Steampunk and Superheroes – why here, why now?

I’ve noticed over the past year or so the rush of readers to both the superhero genre and the steampunk genre – not that the two haven’t been around for decades, but the surge to the forefront of the media is somewhat interesting. I’m going to put forth a few theories as to why I think movies like “Dark Knight” and “Iron Man” have really put us comic geeks into our Happy Place and why steampunk is picking up steam, especially in the romance area.

First, I’m a comic book geek. Used to devour Alpha Flight, West Coast Avengers and everything I could get my hands on. Unlike my hubby, I can’t tell you anything about the artists or the plotlines or anything like that, just that I like comics. And I *loved* Classics Illustrated, which I hear is making a return. I remember being startled by the violence in “Miracleman” and “Watchmen” and suffered through the bad comic book movies that we had for so many years, until “Iron Man”, “Spiderman” and his kin brought comic book movies into the mainstream and out of the back alley, badly-written and under-financed darkness. Suddenly we could go watch “The Fantastic Four” movie with our heads held high and without being mocked by most of our associates. And, Lordy, we got the full Manhattan in “Watchmen”, though I disagreed with them changing the ending.

I think the reading/watching public has rediscovered comic books because it shows a reality much like a soap opera – there’s always something going on, be it someone betraying their friends or having an affair or making The Wrong Choice. I lived for every issue of “Alias” until it went under, a faboo comic about an ex-heroine trying to deal with being famous and then NOT being famous. And who doesn’t love a good story dealing with real people dealing with real issues, like being pregnant and having superpowers? Talk about stressful! But like all the daytime soap operas, it offers up a good story and lets us destress with people who are nothing like us, but are so much like us.

Steampunk, well… I analyse that quickly with one word – civility.

Now, I *know* that the Victorian Era has been greatly magnified in our eyes, especially when it comes to the area of fiction. It was a dark, dank time when you could die in childbirth or before having a few years of life due to a plethora of diseases racing around, or be killed under the wheels of a carriage or chewed up in machinery. Very few lived well, and those that did still died from diseases that we treat as trivial now.

But steampunk… it moves that less-than-glossy time into a new era where men were men and women were women being treated nicely by men while they stood alongside them, making the wheels turn. Where a woman could be just as much of an engineer as a man, but still have the door opened for her as she flourished her latest invention.

Steampunk, basically, lets women be equal without giving up the courtesy that many have forsaken in this current age. You open a door for a woman and it’s almost treated like an event. You help a mother with a stroller to get up onto a bus and you’re stared at like you’ve grown a third eye. You offer to assist a wheelchair-bound person in the Walmart by reaching something on the shelf for her/him and it’s a novelty that has people whispering behind their hands.

Personal manners has declined so much in our current world, it’s sad. It’s a rare time that I see a young person opening a door for a senior; more times than not they intentionally slam it in the person’s face while laughing or texting about it to their buds. And we have an entire generation who seem to think that saying “Thank you” is some sort of anchronism.

Steampunk, well… steampunk reminds us of a kinder, gentler time when being polite and nice wasn’t seen as a personal flaw. Where men opened the doors, women thanked them and children said “please” and “thank you” without any curse words involved.

At least, that’s what I’m thinking right now. It could change, but it’s a start as to why I think these two genres are becoming more common in our society.

Now, how long until that second part of the Castle ep comes on?


Epic Watchmen Fail (spoiler-free)

We went and saw "Watchmen" last week. 1 1/2 times, to be precise due to a major power failure causing us to see it again the same day.

I liked it. In a sort of "alternative history" way, since it’s not a faithful depiction of the novel.

Then I read this.


There are still some things that are NOT funny.

Sometimes it’s very hard to believe in humanity when you read idiots like this. And they make way more money than I ever will.


there’s a wonderful interview with Alan Moore, mostly known for his faboo graphic novel Watchmen, here.

while it starts off talking about artists there’s a LOT of good advice here for writers and pretty well anyone who works in the creative arts – again, it all comes back down to doing what you love and if it makes you money that’s great… but if not then don’t try to rework yourself to fit into what you see as successful because in the end it doesn’t make it work.

meanwhile I’m about to finish off the third draft of “What God and Cats Know” and now it’s time to start working on the query letter and seeing if I can get a legitimate publisher this time. Been burned twice and getting very cynical about the entire industry because, as of late, it seems that the inmates are running the asylum and it’s more a case of who you know rather than what’s good making it onto the shelves. True, Terry Brooks said in one of his books that it’s all a matter of luck but I’d like to think that I’m a pretty lucky broad. 

and Lord… I’m dying for the Watchmen movie. And for Iron Man 2. 

and for more Middleman. Gotta get me one of those Jolly Fats Wehawken Temp Agency tshirts. Seriously.


Watchmen… you should be reading/watching for it!

Well, the first trailer for Watchmen is out – and running not only online but also in front of “Dark Knight”, as if you needed a bigger audience to discover/rediscover this masterpiece.

Now, I know that if I say it’s based on a graphic novel that some of you are going to shrug and go “Comic book? I don’t read comic books!” – which is a fine decision based on some of the crap out there that’s being published, to be honest. I love comics dearly but some of the stuff that’s being illustrated nowadays makes me shudder – and not in a good way.

However, I remember when the first issues of Watchmen hit the stands at the Silver Snail on Queen Street West in Toronto, many many years ago. It was incredible to watch the people stripping the racks of every copy and racing to double/triple bag extra copies. It was truly a comic phenom that hasn’t really been duplicated, though many have tried.


Well, it basically turns the comic book world you may know via Batman and Superman on it’shead. The only thing that I can think of that may come close is the real-world feel of Iron Man as of late; with the movie accentuating his humanity over the cool gadgets. But I digress into a RDJ fangirl swoon…

I later purchased a copy of the graphic novel (here on Amazon, if not on the shelves of your fine local bookstore) and just wallowed in the excellent writing, drawing, extras and just plain old everything. If you’re interested even slightly in writing this is a book you need to get and devour. Each and every panel has so much symbolism and depth to it that it boggles the mind. Even now, decades later, I can pull out my ragged old copy and see more and more that I’ve missed. Not to mention that the alternative reality presented has a new perspective in light of recent events. And no, I’m not talking about more Bush-bashing. That’s gotten very old and I don’t think people realise that it kills a story/movie/comic book when you link it to a specific time in history that will eventually be over. Sort of like reading the stuff being put out during the Cold War and not understanding the perspective the people were writing from. But again, I digress.

From the main story about retired superheroes (some with powers, some not – average joes, as it were) to the bigger story to the epic sidebar of a comic within a comic and the rampant symbolism wrapped up in a beautiful package you can’t afford to not at least look over a copy of the original before the movie comes out. Really.

Get thee hence before the movie comes out and be amazed. You’ll never look at Batman or Superman or Swee… er, Iron Man in the same way again.