Comic Con 2016

Despite being in costumes for most of Comic Con, this one felt a little like the old days. (Insert your favorite “we’re so old comment”: we used to come in the days when you could park under the convention center, walk upstairs, and buy a ticket for the day.) We went to a lot of panels for artists whose work we admire, like Mark Russell and Shannon Wheeler. They have a new book, Apocrypha Now, which we bought.

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“Apocrypha Now” Panel


Bill Plympton’s working on a new animated feature with Jim Lujan called “
Revengeance.” Judging by the panel and the trailer, it’s going to be darkly hilarious…as we have come to expect from Bill.

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“Revenge is a Dish Best Served Animated”


Bob Mogg and Catherine Fisher graced the Cosplay 101 panel along with Birda Hussey Nichols and Melissa Gene Meyer, after which Catherine showed off her patriotic princess cosplay trio.

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Cosplay 101


Much to our surprise, we were able to get into
Adam Savage’s panel on Cosplay as Storytelling. It also turned out to be a master class in how to moderate a panel while participating.


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Cosplay as Storytelling


Our regular readers know that we’re fans and supporters of
The League of S.T.E.A.M. So, we were delighted to be able to attend screenings and panels for two of their video efforts to which we contributed our “acting” skills: “The White Wolf” from season 3, and the “Kali 47” music video.

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The White Wolf

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Kali 47

We found time to visit some artists whose work we’ve enjoyed for years including Travis Hanson who whipped up this sketch of the Evil Cheesemonger from Drake & McTrowell’s Theatre of the Historically Improbable™. Amazingly, he looked up to talk to us several times as he continued sketching. That’s some mad skills!

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Evil Cheesemonger


And Sparky got to the art show in time to nab this beauty by
Dan Jones. His work was selling like hotcakes (as usual), and he sold out before the weekend was over.

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Sir Franklin Java Bot, held by the artist, Dan Jones


And then there was that serendipitous moment when we borrowed a pen from a British gentleman at lunch who was dressed in a Star Trek uniform (original series). We asked what he was doing at Comic Con. He and his partner designed and built precise replicas of Star Trek communicators that pair with your cellphone. You know, the kind Kirk flipped open in the days before flip phones…actually, decades before the invention of the cellphone. Of course, as children of the 60s, we had to hot foot it over to the
ThinkGeek booth and get ourselves a pair.

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Beam Me Down, Scotty; I’ve Got Some Shopping to Do


Of course, no Comic Con bloop would be complete without coverage of the annual
Starburner Galactic Courier Service Awards. Several good friends received well-deserved awards including Joyce McCarthy, Christopher Hoage, Dude Vader (Chris Canole), and Doc Phineas. Congrats all!

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Starburner Galactic Courier Service Awards


Costumes, gotta do costumes. Judging by the pics we got, the ladies knocked this one out of the park.

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Costumes Galore

We once again had the very last time slot on Sunday afternoon for our panel. This year’s offering was “Steampunk as a Maturing Visual Aesthetic” with Andrew Fogel (The League of S.T.E.A.M.), Bob Mogg (The Iron Tailor), and Rocky Olivares (Heroes and Bandits). You may recognize Rocky’s style because she was one of the illustrators for our first book, London, Where It All Began.

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Steampunk as a Maturing Visual Aesthetic


Thanks to Kelly Varner and JoAnn Onishi-Mogg for the pictures of the panel because we were too busy presenting to get some ourselves.

We proved once more that we can shut down Comic Con in style. Despite the lateness of the panel, we still had plenty of people in the room and got several very insightful questions. Exhausted, but content that this year was once again a success, we departed for a celebratory dinner with our friends, Kelly and Murray. Thanks to
Kelly for the departure pics.

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Until Next Year, Comic Con


Time to start making plans for next year’s panel.
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Book 5 Episode 4: You Can't Get There From Here

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Thanks, WikiMedia!

Why can't our heroes just have a quiet, romantic, little picnic?

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Clockwork Alchemy 2016

It's Memorial Day Weekend and we're at Clockwork Alchemy again! Woohoo!

