Hi, guys! I’m continuing my blog series about writing steampunk fiction. Keep in mind, these posts could be useful for anyone who wants to learn about steampunk and not just writers. Anyway, I want to discuss a topic that we don’t hear about very often in the steampunk community. Romanticism was a very important artistic, cultural, and philosophical movement that lasted from the early 1800s through the 1840s. Basically, it declined starting with the reign of Queen Victoria. Steampunk takes a lot of influences from Victorianism, but it also incorporates other elements from the 19th century. Romanticism is a very complex movement and set of ideals. Some people spend years researching the topic. Today, I’m giving you a super condensed version of Romanticism and how it can be useful for steampunk writers. I’ll try not to make your head spin too much. Let’s see what happens.
I come from the school of thought that believes the Romantic era was kick started by the French Revolution in the late 18th century. Romanticism was a strong reaction against the classical Age of Reason or Enlightenment. The 18th century advocated for reason over emotions, the greater good over the individual, science over natural law, tradition over change, and understanding limitations over pushing boundaries. Stylistic elements from the Romantic movement included progressiveness, imagination, creativity, equality, individuality, nationalism, and social reform. It encouraged people to embrace their emotions or feelings, even the negative ones. This includes passion, anger, sorrow, love, angst, confusion, fear, and anything you can imagine. Why? Potentially, our emotions can be a great source of progressive and creative power. If people unleash their emotions, they might not experience any limitations. I’m not sure if people can practice this idea in real life, but that’s how the philosophy works. The Romantics also revered nature and all its beauty. Nature is mysterious and pure. It was very alluring to the Romantics. Furthermore, they were intrigued with fantasy and the supernatural. We can’t explain the supernatural through logic or reason and that was a very important concept in Romanticism.
How does this concept apply to steampunk? Well, steampunk settings are usually progressive and fantasy driven civilizations. Steampunk characters are often rebellious, innovative, brave, cynical, and hopeless romantics. It’s very common to feature strong female characters who advocate for great changes. Steampunk fiction also includes a lot of strong male characters who fit the Byronic heroes from the 19th century. Does steampunk include a lot of emotions? I would say most steampunk characters are very passionate about their cause. They’re very individualistic and display frequent episodes of anger, fear, and sadness, depending on the situation. I would say steampunk characters tend to be less aloof and composed than traditional Victorians. Like most fantasy driven genres, steampunk usually includes a love story within the plot. I don’t include any supernatural elements in my books series, but it’s commonplace in most steampunk literature. Many steampunk tales have vampires, werewolves, sorcerers, angels, demons, or any combination of mythical creatures. I would say steampunk is less in touch with nature compared to traditional Romanticism. However, steampunk characters are usually in tune with their natural instincts.
There are a couple of contradictions. Steampunk embraces the idea of science and industrialization. These two ideas are antagonistic to the Romantic ideal. With that said, it doesn’t mean steampunk is incapable of seeing flaws in science or industrialization to a certain extent. It’s not unusual for steampunk literature to have tremendous breakthroughs in science, but the rewards come with a cost. Many steampunk characters realize society’s achievements in science can have terrible consequences. Perhaps, civilization can have new forms of technology, but it might include cruel human experiments. There might be great progress with steam power, but it might be harming the environment. I just wanted to give a couple examples.
Steampunk can be a combination of Victorianism and Romanticism. I wrote a blog post about Victorianism last year, if you’re curious. Keep in mind that Romanticism and Victorianism are two completely different belief systems. They contrast each other and overlapped during a portion of the 19th century. Victorianism tends to be more industrial, realistic, traditional, scientific, and restrained compared to Romanticism. I would say a lot of steampunk fiction has some of both worlds. It takes Victorian fashion and adds a more fantasy driven or risqué flare. Steampunk shows the social norms of the Victorian era and challenges the system. It takes the utopian ideal of Victorianism and throws in some grittier elements. Steampunk shows a genteel culture who is also very rebellious. So, it’s almost a hybrid between Victorianism and Romanticism.
I wouldn’t say that it’s essential for steampunk authors to incorporate Romanticism in their work. However, it would add some nice layers and complexity. It also brings out the punk element with more efficiency. Romanticism is always searching for the sublime and I think that type of ambition could bring interesting elements to steampunk. If you’re a big fan of history, art, and philosophy, do some research on the Romantic movement. You can find all kinds of information online and in libraries.
That concludes my post. I’m going to leave some useful links, so you can learn more about Romanticism. Leave a comment if you want to contribute anything to this discussion. I’m always curious to see what people think. Thanks for visiting my blog and being a great audience. My next post will probably be a film review for Kingsman: The Golden Circle. Have an awesome and safe week.
