Clockwork Alchemy 2017

With Sometime Later and Kepler’s Cowboys just out, Clockwork Alchemy was mostly about vending for us.

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All the Vending

Fear not, dear reader, life in Authors’ Alley is not all commercial drudgery. The authors have their own tea service to keep up our energy.


Very Civilized

This year, for the first time, we had a contest for table decoration. We won second prize for best use of banners!


Best Use of Banners

And most everyone wanders through Authors’ Alley at some point, sharing their splendid costumes with us.

CA2017_library_hat CA2017_Bollmans FlipBooKit Gear_face_paint Mustache_pacifier Steamy_Tech_Hat

Authors’ Alley Promenade

But, of course, there was Drake & McTrowell’s “Hot Potato School of Writing™!”

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Now with Actual Hot Potatoes!

Although we didn’t get pictures, we did run “There Was Once a Steampunk from Limerick™” for the second time. You can find the clever and hilarious results

We did manage to conserve our energies enough to make it to the evening performances for our favorite steampunk circus,
Cirque Des Bêtes, and Strangely Doesburg.

CA2017_CdB Strangely_Doesburg

Look Ma, No Hands or Head

And what Clockwork Alchemy bloop would be complete without pictures of
Thena MacArthur in some magnificent costume, like this resplendent red number for the fashion show?

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Lava Red Thena

Remember that Clockwork Alchemy is earlier next year: March 23 – 25th. We’ll see you there!

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Gaslight Gathering 2017

It was so marvelous to be back at Gaslight Gathering! We pulled out all the stops producing new content. Sparky participated in the fashion show, “Victorians We Admire,” as the world’s first programmer, Countess Ada Lovelace.

Drake showed off his martial arts skills with the premiere of his tutorial on cane defense. There was much clamoring to repeat it at future events.

GG_Cane_Defense_1 GG_Cane_Defense_2
Take That! And That!

We premiered “There Was Once a Steampunk from Limerick™.” You can find the first batch of results on the new limerick page on our new website page
Library of Limericks.

And there were old favorites. Drake & McTrowell’s “Hot Potato School of Writing™” was way off the hook this time with newbie
Cindy Diamond and repeat offender Kelly Varner. Plus, it was right after the absinthe panel, so it was more colorful than usual.

Why Does the Green Fairy Make Hot Potatoes so Blue?

For “Theatre of the Historically Improbable™” we performed both “The Evil Cheesemonger” and “Green Grass, Brown Well.” We were joined by
Sage & Savant and Debra Brunner, all of whom contributed a significant amount of tomfoolery to the proceedings.

Wall-to-Wall Tomfoolery

We found just a few minutes to look in on other happenings including a sighting of
Dyno Staats.

GG_Dyno Steam_Choo_Choo
Magic and Choo Choo, What’s Not to Love?

But our greatest achievement of the weekend was to cast, shoot, edit, and screen a video with a great amount of support from
Dreadfully Punk and L.O.S.E.R., the video “Hiring Day.”

Watch it Here! Flaming Pineapples and Whirling Blades of Death!

Hiring Day Set

Audience Reaction

And in case you didn’t notice, we now have our own
YouTube Channel!

Be there at Gaslight Gathering next year to see what other tomfoolery we concoct.

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Sock Puppets!

Gaslight Gathering is only a week away, so this is our final reveal! Last, but certainly not least, we'll be doing Theatre of the Historically Improbable™. That means sock puppets and skits! So bring your inner vaudevillian and puppeteer; hilarity is bound to ensure.

D_McT_sock_puppets Drake_Puppet_Dressing Sock_Puppet_Dragons_Teeth

Now you have all our announcements for Gaslight Gathering:

See y'all there.

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Someone Say Hot Potato?


If you've seen us at a convention in the last few years, you've probably seen our improvisational, audience-participation, writing game show, Hot Potato School of Writing™. But just because you've seen it once (or twice) doesn't mean you've seen all there is. It's different every time thanks to the wacky input of the audience's "Hot Potato" plot points, the audience members who volunteer to play, and the creativity of our guest authors. We'll be joined this time by Kelly Varner (a notorious repeat offender) and Cindy Kinnard-Diamond. Come lob a few hilarious flaming spuds with us at Gaslight Gathering the weekend of May 12 - 14.

If you missed our first three announcements about other engagingly comical things we're doing at Gaslight Gathering, you can find them
here and here and here.

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There Once Was a Steampunk

The limerick form appeared in England in the early years of the 18th century and was popularized by Edward Lear in the 19th century, which totally makes it steampunk! Lear wrote 212 limericks, mostly considered nonsense literature, and now you can too. We’ll be premiering There Once Was a Steampunk from Limerick™ at Gaslight Gathering. Drop in to exercise those limerick-writing skills you haven’t used since elementary school and earn yourself a spot on the Drake & McTrowell website…and possibly wild acclaim, but we don’t guarantee that last point.


If you missed our first two announcements about other engagingly comical things we're doing at Gaslight Gathering, you can find them here and here.

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Gaslight Gathering Shenani-Plans: Part Deux

It's been a week, so you're probably wondering what other goodies we have in store for Gaslight Gathering. We all know that Chief Inspector Erasmus Drake is a man of action. And now he's going to teach you some of the tricks of the trade…rather like this.

cane_defense_1 cane_defense_2

Take That! And That!

Are you planning a stroll in the darker corners of London at night? We'd advise a hour-long lesson of defending yourself with your cane or umbrella! The Chief Inspector will show you how.

And if you want to see our first reveal for Gaslight Gathering, you can find it

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WonderCon 2017

WonderCon was all about the costumes this year! We saw this couple on both Saturday and Sunday. She makes all the costumes herself including the hand beading on the bodice of the Queen of Hearts costume. Gorgeous!

Ursula_Neptune WC_QoH_Mad_Hatter WC_QoH_back WC_Mad_Hatter_hat WC_Mad_Hatter_back

Ursula and Neptune on Saturday
Queen of Hearts and Mad Hatter on Sunday

There were several clever mashups including
Nikki Pardee and Krissy Stache as steampunk Cogsworth and Lumière, respectively. Plus, they're crossplaying both characters.


Steampunk Cogsworth and Lumière

Speaking of crossplay, there was this stunning Joker. We don't know how she survived all day in those heels, but boy does she looking amazing doing it.


Crossplaying the Joker

Okay, so Iron Man is a pretty serious warrior, so this makes a whole bunch of sense. It's another fine example of attention to detail.


Samurai Iron Man

But this is the one that made us laugh.
Lonstermash does a canonical Wolverine most of the time, but he told us he does this for Sundays and WonderCon was pretty close to Easter.


Wolverine Bunny

Although we laughed, we also ran. Those carrots are super sharp and pointy!

Our next event is Gaslight Gathering in San Diego! Come
join us for the fun!

