Girl Genius is a self-published, bimonthly comic book series written and illustrated by Phil Foglio, of What's New? and Buck Godot fame, and Kaja Foglio. The first three issues were also inked by Brian Snoddy, best known for his work on art for the card game Magic: The Gathering. For the fourth issue and beyond, Girl Genius is in color and its price goes from $2.95 to $3.95, and it's still worth the price.
Girl Genius is set in a parallel Renaissance-time world, a world where some people have the Spark. The Spark gives one to ability to create things that seem to transcend science. A brilliance so dazzling, that it blinds the one with it. So, normally these people are dangerous and shortsighted. Normally, but those usually aren't the greats.
When those with the Spark advanced alchemy to science, their knowledge increased greatly, and allowed them to take over kingdoms from warlords. Soon, the Houses of the Spark were fighting each other with their great machinations over land, which began the Long War. Which in turn, laid waste to land and towns. One such house, the Heterodynes, ravaged such lands with great glee. Until, one of the Heterodynes took wife of one of the conquered houses. She went along, to insure the health of her family. She gave birth to two children, who she immediately gave their education which stopped any chance of the Heterodyne tradition passing down to them.
The Heterodyne Boys, Bill and Barry Heterodyne, carried the Spark to great amounts. And they used it for Good. They quested to stop the Long War that the Houses had started.
For twenty-three years, they travelled making peace, and collected companions, such as Baron Klaus Wulfenbach. But suddenly a new entry to the Long War came. A mysterious foe named only the "Other." His interests lied in destroying all other Sparks, instead of taking land. No messages, no warning, only sudden attacks on houses. "Dozens of the Great Houses fell in the space of a few months."
The new foe, in turn caused the remaining Sparks unite togethor, forgetting their wars between them. And the Heterodyne Boys set out after the Other.
They never returned. A year after their voyage to stop the Other, the attacks stopped. The remaining Sparks, were mainly of a weaker type, and arguments over land resurged. The public feared and respected the Sparks even more than they had before the Long War. And the world began a dark age, no communications passed between counties.
Then Baron Klaus Wulfenbach appeared, none had seen him since the disappearance of the Other. He came with a great army of machines and creatures, and with many conquests took most of what was Eastern Europe. Klaus is not loved, but feared and respected. And he seems fine with that. Anyone who violates the peace of his kingdom is quickly brought down.. and permenantly.
His form of conquest is interesting. He returned and took a map and drew a circle upon it. He claimed all area within the circle as his land. Anyone who threatened his kidngdom would be dealt with.
At first the idea was scoffed at, and the War continued as normal. Until they came to Wulfenbach's kingdom. The circle only grew larger every year as he assimilated those who had dared to attack him.
And that's just the history.
We start with Agatha Clay, a fumbling student at the Transylvania Polygnostic University. Where the great Baron Wulfenbach has decided to make a trip to the University with his son. Who he is training to replace him.
So far four great issues have been released, as well as one preview issue which covered the characters' and world's histories. You can also buy cloisenne pins of the comic, and on each issue their have been cut out dirgibles and characters on the front and back covers as well as code wheels in some issues. Also, the first issue of Girl Genius has sold out, so Phil and Kaja Foglio have decided to put it up for free on the internet! You can read the first issue at http://www.studiofoglio.com/girlgenius/issue1/cover.html.
"Beetle: Now I am in control!! Bwa-ha-ha! What do you think of that?!
Baron Wulfenbach: Yes, Gil, what do you think of that?
Gil Wulfenbach: Are you joking?! This is another test?!
Baron Wulfenbach: No, no-He's quite serious. But I am interested in your analysis."
-Girl Genius #2 as the Baron and his son's life are in jeopardy by Beetle.
The comic also has a non-collectible card game based upon it called Girl Genius: The Works. It's published by Cheapass Games, and the rules and cards were made by James Ernest and Phil Foglio. It is quite a strategic and enjoyable game to play, and could probably be picked up at any hobby shop.
Also from Cheapass Games are the Button Men, which now also have some Girl Genius buttons to count on. Both the card game and button men can be bought from http://www.studiofoglio.com.
Phil Foglio has also been talking with multiple game companies on publishing a role-playing game based upon the world that Girl Genius is in. Apparently, Phil Foglio worked on the world of Girl Genius for five years, before even starting production of the comic. So one can believe that this will be quite an indepth game.
Special thanks to ClockworkGrue and BadmanX for allowing me to add the information in their writeups to mine.