Mar 30, 2012

Cabin Control Nemo

Some years back, I saw the Cabin Control Nemo from Mezco toys in a speciality collector's shop. For whatever reason, I was stupid enough not to buy it on the spot. Luckily, I was able to track it down again on the web years later, and buy it for a reasonable price. When it arrived, I was stunned at the level of detail in the figure, the set he stands on, and the props available to decorate with. Since I'm still in marking hell, I thought I'd whet my readers' appetites for the upcoming 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea Spring Symposium (a new annual event at Steampunk Scholar!) in May and June. These photos were taken in my office at GMU, where Nemo sits on a shelf as inspiration.

You might balk at Nemo with a mechanical hand, ala the craptastic TV version of Leagues from the '90s starring Michael Caine as Nemo, but once you see the skeletal remains further down, you may relent. This action figure has some background story!

I don't know how I feel about Nemo having a globe wrapped in an octopus's tentacles (maybe it's just a decorative paperweight), since he never struck me as a megalomaniac in Verne, but I love that his skeletal hand in on display in the mouth of the shark that took it. I like to imagine this as a revision of the moment at the Pearl Fisheries when Nemo stands between the hapless pearl fisherman and a hungry predator of the ocean!

The detail on the props is amazing. The map-scrolls unroll to reveal tiny navigational maps. I love this as an adult, but I wish I could send it back in time to my nine-year-old self. He'd put it to better use.

Mar 23, 2012

Steampunk Gilgamesh image by D. Emerson Evans

In December of 2011, D. Emerson Evans, a frequent visitor of Steampunk Scholar, sent these sample images of what my Steampunk Gilgamesh could look like as a comic. Evans was attempting to give the work an old-school Winsor McCay feel, and to that end, sampled the colours directly from pre-1914 "Little Nemo in Slumberland" strips.
As promised, here is the sample spread of the Incredible Epic of Dr. "Doc" Gil Gamesh. I've included the black and white line art, and a coloured and lettered mockup. This was a very unusual way of working for me--a real departure from my graphite/paint/collage work on Threshold. Lots of fun.
I'm posting both the b+w and colour images, so you can see the process. 

He has also posted about this image at his blog, which features art for his graphic novel, Threshold. Check it out, it's great stuff. 

Mar 16, 2012

Fan art of Lady Maccon/Alexia Tarabotti

When I was a kid, I drew all the time. I won Most Promising Art Student in Junior High. I nearly did a degree in Fine Arts. And then life wore on, and while I've continued to dabble with my artistic skills, it's something I don't have much time for.

Which is why I bought a nice Wacom stylus for our iPad. And then I downloaded the Sketchbook app. And after a brief learning curve, getting used to how the stylus and screen interacted, I decided to draw Alexia. It happened in the middle of the night while I was awake after a coughing fit during Reading Week. I took an image of  Sabrina Impacciatore, one of Carriger's picks for casting Alexia, and placed her head on a shot of model Yaya Han in steampunk attire. Then I went to work. I worked on it when I needed a break, or when I was up late and couldn't wind down. I don't know how many hours went into this, but it was an enjoyable process, learning the Sketchbook interface, and getting back to a skill I neglect often, but love dearly.

It signals the end of my Tribute to Gail Carriger, and the beginning of three image-filled posts. I'm up to my eyeballs in marking (I'm effectively responsible for 250 students' grading this term), have final edits for an anthology chapter, an article for On Spec magazine, and a section for John Naylor's forthcoming Steampunk Gazette from Fil Rouge Press. So I hope the pictures will make up for the lack of a thousand words a week. Click on the image for a larger version.

