The Five Worst Steampunk Holiday Gifts

Women astronauts in the cabin of a spaceship and gift box. Vintage comics pop art retro color illustration.

Would you like a carefully-chosen Steampunk gift which shows that someone has given a lot of thought to what will make you happy?  That’s unfortunate, because instead, we’ve come to give you…

The Five Worst Steampunk Gifts 

#5.  A device which converts any fully-functional smartphone into a broken telegraph.  Telegraphs are AWESOME.  I would, however, be very sad to replace my phone with such a thing.  I might enjoy having BOTH, but that’s a different story.

Plus, I don’t know Morse Code, which would make telegraphing quite difficult.

#4.  Steam Powered Steam.  This is not a gift.  This is an appetizer to the least-satisfying dinner of your life.

#3.  Invitation to the upcoming Zombie Apocalypse.  (Actually, I think this would be an incredible gift.  Until such time as zombies ate your brains, of course, at which point your appreciation would likely diminish considerably.

#2.  A book of Nikola Tesla’s favorite recipes.  I love Tesla and would never say a word against him, but in his later life, he ate nothing but milk, honey, bread, and vegetable juice.  AND…no coffee, ever!  I would perish.

#1.  The Kraken.  The Kraken is the most terrifying thing within the seven seas, and its vast tentacles could pull a hundred ships into a swirling maelstrom of the deepest waters with ease.  It is enormous, implacable, and always, always hungry.  It is one of the most fascinating and wondrous beasts in the world.  However, it still makes a terrible present.  For one thing, it will eat your entire family in the blink of its single great eye; for another, it’s very, vary hard to gift wrap.

-Jeff Mach

Jeff Mach Events

Three Great Steampunk Webcomics

The total number of incredible Steampunk webcomics is, of course, “Lots”.  Webcomics and Steampunk, in many ways, grew up together, and it’s not surprising that some of the oldest and flat-out best webcomic tales are of Steampunk universes and spirit.

Here are a few for you to consider:

1. Girl Genius. Girl Genius is perhaps the best-known of all Steampunk webcomics. With its gloriously splashy, colorful Style and its long-running, intricate-but-never-frustrating plots, it’s been delighting us for longer than most people have even known the world “Steampunk”.

There’s a particular bonus gem here, too – sure, the concepts are fascinating, the plots are intricate, the dialogue brilliant and witty.  But even with all that, it took me two or three readthroughs to really appreciate just how much information and invention is packed into each, not to mention each comic arc,  Girl Genius isn’t simply a great webcomic; it follows that old Walt Disney concept “Be better than you need to be”.

Check out the comic.  If you take a careful look, you will notice that in almost every panel there is some new bit of Steampunk inventiveness, whether it’s in the dialogue or in the art or in the ideas. It is a world of such a Steampunk immersion that what might, in other places, stand out and pop and make you stare–happens in pretty much every single panel, until you’re overflowing with Steamy goodness.  What might be a game-changer elsewhere is background or filler in this comic. Girl Genius is full of hidden gems, and even if you’ve already read it, I recommend reading it again, with a careful eye towards seeing just how much they pack into everything they do.

2.  Boston Metaphysical Society. This tightly-plotted, articulate, and lovingly illustrated comic does that thing which Steampunk often attempts and seldom does well: it creates its own characters, and has them interact with notable and favorite hereoes of Steampunk, even including Nikola Tesla–and integrates them seamlessly.  It’s like watching a movie full of brilliant young actors, with a great script, and then suddenly seeing Bill Murray walk in and do something brilliant, but not world-changing or plot-destroying.  You recognize the archetype’s power, but it always enhances, it never dominates.

All too often, we see this in a sort of Mary Sue universe wherein the famous characters end up being essentially invulnerable due to the plot armor of our affection.  (Woe betide the Steampunk writer who kills off Mr. Tesla without good reason!)  Boston metaphysical has a different take. While those characters are not infrequently in fully mortal peril, none of the characters are not superheroes. They are very smart people with advanced minds, tackling powerful but not invincible forces.  And that means that every comic packs suspense, possibility, and intrigue.  You never really know what will happen, and when the plot does unfold, you’re left deeply satisfied.  

