One part glamour, one part dork and all imagination, Karina is also a gamer, an airship captain’s wife, and a steampunk fashionista. She lives in the beautiful Pacific Northwest with a husband, a menagerie, a severe coffee habit, and the fantasy of a dog. Visit her at www.karinacooper.com, because she says so.
Steampunk Is: Web Comics that Inspire
by Karina Cooper
Steampunk is. You’ve probably seen Suzi tossing this hashtag around on Twitter, and it remains one of my favorite calls to action out there. Steampunk is. When it comes to the community at large, steampunk is whatever inspires you to be steampunk—whatever your little brain can concoct and make and wear and write and create and do.
One of the most beautiful aspects of steampunk is the fact that the aesthetic is as much personal as it is community-shaped. For example, musically speaking, there are folks who are inspired by death metal, by classical music, by musicians who style themselves as steampunk, and by more modern bands with no real ties to steampunk at all. My own steampunk-inspiration playlist has zero styled steampunk artists on it, can you believe it? Yet this is what I listen to as I get all dressed up for events and galas.
So, with the field wide open, I thought I’d share with you some of my favorite steampunk-inspiring web comics, whether or not they actually qualifies as steampunk.
Girl Genius: How can we possibly talk about comics without touching on this classic gaslamp fantasy? Kaja and Phil Folio started this comic years ago, before steampunk lit up the mainstream world with its awesomeness. The rich detail, the crazy items, and the downright insanity of the plot has made Girl Genius the only comic that I have read dedicatedly for years.
Shadowbinders: This is a fairly new addiction to my web comics list, but I’m hooked on the story. Revolving around a magic ring that teleports a modern-day girl back and forth between Earth and a fantasy world, it has all the hallmarks of a steampunk adventure: airships, magic, and more!
Teahouse: (NSFW) This is not even remotely your classic kind of steampunk tale. In fact, there are many who might say there’s no steampunk to it at all. Yet there’s something about this amazingly drawn art, from the lush detail to the gorgeous coloring, that inspires my steampunk senses like whoa. It’s an LGBT comic (focusing heavily on yaoi, but with other relationships present) and the style—something I can only describe as manga roots with a lush, almost French delicacy to it—blows my little creative mind.
Namesake: This is a fairy tale comic gone awry. There’s absolutely nothing in this you could call steampunk easily, but reading it really inspires my steampunk brain. From the crazy adventures in familiar worlds to the use magic and what I’d call alchemy, I love reading this comic and walking away with all these new ideas. Is it the re-imagining of fairy tales? The people in these worlds? The art? The theme? I don’t know, but I can’t wait to shape these inspirations into something new!
Unsounded: This was a relatively new find. At the recommendation of Sam Sykes, I gave this comic a glance and have been hooked ever since. It’s primarily fantasy, but there’s something about the style of art, the story, the characters and—naturally—the “magic” fueling synthetic limbs and walking golems that leaves me feeling like I wish I knew how to make things.
And that’s it! So far. I’m always looking to add more to my reading, so what are your favorite steampunk-flavored web comics?