I can’t think of a better way to showcase the aesthetically pleasing visuals of steampunk than with a comic book anthology. In Arcana’s newest collection of comic shorts, Steampunk Originals, multiple writers and illustrators are able to push the boundaries of steampunk tropes by combining its concepts with those of other genres. The end results are a culmination of many creatively engaging stories. Check out my picks for some of the best from the volume.
“Rule Britannia: The Messenger” by Axel Howerton and Red Tash is the story of a girl who’s taken over her brother’s messenger job when he signed up to a pilot. She is tasked with delivering a note to Prince Harry from his brother, Prince Billy; but she’ll have to fight her way through a group of sleazy bar patrons first. Steven Yarbrough’s art draws you in from the first panel with is fast-paced, cartoon action and over-the-top characters.
“The End Of Bushido” by CW Cooke and illustrated by Keith Murray asks an important question: when the Empire creates steam powered machine samurai’s, will the virtue of honor remain? The art depicts smooth and precise samurai movements and frightening looking machines.
“Unconventional Conventions” by Mike Schneider takes steampunk and a love for geek culture and mashes it up into a memorable and fun story. A boy who lives on the wild side and loves comic books and science fiction, goes to his first convention. This is a comic about the innocence of a child’s imagination. Nursalim’s art is a beautiful showcase of all of the best of steampunk: vast Victorian England city-scapes, the wild west, steam powered machines as well as the modern day imagery of geek conventions!
“Steaming Pile” by Paul Izzo is a tale of an inventor’s revenge at its core, with a monstrous machine at the forefront. The story is mostly told at night, allowing for Gaspare Orrico’s art to imbue a sense of grim bitterness through dark colors and shadowy figures.
“Eleanor’s Arm,” written and illustrated by Ken Bastard, is a bold, beautifully drawn take on self-sacrifice and love. When Eleanor loses an arm and her robot caretaker gives up his own arm for her, she will stop at nothing to repay the love that was offered to her.
“Gargoyles” by Grant Fuhst is oddly Lovecraftian. In this surrealistic take on steampunk, created machines have been left by themselves in the wake of devastation. They can think for themselves and wonder where their inventors have gone. This is a tale of hope for a better tomorrow.
While not all of the comics in Steampunk Originals made an impression, the book as a whole is very entertaining. Many of the stories are intelligent and thought-provoking works of art. I would definitely recommend steaming through this one if you like steampunk or if you’re open to trying something new.