Girl Genius: A Webcomic Review

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Pointless Rant/Review (and poorly edited) about the webcomic, Girl Genius . (slight spoiler warning)

I recently backed a Kickstarter​ featuring one of my favorite Web comics, Gunnerkrigg Court. The card game the group is building, seems pretty solid and a lot of fun. In it they combined the characters of Gunnerkrigg with another comic that I’d only seen in passing for the past couple years- Girl Genius. It turns out, Girls Genius has been going on for almost 13 years now. So I figured, “Great! Tons to catch up on. If it’s been around this long, I figure it’s got to be pretty good.”

Boy-howdy, after shotgunning it in the past week I feel like I’ve got a hangover.

Girl Genius is set in a steam punk universe based on our own where there people known as “Sparks.” They are the creative peoples, an often times are driven insane by their abilities. The stronger the spark, the more likely they’ll go insane. Anywho- The story features a girl who it turns out is special. Her abilities were dampened, until shortly after the beginning of the story wherein she starts to come into her own embracing her sparkiness. Sparks in this world can build pretty much anything out of anything. They do it with the ambition of rabid fan-boy/girls. So its cute.

The story is interesting enough (at least, in the first 5 years) and excitement of the characters which rarely ebbs, can be quite cute. But past this superficial excitement, there is not a lot of substance. Where the author succeeds in creating a fictional world with that’s easy to consumer, he’s also introduced hundreds of characters. Unfortunately, the characters mostly serve as slapstick plot-devices. Just as much there to move the plot along its snail-pace as they are to sound almost exactly like one another.

All the characters talk. A lot. They just as easily get excited as they do angry. Every single one of them. Sure, they are each given some agency that will require their 15 minutes of fame… But with hundreds of characters you can imagine how this adds to the length of a story. If you were to lift the dialogue from the page, I think you’d struggle to be able to tell the characters apart. The personalities are so similar between each of the characters- It begs the point of having them talk at all. Whatever happened to “Showing not telling”? Or knowing and respecting your medium?

And don’t get me wrong, mecha-pants, lightning sticks, and flying monkey mad men are all exciting Steam Punk to the Nth degree, but my god… the last arc of the story ran from March 2007- May 2013. In which the plot got so lost… I mean, tons happened, but to what end? To be cute? To distract? To… to do what? 2 years for the main character to achieve some level of acceptance and 4 more to show off flittery things that did an excellent job of distracting from the story. And this guy has won soooo many awards. I, I just can’t believe how many awards this comic has won. Perhaps in a bite-sized world where you get 3 comics, spaced out through a week, people are able to consume it and not become exhausted by the lack of pacing…?

If I had to take a stab, I’d say a lot of this story isn’t planned out. This can allow the creators some freedom, but as is often the result, the story will suffer. And this is no exception. My final opinion can be easily summed up in that- It’s cute and interesting enough a premise, but damn does it needs some heavy editing.

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