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A. D. Cruize

Arewe’ C. Thereyet

The 42nd Airship Battalion’s Chief Engineer/Sr. Navigator, A. D. Cruize and Sky Marshall, Arewe’ C. Thereyet ran a Make & Take panel at the Steampunk mini-con in Houston, Twisted Gears. They revealed how easily we can turn toy guns into shiny Steampunk weapons.

Cruize and Thereyet came armed with an assortment of plastic toy guns for us to conveniently purchase and make into steampunk weapons to take home. Since plastic is light weight, it’s favorable for steampunk accessories. Keep that in mind when planning your outfit. Metal isn’t light weight or comfortable, especially if you live in a hot, humid climate like Houston, Texas.

You can aquire guns like the ones we used at the dollar store, Goodwill, Salvation Army, flea markets, garage sales or your own home. If you buy a used item, give it a good general cleaning before you paint it.

For those who chose water guns, the first thing they did was pull out the stoppers. Then, Cruise and Thereyet handed out sharpies and markers.  Before we began painting, we used our choice of colored markers to outline anything on the gun we wanted to stand out or define. Then, ready for the Rub’ n Buff, we picked the colors we wanted. Taking just a dab on our finger, we smeared it onto our weapons in a rubbing motion.

Rub ‘n Buff feels smooth and light on your fingertips and is so easy to apply. Made of carnauba waxes, fine metallic powders and select pigments, it gives a metallic appearance to anything you rub it on.  The important thing to remember about Rub ‘n Buff is a little dab will do you. You can find it at your local craft store but you’ll get a better selection of colors online and may find them cheaper there as well.

We started with the intricate parts of the gun. Spreading Rub ‘n Buff on as evenly as we could, we rubbed it over our guns until we reached the desired effect we wanted.

Remember a little bit will go a long way. You can meld the colors together for an interesting effect. If you accidentally get Rub ‘n Buff on an area you don’t want to, just smear a different color of Rub ‘n Buff over it.

Once your gun is dry, take a soft, clean dry cloth and buff it. Just rub it until you bring out the shine. You may want to decorate your gun with gears, charms or feathers. Remember with plastic, you have to follow specific procedures to get stuff to stick to it. For the right paint and adhesive for plastic go to This to That.

Everyone at the Twisted Gears Make & Take did a smashingly brilliant job on their guns and were pleased as punch with the results.  You can make a steampunk gun just as easily. Find guns like the ones your characters use in your books and Steampunk them as props for your own outfits or as giveaways for your readers. Readers love to receive items their favorite authors actually made. Transforming these guns is also a lot of fun.

I love to hear from readers and my fellow Steampunk authors, please comment below.

~       ~        ~

Maeve Alpin, who also writes as Cornelia Amiri, is the author of 19 books. She creates stories with kilts, corsets, fantasy and happy endings. Her latest Steampunk/Romance is Conquistadors In Outer Space. She lives in Houston Texas with her son, granddaughter, and her cat, Severus.

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Hi all, I ‘m Maeve Alpin, one of the new lolitas who have climbed aboard the airship. On my last shore leave I shared my booty of Steampunk comics with you and as promised here are some more. Imagery can be very inspirational to a writer, so many of us pull ideas from our dreams or things that catch our eye. The collaboration of visual and literate art in comics inspires new ideas far beyond the illustrations and story lines. In addition to several comic books labeled as Steampunk, many others have Victorian, Dystopian, Dieselpunk, Weird West, or Alternate History ascetics. Here is part two of my list of some comic books you’ll enjoy.

