Mama Gkika of Girl Genius


Mama Gkika from Girl Genius, by Professors Phil and Kaja Foglio

“But ve gots no time for de talking. My boyz tell me dere’s more trouble on de vay. Und Hy haven’t seen any decent trouble in ages. Dis is gonna be fun!” —Jäger General Gkika

So reading back through my archives, I discovered that I owe an apology to one of my readers. Almost a year ago, Tiquatue made a request for a deconstruction of Mama Gkika’s uniform from Studio Foglio’s Girl Genius web comic. With all of the other writeups and personal stuff going on, I completely forgot about the request, even offering a writeup for GG’s Bangladesh Dupree in the meanwhile. So, this one’s for you, Tiqua. Thank you for the request, and I’m genuinely sorry it took me this long to get to it. Und now dat Hy gots all deze veakling shpell-casters out of der vay, Hy ken write about de heavy-hitters, yah?

mama2Girl Genius was one of the first webcomics I started reading faithfully. I even remember the latest comic when I first started reading. The story is smart and well thought out, the gaslamp-fantasy setting has a flavor found nowhere else in comics, and Professor Foglio’s original and flamboyant artwork makes every page a visual delight. But I feel like it’s the charming and colorful characters who most make GG such brilliant masterpiece in storytelling and world-building.

One of my favorite characters remains Jäger General Gkika, or “Mama” to her boyz. Gkika is a Jägermonster, part of the army of humanoid wrecking machines created by and fanatically loyal to the House Heterodyne. As an officer in the Jäger Corps, Mama is kind of a BAMF. She’s hundreds of years old. She’s led thousands of conquests for the bloodthirsty Heterodynes. She runs a bar that serves hundreds of tourists but is a front for a refuge for wounded Jägers. She can change her skin color at will. She gives orders just fine in a dress and can beat the snot out of an armed pirate while wearing nightclothes. But perhaps most impressively, Mama is on a first-name basis with Baron Klaus Wulfenbach, most powerful and ruthless tyrant in the world and ruler of the Wulfenbach Empire.

Admittedly, because of Jägers’ thick skin, abnormal strength, and super-human durability, any kind of armor is superfluous, allowing them to accessorize uniforms with bits and pieces of different armors. Some go for flamboyant and spiky, some go for dark and mysterious. As a general, Gkika goes for colorful and official-looking. And like any Jäger, she dresses as well as she fights.

mama1Obviously, the most important part of Gkika’s ensemble is her tall, prominent, lovely hat. As well as covering her head and looking impressive—like any good hat should—it’s a very important status symbol for her as a Jägermonster. A Jäger’s hat is a badge of honor, taken from a worthy foe in battle: the badder the foe, the better the hat. Given the height of Gkika’s hat, I suspect her foe was an enemy general or war leader of some kind. Because Mama’s kind of hardcore that way.

Mama’s dress coat is appropriately pseudo-Victorian—the bright crimson and violet with gold trim help her stand out on the battlefield. The trilobite choker shows her allegiance to House Heterodyne, while the tusked skull patches on her shoulders and belt buckle identify her as a Jäger officer (as if the teeth, claws, and blue hair didn’t do this already). Gkika’s pants are a pair of scaled breeches with extra plating at the hips. Her boots are official-looking knee-highs and are not f***ing high heels.

Gkika’s weaponry is barbarically effective as well. Using a sword and battleaxe in an age of guns and death rays shows her level of martial prowess most clearly. Meanwhile, there’s no telling what kind of arsenal she may have on her person. Like with Violetta and Dupree, she may very well carry knives, guns, grenades, garrotes, or poisons in her coat, pants, boots, or hat. Or, she may forgo weapons entirely and go for bare-hands and brute-strength.

One thing to remember about the Girl Genius setting, however, is that there’s no telling what an outfit is made of. With a world full of mad science and sparks, Mama’s coat might be regular wool or cotton, or it might be a bullet- and acid-proof polymer that self-regenerates. Similarly, her scale pants might be a decorative, polished bronze, or they may be a spark-designed alloy that absorbs electrical attacks and throws them back at their source. Mama’s battleaxe may be a standard Medieval weapon, or it may convert into a throat-seeking drone that flies around and chops heads off. Anything goes with the amazing and smartly built world given to us by the Professors Foglio.

For further discussion on Mama Gkika’s wardrobe, try this link. Huge thanks to Studio Foglio for letting me borrow Mama for the writeup. As always, thanks so much for reading, folks. Take care and stay awesome!

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6 Responses to Mama Gkika of Girl Genius

  1. tiquatue says:

    Don’t forget that she’s actually named her battle axe “Dollink”. This likely means the axe is a favorite, well-tested and tempered blade, lovingly honed to an effectively sharp edge.

    Thanks for talking about Mamma today! To tell the truth, I’d forgotten about my request, too! 😉

    • Interesting way to look at the inscription on her axe. My assumption was that it was in the same satiric vein as Ancient Greek slingers who used to inscribe “catch” on their stones or modern artillerists who write “have a nice day” on their shells. Though, knowing the Professors, I could see it going either way.

      Thanks again for the request, I’m glad you enjoyed the writeup!

  2. seraph4377 says:

    Reblogged this on Dreams of the Shining Horizon and commented:
    Another blog that I’m going to start reblogging from regularly is Sartorially Smart Heroines. Partly because a character’s clothing is extremely important to both characterization and setting – what people wear says a great deal about not just their personal style, but about the culture they come from – and partly because I (like so many others on the Internet) am a bit tired of female characters being put in clothing that says nothing more than “Hi! I’m a woman! Enjoy looking at my bits!” I like to celebrate characters and writers who avoid this, and analyze what they do right.
    The post I’m going to start with is a little older, but it’s the one that first caught my attention. Girl Genius is one of the best webcomics out there, and Mama Gkika is one of my favorite characters in it.
    So as for those questions above: just what does the smartly-attired 800 year old super soldier general wear if she wishes to make an impression in a Europe that’s ruled by mad scientists and oddly fetishizes hats?

  3. Pingback: Spotlighted Link: Sartorially Smart Heroines – Matthew Keville

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