Mar 9, 2012

21 Prognostications for the Parasol Protectorate in the 21st century.

J.M. Frey and I at the Canadian National Steampunk Exhibition, April 2011.
Photo by the awesome Lex Machina. 
The tribute to Gail Carriger continues! Thanks to the lovely J.M. Frey, she of the TARDIS Steampunk dress and author of the excellent SF novel Triptych, we have another post in the Tribute. This comes as the result of light-hearted banter via Twitter messaging. All twenty-one of these are J.M.'s - my only contribution was placing them in twenty-one entries to match the century.  SPOILERS ABOUND! So if you haven't read Timeless, you may wish to wait on checking these out. Please feel free to add more in the comments.
  1. The God breaker plague was ended by urban sprawl.  Conall and Alexia have passed on, of course. Prudence lived quite long, because of her ability to steal immortality, and buried her grandkids. Once a year, the PP gets together somwhere between Akeldama's and Ivy's and eats Treacle tart in honour of Alexia.
  2. Lyall and Biffy are happily back in charge of the London Pack. Lyall represents Biffy in the House of Lords, b/c Biffy wants no part of the boredom of politics. He's besties with Wills & Kate. Biffy despises denim and longs for a good old cravat.    Lyall is afraid Betas CAN go mad, and that the 21st C might drive him so. Lyall writes books under a pseudonym, all about supernatural biology and hierarchies. 
  3. Ivy is a great patron of the theatre, and her decendants own most of the East End. She designs all the hats for Royal Ascot. Ivy desperately misses her husband.  The Tunstell's descendants include Andrew Lloyd Webber, and Elton John.
  4. The Parasol Protectorate has been folded into the MI, and is MI9 (9 looks like a P). Always led by a Prete or Meta-natural Maccon.
  5. Madame LeFoux became a ghost, not pleased about it, but perfected her preservation system.
    She's the Q to MI9. 
  6. Major Channing died in charging the gattling guns in WWI, too much of a proud tosser to call a retreat. Most of the pack went with him.
  7. Countess Nadasy owns most of the London metro system--she's the reason there's a tube.
  8. Benedict Cumberbatch thought about being a Claviger, but decided that he'd go to LAMBDA instead of Royal.
  9. The London Pack is, of course, the patron house of the BBC. The Doctor never had a Werewolf companion, though, because leaving territory behind would be too traumatic for a wolf.
  10. Biffy is bittersweet about Steampunk, but he loves it because Lyall has a chance to get his Glassicals out and wear that waistcoat. KINKY. But, would there be steampunk in a world where there had been zepplins and aethergraphs? More like there'd be a lot of cyberpunk. Oh, and the best selling YA book would be set in a world where there are NO SUPERNATURALS AT ALL. Weeeeeeird.  Talk about a dystopia.
  11. Twilight is just a boring teen lit book about a drone/claviger who can't decide who she'd rather get the bite from. OR, it's a YA distopian where there are no supernaturals & the thrill comes from Bella trying to get used to the idea that her suitor will get OLD.
  12. I suppose Hollywood would be run by Werewolves... but the studio execs would be Vampires. Mr. Mayer hasn't left MGM just yet.
  13. Lady Kingair is just the same, and the Kingair pack operates a tourist castle / B&B where people can see the legendary home of the Maccons.
  14. And of course, the truth about Pretenaturals came out around WWII, when they were recruited specifically as curse-breakers.
  15. Old documents about Alexia and Conall Maccon surfaced. Historian and archaeologist Gail Carriger was selected to write a 5 volume biography.
  16. Luckily most of their contemporaries still lived, so Carriger was able into interview Lord Akeldama, Queen Ivy, Lord Biffy and Prof. Lyall (Good to have primary resources).
  17. OH. I forgot - the Maccon townhouse in London was annexed by Akeldama's historical preservation fund and is a full-moon ball venue now.
  18. The London Pack owns a modern condo development and everyone lives there - dungeons are below the carkpark, high security at the door.
  19. And Floote's Bedouins still roam the Luxor valley - there is a high price for pieces of a dead preternatural in the black market.
  20. Of course, Pretanatural Poachers are illegal, must grave rob,and kidnapping Preternaturals is a capitol offence. Most Pretas are cremated.
  21. Akeldama would be a leading figure in the Fashion pages-but not working in it. That's a trade, my darling pergoi. Perez Hilton is his drone. Akeldama is totally not enamoured of Black and the Daily Sun. So... gauche. So obvious. The Paparazzi does not impress Akeldama.  Akeldama is the biggest fan of slash fanfic EVAR.

NOTE: J.M. Frey's Triptych has been nominated for a CBC Bookie, a people's choice award. She's nominated in the SF category, and she's up against heavyweights Margaret Atwood and Robert Sawyer. All love to Mr. Sawyer, but he already has enough awards. No love to Atwood, I've never liked her fiction, I hate that she's conflated with the SF scene more than she deserves, and the book she's nominated for isn't really fiction! So let's defeat the giants, shall we? Show some love for J.M. over at the Bookies. It would be very cool for a gender-bending-time-travel-adventure to win the Bookie for SF. And if you don't want to vote without reading Triptych first, there's a simple solution. It's a hell of a book, trust me. 

Mar 6, 2012

Timeless by Gail Carriger

Someday, when it won't be an issue of spoilers, I'll be returning to this lovely book to do an analysis. But for the time being, I've posted a fanboy's tribute to the end of a great series at as the end of this year's extended Steampunk Romance and Erotica focus, A Tribute to Gail Carriger. See y'all in April.

Last Call for the Parasol: Timeless by Gail Carriger

Fiction series should be like guests. There comes a point in the evening when everyone knows the conversation has died, the hostess is yawning, and someone has just said, “Well...” Sadly, there is often someone in the room who knows the truth, but wants to avoid it. They don’t get out enough. They don’t want to go home. They’re enjoying the company. They’re socially obtuse. For whatever reason, someone starts the conversation up again.

It’s awkward, because we all know it’s over. Sometimes this happens in the doorway, as guests are leaving. A witty remark gets made, and banter ensues. Significant others glare, or roll their eyes. The party has jumped the shark.

Thankfully, as anyone who’s been to one of her parties can attest, Gail Carriger knows how to handle a party. And she knows when it’s time to shut it down.

I love the Parasol Protectorate. As literary parties go, it’s been a blast. And while I’m very sad to see it all come to an end, I’m glad Carriger isn’t stringing this one out. With Timeless, Carriger concludes a series many of us have grown to love, all the while struggling to explain to others what we were reading: “It’s a paranormal romance . . . but not like Twilight. And it’s a steampunk adventure . . . but not like Wild, Wild, West. It’s like . . . it’s like . . .” It’s Bram Stoker, Wilkie Collins, and Jane Austen playing Dungeons and Dragons with Terry Pratchett for a DM. It’s like Being Human if the show were crossed with Sherlock and Fawlty Towers. It’s like Underworld with bustles and lace instead of tight leather. We shove the book into your hands at this point and assure you, “Trust me, you’ll enjoy it.”

And now it’s coming to an end. 

Read the whole article at

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