1.     Steampunk by Chris Bachalo & Joe Kelly

The hero is Cole Blaquesmith, a poor 18th century fisherman. I love his period dialogue. He falls in love with Fiona, a kind, noble lady who helps the lower class. When she falls gravely ill he takes her to Doctor Absinthe, a mad scientist, who promises to cure her if Cole uses the Engine, a time traveling machine, to get him books on science and other objects from the future. Cole does so but when he returns from 1954, Absinthe breaks his part of the bargain and Fiona dies. Cole buries the Engine beneath Stonehenge and in turn Absinthe rips out Cole’s heart. A hundred years later, Cole wakes up in a coffin during the Victorian era to find that Absinthe experimented on him, his chest is a now a metal furnace and his right arm is a huge mechanical claw. He also discovers that London is ruled by Absinthe. There are two historical royals in Steampunk. Napoleon Bonaparte is referred to as Frances in issue six, because after Absinthe killed Josephine, Napoleon gives up his humanity to become a living computer controlling France’s weapons systems and soldiers. So he actually is France. Instead of being the queen, in this London ruled by Absinthe, Victoria works for him as an assassin until she joins the resistance and falls in love with Cole. She’s a brunette beauty, her hands are surgically grafted to her arms, and her main weapon is a metallic whip that makes one of those wonderful comic book sounds, SHRAAK. Laslo, another member of the resistance, is a very interesting character. He’s a black man who speaks with what I think of as 1960’s slang, such as “Don’t ask for details about my rumble with Faust. Don’t dig for more than I lay down.” He also wears a big Union Jack print scarf that belonged to his best friend, Rikk, who was killed by Absinthe’s assassin, Faust.

This dark, dystopian Steampunk, alternative history, comic book series debuted in 2000 and ran for twelve issues. The dialogue, characterizations, plotting, and art are exceptionally good.

2.     Girl Genius by Phil & Kaja Foglio

The lead character, a young lady, Agatha Heterodyne, is a hapless student of Transylvania Polygnostic University. When her locket is stolen it sets off a chain of events in which she discovers she is a powerful Spark, talented at creating and repairing electrical and mechanical devices. The story involves the traditional Steampunk components of an alternative history, the industrial revolution, a wonder kid, and mad scientists. It’s a whimsical, fun, highly enjoyable read recommended for ages ten to adult. Girl Genius has won many awards recommended for ages ten to adult. Girl                                                                                                                                                                                   Genius has won many awards, including a Hugo for Best Graphic Story in 2011.

3. Gotham by Gas Light by Brian Augustyn & Mike Mignola

One of DC’s Elseworld comic books, set in 1889, Gotham by Gas Light, features a Victorian batman. Shortly after Bruce Wayne returns to Gotham City from a visit to Europe, a murder takes place in Gotham in the style of Jack the Ripper. After a bloody knife is found under Bruce Wayne’s bed, he’s arrested as Jack the Ripper. While in prison, he figure out Jacob Parker is the real Jack the Ripper. After escaping jail with Alfred’s help, Batman finds the Ripper just as he is about to kill his next victim. A chase ensues and they come to a stop at Bruce Wayne/Batman’s parents graves. When Bruce Wayne/Batman’s mother rejected Jacob Packer’s advances he began murdering women who resembled her, to silence the laughter he hears in his head. It also turns out that he had hired the assassin who killed batman’s parents.  Packer attacks Batman, but Commissioner Gordon shoots him dead and Batman disappears into the shadows.

4.     Hellboy by Mike Mignola

Hellboy is a demon summoned to earth by Nazi occultist. As a supernatural hero he fights resurrected Nazi scientist and other biomechanical creatures. He has a giant stone hand, the hand of doom, and superhuman strength, healing, and endurance. He also comprehends ancient and magical languages and carries items to battle supernatural forces in his utility belt such as horseshoes, herbs, and hand grenades.

5.     The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen vol 1 & vol 2 by Alan Moore, Kevin O’Neil Illustrator

Like fan fiction from popular Victorian novels Captain Nemo, the invisible Man, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde,  Allan Quatermain, Mina Murray, John Carter and other well known characters form a type of Victorian era justice league. Fu Manchu has stolen the only known cavorite in existence, a fictional substance created in H. G. Wells First Men On The Moon.  Professor Moriarty orders the league to retrieve the cavorite but doesn’t divulge that he plans to use it to build an airship to bomb Fu Manchu’s Limehouse lair, that explosion would also destroy London. The league triumps over both Fu Manchu and Moriarty. Volume 2, continues as the League fights the Martian invasion from H. G. Wells War of the Worlds.

