9:54 AM | Permalink

      Shit. Thanks for the reminder. Bad cut and paste on my part.

  17. Oykib
    Posted October 4, 2010 at 11:58 PM | Permalink

    Ordered,.. You had me at “Every time a new volume of Girl Genius comes out, I buy it, then I read all the other volumes leading up to the new one before I let myself read the new one. “

  18. Trollish
    Posted October 5, 2010 at 1:37 AM | Permalink

    I’ve been a fan since the Phil & Dixie days, but a superfan since Phil Foglio did the Myth-Adventures comics for WaRP (Elfquest) Graphics and covers (and interior art) for Robert Asprin’s books. His Skeeve and Aahz were absolutely classic. Will have to check this out.

  19. Posted October 5, 2010 at 8:35 AM | Permalink

    Nice recommendation, might have to get a sneak preview online before buying the products.. pathetically staid! I’m a big fan of online comics (someone mentioned Order of the Stick earlier which is fantastic), but my knowledge of D&D based games/comics is also terrible as I have never played them. So the point of that self-centred sentence was that I recently have enjoyed reading a ‘turn based’ comic called Erfworld which others will most likely enjoy, especially if you are a strategy aficionado.

    Sorry if the post is against any rules, I wasn’t too sure!

    • Posted October 5, 2010 at 8:36 AM | Permalink

      My link had epic fail, just google it if you’re interested I guess =]

  20. Posted October 5, 2010 at 9:03 AM | Permalink

    Don’t forget about your local library! Mine, for some reason, has book 4, but no others. I may have to request the first.

    • sunsetacker
      Posted January 6, 2011 at 2:25 PM | Permalink

      My local library has none of them…I’m stuck with the online ones :-(
      Not that they aren’t AWS though!

  21. Froody42
    Posted October 5, 2010 at 10:47 AM | Permalink

    I was surprised to find they even have the books in the German Amazon store, free shipping and all. That’s refreshing… for the Order of the Stick collections, I had to go out of my way to find a German retailer selling it at a decent price. Very tempting…

  22. Jason S
    Posted October 5, 2010 at 1:32 PM | Permalink

    Pat… you bought me a copy Volume 1 of Girl Genius at Madcon as a thank you for selling you one of my first editions of “Name…”

    Volume 1 finished, volume 2 ordered, Jason hooked.


  23. MLBurt
    Posted October 5, 2010 at 4:19 PM | Permalink

    I started reading Girl Genius, and at first, I didn’t really like it. I have a natural aversion to comics that rely on neat aesthetic steampunk and basically play worldbuilding adlibs in the name of neat stuff . . . .

    But when I expressed this to a friend, his counter was “Rothfuss recommended it. You have to read it.” I recognized that he was being the wiser of the two of us, and kept reading.

    And I love it! So thanks a bunch.

  24. Skye
    Posted October 5, 2010 at 4:57 PM | Permalink

    Thanks! I needed to spend several hours glued to my computer screen!


    But no, seriously, this is awesome. And there’s a lot more of it than Dresden Codak…


    P.S. I asked my husband if I could buy the first volume, and he pointed out that he’d *just* paid for me to go to the pre-release of Scars of Mirrodin and bought me a new Archenemy deck and that the youngest school-age child has a new fundraiser and well…you know. :D

  25. Feathers McGraw
    Posted October 5, 2010 at 6:03 PM | Permalink

    Ok I registered just so I could tell you this:

    I have no money/job atm so I didn’t want to get into this. Then I just took a look to see what it was like and next thing you know I spent the entire day reading through all issues online and now I have to go buy the whole thing when I have money again. I’m not sure I will actually read it again, but I need to have things I read and liked around me, and this was amazing. Also, more funny than I thought it was going to be. They’re getting into som actual Whedonesque dialogue there in the end.