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Gaslight Gathering Shenani-Plans

Gaslight Gathering is coming May 12 - 14, 2017! In addition to some of our usual offerings, Drake & McTrowell has some new shenanigans in the works! We'll be revealing them over the next couple of weeks. As Chief Inspector Drake would say, "Oh my, I love a good clue!"

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Lights! Camera! Action!

In conjunction with Justin Andrew Hoke and L.O.S.E.R., we're going to shoot, edit, and screen a video over the course of the weekend. We'll be looking for performers on Friday for role assignment and then filming on Saturday. We'll announce later where to find us on Friday to sign up! Keep an eye on the Gaslight Gathering program for the location of the screening of our cinematic masterpiece on Sunday.

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Wild Wild West Steampunk Con 2017

Ah, Springtime, when the wildflowers bloom and we pack the Dr. Sparky-mobile to the rafters for the trek across the desert to Old Tucson Studios for Wild Wild West Steampunk Con! There were old friends and new shenanigans. Once again we shared an authors' table with David Lee Summers. Yes, we're adults and professionals.

Vending_shenanigans Corrected

Vending Shenanigans

We had some new things for sale including
Kepler's Cowboys, an anthology of space western stories about planet discovered by the Kepler Space Telescope. The book is edited by David Lee Summers and Steve Howell, the Kepler project scientist at NASA Ames Research Center. Drake has a straight up science fiction story in the anthology!


Be-Tentacled Sales Assistants

The adorable green and black octopus was custom-made for Sparky's Cthulhu Acolyte costume by David Lee Summers' daughter. And why was Sparky dressed thus? Because the theme of the convention this year was Cthulhu for President.


Cthulhu and His Acolyte

This particular pic is by
Paul Davis who took a lot of amazing pictures at the convention. Everyone was wearing their best green and tentacles. Here's a link to more of Paul's pictures from the event.


With Curatio and Debra


Karina Representing

We had a prime location on the Bitter Creek Stage where the high winds made for extra interesting shenanigans during our Nerf™ gun dueling shootout. Yes, there was some attempts at Kentucky windage, not that it helped amidst the gusts.

Nerf_challenge Nerf_ready Nerf_is_on Runaway_nerf

We Got Your Nerf™ Right Here!

The wind also made holding scripts for our Theatre of the Historically Improbable™ more than a little interesting, but our company persevered. Even Nessie approved, despite the presence of her election rival, Cthulhu, on stage.

ToTHI_hurricane ToTHI_WWWC Nessie Corrected Cthulhu_with_cast Corrected ToTHI_cast Corrected

Theatre of the Historically Improbable™ in a Hurricane

Cirque des Bêtes was there and they were on fire! No, literally, they were on fire. They premiered their new nighttime fire show and it was great. If it was on fire, they could juggle, jump, or balance it.


Cirque des Bêtes on Fire

One of the other new events this year was the Steampunk Vehicle Exhibition where the contributions were both varied and magnificent. This is what steampunk is all about! Check out these crazy conveyances.


Oh, Those Steamy Machines

As Sparky rides off… well, okay, strolls off into the sunset, we say…


See you again next year, amigos!

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Dispatch Detailing Duel at Dusk 2017

Wow, just wow! We’re thrilled at how well our new format was received. We were back at our usual venue, Team Touché Fencing Center. Of course, we had our traditional offering of Olympic-style foil fencing.

Ben Jagger and Bryan Bishe Mix It Up

Drake even got in the game, but without eschewing sartorial suavities.

Erasmus_fences cropped
Is That Bowler FIE Regulation?

The final bout was between Ben Jagger and Bryan Bishe. Bryan won, but it was close.

Bryan Wins! And gets a giant commemorative chocolate bar!

But, wait, there’s more. We had
Madame Askew and her intern, Ian, in from Tucson for tea duelling.

So Much Tea Duelling!


D@D_teaduelling_2 D@D_teaduelling_3



The shenanigans were so off the hook that even Madame Askew struggled to contain herself.


Ze Prussian fell to the victorious Steampunk Molly, but not without an epic battle. She was rewarded with a ceramic tea holder filled with various teas!

We were also honored to have the
Iron Tailor, Bob Mogg, working with us to run the steampunk Nerf™ gun dueling.

The Iron Tailor with a Loaded Nerf™ Gun. What Could Possibly Go Wrong?

Back over to Madame Askew for some compliment duelling. We’ve never see this sport in action before and we have to say we find it delightful. With her supreme graciousness, Evie prevailed against all other duelists to take home the grand prize, a copy of “Miss Manners.”

Evie Wins!

We know what you’re wondering; how did the steampunk Nerf™ gun dueling come out? The four finalists squared off in a series of duels.

Gentle Steampunks, Choose Your Weapons

In the end, Ed Pogue prevailed (despite Doc Synchronous’ signature sneakiness) and took home the big prize, a hand-painted steampunked Nerf™ gun crafted by the Iron Tailor himself.


Ed Wins!

It was a whirlwind of non-stop fun. We sure hope everyone enjoyed it as much as we did.

Until Next Year!

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Oxnard Steampunk Fest 2016

A number of cities in California are building heritage parks where they assemble historically relevant Victorian homes in one location and they're perfect for steampunk gatherings…like the Oxnard Steampunk Fest. We rolled out for the first day of the two-day event and it was non-stop shenanigans.

We went pirate. Luckily there was a
pirate ship for us to sail.

On_the_Deck_1 On_the_Deck_2

On Deck

But we weren't the only pirates in attendance.


Steam Pirates, Ho!

Nor were we the only ones in blue.
Doc Phineas was also rocking the cooler shades.


Doing Blue with Doc Phineas

Friends were everywhere!

Chris+Bethany Chris+cameras Hanging_with_Molly Steam_fairies Wine_Tasting Kyla_in_olive Doc+Baron

Friends Galore!


Um, What's Going on Here? The Usual Tossing of the Cephalopod!

We took a brief recess to grab a bit of lunch and we found this mural.

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Separated at Birth? This is Drake's Latest Acquisition, an Octopus Hand Puppet!

We met new folks and saw some amazing costumes.

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So, there's this thing that Sparky and
Molly Edison do. They dance…and dance…and dance.

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Dancing Machines! Ya Know, Machines with Steam and Gears that React to Music!

Who should be there entertaining the crowd but our favorite steampunk circus,
Cirque des Bêtes?

CdB@OSF_1 CdB@OSF_2 CdB@OSF_3 CdB@OSF_5 CdB@OSF_6 CdB@OSF_7 CdB@OSF_8 CdB@OSF_9 CdB@OSF_10 CdB@OSF_11 CdB@OSF_12

They Fly Through the Air With the Greatest of Ease

And we even sold a few books with a little help from our friend, Colleen, at
Wyng'd Lyon.


Commerce in Action

We strongly urge you, our steampunk friends in the southern California area, to put Oxnard Steampunk Fest on next year's calendar!

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Comic Con 2016

Despite being in costumes for most of Comic Con, this one felt a little like the old days. (Insert your favorite “we’re so old comment”: we used to come in the days when you could park under the convention center, walk upstairs, and buy a ticket for the day.) We went to a lot of panels for artists whose work we admire, like Mark Russell and Shannon Wheeler. They have a new book, Apocrypha Now, which we bought.