How about we start this convention bloop with costumes for a change? The first pic is of
Professor Pepper and his Musicalodium. It actually makes music! The next picture of the convocation of bobbies reminded Drake that he should always take his Mall Copper costume to Clockwork Alchemy so he can join in.


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So Much Costume Fun!


We've always wondered what one does with funky, old, out-of-fashion neckties… and here it is. So.Much.Silk. Next: There's a new marshal in town and he's making Sparky think twice about robbing the bank (you know…on purpose). That's Drake wearin' his new custom cowboy hat from
O'Farrell's in Santa Fe (the same nice folks who made the Sparky del Pecos hat). If the style looks familiar, it might be because this is the same style O'Farrell's designed for Sheriff Longmire. Of course, no Clockwork Alchemy costume bloop would be complete without at least one picture of Thena MacArthur in something magnificent. This regal purple ensemble was designed for the fashion show. After the show, she wore it around to make everyone in the Author's Alley jealous.

The really big news is that the Treehouse Writers released a joint anthology again this year,
Thirty Days Later! Twelve Hours Later was such a success last year, we decided to do it again this year, but with stories separated by 30 days instead of just 12 hours. If you enjoyed Twelve Hours Later last year, catch us at a con in the coming year and get a copy of Thirty Days Later.

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Thirty Days Later


A wise man once said that you have to celebrate the victories because that's how you differentiate them from the defeats. (Okay, Drake said that.) And the release of
Thirty Days Later was definitely a victory. The authors had a spectacular release party at Spencer's.

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Thirty Days Later Release Party


We first learned about
splendid teapot racing while researching our 2015 Comic Con panel, "Steampunk as a Global Phenomenon." Clockwork Alchemy was the second convention in the US where we saw it included. We're super excited to see this sport take off.

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Splendid Teapot Racer

Random diversion: a friend recently asked me if there are steampunk tattoos. He said he'd searched the web and hadn't found any good ones.

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Yes, Chris, There are Epic Steampunk Tattoos


Our regular readers will know that Clockwork Alchemy always coincides (more or less) with Sparky's birthday. It's become a delightful excuse for weekend-long celebrations with friends which are Sparky's favorite birthday present always. The Messenger-
Sikes Cabal organized a small soiree in their room complete with birthday wine (we swear that's a "thing"). Dover Whitecliff exercised her artistic skills to render this scene from "The Hawaiian Triple-Cross" on a birthday card. Vive la France!

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Birthday Fun


Dover's author table was one of the stops on the scavenger hunt. At some point in the weekend she switched from requiring the scavengers to read from the back of a book in Author's Alley to making them sing a birthday song to Sparky. This resulted in some truly interesting birthday tunes. Who knew there was an apocalyptic birthday ditty?

Okay, it really was a
real convention, where we did presentations, and some performing and everything.

Clockwork Alchemy 2016 Schedule Fancy


Our Busy Schedule


First up: Character Creation Laboratory with the Messenger-Sikes Cabal. A few of the teams wound up producing stories that integrated all their characters. Sparky thinks her team should actually write up their story and get it published.

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Character Creation Laboratory


What? You were thinking there was no Hot Potato School of Writing™? Oh, you read the schedule, so you know we weren't going to leave you hanging. The Messenger-Sikes Cabal is getting to be old hands at this, so we threw them a curve with new plot points. “We told you not to flush that cephalopod; they will just breed in the sewers.”

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Hot Potato School of Writing™


And last, but not least, we sat on
Anthony Francis' panel on writing Victorian science fiction. Although we've known these fellow authors for several years and written two anthologies with them, it's still interesting to hear how our perspectives on our chosen genre vary.

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Writing Victorian Science Fiction


You might have noticed that most of our pics were taken in Author's Alley. We spent most of our time going between our table and the Author's Salon for panels. So while we didn't get to see a lot of our friends perform, like the
Aether Brigade

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O Aether Brigade, Where Art Thou?


…our efforts did result in this.

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Sold Out!


By now we know that we don't have to say this, but - see y'all next year!

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Wild West Steam Fest 2016

First, a big shoutout to Noelle Shannon for reviving Wild West Steam Fest at a beautiful new location, the Heritage Museum of Orange County. The whole place looked like this.