3. Scenes from a Multiverse. I know what you’re saying. If you know this comic, you know that it is not Steampunk, and you know that I have left out many other comics which certainly are very very clearly traditionally Steampunk. Why am I highlighting “From A Multiverse”?

It is because, while the setting and design of that comic is not specifically Steampunk themed, John Rosenberg plays with a vast whimsical universe where just about anything can happen.  And then he tightens that focus so that each comic is an individual set up of some sort of unusual extrapolation of reality, taken to the next level for comedic and intriguing effect. It’s incredible – and absolutely, completely in keeping with the spirit of our wild, yet mannerly, Steampunk culture.

If you are looking for a mind-expanding but completely coherent, splendidly and gorgeously (if simply) drawn comic, then this is a brain explosion of potentiality. I recommend every Steampunk read it and have their minds just a little bit blown.

~Jeff Mach

Jeff Mach runs Jeff Mach Events, which in turn runs the world’s largest Steampunk event, The Steampunk World’s Fair; the peculiar Faerie festival Glimmerdark, and co-runs Dark Side Of The Con (with VampireFreaks).  He’s on Twitter @steamworldsfair.  

Three ways to make any Convention or Festival experience better.

I’ve been running conventions, festivals, and events for well over two decades now. There have been tremendous changes within that time, unsurprisingly – for example,  quite relevant to my own life and career, it’s not like the3D computer graphics of a lady with fantasy clothing and weaponsre were really any Steampunk events 20 years ago.  Not anywhere in the entire world.

But there are a few principles which I can say have remained quite constant. I thought I would share three of them with you now.

1. What you get out of it is always going to be, in part, up to you. I think we have all had the experience of someone who goes into a film or play determined to hate it, and while it is sometimes possible for the medium to win that person over, most often it is a self-fulfilling prophecy:  they do, indeed, hate it. In a similar fashion, an event can win you over even if you’re going in with an attitude of negativity. But it certainly is not likely that if you’re determined to be unhappy, you will be unhappy, and if you’re determined to be happy, you will enjoy yourself.

2.  Dress, first and foremost, for yourself. A lot of people put a great deal of thought, and sometimes a great deal of worry, into what they will wear to a fandom event or a  subcultural festival. That’s quite understandable; clothing is a language, and it does do a lot of speaking for us. But there is a really simple key to this: dress any way which helps you feel like you are where you want to be, doing what you want to do. Everything else after that becomes easy.

3 . And finally, remember this: the rules they told you about socialization when you are in kindergarten seem childish because they were enacted for and by children, and given to you for reasons that might have seemed arbitrary or overly simple even as a child. This is because we tend to instruct children in social mores in terms which rightly seem insipid or insufficiently justified when we look at them as adults.  That is NOT because they’re not helpful rules So when you say things like  

“ Be nice to others if you want them to be nice to you”,  it sounds like a platitude or a threat,  instead of what actually is: a perfectly rational and sensible transaction. But use those rules.  Use them as an adult. In essence, recognize that if you are in a place where everyone is there to have a good time, your actions matter.  Actions which facilitate other people (and you!) having a good time, actions which show an awareness of other people’s wants and needs and general personhood–those things will will tend to increase the level of everyone’s happiness. And actions you take which disregard those things unnecessarily, whether it be needless meanness or selfishness or aggressiveness… well, not only will you have a worse time, but so will everyone else.

These are three Simple Rules, but I think you will find them highly applicable, and while they’re quite obvious, people do not always use them, and they really should.   I would like to see more people giving this simple philosophy a try. I believe the results would be quite lovely.

~Jeff Mach

Jeff Mach runs Jeff Mach Events, which in turn runs the world’s largest Steampunk event, The Steampunk World’s Fair; the peculiar Faerie festival Glimmerdark, and co-runs Dark Side Of The Con (with VampireFreaks).  He’s on Twitter @steamworldsfair.  

