Tom Kidd artwork

The Art of Tom Kidd

I hate to play favorites with the artists I feature here, but Tom Kidd’s is the sort of stuff that got me into steampunk. Not only are his paintings beautiful in their own right; they have a richness in detail that makes each a little exploration into a totally different world.

Kidd illustrated editions of The Three Musketeers (1998) and The War of the Worlds (2001) and is working on his own book titled Gnemo: Airships, Adventure, Exploration.

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Professor Elemental

Maybe Steampunk Is Becoming Too Political After All?

When I argued we should avoid letting our real-world political differences kill steampunk, I was accused of tone policing, caring only about white and straight people (I’m gay), hating on steampunk that doesn’t put straight, white, wealthy imperialism at the forefront, prioritizing the hurt feelings of those who want to oppress others; I was called naive, a racist, the son of skinheads and a complete and utter jackass. (This coming from the sort of people who insist they’re trying to make steampunk a “safe space” for “diverse” points-of-view.)

Steampunk performer Professor Elemental wrote an op-ed for The Steampunk Explorer arguing I was freaking out for no reason and steampunk was doing “better than ever.” Bill Bodden wrote an opinionated blog post, in which he dismissed me as an opinionated blogger and insisted that “new enthusiasts are coming in all the time.” Cora Buhlert argued that if steampunk is changing, that’s a good thing, “because the static genres are the ones that are close to death.”

Yet here we are, one year later, and the same Professor Elemental reports that steampunks are leaving the scene because of political rifts. He speaks from an UK experience, where Brexit has sorted people into opposing camps. The divisiveness and polarization is even worse in the United States.

Elemental’s advice?

  • Don’t walk away from steampunk or exclude people just because of the odd wrong opinion.
  • People who disagree with you are not deserving of hate.
  • Steampunk is and should be for (almost) everyone. If we want our little subculture to thrive, we need to work hard to bring people together wherever we can. (Excluding actual bigots.)

I suppose I should know better than to expect Elemental to be canceled for suggesting anything so outrageous. Let’s hope his appeal will be taken more seriously than mine.

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Comic Con Brussels Belgium

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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