Epic Cheap: 50% Off Editing Special

For the first time in three years, my schedule is completely blank until mid September. I’m actively looking for new manuscripts to edit, and I’d like to aggressively slash my prices. My rates are never this cheap, so I strongly encourage you to act fast because my inbox gets flooded every time I do this. […]

via Epic Cheap 50% Off Editing Special — Storymedic

Getting Published: Part One

FIRST DATE WITH AN AGENT

I’ve done it. I’ve started the journey to publishing my novel, or at least come closer to the dream than ever before. I’ve studied publishing as an industry, I’ve been an editor for four years for a digital publisher, but I’ve not managed to publish my own work—yet.

So, I figure we can experience the journey together, because despite the publishing experience that I have, this is all new territory for me.

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1. How I triumphed the Hunger Games and won the agent 

Okay, so I wasn’t bulldozing through a queue of clients to get to my agent, but the process of getting your foot through any door of traditional publishing can feel like a battle. Just notice me! Give me a chance!

I met Suresh (said prize agent of the Hunger Games) through my place of work—a tea house. We are tea merchants who serve tea gong fu style and in other methods that have existed for thousands of years. As such, we get a variety of customers from all over the world, including from weird and wonderful jobs.

Just from asking about Suresh’s life and work I found out he was a publishing agent. I took a deep breath and, beet-red in the face (probably), managed to choke out the words “oh wow really that’s great because I like to write”. It took off from there.

He asked what I like to write, what I’m working on, and finally, did I have a completed novel. As he paid for his tea, I took the final deep breath to ask for his email address.

But I wasn’t ready to send my novel.

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2. Get your ass in gear, quick

I did have a completed novel, but it wasn’t completed in terms of being ready to publish (it’s still not, but it was even less ready then). So I didn’t send Suresh my work for a week after getting his email—I started editing the heck out of it.

As a regular customer, Suresh came into the tea house again, and this time he enquired about me as a writer and my novel. He emphasised that he really would like to read my work. Shit, awesome, shit.

If you want to make contacts with people who can help your career, it’s important to respond to their inquiries in a timely manner so they don’t forget about you, or so they’ll take your creative potential seriously. Most developers or representatives of creative individuals want to see that you’ve built a community through your own initiative, usually by putting out some form of work. You need to have something to show, or they’ll forget about you.

I worked intensively every night, every morning, and in-between work for two weeks. I ploughed through my novel to get it in good condition. My partner is a blessing, he’s so creative and was an incredible help at giving feedback. I hacked off bits of the novel, I rewrote the entire ending, I deleted a whole character, and my partner read everything I wrote, as I wrote it. I must one of the luckiest writer’s out there.

In two weeks, I wrote 10,000 words and sent it to Suresh.

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3. First Date: Feedback

Let’s gloss over the waiting for his reply and call it ‘agony’ (although, amazingly, he read my novel in just over two weeks) and skip right to it. Suresh wanted to meet up to talk about my novel. Given that he hadn’t emailed me to say ‘no thank you’, I could only presume that arranging to meet me was a good sign. Why waste your time meeting with an author if you didn’t think that you’d like to take on their work?

I arrived early at the fancy cafe, ordered myself a tea, and waited.

After pleasantries, Suresh broached the topic of my novel by starting with: “There are two types of writers who tend to submit their work. The first have a great vision, but they can’t write. The second can write really well, but they haven’t fully developed their vision. You  fit into the second category, which is great, because it makes development much easier if the skill of writing is already there.”

AWESOME. SHIT BALLS. THE BEST NEWS EVER.

The entire meeting consisted of Suresh helping me consider ways to develop my story. He started by asking me questions about my world and characters, to which I was super glad I could answer immediately. It’s good to show you’ve given your world thought. Once I’d cleared up his main questions, we got down to his feedback.

I wrote down almost all of his concerns that he felt needed development. It was a great experience. He’d clearly given my book a lot of thought and he remembered story points and characters with distinction. Despite my story having teething problems, his concerns were conveyed kindly and made total sense to me. I could see he wanted me to make my book shine, not just good. Obviously, from his perspective it has to be as sellable as possible when he approaches publishers, but his input was genuine. He even said that I should probably push-back against him and disagree with his comments somewhere, but I felt all of his feedback was supportive and not unfounded.