          6. Jonah Hex – Jimmy Palmiotfi & Justin Gray, Luke Ross Illustrator

“When  a man knows there’s no place in Heaven waiting on him, then he’d best be wise to cozy up to the devil. And so, Jonah took it upon himself to dispatch as many sinners as Hell could accommodate… and never look back.” The art work is well done, truly brilliant. Though Jonah Hex can be classified as Weird West, Westernpunk, or Cow punk, it is first and foremost a western about a mysterious, stranger riding into town and righting wrongs in a lawless land. In the comic book series, Hex, the wild west bounty hunter is transported to the 21st century where he fights crime as a post-apocalyptic warrior.

7.     Sherlock Holmes and the Adventure of the Cardboard Box by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle – Retold by Murray Shaw and M. J. Cosson, Sophie Rohrback and J. T. Morrow, Illustrators

Released in March of this year, Graphic Universe adapted this classic tale to comic book form for ages nine and up. When a woman receives the gruesome package of two human ears, Holmes and Watson are on the case. Clues at the back of the comic book reveal the process Holmes used to pull the facts together and solve the mystery. The Adventure of the Cardboard Box by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle was first published in Strand Magazine in 1892.

We can look forward to the future of Steampunk comic books offering even more diversity, but there should be something for every Steampunk reader among these fourteen comic books listed in part one and part two of this post. Many of these comic books are out of print and if you have trouble finding the ones you like at your local comic book stores, try your local library or the inter-library loan program. Happy reading.

~Maeve Alpin

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Considered the starting point for the modern era of Steampunk comics, Bryan Tallbot’s 1970’s Luther Arkwright series is set in a parallel world where the English Civil War has been prolonged. Speaking of Bryan Tallbot, his Grandville series is total Steampunk. I’ll begin with it, followed by six more for Part 1. Part 2 will follow in another post later in the month with additional Steampunk Comic books.

 1. Grandville by Bryan Talbot

The author and artist, BryanTablot, was inspired by a 19th century illustrator, who drew anthropomorphized characters in costumes of the period and used the pen name J J Grandville. The story takes place in an alternate world where the British lost the Napoleonic War and a Scotland Yard Inspector, a badger, investigates the murder of a British diplomat. The events of 911 and a conspiracy theory are woven into the plot. The cast is made up of animals garbed in Victorian clothing, there are a few humans now and then, maids and bell hops, who are called doughfaces, which I find hilarious. Grandville is smart, interesting, well plotted and the art is incredible.

2. Lady Mechanika by Joe Benitez

Set in 1878, in the city of Mechanika, known as the city of tomorrow. Lady Mechanika, part human, part machine, with no memories of her past, searches for her identity. Her enemy, Blackpool, a mad scientist experiments on humans, removing body parts and replacing them with machine parts. It’s pure Steampunk and has a strong female as the lead character.

3. Ruse by Mark Waid (2nd half of the series written by Scott Beatty)

This Victorian/Mystery comic series is set in the fantasy town of Partington on planet Arcadia. Simon Archard, a Sherlock-Home-type detective uses his master mind, while  his partner, Emma Bishop, a strong woman in mind and body, does everything else required to solve crimes. The one line cover tag sums it up: He’s the World’s Greatest Detective. She’s even better. The banter between Emma and Simon is witty, wry, and hilarious. I think Ruse holds a special appeal to women and I absolutely love it.

4. Scarlet Traces by Ian Edginton, Art by D’Israeli

The premise is genius. It takes place in England in the early 1900’s, just ten years after the War of the Worlds when the Martians were defeated by microscopic germs humans had been immune to for centuries.  British scientist adapt the highly advanced Martian technology to everyday life. Carriages running on robotic spider legs like the Martian vehicles replace horses and homes are heated and lighted by a version of the Martian heat ray. Two English spies take on a case of a missing girl and uncover so much more. Stempunk fans will love the Victorian/Edwardian London setting, the utilization of alien technology, and the H. G. Wells connection, as well as the dark, dystopian tone.