“Apocrypha Now” Panel

Bill Plympton’s working on a new animated feature with Jim Lujan called “
Revengeance.” Judging by the panel and the trailer, it’s going to be darkly hilarious…as we have come to expect from Bill.


“Revenge is a Dish Best Served Animated”

Bob Mogg and Catherine Fisher graced the Cosplay 101 panel along with Birda Hussey Nichols and Melissa Gene Meyer, after which Catherine showed off her patriotic princess cosplay trio.

Cosplay_101_Panel Catherine_Fisher_Trio

Cosplay 101

Much to our surprise, we were able to get into
Adam Savage’s panel on Cosplay as Storytelling. It also turned out to be a master class in how to moderate a panel while participating.


Cosplay as Storytelling

Our regular readers know that we’re fans and supporters of
The League of S.T.E.A.M. So, we were delighted to be able to attend screenings and panels for two of their video efforts to which we contributed our “acting” skills: “The White Wolf” from season 3, and the “Kali 47” music video.


The White Wolf


Kali 47

We found time to visit some artists whose work we’ve enjoyed for years including Travis Hanson who whipped up this sketch of the Evil Cheesemonger from Drake & McTrowell’s Theatre of the Historically Improbable™. Amazingly, he looked up to talk to us several times as he continued sketching. That’s some mad skills!


Evil Cheesemonger

And Sparky got to the art show in time to nab this beauty by
Dan Jones. His work was selling like hotcakes (as usual), and he sold out before the weekend was over.


Sir Franklin Java Bot, held by the artist, Dan Jones

And then there was that serendipitous moment when we borrowed a pen from a British gentleman at lunch who was dressed in a Star Trek uniform (original series). We asked what he was doing at Comic Con. He and his partner designed and built precise replicas of Star Trek communicators that pair with your cellphone. You know, the kind Kirk flipped open in the days before flip phones…actually, decades before the invention of the cellphone. Of course, as children of the 60s, we had to hot foot it over to the
ThinkGeek booth and get ourselves a pair.


Beam Me Down, Scotty; I’ve Got Some Shopping to Do

Of course, no Comic Con bloop would be complete without coverage of the annual
Starburner Galactic Courier Service Awards. Several good friends received well-deserved awards including Joyce McCarthy, Christopher Hoage, Dude Vader (Chris Canole), and Doc Phineas. Congrats all!

Joyce_SBA Christopher_SBA Dude_SBA Doc_SBA

Starburner Galactic Courier Service Awards

Costumes, gotta do costumes. Judging by the pics we got, the ladies knocked this one out of the park.

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Costumes Galore

We once again had the very last time slot on Sunday afternoon for our panel. This year’s offering was “Steampunk as a Maturing Visual Aesthetic” with Andrew Fogel (The League of S.T.E.A.M.), Bob Mogg (The Iron Tailor), and Rocky Olivares (Heroes and Bandits). You may recognize Rocky’s style because she was one of the illustrators for our first book, London, Where It All Began.

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Steampunk as a Maturing Visual Aesthetic

Thanks to Kelly Varner and JoAnn Onishi-Mogg for the pictures of the panel because we were too busy presenting to get some ourselves.

We proved once more that we can shut down Comic Con in style. Despite the lateness of the panel, we still had plenty of people in the room and got several very insightful questions. Exhausted, but content that this year was once again a success, we departed for a celebratory dinner with our friends, Kelly and Murray. Thanks to
Kelly for the departure pics.

Drake_Leaving_SDCC2016 Murray+Sparky_Leaving_SDCC2016

Until Next Year, Comic Con

Time to start making plans for next year’s panel.
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Book 5 Episode 4: You Can't Get There From Here

Thanks, WikiMedia!

Why can't our heroes just have a quiet, romantic, little picnic?

Click here to read the new episode ...

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Clockwork Alchemy 2016

It's Memorial Day Weekend and we're at Clockwork Alchemy again! Woohoo!

How about we start this convention bloop with costumes for a change? The first pic is of
Professor Pepper and his Musicalodium. It actually makes music! The next picture of the convocation of bobbies reminded Drake that he should always take his Mall Copper costume to Clockwork Alchemy so he can join in.

Professor_Pepper Coppers_at_CA
Fifties_DC Harley_Quinn_Victorian
Recycled_ties Marshal_DrakeThena_in_purple

So Much Costume Fun!

We've always wondered what one does with funky, old, out-of-fashion neckties… and here it is. So.Much.Silk. Next: There's a new marshal in town and he's making Sparky think twice about robbing the bank (you know…on purpose). That's Drake wearin' his new custom cowboy hat from
O'Farrell's in Santa Fe (the same nice folks who made the Sparky del Pecos hat). If the style looks familiar, it might be because this is the same style O'Farrell's designed for Sheriff Longmire. Of course, no Clockwork Alchemy costume bloop would be complete without at least one picture of Thena MacArthur in something magnificent. This regal purple ensemble was designed for the fashion show. After the show, she wore it around to make everyone in the Author's Alley jealous.

The really big news is that the Treehouse Writers released a joint anthology again this year,
Thirty Days Later! Twelve Hours Later was such a success last year, we decided to do it again this year, but with stories separated by 30 days instead of just 12 hours. If you enjoyed Twelve Hours Later last year, catch us at a con in the coming year and get a copy of Thirty Days Later.


Thirty Days Later

A wise man once said that you have to celebrate the victories because that's how you differentiate them from the defeats. (Okay, Drake said that.) And the release of
Thirty Days Later was definitely a victory. The authors had a spectacular release party at Spencer's.


Thirty Days Later Release Party

We first learned about
splendid teapot racing while researching our 2015 Comic Con panel, "Steampunk as a Global Phenomenon." Clockwork Alchemy was the second convention in the US where we saw it included. We're super excited to see this sport take off.


Splendid Teapot Racer

Random diversion: a friend recently asked me if there are steampunk tattoos. He said he'd searched the web and hadn't found any good ones.


Yes, Chris, There are Epic Steampunk Tattoos

Our regular readers will know that Clockwork Alchemy always coincides (more or less) with Sparky's birthday. It's become a delightful excuse for weekend-long celebrations with friends which are Sparky's favorite birthday present always. The Messenger-
Sikes Cabal organized a small soiree in their room complete with birthday wine (we swear that's a "thing"). Dover Whitecliff exercised her artistic skills to render this scene from "The Hawaiian Triple-Cross" on a birthday card. Vive la France!

Birthday_wine ViveLaFrance_card

Birthday Fun

Dover's author table was one of the stops on the scavenger hunt. At some point in the weekend she switched from requiring the scavengers to read from the back of a book in Author's Alley to making them sing a birthday song to Sparky. This resulted in some truly interesting birthday tunes. Who knew there was an apocalyptic birthday ditty?

