Phil Foglio: ‘‘The first convention I went to was TorCon 2 in 1973, where I saw an ad for a thing called the ‘Klingon Empire Appointment Calendar’ – which I thought sounded really cool. So I wrote and said, ‘Gosh, I’d sure like one of those,’ and did a little drawing next to my name. The editor, Paula Smith, wrote back saying, ‘Here’s your calendar. Thank you very much, and by the way, love the little thing next to your name. Would you like to do some art for us?’ That’s how I got started doing fan art.”

Kaja Foglio: ‘‘I’d always liked comics. In high school, my friends and I would make up stories and draw comics together. Then, of course, I discovered Dungeons & Dragons. I first saw Phil’s work in high school, when the Dungeons & Dragons group had a bunch of old Dragon magazines. While the boys would argue about the rules, the girls would sit and read the comics in Dragon.”

PF: ‘‘We got married in ’93, and that was the year we said, ‘We should work on something together!’ I’ve never had a real job, unless you count a few series for Marvel and DC. I’ve pretty much been doing independent comics from the beginning.”

KF: ‘‘We had folders full of drawings, and I was trying to go through his stuff and file everything to make sure I had copies, so I could find them again when a convention wanted incidental art. I was looking at all this stuff, and there were these cats in top hats with monocles and walking sticks, and dirigibles – a very strong thread of what we would call steampunk now, although we didn’t call it that at the time. I was like, ‘Look at this awesome Victorian, Jules Verne stuff! You should do more of this!’

‘‘Americans really like to know how things work. They enjoy science, and they enjoy machinery. Abraham Lincoln patented a device to lift boats over shoals, and back then to patent anything mechanical you had to make a model. So his idea of a hot time (no kidding!) was to take his kids through the Hall of Patents, where they’ve got thousands of little models that actually work. These days, more and more the idea behind industrial design is for the mechanisms to be hidden, resulting in a ‘magic box.’ The iPod is like the ultimate expression of that: it has no visible moving parts! People like steampunk because it gives them a feeling of smartness and control, that they’ve got a handle on things: ‘OK, the fuel goes in there, and I see the pistons move like this…’ ”

PF: ‘‘We started publishing the Girl Genius comics in 2001, and as an independent comic went, we were relatively successful: printing around ten thousand copies, selling around six thousand of those through our distributor Diamond. (The rest we sold at conventions and over our website.) It was a critical success and a good commercial success. The biggest problem was regulating our cash flow. Doing periodical comics cost us close to $20,000 a year. Like I said, we made a profit, but it was still a squeeze when the time came to pay the printer. But our most obvious problem was the state of the comics industry. Simply put, every year there are fewer and fewer comic book shops, and actual sales of comics have been spiraling downwards non-stop. The comics industry has been officially dying ever since I got into the field in the early ’80s.’’

KF: ‘‘Comics has pointedly been ignoring us for that entire time too.’’

PF: ‘‘For years, people have been coming up to us and saying, ‘I’d like to do comics. How should I start?’ Lately we’d been saying, ‘If we were doing it all over, we’d do it as a web comic. Give it away for free, and build up your audience like that.’ And eventually we realized, this is really good advice. We should take it.’’

KF: ‘‘We’d been saying, ‘Wouldn’t it be cool to do a web comic?’, and wed put up a few little strips now and again for fun, but we couldn’t stick to it with any kind of regular schedule. But finally, we decided, ‘Let’s just do this!’’’

PF: ‘‘Best decision we’ve ever made!’’

KF: ‘‘It took about 20 minutes to hash out how we were going to do it, and to figure out a strategy. We went online instantly and pulled down all of our old subscription offerings, and dealt with those we had already sold by offering either store credit or a check.’’

PF: ‘‘We started out with around 10,000 readers. Within one year, we were up to 100,000 readers, and currently we’re at about 400,000. We put it up three times a week: Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. It’s much easier to do it this way, taking a big job and breaking it down into a bunch of little ones. I do more pages of Girl Genius in a year now than when I was just trying to get out that one book every three months.’’