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4. Next steps

So, my novel isn’t ready to publish yet. No contract has been signed. However, Suresh has given me a week to think over the major changes I should make. He’s going to give me a phone call, and we’re going to talk about those changes. Then, I have two months to implement those changes.

Suresh is going to act as my soundboard until I can give him my revised novel. If we work well together, and he thinks he can sell my revised novel, we go from there to the publishing gods.

I’m super excited, and super nervous. It’s crazy to think this window of opportunity could change everything for me. Once you’re foot is in the door, it doesn’t mean fame or fortune, but it does mean that the next book should be easier to get published.

And that’s all I want. To write books.

On that note, I won’t ramble on further. I’ll let you know how the phone call goes!

Art I Couldn’t Resist From Artist Alley

MCM London Comic Con is already behind us, but as per, it’s Artist Alley I always loved the most. This year I took my partner along as a photographer, and both of us spent most of our money on art we can’t hang up yet because we don’t have a house. But here are some of our favourite creatives:

Wei Li Wonka

I was not only excited to discover Wei Li’s art but touched to meet such an excitable young lady. My eye was especially drawn to her tea collection – people bathing in teaware/wearing tea cups. I love tea and work in a tea house; I now wear Wei Li’s badges to work! Her style is soft and delicate, sometimes pastely, sometimes stark and bold. It has an air of innocence and wonder, much like the artist herself, and I will certainly be procuring more of her art.

 

Find Wei Li on her blog, Tumblr, Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest.

Zee Arts Stuff

Zee (friends with Wei Li and who often share a table together at conventions) has an afinity for Evee evolutions from Pokemon, and so does my boyfriend – it’s no surprise he wanted to buy all of her badges. Her art ranges from fandom to fandom with a vibrant wash of colours, rich shading, and sometimes simpler, more adorable styles. I want all of her sticker sets.

Nab yourself some lushious fan art and find her on Tumblr, Facebook and Twitter.

TheFuzzBalls

Originally a tumblr blog of short comics and moving pictures, TheFuzzBalls feature relateable little stories of adorable cats, rabbits, and tigers. We weren’t the only cat lovers who couldn’t resist their stand. The drawings are simple in design, vibrant to look at, and feature a sweet sense of humour. We bought necklaces, t-shirts, stickers and badges. We may well end up with the whole collection one day.

The team themselves are as lovely as their artwork; absolutely helpful beyond dealing with their own products, and a pleasure to talk to. Find them on Tumblr, Twitter, Etsy and Facebook.

 

Lissy Raine

I met Lissy for the first time last May and was pleasantly captured by her cheerfulness. I was looking for something in my bag when she called out, “Is that Attack on Titan? I love your bag!” I left Lissy’s table with two of her prints, which now hang either side of my Bloodshot Buck moodboard for inspiration. Her work is nerdy, and colourful, and ranging in tone. Cute, sinister, bold, or detailed, Lissy has something for everyone. I need to get me a print of her Dragon Age II Anders drawing and her sparkly-eyed cat pillow!

Explore and buy Lissy’s work on: Tumblr, Twitter, deviantART, redbubble, and her website.

Destiny Blue

I’ve been inspired by DestinyBlue for so many years now. I remember when she first attended Comic Con at a table, not a booth, and her artwork still inspires my writing to this day. Her work is ethereal, filled with the universe, layered with emotional auras and imagery. Her style is instantly recognisable; everyone can connect with her themes. I look at DestinyBlue’s art and I see a hundred stories. Destiny herself is absolute sweetness and always smiling when she greets you. Destiny has a special place in my heart, and in my house.

Love on DestinyBlue at Facebook, deviantART, Tumblr, Twitter and Storenvy.

Beastly Beverages

Delicious, creative, fandom inspired hot beverages! Beastly Beverages blends tea leaves and coffee with fruits, flowers, herbs and oils to create wonderful infusions. I’ve been buying Gabriel’s teas gradually over the years and I’ve never been disappointed. This year, Gabriel had vintage tea-cup-candles with Earl Grey tea leaves in the wax, potion-like glass bottles filled with Earl Grey leaves that you steep in gin, and flowering tea. We had to buy one of each as well as stock up on infusion packets. I’ve finally gotten around to subscribing to Beastly Beverages patreon, too. When I have more money, I want to upgrade from a $20 subscription to at least $40 – so worth it, but money! D:

Find yourself some tasty infusions on the websitePatreon and Twitter.

Photos by Aaron Gaffney.