5. The Clockwork Girl by Sean O’Reilly and Kevin Hanna

This is a story of star crossed lovers from two different houses. Sounds familiar? One of the two fantastic castles is built by a grafter as a monument to the science of nature while the other is built by a tinker as a tribute to the science of technology and machines. The tinker creates a clockwork girl named Tesla. You will even find two quotes of Nikola Tesla within the story. Though different, several images of the little clockwork girl and the monster boy are reminiscent of scenes from Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. As the Clockwork Girl is an obvious nod to and inspired by William Shakespeare, Nikola Tesla, and Mary Shelley it has to be good, and it is.

I fell in love with the characters, Tesla, the clockwork girl and Huxley, the monster boy. I imagine everyone who reads this will do the same. It’s a heartwarming story, brilliant in its simplicity, and it is not only suitable for adults but also children as young as grade school, say seven years old on up.

The dedication in the front of the book sums The Clockwork Girl up best, “To love and those who purse it relentlessly.” It’s a fun, fast, fulfilling read.

6. Ignition City by Warren Ellis, Art by Gianluca Pagliarani

In a dieselpunk/alternative history, washed up space heroes live in Ignition City, a rough and rowdy settlement cut off from civilization on Earth’s last spaceport. Ignition City has a strong woman for the main character, Mary Raven, a space pilot and daughter of the famous spaceman, who stopped a Martian missile plot. She heads to the spaceport to discover how her father died and who killed him. It has colorful language and a Wild West tone. There are aliens, ray guns, and the marshal flies around in a rocketeer type outfit. It’s a fun, action packed read.

7. Iron West by Doug Te Napel

A rugged, old west cowboy hero, Struck, robs banks, cheats at poker, lies to women with promises of marriage, and runs away at any hint of trouble. Yeah, this bad boy is a real charmer. Still when some old prospectors dig up robots, who in turn dig up a whole army of metal men that go on a rampage killing humans, our hero comes to the rescue of his woman and his town. Of course he has to, he’s set for a lynching and the sheriff gives him no choice but to help or to hang. Struck has some help himself from an elderly Native American gentleman and Sasquatch. Yes that’s right, Big Foot himself. This comic book is a blast, so much fun. Iron West will make your day.

You can see that though only a few comic are labeled Steampunk, several have Victorian, Dystopian, Dieselpunk, Weird West or Alternate History ascetics. We can look forward to the future of Steampunk comic books offering even more diversity and choices for readers.

With other titles to tell you about, I’ll continue the article on May 16th with more Steampunk Comics. Even with those mentioned above, there is something for everyone’s taste. Happy reading.

Maeve Alpin draws on her love of ancient times, alternative history, and happy endings to write Steampunk/Romances. Please visit her website.

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Today we welcome Steampunk author Seleste deLaney who’s going to talk about a subject near and dear to my heart.

Seleste deLaney started on her career path as a young child. Stories of talking animals soon gave way to a love of superheroes and science fiction. Her first foray into the world of romance came at age twelve when she envisioned a sweeping epic love story of two people thrust together and torn apart again and again by fate. As she recalls, the plan was for them to admit their love on his deathbed. But, as is often the case with pre-teen girls, a story of that depth gave way to other pursuits, and sadly it is completely lost other than vague memories.  After that, she occupied herself with short stories for a while, and then poetry until after she had earned a degree in chemistry, spent time as a high school teacher, and became a mother of two. Then she delved into writing fiction once more.  She never lost her love of the fantastic, and her stories now always reach into other realms. The worlds and people she creates occupy as much of her time as the real world, and she is most fortunate to have a family that understands her idiosyncrasies and loves her anyway.

Gun-Modding for the Artistically Challenged

by Seleste deLaney

For the Romantic Times convention, I dressed as a steampunk vampire hunter for one of the balls. I was supposed to have a crossbow, but that plan fell through at the last minute and I was in need of weapons. Since they had to fit in my suitcase (and I am bad at spending money), I bought a cute little derringer from Etsy. But it was so cute and so little (and didn’t fire darts like it should), I decided I should have a second one and set about modding it myself.

