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Steampunk Digest - September 11, 2020

Our weekly roundup of news and other happenings in the steampunk world

Friday, September 11, 2020

“When we’re not writing and drawing, we love to play video games,” says Kaja Foglio, co-creator of the popular Girl Genius comic series. Now fans can look forward to a Metroidvania-style adventure in which protagonist Agatha Heterodyne explores the mysterious ancient castle that bears her family name.

Rain Games, in cooperation with Studio Foglio, has launched a Kickstarter campaign to raise funds for Girl Genius - Adventures in Castle Heterodyne, a game set for release in December 2022. The developer is planning versions for PCs, Macs, and consoles.

“Gentleman Programmer” Kenneth Engelsen promises “action, romance, and mad science, of course. We will use the Castle Heterodyne storyline as our basis, so you can expect to meet the boys in the castle and all the other hopeless fools in its clutches. There will be dangers and there will be troubles, but hopefully nothing that a well-constructed deathray can’t solve.”

Rain Games, which is based in Norway, is no stranger to steampunk. Its previous titles include Teslagrad and World to the West.

The crowdfunding campaign launched Sept. 3 and seeks US $200,000 by Oct. 3. See the Kickstarter page for more info.

Professor Elemental, Lord and Lady Towers
Professor Elemental (left) and Lord and Lady Towers are guests at the Ineluctable, Ultra-Telegraphic Virtual Brass Screw.

Once again, steampunk fans have plenty of entertainment choices this weekend, at least if streaming events are your thing.

Olympic Peninsula Steam, the organization behind the Brass Screw Alliance steampunk festival in Port Townsend, Washington, will present the Ineluctable, Ultra-Telegraphic Virtual Brass Screw on Saturday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Pacific Time. The online gathering will feature lectures, musical entertainment, a virtual vendor bazaar, maker exhibition, fashion show, and more. Chap hop artist Professor Elemental is beaming in from the UK, and singer/songwriter Nathaniel Johnstone will perform his solo act from his home in Rhode Island.

Other highlights include:

• A reading by steampunk author Shelley Adina.

• Discussions of penny farthings and hoop skirts by Lord and Lady Towers.

• Techniques for using feathers in costumes, presented by Crystal’s Idyll.

• “Absinthe Demystified,” a presentation by Diana Peterson.

The Virtual Brass Screw will also host the world premiere of Percy and Reggie and the Great Parisian Airship Exposition, a new film from Battleground Productions and Small Title Productions (more on that below).

Participation is free, but you should register via Eventbrite.

The free event will be followed by Burlesque: Through the Aether, a ticketed “Virtual Vaudevillian Cabaret” produced in conjunction with Lacy Productions of Portland, Oregon. General admission costs $15, or you can pay $25 for a VIP ticket that includes a Meet & Greet via Zoom. Tickets for this event are also available on Eventbrite.

Learn more on the Brass Screw Alliance website and Facebook page.

Victorian Days guests
Professor Adam Smasher (center) with A Halo Called Fred at Victorian Days in Belvidere, New Jersey.

You can also expect steampunk frolic at Virtual Victorian Days, which replaces a festival held annually in historic Belvidere, New Jersey. It happens Saturday and Sunday beginning at 9 a.m. Eastern time both days.

On Saturday, Frenchy and the Punk will stream a live concert at 5:30 p.m. Sunday’s musical lineup includes The Eternal Frontier (10 a.m.), Sarah and Taylor from This Way to the Egress (5 p.m.), and A Halo Called Fred (6:15 p.m.).

Sideshow performers Karnevil will be busy all weekend. On Saturday, they’re presenting “Show and Tell” (4 p.m.) and “Superhuman Stories of Houdini” (6:30 p.m.), followed on Sunday by “Tales of Victorian Spiritualism - Tarot Cards and Conmen” (11:30 a.m.)

Saturday’s program also includes a makers’ panel on “Steampunk Science” (1 p.m.), a “Vintage Jazz Film Festival” by the Museum of Interesting Things (2 p.m.), and a steampunk authors panel (3 p.m.).

On Sunday: A “Steampunk Chibi Drawing Tutorial” (10:30 a.m.), “Victorian Animation” (12:30 p.m.), “Steampunk & Beyond 16mm Film Festival” (2 p.m.), and the Victorian Days Fashion Show (3:30 p.m.).

It will all stream for free from the Victorian Days Facebook page, with a simulcast on the website. The complete schedule is posted on Facebook.

If that’s not enough, The Ladies of Comicazi are presenting LadiesCon Virtual Edition, an online version of a pop culture convention held annually in the Boston area. Produced in conjunction with Comics in Color and Women in Comics Collective International, it’s described as a “celebration of comic books, science fiction, fantasy, cosplay, and many other realms of pop culture with a focus on creators who are women, non-binary, LGBTQ, and people of color, plus local artists.”

The event kicked off on Wednesday and included a panel on “Steampunk Heroines, Tropes and Tropebreakers,” presented by Heather Rockwood of the Jewelry City Steampunk Festival and Melissa Honig of the Watch City Steampunk Festival. In case you missed it, the LadiesCon organizers say they’ll be posting recorded panels on YouTube in the coming months.

LadiesCon runs through Sunday. Live panels are presented on Zoom and are limited to a maximum of 100 participants each.

Finally, fans of DC Comics will get another chance to join their favorite superheroes as DC FanDome: Explore the Multiverse! takes place on Saturday. DC originally planned an all-in-one online megaevent on August 22 with a “Hall of Heroes” plus five additional satellite worlds. But they decided that was too much for one weekend, so they split off the satellites into a separate gathering.