Elements of Writing Horror: Something Must Die

I love writing horror. This is a great little post about drawing upon the aspect of character/animal death to ramp up fear in your story.

The Sarcastic Muse

(c) hotblack (c) hotblack

The goal of horror is to elicit an intense fear, and there nothing that humans fear more than death. Death is the last curtain call, the ending to the show. Everyone, whether they admit it or not, has some level of terror about the final end. Fear of death is universal. Horror stories feed off this trepidation. Every single tale of the macabre contains a death, which is essential to amp up the panic in a character.

The purpose of a story is show the growth of a central character. In order to grow, there needs to be a triggering event that transports the character in a positive or negative direction. Yes, characters can grow negatively and fall from where they originated. Typically in the genre of horror, the main character does descend. Eternal loss is a plot tactic for this catalyst. The build up to death is what generates the character’s (and essentially the reader’s) fear — the intrinsic element…

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An Accident of Stars – Cover Reveal

shattersnipe: malcontent & rainbows

So, remember that thing where I’ve written an epic portal fantasy? The cover is finally here, with artwork from the amazing Julie Dillon! BEHOLD THE PRETTY:

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Here’s what it’s all about:

When Saffron Coulter stumbles through a hole in reality, she finds herself trapped in Kena, a magical realm on the brink of civil war.

There, her fate becomes intertwined with that of three very different women: Zech, the fast-thinking acolyte of a cunning, powerful exile; Viya, the spoiled, runaway consort of the empire-building ruler, Vex Leoden; and Gwen, an Earth-born worldwalker whose greatest regret is putting Leoden on the throne. But Leoden has allies, too, chief among them the Vex’Mara Kadeja, a dangerous ex-priestess who shares his dreams of conquest.

Pursued by Leoden and aided by the Shavaktiin, a secretive order of storytellers and mystics, the rebels flee to Veksh, a neighboring matriarchy ruled by the fearsome Council of Queens…

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Weather Report: The Basilisk in Your Pasta

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The South West of England will continue to see frequent and unpredictable bursts of heavy showers and crisp sunshine every day of this week, so don’t forget your rain repellent umbrellas no matter how deceivingly warm it seems.

Those in North London should be wary of lightning strikes today, since thirteen year old Annabella Hackhop reacted badly to getting drenched in water by a speeding muggle car. The young witch is not being charged for casting the spell, as she claims it was an instinctive magical reaction that she had not intended to happen, and the Ministry’s Accidental Magic Reversal Squad should have the lightning cleared away by this afternoon.

Due to an awful incident involving an elderly wizard and his experimentation in homemade dungbombs, the glorious sunshine in East Riding might not be so welcome after all. The stink is potent for miles and truly foul, not helped by the beautiful weather Yorkshire is due all week. Ahmer Laham is being treated for magical burns after his fifth batch of dungbombs exploded in his garden brazier. The Muggle-Worthy Excuse Committee are telling local muggles that a gas line combusted and hit a sewer system.

If you’ve been brewing any lunar dependant potions this month, don’t forget that tonight is the first day of the full moon.

And a quick traffic notification: no one else is permitted to apparate into Diagon Alley today due to a pile up of witches and wizards arriving at the same time for the touring performance of the French rock band ‘The Basilisk in Your Pasta’. The crush of folk is heavy and too many of the travellers were uncomfortable with apparition, resulting in a lot of vomit.

[A/N: Literally, honestly, tonight is a full moon in the UK.]

Meddling in Muggle Theatre

I applied to be a writer for Hogwarts is Here a couple of years ago, and my application was successful! But sadly, the acceptance email went to my junk folder, and I discovered it two weeks after they’d sent it, which was apparently deplorable. I never even got a ‘sorry, you replied too slow’. I liked the content I wrote for them, however, so my Quibble-Whatever-Newspaper-Name-HiH-Were-Going-To-Use articles shall have a home on my neglected blog. Hello, 2016.

Meddling in Muggle Theatre

Beauty and the Beast

Wizarding theatre has been in decline, according to directors such as Plepbin Eggum, famous for his adaptation of Three Wizards and the Rolling Trolls, for the past fifty years. He stated that the same dusty fables had graced our stages for so long that even fairies would be tired of sweeping up the moral residue for their spells. Whatever that means. He went on about fairy dust for quite some time.