Okay, it really was a
real convention, where we did presentations, and some performing and everything.

Clockwork Alchemy 2016 Schedule Fancy

Our Busy Schedule

First up: Character Creation Laboratory with the Messenger-Sikes Cabal. A few of the teams wound up producing stories that integrated all their characters. Sparky thinks her team should actually write up their story and get it published.

Character_Creation_1 Character_Creation_2

Character Creation Laboratory

What? You were thinking there was no Hot Potato School of Writing™? Oh, you read the schedule, so you know we weren't going to leave you hanging. The Messenger-Sikes Cabal is getting to be old hands at this, so we threw them a curve with new plot points. “We told you not to flush that cephalopod; they will just breed in the sewers.”


Hot Potato School of Writing™

And last, but not least, we sat on
Anthony Francis' panel on writing Victorian science fiction. Although we've known these fellow authors for several years and written two anthologies with them, it's still interesting to hear how our perspectives on our chosen genre vary.

Writing_Victorian_SciFi_1 Writing_Victorian_SciFi_2 Writing_Victorian_SciFi_3

Writing Victorian Science Fiction

You might have noticed that most of our pics were taken in Author's Alley. We spent most of our time going between our table and the Author's Salon for panels. So while we didn't get to see a lot of our friends perform, like the
Aether Brigade


O Aether Brigade, Where Art Thou?

…our efforts did result in this.


Sold Out!

By now we know that we don't have to say this, but - see y'all next year!

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Wild West Steam Fest 2016

First, a big shoutout to Noelle Shannon for reviving Wild West Steam Fest at a beautiful new location, the Heritage Museum of Orange County. The whole place looked like this.


View from the Porch of the Kellogg House

It was picnic perfect.


Pickanick Basket Anyone?

Lots of friends were there, enjoying the programming and the shady elegance.

Jacaranda_boys Kellogg_House_porch Kellogg_House_port_pano

Pausing for a Brief Respite on the Kellogg House Porch

The Wild West Steam Fest added regularly scheduled gun fights (wonderfully played by the
Guns and Garters Old West Reenactment group) that were sprinkled throughout the day.

Look_What_You_Done Body_count

Look What You Done!

What’s that you say? Were there shenanigans? Really, do you even need to ask?

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Which One is the Sidekick?

Masks by the
Brass Wardrobe. Thanks to Bob Mogg for these comic pics of our masked heroes and for the cool panoramic view of the Kellogg House porch above. And speaking of Bob, also known as the Iron Tailor, he gave an incredibly educational bandolier workshop. It was really clear and informative. Even Sparky got to feeling like she might be able to tackle one of these projects.

Iron_Tailor_explains Bandolier_workshop

The Iron Tailor Explains Bandoliers

Star Wars Steampunk Universe was out in Force….ahaha. And Sparky won a patch by answering one of Dude Vader's trivia questions. It will straight onto her steampunk denim jacket.


Star Wars Steampunk Universe

Deus Ex Vapore Machina was there playing sets in the gazebo throughout the day, so we stopped by several times in between shopping and panels to hear several songs.


Deus Ex Vapore Machina

And you know we can't resist a few pics of cool costumes we spotted.

Witchy_steampunk Backpacks_WWSF Metal_shoes

New Costume Creativity

Because it was a one-day event, we had a short presentation schedule; we just did Drake & McTrowell’s Theatre of the Historically Improbable™. Thanks to
Debra Brunner for being such a good sport and participating in both the skit and the sock-puppet reading.

Sparky_directs ECM_WWSF

“Green Grass, Brown Well” and “The Evil Cheesemonger”

Like many steampunk conventions, this one had a costume contest. What was special about this one was the number of girls in amazing adventure costumes. Seriously, doesn’'t the one on the left look like a young Sparky McTrowell? But they all looked incredible and steampunky.

Young_Sparky Dont_mess_with_mini_steampunks

re Never Too Young to be a Steampunk Adventuress

Here’s hoping that the Heritage Museum saw the benefit of the event and lets Noelle do it again next year.

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Festival of Fools 2016

As our regular readers are aware, we’re huge fans of the Antique Gas and Steam Engine Museum and the Dreadful Punks, so we were super excited when they came together to produce the First Annual Festival of Fools, and delighted to be asked to headline.


Who's Ready for Some Foolishness?


Festival of Fools Poster

We started the festivities by appearing on San Diego Living on the local CW station. We steampunked the hosts, Lynda Martin and Clint August.


San Diego Living

Drake pitched in by creating the brochure and map.

FoF brochure

Festival of Fools Brochure

We thought we were in 2016, but it’s possible we were in 1885.

Back_to_the_Future_III D+McT_Back_to_the_Future FoF_Steam_Engines

Back to the Future

Because it was outdoors with lots of open space, we took the opportunity for some sporting and busking shenanigans. We broke out the croquet set.

Croquet_on_the_Green Extreme_Croquet

Extreme Croquet


Let the Wookie Win


Even Doc Phineas Paid our Pitch a Visit

We did lots of juggling; Drake even taught a few lessons. We spent so much time busking and performing that we didn’t have a lot of time to take pictures. We’re grateful to Bethany Jackson, Hybrid Realities Cosplay, Michael Watson, and Debbie Boyd for many of the following pictures.

Canonical_Sparky_Juggling Canonical_Drake_JugglingJuggling_Lesson_1 Mystery_Drake_Juggling_1 Mystery_Drake_Juggling_2 Mystery_Drake_Juggling_3
Seersucker_Juggler Sparky_Jester_Juggling

Juggling Fools

And another in our continuing series, “Separated at Birth…”


Separated at Birth?

We ran not one, but two, full sessions of Drake & McTrowell's Hot Potato School of Writing™. The first one was on the main stage. Judging by the pics, it had more than even our usual level of shenanigans.


Hot Potato School of Writing™ on the Main Stage

The second session was in the more casual setting of the Dreadful Lounge.

Casual_HPSoW_1 Casual_HPSoW_2

Open Air Hot Potato School of Writing™

Of course, no convention would be complete without a little music and dancing, compliments of Frenchy & the Punk.


Frenchy & the Punk


Plus Dancing


Um, Whats Going on Here?

We hope to see you all there next year!


Until Next Year

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Iron Horse 2016

Con season is in full swing, so we spent Saturday in Perris, CA, at the Orange Empire Railway Museum for the Iron Horse Family Steampunk Carnivale. We were even on the marquee for this one!

Iron_Horse_entrance_2 Iron_Horse_entrance_3

Our Names in Lights…Sorta

We were traveling light, so we only did a couple of things. First, we participated in Joyce McCarthy's “Over 30 Cosplay” panel. A lot of our favorite “usual suspects” were there and we had a lively discussion.

Over_30_Cosplay_1 Over_30_Cosplay_2

Over 30 Cosplay Panel

We did another round of Drake & McTrowell’s Theatre of the Historically Improbable™. Even with a completely different company, it was completely wacky.