    My only quibble is, I was hoping the series was finished when I started and while I constantly enjoyed it, the longer it went on and it became clear that the resolution wasn’t 3/2/1 issues away that illusion faded. So thanks for getting me addicted to yet another unfinished masterpiece. At least TWoT now has Mr. Effective Brandon Saunderson at its helm and your work and the Foglios seems to be progreesing at a steady pace. Now if only we could do something about the Meerenese knot…

    Never mind! Thanks for the awesome!

  26. mashallaharabians
    Posted October 5, 2010 at 6:42 PM | Permalink

    I liked Girl Genius and I follow it faithfully, but I really, really loved Phil Foglio’s comic book series, XXXenophile. It was funny, it was arty, it was creative and varied as all get out, and it was unbridled porno. I miss it.

  27. Posted October 5, 2010 at 7:27 PM | Permalink

    Well, I’ve got a lot of work to do, but am currently stuck midway through Volume 2. Thanks Pat! (1.75 of that thanks is genuine honest-t0-goodness thanks, the other 0.25 is being sarcastic)

  28. Tacroy
    Posted October 5, 2010 at 8:27 PM | Permalink

    I’m pretty sure that this is close to what Pat would look like if Phil were to draw him, though he’d probably be saying something more heroic.

  29. Constance
    Posted October 6, 2010 at 9:13 AM | Permalink

    Dammit, no I no longer have an excuse to avoid my local comic book store. Damn you Pat. The ‘I don’t want to spend money on another book in case I’m let down’ reasoning just can’t fly anymore, can it?

  30. Harken
    Posted October 6, 2010 at 1:35 PM | Permalink

    I don’t think you’re clever scheme to build a play fort for oot out of slightly used copies of Girl Genius volume 1 is going to work pat, I bet you’ll have less than half a dozen people take you up on your refund offer.

    Girl Genius is an amazing story and if you don’t at least chuckle at a few of the scenes with the Jaggers then you don’t have a soul.

  31. DoodleDad
    Posted October 7, 2010 at 7:52 AM | Permalink

    Pat, thank you so much for the recommendation, which was spot-on as far as I’m concerned.

    Be honest though – is just a tiny part of your liking for Genius Girl the fact that you (especially in your blog-illustrated form) bear a more-than-passing resemblance to Master Payne from the Heterodyne show?

  32. Rohain
    Posted October 7, 2010 at 2:26 PM | Permalink

    Does anyone know if they ship to the UK? I don’t really want to pay £30 for it via Amazon.

  33. dave garrett
    Posted October 9, 2010 at 6:13 PM | Permalink

    A good place to buy the books is They do not charge for shipping. Any books that are out of print are just temporarily out of print, when they (Foglios) run out of books they get them re-printed. Volume 3 had gone out of print, but they just re-printed it. Dave

  34. dave garrett
    Posted October 9, 2010 at 6:15 PM | Permalink

    Oh, and Volume 1 comes in two flavors—the original book in black and white. Just recently they finally got it colored and new edition is in color, but a muted color.

  35. Pilot
    Posted October 10, 2010 at 8:50 PM | Permalink

    I just bought and read Volume 1 today. Really fantastic. I’m going to order the rest soon! Thanks!

  36. Sister_Spider
    Posted October 14, 2010 at 1:06 PM | Permalink

    Thank you so much for the recommendation – I read the whole thing online over a period of about 3 days (don’t tell my employers). I’ve also suggested the series to several nerdy pals. I plan to start ordering them after my next paycheck. The same will likely happen with Looking for Group. And everything on my 10 page wishlist. And…

    Hm. My wallet just started crying.

  37. Posted October 22, 2010 at 11:06 AM | Permalink

    Girl Genius is absolutely one of the best graphic novels going. Did you know there is a novel version of the series coming out next year? Phil and Kaja are handling it as well.

  38. brian
    Posted February 28, 2011 at 7:53 AM | Permalink

    I realise this may be a late comment to this post, but there’s nowhere better to ask about the news…

    eh… how to ask this?… is this meant to be you?


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