Due to the strict regulations on public displays of magical performance, new plays have struggled to survive outside of big cities; and new writers have sunk beneath the more popular adaptations of classical tales, or Big Name Directors with galleons to spend on marketing. Eggum explains that the reason for this sink or sparkle is that no one is producing anything fresh enough—it’s all a hack of the classics, only some productions have more money.

“Just last week,” he lamented, “I attended a ‘new’ production by some old sop who had basically swapped Urg the Unclean for a melodramatic goblin—a watery replica of Urg’s life as a rebel leader, but without any depth and an endless chain of poor wand duelling choreography.”

This stagnancy looks like it’s about to evanesco, however, as a witch who is superb at charms rewrites muggle plays with magic. Since it’s still a case of using pre-existing material, it might not be the freshness Eggum had in mind, but her work has certainly got magical London excited.

Last night in Undar West End, Celeste Summerbee wowed wizards and witches of all ages with her production of a muggle play called Beauty and the Beast. “It was simple, really,” she told us, “the story was already there—developed and adapted—ready for me to pick the best version. They [muggles] even have their own version on stage—the impressive tricks muggles have devised to make certain actions look like real magic… All I had to do was make the magic really real—make it bigger.”

Summerbee’s grandmother was a muggle, and as a result, she has apparently devoured muggle fairytales all of her life. As Summerbee grew older being on stage felt like her calling in life, but later found that she preferred working in the wings. Being naturally gifted in charms work, then, it’s no wonder that Summerbee eventually thought to combine her talents into one show stopping idea.

Many are concerned that the leading Prince/Beast Beauty-web1in Summerbee’s adaptation is played by Thomas Flaxwagon—a registered werewolf by the Ministry of Magic. Some, especially parents, have refused to attend the show on these grounds. When questioned about this controversial casting choice, Summerbee said, “Thomas is simply wonderful, have you seen the play? [We replied that we had] You agree he’s perfect for the part. It’s time we stopped treating lycanthropes like a disease. I like the statement of casting Thomas as the Beast. No one else could be more perfect, in more ways than one.”

The stories aren’t new, these muggle fairytales are as old as Always Kiss A Fwog, but the imagination of muggles proves to be a powerful source of inspiration. Even muggleborn witches and wizards who attended last night’s showing described it as ‘the best version of Beauty and the Beast that they had ever seen,’ and ‘heart stopping’ to see characters they know and love lifted into the air, transformed, and lit up with real magic.

Summerbee intends to adapt Three Princes, Three Dragons tumblr_nstsp1DkMi1uag9smo4_250and the Old Woman with the Iron Nose next, a Magyar-Hungarian folktale, and possibly with real dragons. She wouldn’t elaborate on how these majestic beasts are the main characters of the plot. “It’s an old story,” she said, grinning, “but you don’t know it. Wait and be surprised.”

We’ll eagerly await, indeed. Tickets for Beauty and the Beast are on sale until the next solstice.

10 Uses for the Author Business Card

The Sarcastic Muse

10 Uses for Author Business Cards

Do you have a business card as a writer or author? Have you thought about it? Business cards are a good idea with lots of uses.

Just a quick tip: First, make sure your card stands out. A signature color, logo, or something that draws attention is good. Also make sure that you use a legible font and include only details you want widely public (for example, I omitted my address and phone number).

Here are ten ways you might not have thought of to use your business cards:

  1. One clever idea, which I will implement when the third Family Secrets novel comes out, is to use the space on one side of the card for thumbnails of three books. It’s almost a perfect fit. Then put your info on the back along with a link to where you prefer people to buy them. It’s an immediate sales tool in…

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Overcoming Resistance (to Writing)

The Sarcastic Muse

Overcoming Writer ResistanceIt happens all the time. I have a good idea or existing project, characters are talking, plot is coming together, and I want to write. I want to close my eyes and let the story pour out.

Instead, I’m doing everything but writing. I’m even tackling tasks I’ve neglected since I wrote my spring-cleaning list.

Resistance feels like a door I need to walk through but can’t seem to budge.

So what gives?

Experienced writers exchange commiserating glances. New writers wonder what’s wrong with them. The good news is that nothing is wrong. It’s a phenomenon known as resistance and it’s pretty common. If you haven’t experienced it yet, chances are you will.