Sera_does_Sparky Bethany_and_Sera ToTHI_company_in_action CI_Drake_explains Do_not_mess_with_the_crew Separated_at_birth

Don’t Try This at Home, Kiddies; We’re Rank Amateurs
(Carol Silver, thanks for taking these pictures!)

Okay, we did squeeze in a couple of other shenanigans. We hung with the
Atlantean Foundation for quite a bit of the afternoon, complete with singing on the train because…Atlantean Foundation. It’s what they do. The other thing they do is set up an awesomely detailed encampment and bestow superbly gracious hospitality on their friends.

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Attending Iron Horse, Atlantean-Style

And it seems like it’s been forever since we managed to catch one of
Poplock Holmes’ shows. Sparky danced to her heart’s content, but skipped the "signing directly on the fans" fun at the end.

Poplock_IH1 Poplock_signing


And it wouldn’t be one of our convention bloops without some nods to the costumes that really tickled our fancies.

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It Wouldn’t Be Steampunk Without the Costumes

Comment Request

Wild Wild West Con 2016

If it’s March, the Drake & McTrowell roadshow must be hitting Old Tucson Studios for Wild Wild West Con! So much fun; so many friends; so many shenanigans! Justin Andrew Hoke of Dreadfully Punk joined us in the Dr. Sparkymobile and lent a hand all weekend with carting gear, taking pictures, and captaining the Blue Team for Drake & Mctrowell’s Hot Potato School of Writing™.


The Boys Take Old Tucson

We shared an author’s table with
David Lee Summers again inside the vendor’s barn. We had a great spot right in-between the refreshment stand and the table for the band “The Men Who Will Not Be Blamed for Nothing.” David S. was selling his hot-off-the-press book “Brazen Shark,” which is the third in his steampunk series. You should definitely check it out if you missed picking one up at WWWC. Special thanks to his wife, Kumie, and his daughter, Verity, for keeping the commerce in action while we scampered back and forth to panels.


Vending Shenanigans

It’s always fun to see our friends exercising their steampunk chops.


Cirque des Bêtes in the Sun


League of S.T.E.A.M. with Their Rock Monster


David Lee Summers Does Victorian Astronomy


Lord Towers Rides Tall


Thomas Willeford is Hot, Literally


Dont Ask!
(Crackitus from League of S.T.E.A.M. lovingly wipes his nose on Erasmus’ leathers)


Ice Cold Tea Duel Stare Down Cooling Off the Desert

We made some new friends including John Sprocket from
The Cog is Dead.


John Sprocket entertained with lively songs and panache

John did us the honor of captaining Team Red for Hot Potato School of Writing™.


Quick — have the story include “The look of love evaporated from his face when he saw his own reflection in the dead woman’s glass eye”

Trip Hope and Justin Andrew Hoke helped us reprise our presentation of “Steampunk as a Global Influence.”


Did Someone Say, “Стимпанк?”
( Russian for “Steampunk” )

There was some creative new costuming including the return of color, particularly in the ladies’ costumes.

Riddler Green_Lantern_Steampunk Mariachi Wolverine Lone_Ranger_and_Tonto

Lots of Crossovers

We got to see Splendid Teapot Racing live for the first time thanks to
Madame Askew, The Grand Arbiter, and Stephen Chapman. The Texas Terror made a exceptionally fine showing, particularly over the teeter-totter of terror, no surprise there.

Teapot_Racing Texas_Terror_1 Texas_Terror_2 Texas_Terror_3

Splendid Teapot Racing

Of course, we had a session of Drake & McTrowell’s Theatre of the Historically Improbable™. We continue to be amazed by the willingness of steampunks to jump in with both feet and exercise their campy acting skills.

Drake_Puppet_Dressing ToTHI_Demo

Chief Inspector / Director Erasmus Drake Shows the Company How It’s Done

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Thespis Got Nothin’ on Steampunks

We saved the best for last. First, the League of S.T.E.A.M. screened the final
episode of season 3, “The Invitation to Armageddon,” the musical! We’re incredibly honored to be credited as associate producers on this episode for our contribution to the season 3 Kickstarter. You’ll have to settle for a picture of the audience for now because the episode isn’t online yet. “Why,” you ask? Because it’s having its theatrical “work premiere” at the Brussels International Fantastic Film Festival on April 4th!


The Audience for “Invitation to Armageddon”

And then there was this!
Oz Coppherchops proposed to Lady Ember Brennen Sparks with a little clandestine help from his friends. We love how verklempt she is in the first pic.

She_Said_Yes_1 She_Said_Yes_3

She Said, “Yes”

Our regular readers will know that the two of us have a post-con “thing”; we go out for Mexican food. Apparently, we both crave chile after a busy weekend of vending, entertaining, costuming, and hauling. At other cons, it’s usually just the two of us, but for the second year in a row at WWWC we and a bunch of steampunk friends took over the basement of
El Charro. We drank a toast to Diana Given for putting on such an amazing con. Someone get that woman a foot massage and a libation; she’s earned them!


El Charro Chowdown

There were only about 20 of us; the wait staff says the basement will hold 70. Challenge accepted! See y’all next year on Sunday night after WWWC6 wraps!

Comment Request

New Green T-Shirt

Just in time for small business Saturday (and boy are we a small business), we've added a new t-shirt to our Zazzle store. It's a dark green t-shirt with the cover art from "London, Where It All Began." So, "why green" you ask? That's a totally appropriate question. First, we had fans ask about our one-of-a-kind green t-shirts that we originally made for ourselves two or three years ago. The other reason is that green fits the season of harvest and merriment. And check out our General Store for other goodies perfect for holiday gift giving.


London, Where It All Began T-Shirt

Comment Request

AGSEM Tractor Show 2015

The weather is finally cooling off after a miserably hot Summer here in San Diego, so we were able to venture outside for the Fall Tractor Show at the Antique Gas & Steam Engine Museum (AGSEM). There were engines large and small…and really big tools for those gigantic engines.

D&McT@AGSEM Drake_spanner
big_wheel tiny_engines

Getting Into the Swing of Things

Super special thanks to Scott “Zapp” Higgins and his wife, Carol, for chauffering us all around the museum grounds in their 1916 Russell steam tractor, including getting us a ride in the posh cook shack trailer for the parade (with our buddy, Justin Andrew Hoke from
Dreadfully Punk). You may recall that this particular portable building serves as the Mooney family home in the League of S.T.E.A.M.’s season three episode, “The White Wolf” where we play Jasper Mooney’s parents.

Sparky_cookshack tractor_parade Justin_cookshack

Riding in the Parade

Since Scott’s a blacksmith, he gave us a tour of the blacksmith’s shop. He swears this is his personal parking spot for the Russell.

Blacksmith_shop tractor_parking

VIP Parking

In exchange for the personal tour, Drake lent Scott an able hand hooking up the cook shack.


Tractor Hitchin'

All joking aside, Scott let Drake help him drive around, even in the parade.

