Thursday, April 21, 2011


A couple of weeks ago, I talked about the graphic novel Scarlet Traces & it's ties with steampunk, which I explained briefly. I'll discuss more about this retro-futuristic art movement. Steampunk is heavily influenced on the culture & fashion of Victorian Era Britain & the steam-powered technology of the Industrial Revolution. Many works of Steampunk are considered science fiction, with the technology featured being anachronistic technology & modern-day inventions imagined as the Victorians would design them, like airplanes, elevators, or computers.
The Nautilus from Jules Verne's
20,000 Leagues Under the Sea

A steampunk-altered laptop computer.
Steampunk artists & designers originally got their inspiration from science fiction novels of the Victoria Era, most notibly from works by H.G. Wells & Jules Vern, along with the scientific romance novels from the likes of Mark Twain & Mary Shelley. The term Steampunk was coined in the late 1980's as an alternate version to cyberpunk, an art influence focusing on futuristic, high technology & low life. Since then, steampunk has been seen in fiction (The Wicked Gentleman,) comic books (The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen,) films (The Prestige,) television (Wild, Wild West,) video games (Final Fantasy VI,) music (Panic! at the Disco's music video for "Ballad of Mona Lisa,") & performance art (The League of STEAM.)

Here at the Jaffe Center, we don't have any steampunk-influenced books, but if you know any steampunk-influenced artist, send us some info. At the bottom, I've posted a short animated film, The Mysterious Exploration of Jasper Morello.


  1. I am an author of steampunk so I am always being sent some of the coolest links to various resources, not just in print but also in media. Here is a favorite of mine — the music video "Eye of the Storm" by Lovett...

    Visually stunning and quite spot-on in capturing the darker feel of steampunk.

    For myself, I branched out into filmmaking with this D.I.Y. book trailer. (This is steampunk's lighter side.)

    Thank you for posting this column. It's always fascinating to hear different perspective on what is steampunk.

  2. Those are some pretty good videos. I like seeing the lighter side of steampunk. Steampunk is always so dark, which may be a result of of the brown leather & dark steel of the time, or maybe because photos from the Victorian Era were in black & white or sepia.