For me, resistance is always present. It’s just part of my writing life. Learning how to overcome, trick, deny, and work around resistance was a vital skill for me to develop. Sometimes we’re just afraid that we can’t…

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Analysing the Steampunkness of Steamboy

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This post will be looking at how Steamboy (2004), written by Sadayuki Murai and Katsuhiro Otomo, can be said to be a signifier of the genre ‘steampunk’. Steampunk is a niche (though growing) sub-genre of science fiction and fantasy that can almost be summed up as: modern Victorian literature with anachronistic technology. I’ll be referring to Susan Napier’s Anime from Akira to Howl’s Moving Castle: Experiencing Contemporary Japanese Animation (2006) to unpick the cinematic devices that define the ‘feel’ of this steampunk film, and why anime in particular suits the story.

Steamboy has been harshly discredited by critics like Roger Ebert, but I would like to point out the depth of themes within this film that have been dismissed based upon its plot devices. I myself would not say Steamboy is the best film since sliced bread but when we look beneath the surface elements there is a lot to appreciate – at least as a signifier of its genre. This post contains SPOILERS for Steamboy and the endng of the graphic novel Watchmen.

NOTE: Given requests when this was posted on Squidoo, you have full permission to quote my essay in any academic paper, presentation or casual blog that you are writing. Please just reference back to this page and its sources correctly (my name is Willow Wood). I’ve included a bibliography at the very bottom.

Before you read this post…

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Steamboy Trailer

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What do people expect from steampunk?
chug, chug, hiss, chug, chug, chug, hiss, chug, chug…

As the name suggests: steam. Steampunk revolves steamboyaround the Victorian industrial era and ideas like “what if 19th century inventions were ahead of their time”? Frequent quirks of the genre are; murky cities, Victorian politics, various British dialects and phrases no longer used, creative inventions powered by steam and references to real history and/or historical figures. It is a mix of past and present sensibilities to create something that often critiques modern society.

There is nostalgia but the anachronistic technology and warped setting either alleviates viewer alienation or causes it, for steampunk is certainly a genre appreciated more by its followers. For newcomers, it may be hard to discern why science fiction, fantasy and history have been melded into one but it is, nonetheless, a fascinating pastiche that many find hard to ignore. The film The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (Stephen Norrington, 2003), for example, captivated newcomers and horrified critics who are fans of the original comic, like the disgusted Jamie Russell of the BBC Film Reviews, who said, ‘Indeed, it’s so bad, it makes the press feeding frenzy surrounding its troubled shoot […] sound less like schadenfreude-fuelled gossip than all-too-believable reality.’

Regardless of whatever critiques might say about the story, The League of Extraordinary Gentleman is a perfectly good example of the stylistic components that make a steampunk film. San Francisco Chronicle’s critic Mick LaSalle said, ‘It depicts the world of a century ago in a way that comments on the anxieties facing the world today, and it does so, at least for a while, with cleverness and a sense of fun.’

Imagery in Steamboy
subconcious influence, apocalypse and anime

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art by arcipello

So why is Steamboy a significant example of what steampunk can be? The most obvious answer is that it acknowledges all steampunk tropes and uses them lavishly. Steam, Victorian fashion, inventions and political disputes between America and Britain – these are all utilised in abundance. From the first five minutes of the film the typical setting for a steampunk narrative is established with its most distinctive component: steam-powered inventions.

The industrial era was a time of discovery, religious and scientific battle, and the growth of “low” and “high” culture divide. The first recognisable image on screen is a water droplet. The reflection within this droplet looks like a warped map of the world, when it is in fact mirroring the two men and cave beneath it. There are many pan shots of squeaking locomotives and a throw away line about scientific theory that has no later bearing within the film. There are continuing bursts of steam, lingering shots of unfamiliar but seemingly important devices, a Victorian warehouse, figures dressed in 1980s pilot uniform and everything is shaded slate grey or brown.

Already, the audience knows that this is not a modern, or normal, setting and is layered with heavy-handed foreboding. The peak of the opening sequence is a slow zoom-in on the black, mysterious ‘steamball’ that sits surrounded by broken pipes and shadows. The only sound is of a high-pitched ringing. This elusive and dark introduction is typical of the genre for, despite the liveliness and imagination that arises in steampunk works, it often tackles problematic issues or apocalyptic imagery.