Drake_Scott_2 Steamin
Stokin Drake_Scott_1

Drake and Scott, Steamin' and Stokin'

Our whole crew had a really smokin' time. Do it again next year?

Justin_riding tractor_crew Backside

Steaming into the Sunset

Comment Request

Duel at Dusk 2015

Back by popular demand: Duel at Dusk! We all had so much fun last year, that we decided to do it again. Duel at Dusk 2015, held July 18, drew a grand and enthusiastic crowd of steampunks to watch the final four of an honest-to-goodness fencing competition battle it out for the most steampunk fencing trophies ever presented anywhere (although we may be biased).

Our deepest gratitude to
Team Touché Fencing for once again hosting the event. There were vendors galore.

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Vendors, Vendors and More Vendors

The fencing was exciting and a bit unorthodox at times.

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Thanks to Bob Mogg and the Starburner Galactic Courier Service for bringing the cool parlor backdrops against which so many attendees had fun taking pictures.

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Parlor Pics

Dude Vader was there mixing it up with Drake, our master of ceremonies, among others.

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Crossing Swords…and Thumbs

Bethany Jackson made us custom cupcakes that were amazing to behold and taste. The competition for them was pretty fierce in its own right.

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Cupcakes, Om Nom Nom!

We personally had the great honor of being cosplayed by not one, but two, of the best costuming couples in San Diego.

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So Many Drakes and McTrowells

And if you weren't able to make it out, you can hear the interviews and recap from our friends at Dreadwaves here.

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Dreadfully Delightful

Our fencers battled mightily…

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The Fierce Competitors

…all for one of these trophies.


Taking Home the Prize

See you again next year!

Comment Request

Krypton Radio Redux


If you’ve been following us on Facebook you might have heard that
Krypton Radio is rerunning the radio show of our first book, "London, Where It All Began." We're playing at 3 AM, 11 AM, and 4 PM Pacific time on Thursdays. A new show will run in these same time slots for nine weeks until they've covered all of “London, Where it All Began.”

For details on Krypton Radio shows and air times, see their table of show times.

Comment Request

Comic Con 2015

Sparky here as your intrepid reporter, covering our five days at Comic Con.

It started like this: getting in on professional passes (thanks to publishing our first book in
hardcover) on our 15th wedding anniversary. Yep, we were made for each other.


Pro Passes

We spent preview night shopping and planning, like checking on
League of S.T.E.A.M. appearances.


Full Slate

And hanging with the
rock monster from season 3.


A Rock and a Hard Place

Rocky Olivares, one of the illustrators for "London, Where It All Began" was there and had our book for sale in the small press pavilion.


Rocky Sells "London, Where It All Began"

The ladies from
Blonde Swan and Mad Girl showed us how to make steampunk eye-poppingly colorful.


Steampunk Comes in Colors

Of course we saw lots of friends. This was really clever,
Joyce McCarthy and Christopher Hoage cosplaying Boston Metaphysical.


Cosplaying Boston Metaphysical

We'd been wandering the floor for a couple of days before we finally made it all the way to
Fred Jeska's booth. Rumor has it he was doing a ripping business.


Fred Jeska

Comic Con also had some really sweet, heartwarming discoveries. This woman's husband made her this fabulously detailed steampunk scooter so she can tool around in style.

steam_scooter_1 steam_scooter_2

Steam Scooter

True story: Drake has a weakness for Curious George. Okay, maybe Sparky does too. Suggesting that we're still 5-year olds at heart would not be entirely incorrect. At any rate, we spotted this guy with his toddler cosplaying the curious little monkey and his protector, the man in the yellow hat.


Curious George

But, the really big news was that our panel, "Steampunk as a Global Phenomenon" was accepted! Thanks to Colleen Kelly Burks for making it all happen for us through
ConDor Conventions. Yes, we totally owe you a return appearance as special guests; not that we mind because we had such an amazing time the last time.


Steampunk as a Global Phenomenon


Our Intrepid Panel

In addition to moderating, Sparky covered Russia and Scandinavia. Don't believe her shoulders, she really did know what she was talking about. Who else would relate steampunk style to pre-revolutionary Russian baroque. That bachelor's degree in Russian has to be good for something.


Sparky Scans Scandinavia

Justin Andrew Hoke, our very own steampunk Hawaiian cowboy from DreadWaves, did the honors for the Pacific Rim.


Justin Rocks the Pacific Rim

We were honored to have Trip Hope, producer of League of S.T.E.A.M. to do the heavy lifting on Europe and the UK.


Trip-ping Through the UK

Trip also helped us present a small gift to our favorite penny farthing rider, Jeb Haught, a tea towel from the inimitable Thomas Farthing that we picked up on our last trip across the pond.


Another Penny Farthing for Jeb

Drake got the challenging task of covering South America and Africa, but he brought his usual enthusiasm to bear.


Drake Gets Tells it Like it Is


Drake is into Africa

Did we mention we had the last time slot on the last day? Despite people's flagging energy, we had a full house. Thanks for helping us close out Comic Con in style this year!


Closing Out Comic Con

If you weren't fortunate enough to make it to Comic Con this year, or if your feet just gave out before the end, you can
hear the whole thing on a podcast over at DreadWaves.

Comment Request

Clockwork Alchemy 2015

This is how Clockwork Alchemy started. This young man walked by our author table. When Sparky squeed in delight, he gave her a Grape Soda ribbon for her badge.

Russell, Is That You?

And speaking of author table, this was the first year where we had one at Clockwork Alchemy. Notice the spiffy new retractable banner behind us. Drake has been exercising his commercial illustration talents again to give us a mobile, professional presence.

Commerce in Action

While vending is a lot of work, it has some delightful moments, like
Kaja Foglio buying a copy of “London, Where It All Began.” Those of you who know our history know that “Girl Genius” started Sparky’s interest in steampunk, so this was a huge fan girl moment for her.

Kaja Bought Our Book!

We don’t have a picture, but
Dr. Brassy Steamington ran up during a rare spare moment in her busy schedule and blurted out, “I want a book! Shut up and take my money.” So we did.

Lots of our Treehouse Writers buddies were in the author’s alley neighborhood. A couple of our favorites were right next door.

Vending With the Messenger-Sikes Cabal

Speaking of the Treehouse Writers, we’re honored to be among them in “Twelve Hours Later,” an anthology whose net proceeds benefit literacy programs. We have two Drake & McTrowell stories in the book, “The Polychrome Wishing Jar” and “A Coincidental Theft.”

Twelve Hours Later
The cover of “Twelve Hours Later”

Several of the contributors read their stories at the opening night book release party.

Anthony Francis

Here’s an unusual picture of
Thena MacArthur. No, it’s not unusual that she’s reading. It’s unusual that she’s not clothed in colorful magnificence. We think she was undercover like her character, Miranda Gray.

Thena Incognita

Lovely costumes abounded.

Sartorial_Magnificence Wonder_Woman Ship_Hats
Steampunk Wonder Woman Wonders, “Sartorial Splendor or Hats Aweigh?”

