Miriam's Reviews > Agatha Heterodyne and the Beetleburg Clank

Agatha Heterodyne and the Beetleburg Clank by Phil Foglio
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's review
Jan 14, 2009

liked it
bookshelves: graphic, adventure
Read from November 27 to December 01, 2011

I was both eager and reluctant to read this. Eager because girl genius steampunk adventure? With great reviews? Awesome! Reluctant because, um, well you see the same cover I'm seeing, right? But hey, sometimes the cover art on graphic novels isn't the same as-- Oh. No. It is the same. Cartoony and exaggerated, with the added distraction of lots of details that were interesting but left me with the choice of either ignoring half of them or reading much slower than the story calls for. Most of all, I really, really hated the giant breasts and spine-breaking poses of the female characters. I know many comics are drawn this way, but that doesn't mean you *have* to do it, and it looks even more ridiculous paired with the rubbery cartoon faces. Isn't Agatha supposed to be a teen? Why does she have the physique of a forty-yer-old barmaid with a cut-rate boob job? And what's up with all the gratuitous Agatha-in-her-undies panels? Can't the kid buy a nightie? Seriously, after the first sleep-walking incident I would sleep in my clothes! The art did have a manic energy that matched the tone of the story, that's about all I'll give it.

The story itself was...fun. Plotwise I don't think it 100% made sense, but that's okay, because if that's one of your criteria you probably aren't reading this genre in the first place. Ditto the world-building wasn't totally coherent, but it had some really awesome, imaginative, original elements. Over-the-top, sure, but that's what you want in a story like this. I was cool with the mind-control-insect-spewing-dragons-from-Mars-attacking-through-an-interdimensional-portal. The actual political situation on Earth(?) was a bit less convincing, but okay. I wasn't sold on the central idea of the "spark" where some kind of magical genius ability just manifests and a person can suddenly build crazy machines without, y'know, studying engineering. And then they become insane and dangerous. There was some good dialogue and clever one-liners. The characters were okay but I didn't feel much attachment to them. They needed stronger emotional reactions, especially in scenes like (view spoiler)

My feeling was that I would have liked this better as a standard novel, where the authors would have been forced to spend more time developing the personalities and politics rather than drawing funny robots.


UPDATE: Apparently there are novels now!


Wish the art in the comic looked more like this:

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Comments (showing 1-14)

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message 14: by Sesana (new)

Sesana Couldn't agree more on the art. I've tried at least three times to read it, since I've heard such great things about the story. But I always give up after just a few pages since I can't stand the art.

Miriam Yeah. I found it all stupid and some of it downright offensive. And it was originally a webcomic so it's not like they had marketing people insisting on giant boobs.

I think I was hoping for something like The Strictest School in the World meets Gunnerkrigg Court.

message 12: by Sesana (new)

Sesana I love Gunnerkrigg Court. And now I must read The Strictest School in the World. Must learn to read faster.

message 11: by Miriam (last edited Dec 02, 2011 08:02AM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Miriam I love Gunnerkrigg, too. I did not love Strictest School in the World -- it wasn't that well written and the school and characters were not original -- but more that idea: a smartypants girl actually building stuff, without the help of giant boobs or a mysterious "spark" that lets you be an engineer without learning science (and Agatha was in school studying this stuff anyway, so I totally fail to see the point of this plot device).

message 10: by Sesana (new)

Sesana Argh. Why can't people just write the books that I want to read and do it really well?

Miriam I KNOW, right? Is that too much to ask?!

message 8: by Paul (new)

Paul Clearly.

message 7: by Miriam (last edited May 02, 2013 01:50PM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Miriam Also I have a peev about people putting science and engineering in stories without making them function correctly. Which, to be fair, is probably why the authors went with "magical gift" engineering.

Kassia I have to agree! Heard a lot about it, but neither me nor my older brother ever got around to reading it because of the art. I finally read the whole webcomic on my third try (I'm a faster reader than I used to be) and it was pretty good, actually. The art, story, and characterization all pick up, fortunately. What I don't understand is how this had won a hugo award multiple times, but schlock mercenary never has...

Miriam Oh, glad to hear that it improved. Maybe I'll check out the second book after all.

message 4: by Paul (new)

Paul Wait, wait, wait. This is what Phil & Kaja Foglio and Brian Snoddy are up to these days? Weird.

Miriam This isn't really "these days"... what do you know them from?

message 2: by Paul (new)

Paul Magic the Gathering. They were doing card illustrations for the first sets in the mid 90s. I looked through every title associated with Phil Foglio on Goodreads last night and realized he's done all kinds of stuff along the campy-porny fantasy join...

Teknojo o,0 Are you folks not familiar with Phil and Kaja's style of art and story form?
I find the folks complaining and giving low star marks amusing. A quick internet search would reveal both of those things.
Phil used to do erotica comics for heavens sake.
Girl Genius is pretty par for the course for both of these fun and interesting artists.

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