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.


View from the Porch of the Kellogg House

It was picnic perfect.


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

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.


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.


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.

Sparky_directs ECM_WWSF

“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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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.


Who's Ready for Some Foolishness?


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.


San Diego Living

Drake pitched in by creating the brochure and map.

FoF brochure

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


Let the Wookie Win


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…”


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.


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.


Frenchy & the Punk


Plus Dancing


Um, Whats Going on Here?

We hope to see you all there next year!


Until Next Year

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Book 5 Episode 3: Leaving San Francisco

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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Iron Horse 2016

Con season is in full swing, so we spent Saturday in Perris, CA, at the Orange Empire Railway Museum for the Iron Horse Family Steampunk Carnivale. We were even on the marquee for this one!

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Our Names in Lights…Sorta

We were traveling light, so we only did a couple of things. First, we participated in Joyce McCarthy's “Over 30 Cosplay” panel. A lot of our favorite “usual suspects” were there and we had a lively discussion.

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Over 30 Cosplay Panel

We did another round of Drake & McTrowell’s Theatre of the Historically Improbable™. Even with a completely different company, it was completely wacky.

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Don’t Try This at Home, Kiddies; We’re Rank Amateurs
(Carol Silver, thanks for taking these pictures!)

Okay, we did squeeze in a couple of other shenanigans. We hung with the
Atlantean Foundation for quite a bit of the afternoon, complete with singing on the train because…Atlantean Foundation. It’s what they do. The other thing they do is set up an awesomely detailed encampment and bestow superbly gracious hospitality on their friends.

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Attending Iron Horse, Atlantean-Style

And it seems like it’s been forever since we managed to catch one of
Poplock Holmes’ shows. Sparky danced to her heart’s content, but skipped the "signing directly on the fans" fun at the end.

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And it wouldn’t be one of our convention bloops without some nods to the costumes that really tickled our fancies.

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It Wouldn’t Be Steampunk Without the Costumes

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Wild Wild West Con 2016

If it’s March, the Drake & McTrowell roadshow must be hitting Old Tucson Studios for Wild Wild West Con! So much fun; so many friends; so many shenanigans! Justin Andrew Hoke of Dreadfully Punk joined us in the Dr. Sparkymobile and lent a hand all weekend with carting gear, taking pictures, and captaining the Blue Team for Drake & Mctrowell’s Hot Potato School of Writing™.


The Boys Take Old Tucson

We shared an author’s table with
David Lee Summers again inside the vendor’s barn. We had a great spot right in-between the refreshment stand and the table for the band “The Men Who Will Not Be Blamed for Nothing.” David S. was selling his hot-off-the-press book “Brazen Shark,” which is the third in his steampunk series. You should definitely check it out if you missed picking one up at WWWC. Special thanks to his wife, Kumie, and his daughter, Verity, for keeping the commerce in action while we scampered back and forth to panels.


Vending Shenanigans

It’s always fun to see our friends exercising their steampunk chops.


Cirque des Bêtes in the Sun


League of S.T.E.A.M. with Their Rock Monster


David Lee Summers Does Victorian Astronomy


Lord Towers Rides Tall


Thomas Willeford is Hot, Literally


Dont Ask!
(Crackitus from League of S.T.E.A.M. lovingly wipes his nose on Erasmus’ leathers)


Ice Cold Tea Duel Stare Down Cooling Off the Desert

We made some new friends including John Sprocket from
The Cog is Dead.


John Sprocket entertained with lively songs and panache

John did us the honor of captaining Team Red for Hot Potato School of Writing™.


Quick — have the story include “The look of love evaporated from his face when he saw his own reflection in the dead woman’s glass eye”

Trip Hope and Justin Andrew Hoke helped us reprise our presentation of “Steampunk as a Global Influence.”


Did Someone Say, “Стимпанк?”
( Russian for “Steampunk” )

There was some creative new costuming including the return of color, particularly in the ladies’ costumes.

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Lots of Crossovers

We got to see Splendid Teapot Racing live for the first time thanks to
Madame Askew, The Grand Arbiter, and Stephen Chapman. The Texas Terror made a exceptionally fine showing, particularly over the teeter-totter of terror, no surprise there.

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Splendid Teapot Racing

Of course, we had a session of Drake & McTrowell’s Theatre of the Historically Improbable™. We continue to be amazed by the willingness of steampunks to jump in with both feet and exercise their campy acting skills.

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Chief Inspector / Director Erasmus Drake Shows the Company How It’s Done

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Thespis Got Nothin’ on Steampunks

We saved the best for last. First, the League of S.T.E.A.M. screened the final
episode of season 3, “The Invitation to Armageddon,” the musical! We’re incredibly honored to be credited as associate producers on this episode for our contribution to the season 3 Kickstarter. You’ll have to settle for a picture of the audience for now because the episode isn’t online yet. “Why,” you ask? Because it’s having its theatrical “work premiere” at the Brussels International Fantastic Film Festival on April 4th!


The Audience for “Invitation to Armageddon”

And then there was this!
Oz Coppherchops proposed to Lady Ember Brennen Sparks with a little clandestine help from his friends. We love how verklempt she is in the first pic.

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She Said, “Yes”

Our regular readers will know that the two of us have a post-con “thing”; we go out for Mexican food. Apparently, we both crave chile after a busy weekend of vending, entertaining, costuming, and hauling. At other cons, it’s usually just the two of us, but for the second year in a row at WWWC we and a bunch of steampunk friends took over the basement of
El Charro. We drank a toast to Diana Given for putting on such an amazing con. Someone get that woman a foot massage and a libation; she’s earned them!


El Charro Chowdown

There were only about 20 of us; the wait staff says the basement will hold 70. Challenge accepted! See y’all next year on Sunday night after WWWC6 wraps!

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New Green T-Shirt

Just in time for small business Saturday (and boy are we a small business), we've added a new t-shirt to our Zazzle store. It's a dark green t-shirt with the cover art from "London, Where It All Began." So, "why green" you ask? That's a totally appropriate question. First, we had fans ask about our one-of-a-kind green t-shirts that we originally made for ourselves two or three years ago. The other reason is that green fits the season of harvest and merriment. And check out our General Store for other goodies perfect for holiday gift giving.


London, Where It All Began T-Shirt

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