What’s that? You’re wondering if there were shenanigans? You’re wondering why we’re keeping you in suspense. Do not be disappointed, gentle reader. Drake lent a hand to Justin Andrew Hoke for Idea Men.

The Idea Men

And there was this business at Sparky’s birthday party involving a Hookazoo from Belinda Messenger-Sike’s caterpillar costume. This isn’t what it looks like. This is the first two-person musical instrument that supposed to produce multiple musical notes. It didn’t really work, but that is how brilliant design starts. Okay, maybe you had to be there for this to make sense.


That’s right; Clockwork Alchemy once again coincided with Sparky’s birthday. Yay! Thanks to the Messenger-Sikes Cabal for the awesome birthday party. As a present, Drake commissioned this caricature of Sparky in her Queen of Hearts costume from
David Mejia.

Sparkys Army of Cards

Yes, we did Drake & McTrowell’s Hot Potato School of Writing™. We don’t have pictures this time, but we do have sound, compliments of
DreadWaves, which is part of Dreadfully Punk.

On the drive home, Drake said to Sparky, “Are we stopping for our usual post-con Mexican meal?” To which Sparky replied, “Is that a thing? Our thing?” Yes, as it turns out, it is. Something about a full weekend of steampunking, vending, presenting, and propping up heavy costumes makes one really hungry for this…

Tamales! Eating at Chevy’s in Gilroy

Comment Request

Book 5 Episode 2: How I Met Sparky’s Mother

Thanks, Wikimedia!

In this episode, Drake finally meets Sparky's mum. No pressure, right? Also, Sparky spots a Snake Oil salesman.

Click here to read the new episode ...

Comment Request

Condor 2015

We have to start this bloop with a shout out to Colleen Kelly Burks for inviting us to be special guests at ConDor Con, San Diego's Longest Running Science Fiction Convention. We'd never been to ConDor before, so the weekend was a triple treat: new con, gracious treatment, and old friends.

Dreadful Punks were out in force and fine form.


Dreadfully Punk Panel

And speaking of Dreadfully Punk, Bethany Jackson executed a most creative costume rescue for Sparky. Sparky lost one of the buttons from the blouse of her canonical costume. Bethany offered up an earring from her tea dueling biscuit jewelry collection as a replacement; so sweet and thoughtful!

Bethany Biscuit Button (Earring)

There was a Starburner Galactic Courier Service induction ceremony where agents #32 and #33, Darren Wagner and Lindsay Rae Harold Wagner, were inducted and quite deservedly so.

Inducting Starburner Agents #33 and #32

Starburner Induction Ceremony

Even though we were on a number of panels and had a successful signing with Mysterious Galaxy, we found plenty of time to just hang out with friends like David Lee Summers and Oliver Von Bremen. In case you're wondering, this threesome is getting ready to play a game of Martian Dice.

Martian Dice

We met the Adventure Effect and Sparky got to join them on a panel on staying in character.

The Adventure Effect

The highlight of the weekend was playing Drake & McTrowell's Hot Potato School of Writing™ with guest co-authors Sherwood Smith and Jefferson P. Swycaffer. We were fortunate to have an early evening slot when nothing else was going on, so folks came out in droves. We played a brand new set of plot points and the game was off the hook. Thanks to Kyla at Kyla's Keepsakes for the pics.

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Riotous HPSoW

Poplock Holmes was a contestant for one of our games. We don't remember clearly what happened at the end of the game, but he's definitely making a dramatic exit.

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Poplock Makes a Break for It

Remember what we said about gracious treatment? ConDor comped us a lovely room. We all know what that means…room party! Fear not; we're not the rowdy type. It was just wall to wall friends eating and chatting.

Room Party

Well, maybe there was music too. This was a particularly sweet moment,
Hannah and Poplock Holmes doing an acoustic jam on the balcony.

Hannah and #poplockholmes

Needless to say, we're looking forward to next year. Colleen, sign us up!

Comment Request

Wild Wild West Con 2015

Who's up for a little wild west steampunk fun?

Old Tucson Studios

We headed back to Old Tucson Studios outside Tucson for one of our favorite conventions, Wild Wild West Con. It featured some old favorites…like tea dueling!

But this was a new one on us. The dry desert air dried out the biscuits so much that they wouldn't crumble. So Madame Askew issued a challenge: sing and dance to “I'm a Little Teapot.” Hilarious!

I'm a Little Teapot

Why yes, Madame Askew, The Judge would like to tea duel and take home the grand prize…again.

Judge_Dueling Judge_with_Prize
The Judge Dominates Tea Dueling

We're always on the lookout for clever new costumes and accessories like this parasol.

Release the Kraken

And this adorable steam bee.

Steam Bee

Wait, is that a toilet float on that Rocketeer's jet pack? Clever makers!

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Steampunk Rocketeer

It wasn't all “people watching” for us; we had two appearances every day. We premiered a new skit from Drake & McTrowell's Theater of the Historically Improbable, “The Case of the Competing Cryptozoologists.” We were graced by the participation of Wild Wild West Con's co-owner, Diana Given, in character as Lady Jane, the Butterfly Huntress.

Lady Jane, The Butterfly Huntress

We shared a table in the vendor barn with David Lee Summers where we were vending our book, “London, Where It All Began.”

Maybe We Shouldn't Quit Our Day Jobs Just Yet

Our vendor table even hosted a Gamera vs Godzilla rematch.

Gamera - Godzilla Rematch

More people are recording us these days. Our friend, Heather Bollman, shot this video of the audience participation part of our reading from our second book, “The Bavarian Airship Regatta,” … with sock puppets!

Interactive Sock Puppets!

And then Darren Wagner shot this video of Sparky dancing while
#poplockholmes serenaded her during his busking tour.

Pass the Tea, Please

Previously, Sparky lived in Tucson for a decade. One of her favorite restaurants was
El Charro. It was founded in 1922 and it's still there. A whole crowd of us from Wild Wild West Con went one night and chowed down on some authentic Sonoran-style Mexican food.

El Charro

Wild Wild West Con is always one of our favorites cons. We can't wait to see what they have in store for next year!

Comment Request

Steamathon 2015

We were tempted to just write, “What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas,” and leave the rest of this bloop blank. But then we wouldn’t get to share some really cool pictures, so these shenanigans aren’t going to stay in Vegas.

Four people in the San Diego contingent had birthdays that week, so we started the weekend with dinner at the steampunk-themed
RX Boiler Room in the Mandalay Bay.


RX Boiler Room Birthday Cookies and Table-Side Mixologist

If you get a chance, definitely go. Not only is it visually gorgeous, but the food is delicious and beautifully presented.

Speaking of visually gorgeous settings, the
Main Street Station is a Victorian casino. We had several gatherings in the Pullman Lounge that contains an actual vintage Pullman railroad car. Yep, it’s a very big room.