Both of these gloomy attractions are well suited to Steamboy’s medium, anime, for ‘…its [anime’s] often dark tone and content may surprise audiences who like to think of “cartoons” as “childish” or “innocent.”‘ (Napier p.9) As the climax of the story is of the American arms-trade company, O’Hara, attempting to start a war in the middle of London, and ends with a levitating castle crashing through the streets, it is fitting that this bizarre and creative film is an anime. As Susan Napier states:

    It may be that animation in general – and perhaps anime in particular – is the ideal artistic vehicle for expressing the hopes and nightmares of our uneasy contemporary world. Even more than live-action cinema, animation is a fusion of technology and art, both suggesting in its content and embodying in its form new interfaces between the two. (page 11)

From this we can see that anime and steampunk (though not limited to each other) go hand-in-hand as the visual-aesthetics of steampunk are a large part of its charm, which include (but not always) spectacular technological doom or political upheaval. Napier later goes on to explain that ‘…perhaps one of the most striking features of anime is its fascination with the theme of apocalypse.’ (Napier p.193)

Steampunk Pokes at Western Society
it’s not all steam, cogs and fashion

draft_lens19317203module158117890photo_1333316262a_This film is riddled with contraptions that retain a Victorian feel, such as flying machines made to resemble Leonardo’s wings and mechanical suits of armour – all powered by steam, of course. The ‘villain’ of the film is an obligatory cyborg, complete with mono-goggle mask, and the protagonist is an aspiring inventor. Steamboy may not be worth the ten years it took to create, but it most definitely conforms to nearly all steampunk tropes and style.

Why is Steamboy not worth the ten years it took to create? If we evaluate the film beyond its genre; of which it explores to a dramatic extent; and look at the narrative development, it feels as if certain dilemmas are solved too conveniently by the characters’ cleverness or a deus ex machina intervention. Many BBC, Film4 and fan critics bash the story of Steamboy as poorly developed and, when boiled down, “not like Otomo’s Akira“. In some ways it is easy to agree that the story is not consistently engaging. In places it seems to try too hard to define itself as a steampunk film by having long monologues about scientific achievement and that the world will benefit from the ‘steamball’. As one seemingly offended BBC critic writes: ‘Ray is a cross little moppet whom it’s hard to root for, while dad and grandpa are blowhards whose endless rants about technology are just a load of, well, hot air.’ (2005, Mathew Leyland)

Leyland also believes that this flatness is due to ‘a lack of engaging characters’ and that it is ‘a prolonged orgy of chaos’ (2005, Mathew Leyland). It is true that the characters are not as three-dimensional as, say, in Otomo’s Akira, but their morals and motives are constantly being questioned by a believably baffled protagonist. The message of the film lies within political morals – as is often the case in steampunk narratives – and while the characters’ personalities are marginally developed, they are engaging for their “radical” or “extreme” beliefs. It would be better to acknowledge and understand the genre it is trying to fit into and consider that perhaps the narrative drags on in places because it tries too hard.

Leyland focuses on British cinema and it comes across as ignorant of steampunk as he says in the opening paragraph of his review: ‘…but as long-gestating animated fantasies set in the north of England go, it’s not a patch on the Wallace & Gromit movie.’ Aside from the fact Steamboy is set in an alternate version of England and is written by two Japanese men who have well researched the industrial workplace, the Wallace & Gromit movie is of an entirely different genre.

Political Anime
steampunk seeks to challenge you

Expanding further on the medium itself it is relevant to consider “what freedom does anime give to Steamboy’s genre?” Napier puts it well by saying, ‘…the abstract visual medium of animation works brilliantly to “convey the unconveyable.”‘ (p.198) As aforementioned, steampunk often tries to engage its consumer with what they are reading or watching. It likes to deal with politics and can get away with mocking, challenging or reinventing history in order to deal with current day concerns. Again, Napier explains why animation products may be the most liberal medium to explore controversial topics and what these films are trying to do:

    …appropriate to the basic ideology of apocalypse, most works [ … ] include such elements as an explicit criticism of the society undergoing apocalypse and an explicit or implicit warning as to why this society should be encountering such a fate. These reasons are almost always related to human transgression, most often the misuse of technology. (Napier p.198)

The medium is still often brushed under the carpet as “cartoons for children”, which is why Japanese anime writers are not always challenged for the critiques they express in their films. They tend to be ignored by a large portion of the Western world and their work dismissed because it “cannot be as engaging as a live-action production”.

