Evermore Nevermore owner Bob Leeper says the Brose brothers are the epitome of steampunk, now a full-fledged scene here. Leeper says before the brothers came into his store a year ago and proclaimed their mutual love of steampunk, he had to go out of his way to find local artists. "Now, we have more than enough that contact us. In a year's time, we've gotten established and now they come to us — sometimes more than we can handle," he says. "So we can be picky."


The term "steampunk" wasn't coined until the late 1980s, but the idea was born more than a century earlier, four leagues deep in the ocean, on a spectacular submarine called The Nautilus.

The Nautilus, as imagined by French author Jules Verne in his 1869 science fiction novel 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, was a mechanical marvel — a nearly 754-foot-long beast of bronze and copper, propelled by electricity from mercury and sodium batteries. It could reach speeds of 50 knots, destroy boats with a tap collision, and dive freely even in the deepest ocean depths. Submarines were relatively new during Verne's time — the first commercially successful one (also called The Nautilus) was built in 1800, by Robert Fulton, who later invented the first successful steamboat.

Captain Nemo, the scientific genius anti-hero of 20,000 Leagues, lives his life underwater on The Nautilus, surrounded by both Victorian luxuries and revolutionary gadgets. The setting is half high society (huge library, plush parlor, gallery with big bubble windows) and half rustic, weird science (clanking metal, hissing steam clouds, giant moving gears).

This mesh of Victorian fashion and industrial innovation is a hallmark of steampunk, in general. The steampunk period falls in the middle of the Industrial Revolution, but before electricity was standard. It can be historical (a "past that never was," in which more modern inventions are re-imagined as they might have occurred much earlier) or it can be fantasy steampunk (a "future that never arrived," with more fantastical or imagined inventions). Costumes and fashion blend the corseted gowns and frock coats of the late 1800s with such features as brass mechanical arms, goggles, and pocket watches. Circular copper gears of varying sizes, like those found in old clocks, are used to decorate everything from monocles to top hats.

The term "steampunk" is believed to have been coined in 1987 by author K.W. Jeter, who used the term to describe his novel Morlock Night in a letter to science fiction magazine Locus. Because of its frequent focus on a mechanical utopia, steampunk was considered a variant of cyberpunk, which centers on a high-tech dystopia.

In 1965, CBS helped pioneer a new "steampunk" look with the television series The Wild Wild West (the 1999 movie starring Will Smith was based on the show). It was a western, sci-fi spy thriller conceived as "James Bond on horseback," a combination of cowboys and clever gadgets. The show aired only until 1969, but the "Wild West steampunk" look remains popular. It will be the theme of the largest steampunk convention to date in Arizona, the Wild Wild West Con at Old Tucson Studios next March.

The organizer of Wild Wild West Con is a new Phoenix-based company called Voltage Entertainment, which began as a joint venture last fall between members of a local costuming group called Arizona Costumed Revelers and a group of Valley steampunk enthusiasts called Steamhub. Ryan McMann, who helped found Steamhub and Voltage Entertainment, says he was inspired to have a steampunk convention in Arizona after going to the first Steamcon in Seattle last October. About 1,300 people reportedly attended.

Although steampunk has been around for decades, it's really just starting to emerge from the underground in the United States. There are currently a dozen or so steampunk conventions around the states — including Seattle's Steamcon and the Steampunk World's Fair in New Jersey. Neither is more than two years old, and two more, the TeslaCon in Wisconsin and the World Steam Expo in Michigan, will debut next month and next May, respectively. Even the California Steampunk Convention's a mere three years old.

Over the past six months in Phoenix, there have been numerous steampunk events around the Valley, including this month's "Steampunk Street" art walk in Mesa and the "Steamcroween" event at Red Hot Robot. Next month, there's a performance by Grindwhore at the Firehouse's monthly "Singe" event in Central Phoenix, "The Steampunk Experience" at Bliss Show Club in West Phoenix, and the "Galactic Showdown" at Evermore Nevermore.

Locally, the movement pretty much started at Evermore Nevermore. Proprietors Bob Leeper, his wife Debbie, and their 25-year-old daughter, Amanda Tucker, first saw steampunk costumes and props at San Diego Comic-Con a couple years ago. They saw more and more of it at various out-of-state conventions but couldn't find a steampunk source in the Valley.

So Tucker decided to seek it out. She went to the First Friday art walks along Roosevelt Row in downtown Phoenix, attended raves, and scoured websites like etsy and Facebook for local artists who were doing steampunk-type art. She found a handful of artists to show their art at Evermore Nevermore for the gallery's first "Steampunk Spectacular" exhibit in February. "We found a really good collection of steampunk artists — all from Arizona," Tucker says.

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10 comments
Yourmom
Yourmom

LOL Damn "posers" trying to be steampunk. He just wants people to think he's cool. Everyone knows there is nothing more awesome than a 30 year old playing dress-up with a homemade costume.

linaimai
linaimai

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Google in the input: = aamall.us = you can find many brand names, even more surprising is that he will sell you the unexpected o(∩_∩)o

ProfessorKillianKilljoy
ProfessorKillianKilljoy

Great article, too bad you had to speak to a poser named McMann. Chub Chubs happens to be well hated in the Phoenix area for his lack of ethic, style, and general attempt to try too hard to be "steampunk". Case in point, see the failed Temporal Rift formerly at Mardis Gras bar in scottsdale. Horrible beyond belief and an amateurish attempt at most.

Unfortunately one has only to see Mr. Mcmann dressed as a cowboy to see that he is simply a hick looking to capitalize on the scene as he was just a cowpoke beforehand. A "Steampunk Trainwreck" as Urban Dictionary tells.

Ryan McMann aka Professor Killian Killjoy aka Pirate Airship captain, aka Mad Scientist, aka Cowboy.

ryanmcman
ryanmcman

@ProfessorKillianKilljoy

Interesting how the one who called me out won't use their own name. I calling you out! Tell everyone who you are if you even have the courage.

Second if your attempt to call me fat, weak at best. Also if you think calling me a hick or cowpoke is an insult thank you. I actually know plenty of people in the community and they are extremely nice people and they don't hide behind anonymous posts online.

Sure the night at Mardi Gras wasn't a success not everything is such as your attempt to insult me.

"Capitalize" Hmmm...Last time I checked when people start a business they don't do so to lose money. With that said we will just say this is another failed attempt to insult on your part.

In the end it appears you are nothing more than a troll.

 
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