Now I’m preparing to dress as Ever, my heroine from Badlands, for FanExpo in a couple weeks and she’d probably laugh if someone handed her a derringer. I checked out Etsy and found a fabulous gun…for $70 plus shipping. Now this isn’t to say the gun isn’t worth that. The thing is gorgeous (and big). But there’s that thing about me not liking to spend money coupled with the fact that my son had the base weapon on his loft in our basement.

So yes, I decided to give it another go. Only this time, I’ve learned a few things.

1)     The first thing I learned is practice weapons are good. Get some cheap ones and see what you’d do if you were just winging it.

2)     Apparently the cheap guns (non-Nerf) don’t hold onto the paint as well, so don’t expect your practice ones to hold up well.

3)     Basecoats are a beautiful thing. For the new one, I sprayed everything with a light brown Krylon to start. It’s a good color because even if it shows through, it kind of looks like it should be there.

4)     Paintbrush variety if you’re hand painting is good. I don’t like to take the guns apart, so spraying only works as a basecoat for me.

5)     I suck at detail work. When I mentioned artistically-challenged, I meant it. I don’t have the patience for detail work. What that means is:

  1. Embrace what I can do. I like adding a little bit of gold rubbing on places where more artsy people would do some detail work. It still adds interest without making me cry or pull my hair out.
  2. Work around what I can’t. The really nice lines between the raised pieces? I can’t do it in black because I will screw them up, but a slightly darker brown just for a bit of contrast will work.
  3. Strive for perfect imperfection. A lot of modded weapons have a “worn” look to them. Artsy people have to try to get that by doing extra steps. The artistically challenged people have it easier. If we try to make ours perfect, odds are it’ll have just enough imperfections to fall under this header. WIN!

6)     Don’t forget a finish coat. After all the paint is very dry, spray it with clear coat. If you’re adding little baubles, I’d spray before AND after. (Might be wrong, but if the bauble pops off, hopefully that way it won’t take all the paint with it)

7)     Don’t rush the drying process. For RT, I only had a couple days and things weren’t “finished”. For FanExpo, I’m getting it done well over a week in advance so I have time to let it sit before I touch it again.

Now, I won’t pretend that my homemade gun is going to rock as much as the one on Etsy, but I also didn’t spend $80 on something I may break or forget while I’m in Canada. Plus, my kids are going to want to play with it, so better it’s one of their toys in the first place.

Do any of you have advice for novice modders? Or horror stories? Or want to smack me over the head with a tesla because I’m being silly?

~Seleste deLaney

http://www.selestedelaney.com

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Today in celebration of National Steampunk Day, we, the Lolitas of STEAMED! offer up ten things you can do to get into the spirit of things:

10. Wear goggles to work (or if you’re already at work and have missed the opportunity wear them out to dinner). You’ll be amazed at the curious looks and questions you get, which is a perfect time to talk steampunk!

9. Try wearing a corset. That’s on the outside, please.

8. Wear a hat. Top hat, aviator cap, newspaper boy slouchy cap, bowler, it all counts!

7. Unplug and read a steampunk book – by lamplight. Okay you can use a candle if you must, but instead of watching the television tonight, why not escape into a great piece of steampunk fiction?

6. Talk with a British accent for the day. You may even call your boss, “Old Bean” unless of course, he or she is younger than you.

5. Use phrases like “My word”, “How splendid”, or “Please excuse me while I wind my gears,” or “Where did I park my aeromachine?” “Drat”, “Most peculiar” or even “Fire the mechanical monkies!”

4. Drink a cup of tea. Crumpets, clotted cream, jam and little fingers sandwiches are optional.

3. Learn to waltz. Waltz anyway. Why walk when you can waltz?

2. Go read Girl Genius (it’s updated every Monday, Wednesday and Friday at http://www.girlgeniusonline.com under comic. Warning: it is addictive, especially if you start at the beginning).

 And, the number one thing you can do is. . .

