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Double-page spreads in Girl Genius

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Among the many visual wonders of Girl Genius are the elaborate double-page spreads drawn by Phil Foglio. These are notable not only for their artistic merits, which are many, but also because they often signal that a major plot development is taking place. In fact, it is not uncommon for fans in many Girl Genius online communities to speculate on how soon the next double-page spread will appear in the story whenever the plot heats up.

What Is a Double-Page Spread?Edit

The term double-page spread as used here means a drawing that spans two full pages in print, starting on the left-hand page and continuing onto the facing right-hand page. In the web comic version of Girl Genius, a double-page spread is a drawing that is displayed as an image twice as wide as the image of a standard page, although this double-width image may be split into two standard-page-sized images. On the website, both halves of a double-page spread are sometimes posted together on the same day and sometimes separately, spread over two web-comic updates. The pages are more likely to be posted separately if there is a significant amount of dialog on each.

It is usually possible to tell if a page is the first half of a double-page spread (as opposed to a single full-page drawing) because full-page drawings and double-page spreads both usually have a black border around the entire drawing. If the black border is missing from the right side of the page, this means it is the left half of a double-page spread and the drawing will continue on to the next page. An advantage to reading Girl Genius online is that each spread is usually accompanied by an "elegant and finely crafted link"[1] that allows you to see the whole double-page spread as a single image.

The Challenges of Printing Double-Page SpreadsEdit

Another issue that makes double-page spreads of particular interest to Girl Genius fans is that they may result in new pages being added to the comic. By convention, printed books (at least in contemporary times and in English-speaking countries) have even-numbered pages on the left and odd-numbered pages on the right. Due to this fact, for a double-page spread to properly span two pages so as to appear as a single large image, the left half of the image must be printed on an even-numbered page and the right half on an odd-numbered one. If the image meant to appear as a double-page spread is printed with the left half on an odd-numbered page and the right on an even-numbered page, the two halves of the image will appear on opposite sides of the same page, and it will not be possible to view both halves at the same time.

Therefore, special care must be taken when printing a book with drawings that span two pages. Girl Genius is initially published in a different format than the graphic novel format that is used in the printed books. Originally Girl Genius was published in the form of individual comic books, which were later combined in sets of three or four to make up the graphic novels, but after Volume IV, the pages of the comic started appearing on the Girl Genius website first, and then were collected into graphic-novel-length batches for printing at roughly yearly intervals.

When combining comic books that contain double-page spreads into a graphic novel, unless all of the individual comic books fit together properly[2], the double-page spreads in any of the combined comics except the first may be misprinted (the two halves of the double-page image will appear on the opposite sides of the same page[3]), unless adjustments are made. Once Girl Genius became a web comic, the situation became even worse. Since web comics do not have the constraints of physical books, double-page spreads can be inserted anywhere, regardless of page number. This means that when volumes of Girl Genius that collect material first presented on the web are printed, the Foglios must be even more careful to make any necessary adjustments so that all of the spreads print correctly.

These adjustments can be made by removing or adding pages, but in the case of Girl Genius, pages are always added, when necessary, to properly align double-page spreads. This means that, whenever a new Girl Genius graphic novel that contains two or more double-page spreads is printed, there is always the chance that it may contain brand new pages. Fortunately for the audience that reads Girl Genius solely on the website, these new pages are also posted there, inserted into the proper position among the existing pages. By paying close attention to the double-page spreads and where they fall in the web comic, it is possible to predict whether any new pages will have to be added to the print version of any new volume. The pages added to the various volumes of Girl Genius to fix double-page spread pagination errors will be noted below.[4] One of the more impressive aspects of these added pages is how seamlessly they blend in to the existing story, while, at the same time, usually adding to or enhancing it in some way.

Lists of Double-Page SpreadsEdit

The double-page spreads for each volume of Girl Genius are listed below, with a short description of the scene shown in each spread. Notes are included on the pages added, if any, and any special features of how the spreads were presented online, if necessary.

The page numbers given below are from the printed volumes. If no printed edition exists, the page numbers are from the website and marked with asterisks. Each page number links to the corresponding web page in the online comic. If the double-page spread was presented on a single web page, then both page numbers will link to it. If the spread is also presented as a continuous large image, then there will be a link to the full image following the description.

Girl Genius Act 1: The First Journey of Agatha HeterodyneEdit

Volume 1: Agatha Heterodyne and the Beetleburg ClankEdit

This volume has one double-page spread.

Volume 2: Agatha Heterodyne and the Airship CityEdit

This volume has two double-page spreads.

Volume 3: Agatha Heterodyne and the Monster EngineEdit

This volume has five double-page spreads. The final double-page spread closes the volume. Two new pages had to be added to re-align the double-page spreads when going from individual comic books to the graphic novel, pages 63 and 116.

Volume 4: Agatha Heterodyne and the Circus of DreamsEdit

This volume has no double-page spreads.

Volume 5: Agatha Heterodyne and the Clockwork PrincessEdit

This volume has one double-page spread that opens the volume.

