Please help me welcome Maeve Alpin to the blog today. I know many of you are steampunk fans and I am so under-educated on steampunk that I am THRILLED to have Maeve as a guest to post about it. Enjoy!
My Five Favorite Steampunk Comic Books by Maeve Alpin
Bryan Tallbot’s 1970’s Luther Arkwright series is considered the starting point for the modern era of Steampunk comics. Speaking of Bryan Tallbot, his Grandville series is total Steampunk. I’ll begin with it, followed by four others that are not necessary the best Steampunk comics but they are my favorites. If you find Steampunk interesting, but haven’t read anything in it, comic books are a great introduction to the genre.
Grandville by Bryan Talbot
The author and artist, BryanTablot, was inspired by a 19th century illustrator, who drew anthropomorphized characters in costumes of the period and used the pen name J J Grandville. The story takes place in an alternate world where the British lost the Napoleonic War and a Scotland Yard Inspector, a badger, investigates the murder of a British diplomat. The events of 9/11 and a conspiracy theory are woven into the plot. The cast is made up of animals garbed in Victorian clothing, there are a few humans now and then, maids and bell hops, who are called doughfaces, which I find hilarious. Grandville is smart, interesting, well plotted and the art is incredible.
Scarlet Traces by Ian Edginton, Art by D’Israeli
The premise is genius. It takes place in England in the early 1900’s, just ten years after the War of the Worlds when the Martians were defeated by microscopic germs humans had been immune to for centuries. British scientists adapt the highly advanced Martian technology to everyday life. Carriages running on robotic spider legs like the Martian vehicles replace horses and homes are heated and lighted by a version of the Martian heat ray. Two British spies take on a case of a missing girl and uncover so much more. Stempunk fans will love the Victorian/Edwardian London setting, the utilization of alien technology and the H. G. Wells connection, as well as the dark, dystopian tone. I found this a powerful read, the story and images stayed with me long after I finished it.
The Clockwork Girl by Sean O’Reilly and Kevin Hanna
This is a story of star crossed lovers from two different houses. Sounds familiar? One of the two fantastic castles is built by a grafter as a monument to the science of nature, while the other is built by a tinker as a tribute to the science of technology and machines. The tinker creates a clockwork girl named Tesla. You will even find two quotes of Nikola Tesla within the story. Though different, several images of the little clockwork girl and the monster boy are reminiscent of scenes from Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. This is a children’s story and suitable for ages eight to 108. This graphic novel is one of the most heartwarming stories I’ve ever read. So sweet and charming and it has a happy ending.
Ignition City by Warren Ellis, Art by Gianluca Pagliarani
In a dieselpunk/alternative history, washed up space heroes live in Ignition City, a rough and rowdy settlement cut off from civilization on Earth’s last spaceport. Ignition City has a strong woman for the main character, Mary Raven, a space pilot and daughter of the famous spaceman, who stopped a Martian missile plot. She heads to the spaceport to discover how her father died and who killed him. It has colorful language and a Wild West tone. There are aliens, ray guns, and the marshal flies around in a rocketeer type outfit. I found this a fun, page-turning, action packed read with realistic characters that I loved.
Iron West by Doug Te Napel
Struck, a rugged, old west cowboy hero, robs banks, cheats at poker, lies to women with promises of marriage, and runs away at any hint of trouble. Yeah, this bad boy is a real charmer. Still when some old prospectors dig up robots, who in turn dig up a whole army of metal men that go on a rampage, killing humans, our hero comes to the rescue of his woman and his town. Of course he has to, he’s set for a lynching and the sheriff gives him no choice but to help or to hang. Struck has some help himself from an elderly Native American gentleman and Sasquatch. Yes that’s right, Big Foot himself. This comic book is a blast, so much fun. Iron West will make your day. It is one of the funniest things I’ve ever seen and I often think of lines and images from it, even though I read it years ago.
Other great Steampunk Comics I highly recommend:
- Steampunk by Chris Bachalo and Joe Kelly
- Lady Mechanika by Joe Benitez
- Ruse by Mark Waid (2nd half of the series by Scott BeattyAetheric) Mechanics by Warren Ellis
- Girl Genius by Phil & Kaja Foglio
- Jonah Hex by Jimmy Palmiotfi & Justin Gray
- Gotham by Gas Light by Brian Augustyn and Mike Mignola
- The Amazing Screw-On-Head by Mike Mignola
- The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen vol 1 & vol 2 by Alan Moore
You can see the five I’ve listed, and the other comic books I’ve suggested, have Victorian, Dystopian, Dieselpunk, Westernpunk or Alternate History ascetics as well as Steampunk. We can look forward to the future of Steampunk comic books offering even more diversity and choices for readers. There is something for every Steampunk reader between my five favorites and the others I recommend. If you can’t find these comic books at your local comic book store, they are available on Amazon and other online bookstores. Also if you are in the U.S., most of these are all available from the inter-library loan program, order them from your local library website or at your local library.
My new release, February 1, 2013, is a Steampunk/Romance, Conquistadors In Outer Space.
Thrown off the Spanish estate she worked at all her life, Ana, a milkmaid, seeks a new life. Disguised as a rich widow, she boards a rocket, to be blasted out of a huge cannon, and targeted for the newly discovered planet, X. Sparks fly when she finds Ramon, the only man she ever loved, heir of the estate she worked on, is flying to Planet X as well. As the Spanish governor of Plant X searches for gold, the treasure Ramon seeks is Ana. His conquest is challenging, though he swears to protect and love her, as a noble he cannot marry a peasant. Ana cannot deny her desire for Ramon, but she will not be his mistress. Will his conquest of her heart succeed or will Ana make a life for herself alone amid the wonders and dangers of Planet X.