1. Try the Steampunk Drinking Game. Pick out a steampunk movie or book of your choice. Best played with others who don’t actually plan to go anywhere afterward. Beverage may be of your choice. For each item you come across, take the prescribed drink. Last person standing wins.
Aether = 1 drink
Airhship = 2 sips
Automaton = gulp
Bodice = 1 drink
Corset = down the whole shot
Gears = 1 sip
Goggles = three sips plus bite of lemon
Her Majesty and/or Queen Victoria = down the whole shot
Horse and/or carriage = 3 drinks
Inventor and/or mad scientist = 4 drinks
Inexplicable device = 1 drink
Mention of social rank (Duke, Marquess, Earl, Barron, etc.) = 4 sips
Parasol = 2 drinks
Presence of bioengineering = 4 drinks
Puff of steam = 1 drink
Raygun = chug
Top Hat = 3 drinks
Tesla coil = down the whole shot

Celebrate Steampunk!

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First, I’d like to announce the winners of George Mann’s Ghosts of Manhattan:

FredTownWard

Elijana Kindel

Barbara Elness

Congrats!  Please email me at suzannelazear (@) hotmail to claim your prize. 

Didn’t win?  You can still win books by  Mike ResnickTim Akers,  or Ren Cummins, or a prize pack of goodies including a copy of Blameless and a fan autographed by Gail Carriger.

Today we welcome YA Sci-Fi author Beth Revis

Beth Revis‘ debut novel, Across the Universe, is out now. A former high-school English teacher, Beth can’t help but blog about writing, grammar, and publishing at Writing it Out. She is the founder of the new popular dystopian blog, the League of Extraordinary Writers and blows off steam by trying to come up with something witty in 140 characters or less, lusting after books on GoodReads, or wasting time on Facebook.   Beth Revis lives in rural North Carolina with her husband and dog, and believes space is nowhere near the final frontier.

The Top Five Things to Come from Steampunk and the Top Five Things I’d Like to See

 by Beth Revis

I’ll admit: I’m a noob when it comes to steampunk. Sure, I’ve read (and loved) Gail Carringer’s work, flirted with Scott Westerfeld’s Leviathan, and I lust after the costumes, but as for seriously diving into the genre? I’ve worshipped from afar. That said, here’s the top five steampunk things that I adore…and the top five things that I want to see (so if all you steampunk-aphiles out there know of where I can find it, please let me know!).

First, in reverse order, the top five things I love from steampunk:

5. The “Punked” episode of Castle

I am a hardcore Fillionite, so, of course, I’m a fan of Nathan Fillion’s latest show, Castle. One of the very best episodes so far as been “Punked,” in which Beckett and Castle’s mystery takes them into the world of Steampunk NYC.

4. Steampunk Cakes

Cake Wrecks has a whole page dedicated to the awesome steampunk cakes that have been made over the years.  But I have to admit—my very favorite one is this little beauty:

I mean, come on! A cake that looks like a steampunk squid? Win.

3. Treasure Planet

I admit: I love me some Disney. And one of my all-time faves has to be the wonderful and under-appreciated movie Treasure Planet. A futuristic/steampunk/sci fi/awesome retelling of Treasure Island, this movie features not only a cool storyline, but an amazing soundtrack (don’t worry; it’s not a musical) and a great bad guy.

2. The Steampunk Mac

Let’s see how much of a nerd I can prove I am with this post. I love Nathan Fillion, Disney, and…I’m also a Mac FanGirl. But what would make me even more of a Mac FanGirl? If I could have this Mac:

 

Image credit: http://steampunkworkshop.com/daveveloz.shtml

1. The Costumes and Gadgets

Come on. Come on. The gadgets. The gadgets. And the costumes.

 

Image credit: http://steampunkcostume.com/

 Now, the top five things I’d like to see:

5. Steampunk Star Wars

Why can’t I have this? Holy wow, think of how cool it could be. Steam blasters instead of lightsabers. And dude! Think of it: Darth Vader Steampunk. Amazing. This has so much potential.

