The Villain’s Guide to Better Living

The Villain's Guide to Better Living

Years ago, I reviewed a little marvelous book I had chanced upon and loved: How to Be a Villain by Neil Zawacki. It’s hilarious, the art is brilliant (very 1960s atompunk) and sure to put a smile on your face, whether you aspire to be an evil overlord or not.

The first volume’s artist, James Dignan, does not return for the sequel, but the art of Bill Brown is very similar and definitely not of lesser quality.

The Villain’s Guide to Better Living will tell you all you need to know about the homes of different types of evildoers. From (olde world) vampires to mad scientists and everything in between, there are many hilarious tips and tricks, magazine-like quizzes (gotta make sure you get that interior right!) and art as funny as the writing.

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The Heritage Milliner: For All Your Vintage-Style Hat Needs

It’s not exactly vintage, as these are newly made hats in vintage styles, but dieselpunk fans will want to know about Karen Back’s The Heritage Milliner, a UK-based milliner who creates ladies hats in the styles of the era.

Finding vintage-style headbands is easy enough. Instagram and Etsy are rife with small shops making them. If you’re not too set on historical accuracy, you can also find nice things in the usual high-street locale.

But for hats, the usual options are paying a pretty penny for true vintage or scouring thrift stores in hopes of finding one on the cheap.

The Heritage Milliner provides a much needed middle road. Not only are her hats high-quality; she has a wonderful choice in types of hats and an immense variety of color.

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Altered Carbon, Season 2

Altered Carbon, Season 2

In our tradition of keeping reviews spoiler-free, you won’t find anything about the plot of Altered Carbon‘s Season 2 here. But to summarize: the Netflix series, based on the book of the same title by Richard K. Morgan, is set in a cyberpunk future where those of means can literally live forever. They store their consciousness on “stacks” and jump from one body — real or synthetic — to the next, indefinitely, never experiencing real death.

The story centers on, Takashi Kovacs, “the last envoy”, what that means, and his place in a society he doesn’t quite fit into.

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Comic Con Brussels

Comic Con Brussels, an annual pop culture event, once again set up shop at Tour & Taxis in Brussels on the weekend of February 22-23.

While it is no steampunk event per se, it boasts such a variety of all things geeky and cool that it’s really rather easy to dress up in the style and find some outfits or wares for your home. Several visitors had dressed up in the fashions, or stylish cosplays, which is a great way to meet new people in the scene.

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Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea

Vingt mille lieues sous les mers: Tour du monde sous-marin cover

Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea, or Vingt mille lieues sous les mers: Tour du monde sous-marin, as it is titled in the original French, is probably the book Jules Verne is best known for.

First published in 1870, it remains a timeless classic. It has been inspiration for countless other works, be they graphic novels, books, movies, art or even theme-park rides, such as those in Disneyland Paris and Tokyo DisneySea.

The Nautilus and to a lesser extend the kraken have become some of the most recognizable symbols of steampunk. Verne himself is not only commonly seen as a visionary but as one of the grandfathers of the genre; a founding father, so to speak.

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Murder on the Titania and Wireless

Murder on the Titania

If you’re an avid reader of steampunk books and haven’t read any of the Alex Acks’ yet — get them!

These collections of steam-powered short stories are fresh, fun and star a merry band of colorful (literally) characters you’ll come to love in no time. (Bar a few, the villains are properly loathsome.)

I recommend reading Murder on the Titania first. It introduces several characters that will continue to play a major role throughout and it will give you a proper sense of chronology. You can read the stories in any order, but from start to (a hopefully temporary) finish is still best. You may be left with a lot of questions if you delve into Wireless first.

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Alita: Battle Angels

Alita: Battle Angel

The cyberpunk adaptation of the beloved manga is definitely a step up from many other anime adaptations we’ve seen. With names such as Christopher Waltz and Jeniffer Connely, you know that at least the cast is strong and there to support the story.

You don’t have to be familiar with the setting of Alita, although you may be left with some questions if you aren’t. The entire history of the setting isn’t explained very well.

All we know is there’s a post-apocalyptic war and people are scrambling to survive in a mostly mechanical city. Cyborgs are common and some kind of evil villain lives in a splendid city in the sky.

It’s all a bit Hollywood-esque popcorn entertainment with, to be perfectly fair, a run-of-the-mill action/love story.

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Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress

Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress

Kōtetsujō no Kabaneri, or Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress, is a beautifully done anime, set in a post-apocalyptic Japan.

At the time of industrialization, a mysterious plague broke out, turning corpses into kabane, a kind of blood-drinking zombie that is extremely hard to kill. Get bitten and you turn into one. Die and you turn into a kabane. Or, if you’re lucky, a kabaneri, a halfbreed of man and kabane. Survivors live in stations along the route of heavily armored trains, known as iron fortresses.

It is in these stations and on these trains that we find the characters of this story.

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Carnival Row, Season 1

Carnival Row

Carnival Row, Amazon Prime’s neo-noir Victorian SteamGoth fantasy series, has come to the many fortunate enough to be able to watch it. Combining the worlds of the fae and humanity has never been so well done.

A lot of it is hitting a little close to home: immigrants trying to build a new life after fleeing their wartorn homelands, intolerance, discrimination, ghettos. It’s clear the creators took a good look at human history — Victorian, World War II-era and contemporary.

It shows, not just in the storyline, but in the cinematography. The wardrobes, the uniforms, everything. This is the best fantasy with horror elements since Penny Dreadful (our review here) and it is a shame it isn’t more easily available, because it has a strong story with a talented cast.

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The Lion King and Jungle Festival

The Lion King and Jungle Festival premiered in Disneyland Paris this summer. The event comprised, as you can guess from the name, all sorts of bits and bobs from The Lion King and The Jungle Book. Which was quite clever, considering the recent live-action releases of both movies.

Over the last few years, Disneyland Paris has been stepping up their game when it comes to additional shows and parades for their temporary events, and this was no different. Rather than combining the two movies, they had a Lion King-themed show called Rhythm of the Pride Lands with a little dance from Timon called MataDance (it was 40°C the day I was there, so I skipped that in favor of shade) and you could meet Rafiki during a special lunch at the restaurant Hakuna Matata.

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