3 Essential Tips For Evil Mad Scientists

Sure, we’ve all been there.  You’re crawling out of the wreckage of your latest laboratory, watching your Monster go make friends with the people who’ve just destroyed years of your work, and picking little bits of adamantium, mithril, and frozen aether out of yet another utterly ruined labcoat, and you’re thinking, “Why?  WHY did this happen?”

It’s probably because you made one of the four classic Evil Mad Scientist mistakes.  Don’t be embarrassed.  It’s happened to the best of us.  Although it’s also happened to the worst of us.  Where exactly do you fall on that scale?  I think that’s a writing subject for a different day.  Anyway, let’s get started.

Things An Evil Mad Scientist Really, Really, Really Should Not Do:

4.  Never shout, “Fools, I’ll destroy you all” out loud.  Come on.  There’s always somebody listening at the wrong moment.  Haven’t you learned this by now?  Instead, try shouting, “Tea?  I love tea!  Also, cupcakes are yummy!”  That will confuse the mazurkas out of them.

3. Try not to label your evil plan “My Evil Plan”.  Sort-of gives the game away, you know?  There you are, taking a hot selfie for your nondescript public identity, and there it is, right in the corner.  Heroes always find that stuff.  It’s very frustrating.

2. We’ve been trying to teach you this for generations, but I’ll say it now and louder: IT IS ALWAYS BETTER TO GLOAT TO A DEAD ENEMY THAN A LIVE ONE.  Sure, the dead one can’t look sad and defeated, but the corpse IS sad and defeated.  Way, way better.

1. Want to hide the countdown to the launch of your Horrible Destructo-Device?  It’s easy.  Just resist the urge to count it down in a booming voice, and, instead, hide it in some innocuous set of numbers, like, say, a list of suggestions on the internet.

Speaking of which, DESTRUCTO-BOT, LAUNCH!


~Jeff Mach

Jeff Mach runs Jeff Mach Events, which in turn runs the world’s largest Steampunk event, The Steampunk World’s Fair; the peculiar Faerie festival Glimmerdark, and co-runs Dark Side Of The Con (with VampireFreaks).  He’s on Twitter @steamworldsfair.  

Why You Should Read This Steampunk Blog

Airsi!cnanhcem phThere are lots of reasons to follow the many Steampunk blogs out there.  But this one, of course, is the best, because it comes with the best benefits.  Let me tell you of just a few of them:

  • I will teach you how to turn lead into gold. I’m just waiting ’til I get enough followers, and then I’ll reveal the Philosopher’s Stone. I think that also lets you live forever, though that may just be in Harry Potter.
  • You gain magical powers. Don’t be surprised if, after sharing enough of my writings, you find yourself able to fly or, in some cases, teleport. You’re welcome.
  • I have extremely adorable tentacles, which help me in my typing.  That’s how I can write so prolifically.
  • You will become utterly irresistible to amorous faeries, who will ply you with gifts of cheese and shiny things.
  • I will ply you with shiny things.
  • I am always totally and 100% serious.  None of that silly Steampunk for me.  Hardcore Serious, Serious, Serious Business – that’s me.
  • I will certify you as a True Steampunk.  You will know forever that you are the real deal – no more need you worry or wonder about whether something Is or Is Not Steampunk.  By the powers vested in me by having listened to Dr. Steel’s “Build The Robots” 12,500 times, I now have the power to make things official.
  • I am actually made out of adorable puppies.
  • You will find that people will begin to think you’re wearing goggles on your forehead even when no such goggles exist. That is the Power of Steampunk.
  • Did I mention the shiny things?


~Jeff Mach


Jeff Mach runs Jeff Mach Events, which in turn runs the world’s largest Steampunk event, The Steampunk World’s Fair; the peculiar Faerie festival Glimmerdark, and co-runs Dark Side Of The Con (with VampireFreaks).  He’s on Twitter @steamworldsfair.