Welcome back! I went to the Long Beach Comic Con with my niece last week and it was seriously crowded! The weather was terribly hot too, but we still had a good time. There was a decent variety of exhibitors with a surprisingly good steampunk representation. Unfortunately, the hustle and bustle made it difficult for me to take pictures of the attendees and cosplayers. But you're still getting plenty of photos in this post. Let's see how it went!
First, I ran into into Shannon Hoage who runs Gears and Roebuck Rusty Junk Emporium. They seems to specialize in steampunk props like Nerf guns, masks, hats, and goggles. Shannon and her companions seem to be really busy. I see them at a lot of conventions. You should be able to find Gears and Roebuck on Facebook. Their prices seem to be pretty reasonable. I'm thinking about commissioning her to make a gas mask for me at some point.
This was my second time running into Marcia Chen. She's the writer for the Lady Mechanika comic book series. If you guys haven't read Lady Mechanika yet, don't wait any longer. It's a fun and exciting steampunk series with awesome illustrations by Joe Benitez. I haven't met Joe yet, but Marcia is definitely very cool. She has a lot of experience in the industry. I'm pretty sure she worked for DC Comics at one point. You can find Lady Mechanika and other works by Marcia Chen on Amazon and Barnes & Noble. I bought Lady Mechanika Volumes II and III while we were at the convention. No shipping and handling! Yea! Here's the link to Joe Benitez's official website. http://www.joebenitez.com/
I encountered one of my Facebook friends! Cheral McGee is the owner of Tyrannical Piratical Treasures. Her specialty is mostly jewelry, but she makes a few more items as well. Cheral's jewelry works really well for pirates, cosplayers ,and reenactors, but it's not bad for certain steampunk outfits. Tyrannical Piratical Treasures has a Facebook page and I believe you can find her on Etsy too.
Earlier in the year, I saw Top Cow comics at WonderCon. They were also at the LBCC. I'm really curious about their post-apocalyptic series titled Eclipse. It's a dystopian future where the sun burns hot enough to incinerate people. Basically, people can't go outside during the day anymore. Now there's a serial killer who's throwing people outside and burning them up. Life really sucks in a post-apocalyptic world, doesn't it? I had the pleasure of meeting Eclipse's writer, Zack Kaplan. He was quite friendly and signed my second volume of the series. You can find him on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. Zack's online store is www.zackkaps.com. There are other interesting titles by Top Cow. Postal focuses on a town of serial killers who help cover each other's tracks. Somebody goes rogue and started killing the murderers. Sounds a bit karmic to me. You can find more comic books by Top Cow at www.topcow.com. Most of their titles are available on Amazon and you might be able to find them on Barnes & Noble too.
I also visited The Brass Wardrobe. The owner creates costumes and accessories with steampunk, Renaissance, and fantasy themes. In the past, I noticed some of his props had a post-apocalyptic spin as well. I think my first encounter with The Brass Wardrobe was at the WonderCon this year. You can probably catch this vendor at many local conventions. Check out www.thebrasswardrobe.com to find more merchandise or commission him or a project. The Brass Wardrobe had a lot of replica guns at the LBCC. They might be good accessories for Wild West reenactors or steampunk fans who like western themes.
Here's an author I've never met before. I talked to Neo Edmund for a while. The Alpha Huntress series is his adventure fantasy version of Red Riding Hood with at least two books on the market. Neo has other written works, including some Power Rangers publications. How many of you guys remember the original Power Rangers television show? I was addicted to it! He wrote some of the show's material, so this was a very cool meetup for me. Neo was pretty laid back and told me about quite a few of his written works. Hopefully, I'll run into him at future events. If you're curious about an adventure version of Red Riding Hood, go find his books on Amazon and Barnes & Noble.
I ran into Barbra Dillon and Fanbase Press again. They're an independent publisher of novels and comic books. I actually find some of their work entertaining because it has a big emphasis on action and fantasy. They have a very diverse cast of characters and storylines. I purchased their post-apocalyptic novel called The Odds at a previous convention, although I haven't read it yet. When I have the chance, it should be an interesting story. Some of their work is funny too. They had a huge banner for a comic book series called Penguins Vs. Possums. Reminds me of Plants Vs. Zombies. You can find a complete list of their work and services at www.fanbasepress.com. Their books are also available on Amazon.
How many of you are familiar with the Gaslight Gathering? It's an annual steampunk festival in San Diego. I saw this vendor at one or two previous events. The gentleman in this photo is Doc Synchronous. He always has a dapper steampunk style. Next year's Gaslight Gathering is going to have a carnival theme. During the day, it's going to be family fun and games. At night, it's going to be much spookier. The dates are April 6-8, 2018. It will include vendors, shows, panels, costume contests, and more. Sounds like fun for the steampunk enthusiasts. There's a Gaslight Gathering page on Facebook and their official website is www.gaslightgathering.org.
It's a Deadpool version of Baymax. Hilarious! My niece took a photo with him. There we go. Bad Alice in Wonderland and Deadpool Baymax. Perfect!
