Your Obedient Serpent (athelind) wrote,
Your Obedient Serpent

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Congratulations! It's a GIRL!

Officially, Girl Genius Online doesn't start until Monday, but that's for new material -- "Issue 14", if it were still coming out as a dead-tree periodical. Not only have they posted several pages of "Girl Genius 101", which will be reprinting the already-released comics one page at a time, but they've also posted several pages in the "Advanced Studies" section, starting about midway through Issue 13.

If you have any affection at all for Mad Science, Weird Science, Gaslamp Fantasy, or *shudder* "Steampunk", then you should be reading Girl Genius. Even if you don't have much interest in any of the above, you should, anyway. And buy the collections!

It seems that two out of three web comics these days have a token Mad Scientist or two. It's one of the Stock Characters in the the dominant genre in the medium -- the "Wacky Bunch Of Roommates Sit-Com". Usually, the Mads are just convenient sources of Wacky Plot Devices. Sometimes, a Mad is Genre Dressing in a vital element of a science fiction or superhero setting. In a few cases, unfortunately, the presence of Mad Science, Secret Agents and the like are jarringly at odds with the established tone and theme of a strip. If Jump The Shark covered webcomics, they'd have to add "Enter The Mad Scientist" as one of the jump point categories.

The following comics, however, don't treat Mad Science as a stock bit of background dressing: rather, they revolve around Mad Science. They revel in it. Mad Science is their raison d'etre, the driving force of their stories, the quintessence of their humor.

Like Girl Genius, these are truly Mad Science Comics.

  • A Miracle of Science is possibly my favorite strip out there. Though the art doesn't compare, the story is right up there with GG. It's almost a Hard SF setting -- other than the ramifications of "Science Related Memetic Disorder" (a.k.a. "Mad Science Syndrome").
    Rating: Summa Cum Laude.

  • In Radioactive Panda, a couple of twenty-something Mad Scientists and their werewolf handyman get forcibly evicted from their Transylvanian castle, and wind up moving into the basement of a Chinese restaraunt. The multi-level basement.
    Rating: Magna Cum Laude.

  • The Whiteboard is about a Polar Bear who runs a paintball shop in Alaska. It qualifies not only because "Doc" is often cobbling together Nuclear Powered Pizza Teleporters in the shop, but because "Doc" is, in fact, the alter-ego of the cartoonist, who runs a paintball shop in Alaska, and seems to have a mild case of SRMD in real life...
    Rating: With Distinction.

  • Casey and Andy is a Wacky Roommate Sitcom about two twenty-something slacker Mad Scientists and their neighbors. Terrible art, but pure Mad Science goodness.
    Rating: Thrown out of the Academy, but only because Those Fools Couldn't Understand Their Genius.

While Nukees, technically, is about Scientists who are, indeed, mad, with a single exception, they don't really do a lot of Mad Science. It's really a Wacky Roommate/Workplace SitCom with some Mad Science elements -- and they don't drive the plot nearly as much as they do in Casey and Andy.

I know that Narbonic is considered by many to be the ne plus ultra of Mad Science comics, but, frankly, I'm too cheap to pay for the archives.

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