Steamboy’s Plot Devices
messages you may have missed

draft_lens19317203module158118099photo_1333317010aThe impending apocalyptic threat that unfolds in Steamboy is caused by the tensions between America and Britain – one must have the better weaponry, one must constantly be ahead of the game – and this rivalry is another element of steampunk. While the critique of futile squabbling for power comes from an outside observer (Japan), this is something that many steampunk writers always include. There is an American character or a British character looking on or competing to be better than their surroundings. For a Western society it is possible to say this feud has developed into a perverse pleasure as the bickering between the two cultures is generally portrayed as humorous.

In Steamboy, however, the feuding between the American and British characters is satirical. The representative of the O’Hara arms company leads rich, world-wide figures to the roof of their establishment. From here he waves at the London street below and cries in a jovial voice, ‘These are our newest models, we call them steam-troopers! As you can see, even a few can put a formidable enemy to flight. [ … ] Of course the price is dear but the rewards of victory are beyond any price!’ As he says this, American weaponry annihilates the British police below and anyone else in the way.

This plot point is again repeatedly criticised by un-enthused reviewers. ‘…the film finally comes together with the rise – and sensational fall – of a hissing, clanking, life-endangering steam castle in central London.’ (2005, Leyland) The apparent issue with this is that it is “ridiculous” and “stupid” to attack London from within,as if it makes any more sense that Western culture could develop so entirely on steam without running out of resources or impracticalities.

With steampunk, the conclusions tend to be over the top or thought-provoking; even ambiguous and Steamboy does both of the former. It is set during the build up to World War I and after pondering the philosophy of scientific achievement throughout the film, it brings to light the destruction that has come with technological advancement. Returning to Napier’s theorising on the apocalyptic attraction:

    Perhaps the twentieth century itself, with its mammoth social and political upheavals and its incredible rate of technological change, is the chief culprit behind the enormous range of apocalyptic visions that exist in the world today. (p.194)

If you’ve been intrigued by Napier’s quotes throughout this essay you should definitely pick up her book. It’s easy to read and she covers a range of subjects concerning anime. I keep it with me everywhere I move to, just in case.

Overall, It’s A Steampunk Film
and it delievered us a lot, even if the narrative could be better

Having considered the elements of steampunk that apply to Otomo and Murai’s film Steamboy, it should now be clearer as to how this film ticks all the boxes of the genre. It succeeds in creating a visual masterpiece, overflowing with creative uses for steam power and warped Victorian settings. It provides questions to ask of our society and does so with a seemingly modern combination of two recently growing “sub-cultures”: anime and steampunk. In the words of Zac Bertschy: ‘It’s like the best of both worlds: thought-provoking, intelligent Japanese-style themes combined with exciting, Western-style action set pieces and pacing’ (2004) Steamboy is an enjoyable, unpredictable film that surprises anime fans, steampunk fans and non-fans alike. If there was one film that could be used as an example of the genre, it should be Steamboy.

Having read this post…

Filmography

Steamboy, 2004 [film]. Directed by Katsuhiro OTOMO. JAPAN: Toho, Triumph Films, & Paramount Pictures.

Bibliography

Secondary Sources

BERTSCHY, Z., 2004. Review: Steamboy. In: Anime News Network [online]. 21 July 2004. [Viewed 1 May 2011]. Available from: http://www.animenewsnetwork.co.uk/review/steamboy

LASALLE, M., 2003. ‘Extraordinary Gentlemen’ unite to save the world, and Sean Connery almost saves the movie. In: SFGate [online]. 11 July 2003. [Viewed 1 May 2011]. Available from: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2003/07/11/DD59410.DTL&type=movies

LEYLAND, M., 2005. Steamboy (2005) [online]. [Viewed 30 April 2011]. Available from: http://www.bbc.co.uk/films/2005/11/22/steamboy_2005_review.shtml

NAPIER, S., 2006 (originally published 2000). Anime From Akira to Howl’s Moving Castle: Experiencing Contemporary Japanese Animation (edited edition). New York: palgrave.

RUSSELL, J., 2003. A League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (2003) [online]. [Viewed 1 May 2011]. Available from: http://www.bbc.co.uk/films/2003/10/07/the_league_of_extraordinary_gentlemen_2003_review.shtml

Further Reading

BROPHY, P., 2005. 100 Anime (page 223). LONDON: British Film Institute.

BROWN, S., T., ed. 2006. Cinema Anime. Edition 2008. NEW YORK: palgrave macmillan.