I guess this is a cyberpunk Batman. This is one of the more elaborate costumes I saw at the LBCC. Well, that answered one of my questions. Are we going to see cyberpunk representation at the Comic Cons? Maybe not a lot, but this was an awesome costume.
Couldn't resist this photo op. Considering I write about steampunk in a post-apocalyptic future, this seemed like a good background. You can find my own series titled The Post-Apocalyptic Society here.
I assume this police car is from Gotham, the tv show. Be glad we don't live in Gotham. It's an ugly dystopian environment.
Apparently, the LBCC also had a Batman Camaro. I'm a huge fan of the Camaro, so this was quite cute in my opinion.
I met Greg Rankin at the 2016 LBCC. His business label is Rankinstein. Greg was a returning vendor this year and I appreciated speaking with him again. Rankinstein makes steampunk poker sets and writes graphic novels. Amaranthine involves a young lady from the 19th century who time travels to a post-apocalyptic future. I would probably like it because my own stories combine steampunk with post-apocalypse in futuristic settings. You probably have to contact Greg directly or find him at conventions to purchase merchandise. It's actually easy to contact him. Just use one of the following social networking pages.
Here's another exhibitor who I met at WonderCon. Madeleine Holly-Rosing is the author of the Boston Metaphysical Society comic book series. It's a steampunk collection of graphic novels with a supernatural twist. The series almost makes me think of a steampunk Ghostbusters. She also wrote some indie novels that are connected to the comic book series. You can find the Boston Metaphysical Society on Facebook. Madeleine is available on Twitter. She also has a separate website where you can find out more information her work and upcoming appearances. www.bostonmetaphysicalsociety.com. Her work is available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble.
Usually, I run into the 501st Legion at the various conventions. The LBCC was no exception. They're a Star Wars cosplay group and charity organization, specifically representing characters from the Galactic Empire. Yeah, they're the bad guys. But most of them are very delightful and friendly people in real life. These guys have great costumes too. Thinking about joining the Empire? Check out the Legion's official website or find them on Facebook. They actually have a chapter for Los Angeles County. www.501st.com
How can I forget about the Whovians? The Order of Gallifrey is a Dr. Who cosplay group and they had a table at the convention. I'm pretty sure they were melting from the extreme heat, but at least the group was brave enough to attend. Thanks for taking one for the team! I'm Facebook friends with a handful of the members and they seem like a really fun group. The chapter in Southern California is called the Bad Wolf Sector. You can find the group on Facebook and feel free to check out the Order of Gallifrey's official website for more details; www.orderofgallifrey.com. Don't be shy! If you love Dr. Who, this might be the right group for you to join.
Among other things, I met a couple of the voice actors from the animated G.I. Joe series. That was pretty cool for me because I loved the show as a kid. I'm even thinking about buying the series on DVD because it's so nostalgic. Neil Ross voiced Dusty, Shipwreck, and several more characters on G.I. Joe. He also provided voice roles in the Transformers and Voltron series as well. You should probably check out his Wikipedia page for a complete list of his voice works. I had a lot of fun talking to Will Ryan who voiced Mutt and a handful of characters on G.I. Joe. He's quite an entertaining guy. Will also voiced Digit in An American Tail and Petrie in The Land Before Time. I'm sure most of you don't know anything about those animated films. They were a couple of my favorite movies as a small child. Will has a Wikipedia page too. You can also find both actors on IMDB.
I also ran into a couple of my companions from the Star Wars Steampunk Universe cosplay group and charity organization. Basically, their cosplay personas are Star Wars characters with a lot of steampunk influences. It was early and I didn't have a chance to snap pictures. Sorry guys. Actually, you should be able to find photos of the entire SWSU on some of my previous blog entries. I have blog pages about the Long Beach Comic Expo and the Wild West Steam Fest with quite a few photos of the group. Captain Solo Seekerman is the Han Solo character in their group. Last year, I also interviewed him on my website. You can read all about it here. His costume is very elaborate, complete with retractable wings. I spoke with him at a handful of events and he's a really nice guy. The SWSU is very welcoming to people who are new to the steamnpunk subculture and the cosplay scene. I also had a chance to meet Dude Vader, their Darth Vader persona. His costume is pretty awesome too. It was my first time meeting him in person. We communicate through social media periodically, so this was a nice change of pace. Please visit the SWSU's Facebook page to learn more about the group. https://www.facebook.com/StarWarsSteampunkUniverse/
All right! That's a wrap for this post. I'm attending a couple more events this year, including the Dapper Day Expo at the Disneyland Hotel and LosCon at the Marriot Hotel near LAX. This will be my first time attending either of those events, so we'll see how it goes. You guys can also catch more interviews, steampunk posts, and film reviews this year as well. Thanks for being a great audience and I'll see you guys next week.