You’ll be able to explore new sessions in five virtual tracks: WatchVerse (screenings and panels); InsiderVerse (behind-the-scenes content); YouVerse (fan-generated content); KidsVerse (family programming); and FunVerse (merchandise, downloadable items, virtual theme park rides). In addition, you can view replays of panels from the original Hall of Heroes. The schedule is already posted, and you can set up your own calendar by registering for a free account. It runs for 24 hours.

The August event appeared to be a huge success, drawing 22 million views and serving as a model for other virtual conventions. Variety reported on the Herculean effort to pull it off and avoid the “flat, boxy nature of Zoom calls.” For example, hosts and panelists received kits that included green screens and instructions for shooting the videos. It no doubt helped that the event offered early looks at forthcoming films including The Batman, Justice League, and Wonder Woman 1984.

Percy & Reggie and the Great Parisian Air Exposition

As noted above, Battleground Productions and Small Title Productions are set to premiere Percy & Reggie and the Great Parisian Air Exposition, a short comedic film about “two upper-class twits [who] become involved in a feud between two ‘science villains.’” The film was shot this year in Portland, Oregon under social distancing guidelines, with professional actors on a greenscreen stage.

“We were inspired by the wonderful, weird adaptations of Jules Verne novels from the 1950s,” says writer/director John Longenbaugh. “Not just 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea but the lesser known ones like Mysterious Island and Master of the World. We’re also huge fans of the Czech animator Karel Zeman, who made amazing films like The Fabulous World of Jules Verne combining actors, animation and theatrical tricks.”

The film stars Hunter O’Harrow, Louis Broome, and Allison Anderson, with Rick Warren portraying Captain Nemo and Doug Staley as Robur the Conqueror. Longenbaugh is best known to steampunk fans as the creator of BRASS, a multi-platform adventure serial. Gerald Wilson of Small Title Productions served as Director of Photography and Editor. Learn more on the Battleground Productions website.

C.O.G.S. Expo won’t be happening this year, at least not in person, but the organizers have announced plans for a second virtual event scheduled for Oct. 16-18. It follows an event held in May. This new gathering will have a Halloween theme, and they’re on the lookout for performers, panelists, and other participants. In addition, they welcome submissions of short videos, slide shows, and other content to run between sessions. Keep an eye on the Facebook page and website for updates.

Wild Wild West Steampunk Convention

We have sad but not entirely surprising news from Tucson, Arizona: The organizers of the Wild Wild West Steampunk Convention announced that the event will be postponed until the first weekend of March 2022. The theme will be “Over the Rainbow.” It’s one of the largest steampunk events in the U.S., drawing fans from as far as New Zealand and Germany.

More ominous is the news that Old Tucson, the convention’s main venue, has closed indefinitely due to COVID-19. The theme park, which served as a movie studio for many famous Westerns, was a big part of the event’s allure. “On Sept. 14, 2020, Pima County will assume responsibility for the attraction and begin working on a new plan for the park’s future,” states an announcement on the Old Tucson website.

You may be familiar with Sherlock Holmes’ older brother Mycroft, but did you know the detective also had a teenage sister? That’s the premise of Enola Holmes, a film adaptation of Nancy Springer’s YA series that premieres Sept. 23 on Netflix. It stars Millie Bobby Brown (Stranger Things) in the title role, with Henry Cavill as Sherlock, Sam Claflin as Mycroft, and Helena Bonham Carter as Eudoria Holmes.

The trailer looks promising, and the film has garnered positive early reviews with praise for Brown’s performance.

A friend of famed steampunk artist Michael Parodi has launched a GoFundMe campaign in the wake of a devastating fire that destroyed a barn on the Parodi family property in southeastern Virginia. The losses included two horses as well as horse trailers, fabrication tools, and some of the artist’s steampunk creations. One bit of good news: Three horses survived the tragedy.

Parodi is a member of Hatton Cross Steampunk, an art collective led by David Lee. He’s appeared at numerous steampunk events and has also promoted the genre on TV news programs in the Hampton Roads area.

The GoFundMe campaign is seeking $5000 to cover losses and expenses, but organizer Jacqui Riva notes that the family is “going to need sooo much more than that.” You can donate here.

Quick Hits

“Bitter Root” is a frighteningly topical steampunk horror comic set in the Harlem Renaissance (Boing Boing)

Prepping for this weekend’s Adelaide Steampunk Festival (Karen J. Carlisle)

Millie Bobby Brown on becoming a Victorian ‘wild child’ in Enola Holmes (Entertainment Weekly)

“Feudal Japanese culture with Steampunk technology” in Realm of Thraul (Pekin Daily Times)

Steampunk theme for arts awards showcase in Alberta (My McMurry)

Historic Detroit Hotel elevator discovered during remodel in St. Petersburg (Tampa Bay Times)

Florida Children’s Museum to host STEAMpunk themed virtual gala (WFLA-TV)

The Legend of Korra’s Technological Progression Makes PERFECT Sense (CBR)

10 Deadliest Cinematic Martian Invaders, Ranked (ScreenRant)

The Best Movie You Never Saw: Time After Time (JoBlo)

‘Gestalt: Steam & Cinder’ Developer Interview (Goomba Stomp)

Frostpunk: The Dystopian City Builder Perfect for Fallout and Wasteland Fans (CBR)

Steampunk cyborg pirates in reboot of Warhammer tabletop game (io9)

Plenty of Victorian literature delights (Oamaru Mail)

2,200-year-old Chinese text may be oldest surviving anatomical atlas (Live Science)

13 Ancient Egyptian Coffins Discovered Sealed And Unseen By Human Eyes For 2,500 Years (IFL Science)

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