Many of our classic monsters were born in the dark and foggy streets of Victorian London. Literary or legendary, so many monsters seem to have been conjured up or at least written prominently about in that wonderful time. It’s no wonder that steampunk is also a product of that fertile era, the birthing ground of science fiction and horror, kindred genres.
As a costumer, I’ve always been drawn to opportunities to do my own characters instead of re-creating characters from books or movies. When I started to dress in the steampunk mode, I found it enticingly open. Rather than the expectation that you were Captain Nemo or Artemus Gordon, you could be a new character of your own devising. It delighted and inspired myself and others to find that we didn’t have to be characters from someone else’s imagination, but could make it up ourselves.
As I began dressing up for steampunk events, I realized that one of the best ways to go about creating a look was to start from one of the known steampunk archetypes. An archetype, or reccurring character, is one that people will recognize fairly quickly even though it isn’t someone they can name. In the steampunk genre, this character is usually a main character, a hero or villain with a recognizable style of dress or equipment.
Series: Steampunk Fortnight
Ever since I began promoting and educating people about steampunk, I have had to explain it to folks of diverse backgrounds. Early on I came to the conclusion that the giant mechanical spider from the movie Wild Wild West was our poster child.
If they knew nothing at all about science fiction, Jules Verne, or H. G. Wells, they almost invariably knew about that blessed spider. Dr. Loveless with his diabolical machines and Artemus Gordon with all his wild invention were part of the human gestalt now. Steampunk was firmly represented in their minds as a wonderful giant mechanical spider. No other movie was as universally steampunk. Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow is decidedly dieselpunk, and City of Ember is really too technologically advanced. Van Helsing is close, but it is so cheesy that we hesitate to own it. So Wild Wild West it is.
Series: Steampunk Fortnight
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