Image credit: http://www.oddee.com/item_96830.aspx

4. Roman Steampunk

There’s a lot of steampunk centered in Victorian times, but I think it would be cool to explore the Romans. In all honesty, it seems as if the Romans came pretty darn close to steampunk on their own. Push them a bit more in that direction—we could have a whole steampunk alternative history…

3. Steampunk not based in Europe/England

This is going to be my most serious request—does anyone know of some cool steampunk that’s not based in Europe, especially not based in England? I would sincerely love to read that…

2. Steampunk Fairytales or Superheroes

There’s a wide field of possibilities in this one. What if Tinkerbell tinkered with steampunk? Hansel and Gretl’s witch could be an automaton. Cinderella’s clockwork winds down at midnight.

Or take it another direction—what about superheroes? Gail Carringer blended paranormal with steampunk—let’s see superheroes blended with steampunk. Superman’s strong as steel because that’s what he’s made of. Or the X-Men—a wind-up Wolverine? Maybe even this…

 

Image credit: http://steampunkcostume.com/

1. More Steampunk YA

The number one thing I most want to see more of is steampunk for teens and kids. Scott Westerfeld  is doing great work with Leviathan, but I’d love to see more of this. Does anyone else have any steampunk YA or MG suggestions?

 

~Beth Revis

http://www.bethrevis.com/

http://acrosstheuniversebook.com/

So, who’s got some suggestions for Beth?  I know you all do…

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It honestly doesn’t take much to make someone into steampunk gush enthusiastically about a fantastical hand-crafted ray gun or stunning hat, but when it comes to reading, there is a comic that combines the best of steampunk with the best of entertainment – Girl Genius.

Now, if you are into steampunk, you probably know all about it. You probably even know that their inventive comic series has now spawned a delightful novel that hit the top 20 on Amazon on Girl Genius Day, Jan. 12th, but what you might not know is that from a writer’s perspective, Girl Genius is damn brilliant writing.

What makes it work? First you’ve got a fun, smart, quirky main character who is an underdog. That makes Agatha Heterodyne sympathetic from the start. But add into the mix that she’s enamoured with the son of her deadliest rival for control of Europa (not that she knows that in the beginning when she meets Gilgamesh Wulfenbach), that she’s being hunted, and that she discovers her role as the last heir to a great mad-inventive legacy and you’ve got a character mired in a great bundle of internal and external conflict. Story developer Kaja Foglio further amps up the tension by adding in a third main character/love interest who competes with Gilgamesh (and has known him from the past when they were in school) and a coniving blonde cousin to Agatha who wants to kill her and take over as the fake Heterodyne heir.

The action is packed to the brim. The visuals, courtesy of Phil Foglio, are dynamic and fun. The inventions are mad and brilliant. And every Monday, Wednesday and Friday they post up the next page (which is not nearly enough for we true addicts of the Girl Genius). And every page ends with a fabulous hook that lures you on, keeps you addicted and makes you want to flip pages faster than a steam-powered airship engine could.

But what really makes it all hang together better than super rubber bands, is the inventive world the Foglio’s have created. It’s familiar (set in a Europe-like fascimile of the Victorian era) and yet it’s very otherworldly with airships, creatures and villians enough to make this a very bumpy ride for our characters. (Conflict is essential to good story-telling, btw.)

I first found Girl Genius when I was doing research on steampunk, because I didn’t really realize that’s what I’d been writing. I’d just been toodling along in my own story in my own little Victorian world.

The comic has ever page posted since Monday, Nov. 4, 2002. WARNING: These are addictive. And I mean that sincerely. I spent four to six hours a day for three days straight reading them all. I then had to invest in the entire series of comic books for my children who were reading them over my shoulder…once you drink of the genius tea, you will not be able to walk away. And if you wish to indulge, you have been amply forewarned (and encouraged). They are at www.girlgeniusonline.com (click on the comic to get to the latest installment. If you wish to start at the beginning click start and it’ll take you to where it all began.)

I adore Girl Genius because it’s smart and fun. I adore the characters because they are flawed and delightfully human (even if they are cartoons). There is romance and adventure as promised, and definitely lots of mad science. And I can’t wait to read their novel Agatha H. and the Airship City.

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