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View from the Porch of the Kellogg House

It was picnic perfect.


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Pickanick Basket Anyone?

Lots of friends were there, enjoying the programming and the shady elegance.


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Pausing for a Brief Respite on the Kellogg House Porch


The Wild West Steam Fest added regularly scheduled gun fights (wonderfully played by the
Guns and Garters Old West Reenactment group) that were sprinkled throughout the day.

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Look What You Done!


What’s that you say? Were there shenanigans? Really, do you even need to ask?


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Which One is the Sidekick?


Masks by the
Brass Wardrobe. Thanks to Bob Mogg for these comic pics of our masked heroes and for the cool panoramic view of the Kellogg House porch above. And speaking of Bob, also known as the Iron Tailor, he gave an incredibly educational bandolier workshop. It was really clear and informative. Even Sparky got to feeling like she might be able to tackle one of these projects.

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The Iron Tailor Explains Bandoliers


The
Star Wars Steampunk Universe was out in Force….ahaha. And Sparky won a patch by answering one of Dude Vader's trivia questions. It will straight onto her steampunk denim jacket.

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Star Wars Steampunk Universe


Deus Ex Vapore Machina was there playing sets in the gazebo throughout the day, so we stopped by several times in between shopping and panels to hear several songs.

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Deus Ex Vapore Machina


And you know we can't resist a few pics of cool costumes we spotted.


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New Costume Creativity


Because it was a one-day event, we had a short presentation schedule; we just did Drake & McTrowell’s Theatre of the Historically Improbable™. Thanks to
Debra Brunner for being such a good sport and participating in both the skit and the sock-puppet reading.


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“Green Grass, Brown Well” and “The Evil Cheesemonger”


Like many steampunk conventions, this one had a costume contest. What was special about this one was the number of girls in amazing adventure costumes. Seriously, doesn’'t the one on the left look like a young Sparky McTrowell? But they all looked incredible and steampunky.


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You
re Never Too Young to be a Steampunk Adventuress


Here’s hoping that the Heritage Museum saw the benefit of the event and lets Noelle do it again next year.

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Festival of Fools 2016

As our regular readers are aware, we’re huge fans of the Antique Gas and Steam Engine Museum and the Dreadful Punks, so we were super excited when they came together to produce the First Annual Festival of Fools, and delighted to be asked to headline.

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Who's Ready for Some Foolishness?


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Festival of Fools Poster

We started the festivities by appearing on San Diego Living on the local CW station. We steampunked the hosts, Lynda Martin and Clint August.

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San Diego Living

Drake pitched in by creating the brochure and map.

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Festival of Fools Brochure

We thought we were in 2016, but it’s possible we were in 1885.

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Back to the Future

Because it was outdoors with lots of open space, we took the opportunity for some sporting and busking shenanigans. We broke out the croquet set.

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Extreme Croquet

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Let the Wookie Win

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Even Doc Phineas Paid our Pitch a Visit

We did lots of juggling; Drake even taught a few lessons. We spent so much time busking and performing that we didn’t have a lot of time to take pictures. We’re grateful to Bethany Jackson, Hybrid Realities Cosplay, Michael Watson, and Debbie Boyd for many of the following pictures.

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Juggling Fools

And another in our continuing series, “Separated at Birth…”

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Separated at Birth?


We ran not one, but two, full sessions of Drake & McTrowell's Hot Potato School of Writing™. The first one was on the main stage. Judging by the pics, it had more than even our usual level of shenanigans.

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Hot Potato School of Writing™ on the Main Stage

The second session was in the more casual setting of the Dreadful Lounge.

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Open Air Hot Potato School of Writing™

Of course, no convention would be complete without a little music and dancing, compliments of Frenchy & the Punk.

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Frenchy & the Punk

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Plus Dancing

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Um, Whats Going on Here?

We hope to see you all there next year!

FoF_Smooching

Until Next Year


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Book 5 Episode 3: Leaving San Francisco

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Thanks, Pier 1!


In this episode, Drake and Sparky address the issues of leaving Sparky's hometown.

Click here to read the new episode ...

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