Guests of Honour
Phil and Kaja Foglio
What's Great with Phil and Kaja:
A Brief Appreciation of Phil and Kaja Foglio
By John Cox and Karen Kelly
What stands out for us about Phil's work is that he seems to approach everything he does with a combination of a sense of humor and inventiveness, underpinned by real affection for what he writes about. In a world where shit happens far too often, it's hard to read anything by Phil without coming away with a grin on your face.
We first encountered Phil's work almost 30 years ago in What's New With Phil and Dixie, a comic strip in Dragon magazine. He clearly understood gaming and gamers enough to poke fun at them without putting them down. Phil came over as an insider, a gamer drawing for other gamers. I don't think Phil draws or writes about stuff he doesn't like, and that sense of affection continues to underpin his humor and art today. It's a humor that makes things better or more, not smaller or less.
From then on you couldn't move for falling over inventive and sometimes strange Foglio humour. Whether it was Phil's graphical reinterpretation of Robert Asprin's Myth Adventures, the original work on Buck Godot, Zap Gun For Hire, or the porn of Xxxenophile, there always seemed to be some Foglio project in the works.
Most recently Phil and Kaja have brought their brand of affectionate humor to the world of mad science with the steampunk webcomic Girl Genius. Kaja came up with the term "Gaslamp Fantasy" to describe the comic. Girl Genius won the Hugo for Best Graphic Story for the first three years of its publication. Indeed in 2012, the team have refused nomination to demonstrate that it remains a "viable award" with quality competitors beside themselves. Girl Genius makes invention itself the heart of the humor with mad inventors, goggles, strange little clockwork robots, airships. Both Foglios clearly love the world that they have invented and that affection comes through in every picture in the comic.
I think you could say that everything that the Foglios have written is imbued with geekish but tremendously positive humor, Full of love for this world and the worlds they write about. So next time you have had a bad day, rather than a glass of wine, log on and try a page or two of Girl Genius.
Photograph by Alan de Smet, from the Wikimedia Commons site.