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Why isn't Steampunk Going Mainstream?




Hello Fellow travelers, it has been a while. I got several blogs in the works. And I'll get to them. I also have some status reports, like I send the new anthology to the printer! This will be part of the upcoming Kickstarter Bound for the Styx. But first, let's consider the following.

considering Steampunk's popularity, how come there aren't more steampunk movies/TV shows?
This person overestimates how big Steampunk is. It's a niche genre that, quite frankly, isn’t even that well understood. There is also a big lack of unity among its fans. As somebody who is both a creator and active in the Steampunk costume community, I can tell I haven’t seen as big a chasm anywhere else. The costume folks are even hostile to creators as they see them as little more than vendors, which causes many Steampunk creators to become disillusioned with the whole thing. I can’t stress this enough. Steampunk refers to three different things. The cosplay community, the genre, and the aesthetic. This is also through for its communities and networks, and too little is done to bring these together. Unless that changes, Steampunk will remain a niche without creative direction and objectives.
It's a shame because when I show people what our community is creating, The Association of Ishtar, they become enthused because they saw anything like it before. Audiences are starved for something that isn’t superheroes or Fantasy. Steampunk could fill that spot. But in its current state, creators can not rely on a community to fund or promote their projects.
For indie films, check out Valentin Felder’s Das Getriebe im Sand and the Argentinian Distopía Saga.

After I posted this statement on Facebook, various well-known Steampunk creators agreed with me. If anyone is stopping Steampunk from making the big screen. It's the Steampunk communities themselves. If there are no creatives in their own social circles to support them, they'll have to look beyond their bubble.

If I have learned one thing. The cosplaying Steampunk community doesn't understand creatives. They don't share the same interests and don't have the same ambitions. Creatives are storytellers and see Steampunk from that lens. It leads to unique designs not seen in other, more marketable genres. And there is the issue. How do you market Steampunk?

Superheroes. Good guys with superpowers defeat bays guys with superpowers. Star Wars. Good force guys defeat bad force guys. Sure they try to 'subvert' or 'deconstruct' these genres. But these productions have the benefit that marketers don't have to explain the concept of a superhero or Jedi to the audience. But as we have seen these passing years, audiences have grown tired of these franchises.

That is why, In many industries, especially entertainment, there is a fallacy that the audience wants something different as long it's more of the same. And one of the reasons this is a popular fallacy is because marketers don't want to figure out how to sell people a genre that, well, even the fans can't define.

Doing my own marketing for Kickstarter, I myself struggle to describe it in words. It doesn't help that Steampunk is that heavily associated with the Steam Goth aesthetics, books, movies, etc. get dismissed right out of hand due to that stereotype.



Back on topic. Especially the older, non-gaming generation have no clue what Steampunk is.

So, what does a Steampunk show look like? I'm going to save that for a future topic, but seriously. What does it look like? What will it be about?


The answer can't be, "Well, exactly what the Steampunk conventions look like." Let's face it. Storytellers, most of these people are not. Its social cliques happen to have some creatives among them. Many of whom feel like they don't belong at this point.


Companies have the same issue. What does a Steampunk series look like? They have no clue. And because Steampunk refuses to even consider that Steampunk can evolve, how can it develop as a culture

Steampunk has a serious problem. Starting with a feeble narrative. What do I mean by that..? Simply put, the genre lacks flag ships media. If we talk about Fantasy, everyone will start with Tolkien and how he drew inspiration from Norse mythology, among others. Talk about Scifi, and people start singing the praises of H.G. Wells and Jules Verne all the way to Gene Rodenberry. But when it comes to Steampunk, well... It is barely older than Cyberpunk. The name was conceived by the same people, after all. But how many of these books have you read? How many of you were blown away by the first intentional Steampunk Novel, the Difference Engine? The Anubis Gate? Infernal Machines? Anyone?

They were not that special, were they? Now, I am somebody who believes Neuromancer is overrated. Maybe the writing style is just not for me.

The point is, Steampunk doesn't have an easy timeline. Its created by a group of Indy writers, I hesitate to call a community, who don't have a clear vision of the Steampunk genre. Much of it is Fantasy with a Steampunk skin, as seen at the conventions. Which is fine. But if you want a fantasy show, why not just use the basic LARP aesthetic that WIllow or Witcher Blood Origins are going for? (Multi-Million dollar productions, folks). Those corsets and costume-made costumes aren't cheap! Not to mention a burden on the cast.


But there it is. Is that the type of Steampunk we want to see? Everyone knows my opinion on Fantasy now. Not a big fan. So, if you sell me Fantasy with a Steampunk skin (called Gaslamp Fantasy, by the way). No, not interested.

I am a strict believer that Steampunk works best as Cyberpunk in the past. It's simple and elegant and leaves a lot of wiggle room for (competent/non-Hollywood) writers to create an original franchise. (No, Sherlock Holmes reimaginings do not count! And no vampires or other gothic horror nonsense!)

Here is the thing. There are some wonderful candidates for steampunk communities to get behind. Frostpunk, in particular, is probably one of the most solid Steampunk settings published in the last decade. The aesthetic is massive in gaming, both digitally and on the tabletop, such as Iron Harvest, They are Billions, Leviathans: The Great War! Did anyone capitalize on this? Did anyone look and think, "Gee, I wonder what those guys are doing right?" Because I have. A cohesive vision that they presented to their audience and then went out to share with the world. In the meantime, Steampunks were sharing convention selfies and banning actual creators because they shared their original work once too often. You know, the people that actually develop Steampunk!


Do you want Steampunk TV shows? Start telling the world what creatives or working. Start spreading the word about books, comics, and videos you want to see more of. Especially creators that are working on a project right now, so they know that once their products hit store shelves, they start selling.


Not to most positive piece. Call it a call to action. At AoI, we'll be doing our part.

You can help by signing up for our Kickstarter, which is launching in February or March. The more followers we get, the more new items we'll include during the campaign!

Or, check out our new Store page for unique offers on E-books and sighed copies of our publications! Or look at the support us section of the site and get some unique rewards to boot, like our new World Anvil we are working on. We also have five wonderful postcards now, which I should really add to the shop.


Want to meet other Steampunk, History, and Scifi enthusiasts, Join our Discord. And don't forget to become a site member so you'll never miss a new post again.

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