Volume 6: Agatha Heterodyne and the Golden TrilobiteEdit

This volume has three double-page spreads, the first of which opens the volume. In the first print edition of this volume, the Foglios added a new page (that became page 26 of the print edition) to adjust the pagination of the double-page spreads. But they miscalculated and the second double-page spread was misprinted so that the two halves of it were on opposite sides of the same page. For the second print edition of volume VI, the Foglios created two more new pages, one of which (scroll down to the second page image) was inserted before the second spread, to fix it.[5] This became page 27 of the second print edition. The other new page was inserted after the second double-page spread to keep the third one from becoming misaligned.[6] This became page 126 of the second print edition.

Volume 7: Agatha Heterodyne and the Voice of the CastleEdit

This volume has two double-page spreads. For the second spread, rather than split the image up over two pages of the web comic, as usual, the Foglios chose to present a narrower image cropped from the center of the full image on a single web page. The full image is shown on the website by following the elegant and finely-crafted link, however.

Volume 8: Agatha Heterodyne and the Chapel of BonesEdit

This volume has one double-page spread.

Volume 9: Agatha Heterodyne and the Heirs of the StormEdit

This volume has one double-page spread.

Volume 10: Agatha Heterodyne and the Guardian MuseEdit

This volume has no double-page spreads in the main story. However, it does have two double-page spreads in the extra art at the end.

Volume 11: Agatha Heterodyne and the Hammerless BellEdit

This volume has three double-page spreads. The first nearly opens the volume and the third closes it. The first double-page spread is vertical and it is handled differently than the rest. On the website, the two web pages that display parts of the full image show different parts of the image, but it is not divided into the top and bottom halves, instead different parts of the image are shown on each page, focusing on the most salient details to convey the story. In the book, the first page of the comic, page 7, shows the entire double-page spread, compressed to a single page, with an additional speech balloon that is not found on the website, whereas the first web page of this scene has a caption that is not found in the book. In the printed book, the second and third pages of the comic (pages 8 and 9) show the spread split over two pages and oriented horizontally compared to the vertical orientation of the art in the rest of the book.

Two new pages had to be added to adjust the pagination in this volume. One had to be added before (page 49) and one after (page 118) the second double-page spread.

Volume 12: Agatha Heterodyne and the Siege of MechanicsburgEdit

This volume has three double-page spreads. For the first double-page spread, the Foglios were trickier than usual, and made the first of its pages look as if it wasn't part of a double-page spread by adding a black border to the right side of the page. (Usually, you can tell if a page is the first half of a double-page spread because it doesn't have a black border on the right, since the illustration continues onto the next page.)

Since first two spreads in this volume start on odd-numbered pages in the web edition, the first page of the story in volume XII has been placed an even-numbered page (as in volumes V and VI), making all of the odd-numbered web comic pages into even-numbered print pages and vice versa. Since the third spread originally started on an even-numbered web-edition page, a printing error would have occurred if nothing was done, but a new page, 149 has been added between the second and third double-page spreads, so the third spread prints correctly.

So far, no elegant and finely-crafted links that show the two separate pages of the second and third double-page spreads as single images have been posted. Hopefully, this omission will be corrected some day.

Volume 13: Agatha Heterodyne and the Sleeping CityEdit

This volume has one double-page spread.

Girl Genius Act 2: The Second Journey of Agatha HeterodyneEdit

Volume 1: The Beast of the RailsEdit

This volume has no double-page spreads.

Volume 2: The City of LightningEdit

This volume has one double-page spread.

Volume 3Edit

This volume has no double-page spreads.

Volume 4Edit

This volume has no double-page spreads so far.

References

  1. The phrase "Follow this elegant and finely crafted link" or some close variant is almost always used for the links to the large single-image versions of double-page spreads on the Girl Genius website.
  2. If the last page of the comic itself (as opposed to a page containing printing or copyright information, lists of related books, afterwards, postscripts, or epilogues, etc.) in any comic book among those being combined falls on an even-numbered page, when it is combined with the following comic book, all of the even page numbers in the following comic book will be become odd page numbers, and vice versa. This means that any double-page spreads in that following comic book will be misprinted if no adjustments are made.
  3. Such a printing error occurred in the first edition of volume VI: Agatha Heterodyne and the Golden Trilobite. This error was corrected in the second edition.
  4. This should be a complete list of inserted pages. It was confirmed with information kindly provided by Phil Foglio in an email.
  5. The annotation on this web page is incomplete and confusing. At the top of the page it says,"Here are two pages we added to the collected comics. That happens sometimes... Make sure to scroll down to the second page, if you want to read both!" But the two pages were added at different times to different print editions. The upper page image is a new page that was added to the first print edition of volume VI. The lower page image is the first of two new pages that were added to the second print edition of volume VI, to fix the double-page spread pagination problems that remained after the initial new page was added to volume VI. The second new page that was added to the second print edition of volume VI occurs much later on the website and in the printed book. For more information see the PDF file the Professors posted so that owners of the first print edition of volume VI could fix their books.
  6. There is no annotation on the website mentioning that this is an added page.

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