Britons rejoice! The Foglios' Agatha H books come to the UK

I've previously reviewed Phil and Kaja Foglios' Agatha H books, these being prose adaptations of their spectacular, award-winning Girl Genius comics. Now, the UK's Titan Books has brought out the first two novels in handsome paperback editions, reasonably priced for all to enjoy.

The transition from comic to print works surprisingly well. While the action sequences sometimes feel a little like a script for a comic, they're always funny and delightful. The effect is a little like the high-speed feeling of reading a fast-paced comic, but with the depth of character that you get from a prose-novel's capacity for introspection and internal monologue.

In the Girl Genius world, the Industrial Revolution has all but destroyed the world, thanks to the Sparks, industrial wizards who are born with the mad scientist's ability to make uncanny machines and lifeforms that upend order and send villagers fleeing to the hills. Finally, Baron Klaus Wulfenbach brings some order to the chaos by conquering Europe and grinding it under his (surprisingly benign) iron heel. Agatha Crumb is a lab assistant at Transylvania Polygnostic University, ward of two "constructs" (reanimated corpses) that dote on her and care for her in her parents' absence. When her benefactor is killed by the Baron's men (and monsters), she is forced to flee, but before long, she is the Baron's prisoner aboard his flying airship castle, "the only capital city that was able to patrol its own empire."

Filled with folgian touches -- Borscht-belt comedy accents, things that go sproing, adorkable sentient machines, and laugh-a-minute slapstick -- Agatha H is a tremendously fun addition to the Girl Genius canon.

Girl Genius - Agatha H and the Airship City

Girl Genius - Agatha H and the Clockwork Princess


  1. Girl Genius minus the artwork? I like this not.

    Have we learnt nothing from the career of Neil Gaiman? Some stories require their visuals to be fully told. Aught else is adaptation decay.

    Case in point: “American Gods” and “Anansi Boys” weren’t a patch on “Sandman” or “The Books of Magic”.

    1. I don’t know about that. I would never think to compare his novels unfavorably to pretty much anything.

    2. I am a huge fan of the comic and I’m just reading the novel’s now.  While I agree the artwork makes the comic, the books are a great read too.  And they work as a beautiful companion piece to the comics.   Clearly the Foglio’s had a lot of things worked out about their world.  It comes across in the little details in the art.  But the novel format allows them to explain and expand on some of those, so when you return to the comic, you can understand those details better.

      That said, the choice to move away from the Girl Genius art style on the covers seems like an odd one.

  2. The books actually add and clarify some points from the webcomics.  The first book has an intro that gives previously-unknown clues about The Other.  The second goes farther with bits of new information scattered throughout, fills in some gaps (like Agatha’s time at the Circus and relationship with Lars), and Pratchettian footnotes.  I read them side-by-side with the graphic novels.  The first book covers Vols. 1-3, the second 4-6.

  3. Wonderful books but those are the worst/ugliest covers I have seen in years.  Really ugly.  Why they chose not to use the Foglio art for the American editions or similar escapes me 

    There’s an audiobook version of Agatha H. and the Airship City that is quite worth the listening.

    1. I was really happy to see the new covers. The art for the American editions are so cheesy and not at all Foglio-esque. The first one made Agatha look weirdly weak, which is a terrible travesty.

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