Sparky_in_Pullman Drake_in_Pullman
Pullman Lounge and D&McT in the Pullman Railcar

We were asked to contribute to the festivities on short notice, so we gamely threw ourselves in (to the deep end of the pool). We played Drake & McTrowell’s Hot Potato School of Writing™ with
Kelly Varner and Justin Hoke as guest authors. D&McT is usually a pretty PG enterprise, but somehow the Vegas edition of the game was a little more colorful than usual thanks to these two madcap troublemakers. Drake as a Vegas showgirl? Need we say more?

Troublemakers All

This was followed immediately by an impromptu book signing in the vendor room arranged by our friends at
Rae-Wolf Designs.

Steamathon_book_signing Vegas_signing_sign
Autographs Anyone?

Sunday was
Jules Verne’s 183rd birthday, so there was, of course, a birthday party. It was also Lady Amethyst’s birthday, so Doc Phineas invited her to blow out the candles on the cake.

She Doesn’t Look a Day Over 100

Doc Phineas invited Drake to discuss Verne’s literary contributions, an activity that culminated in a chat between the two of them while Sparky engaged in a
shameless plug for the hardcover edition of “London, Where It All Began.”

Drake_on_Verne With_Doc_Phineas
A Tribute to Jules Verne

One of the benefits of going to a con farther from home is that we get to see new people, costumes, and gadgets. We’ve seen a lot of steampunk wings, but none quite like these lovely brass ones.

Brass Wings

We saw an amazing Las Vegas-based “hoop artist” (is that the right technical term?) named
Dizzy Hips. In this picture, he’s hula-hooping using a 120-pound truck tire. It makes my back hurt just to watch.

Dizzy Hips

Steampunk Buddy Jesus with a clockwork orange? Sure!

Steampunk Buddy Jesus

While Sparky was dressed as a steampunk Queen of Hearts, we spotted another steampunk Queen of Hearts with her own Alice. So obviously we had to throw down.

QsoH_and_Alice Battle_of_the_Queens
Off With Her Head!

This isn’t the first time we’ve seen
Lord and Lady Towers, but it’s always a pleasure to see their latest creations.

Lord Towers

Of course, no steampunk convention is complete without a fashion show / contest. Not only did Drake participate, but he was presented with an award by Queen Victoria for being the most dapper. At least that’s the way I remember it.

All of the Fashion Show Participants

Dapper Drake Wins at the Fashion Show (Well, to be truthful, all the participants won something)

We had a great time and we were impressed with the fledgling event. We made the six-hour drive back to San Diego with the satisfaction of that only comes from shenanigans in Vegas.

Comment Request

HRM Steampunk Symposium 2015

If it’s January, we must be starting the con season with a partying good time on the beautiful Queen Mary. And what’s a party without a circus…

Cirque1 Cirque2 Cirque3
Cirque Des Betes

…and some magicians? These two happen to be our favorites:
Aiden Sinclair and Dyno Staats. Is someone eavesdropping?

Aiden and Dyno Exchange a Deep Dark Magician Secret

Surely there must be music and dancing.

Yeah, We Know - Swing is Only Steampunk if it’s Lee Presson and the Nails

Or maybe
Poplock Holmes serving up some chap hop with a couple of really talented young fans dancing off?

Poplock_Holmes_warmup Dance_off
Monster Hunting Dance Off

Of course, it wouldn’t be HRM Steampunk Symposium without an epic party or two (or three) hosted by San Diego Steampunk in the Eisenhower Suite including Jeff’s birthday party with Thee Bluebeard serving as cake messenger.

Jeffs_birthday1 Jeffs_birthday2 Eisenhower_Party
Now That’s a Birthday Party!

If you’re in the market for some improvisational hilarity,
Madame Askew is your go-to gal for serving as tea dueling ‘tiffin mistress. Are we right or are we right?

You Don’t Even Have to Know What She’s Saying to Know it’s Funny

Okay, maybe there was a serious moment or two. Aiden graced us with a private, Jack the Ripper-themed séance at midnight. It was brilliant and more than a little creepy.

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A Murder at Midnight

And remember, Green Woman loves Cthulhu because it’s that kind of con.

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Green Woman Loves Cthulhu & Preparing to go to the Masquerade Party

And lastly, it's good to be the queen, especially if it's the Queen of Hearts.

The Queen of Hearts
Yours Truly as the Queen of Hearts

Comment Request

Book Release Event

It’s the event we’ve all been waiting for! Well, at least Drake & McTrowell have really been waiting for it and hope you have too. Our first novel, London, Where It All Began will be available as an illustrated hardcover book on Sunday, November 23, 2014.

The book features cover art by
Brian Kesinger, a foreword by Professor Elemental, and illustrations by Martina Cecilia, Tess Fowler, Otto Arantes Pessanha, Jeff Vaca, Rocky Ormsby-Olivares, and Andrea Izaguirre & David Orenda. These talented artists bring Drake & McTrowell’s first adventure to life in full color. And just in time for holiday gift-giving, hint, hint.

Mysterious Galaxy is graciously hosting the book release event at their new location, 5943 Balboa Ave., San Diego, CA 92111. It will be held on Sunday, November 23, 2014 at 4:00 PM. The location will be so new that our signing will happen on their first day at their new location. Let’s help them get their new digs off to a rousing start! For all of you who live in and near San Diego, we’ll see you there!

Mysterious Galaxy 8.5x11 Poster

See You There!

Ice Bucket Challenge

Garrett Sherman over at Dreadfully Punk (no doubt in collusion with Justin Andrew Hoke) issued Drake & McTrowell the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge #icebucketchallenge. We accepted! In addition to donating $100, we also did this...

Silly us!

Comic Con 2014

July has come and gone again which means that we spent four action-packed days with 130,000 of our closest friends at the San Diego Convention Center for Comic Con. Of course, there were oodles of steampunks (that’s an official, technical metric). There were several steampunk panels including “Birth of a Graphic Novel” with the Starburner Galactic Courier Service.


Birth of a Graphic Novel Panel

Andrew Fogel led the lively “Is It Steampunk” panel with some well known steampunks you might recognize including Claire Hummel, Anina Bennett and Paul Guinan, and Thomas Willeford.


Is It Steampunk?

Not all of Comic Con was steampunk. We attended “Full Time Creativity on a Part Time Schedule.” Gene Turnbow, who does a Herculean job at
Krypton Radio, invited us. This isn’t a very flattering picture of him, but I couldn’t resist the image of him looking like he’s living on caffeine to get all that work done.


Gene with Caffeine

Speaking of not steampunk, there were some fabulous costumes that caught my eye despite their lack of gears and leather. I probably would have stuck with scouting as a girl if it had been like this.


Ghoul Scouts

And did someone say pirate? Yar!


Pirate Poison Ivy and Harley Quinn

I have to say that this year was easier on us than recent years. One reason was that our dear friends Jeff and
Lisa had onsite parking, and they shuttled us every day. We bumped into Camden Toy on the street. We met him a couple of months before at Aiden Sinclair’s show in LA.


With Camden Toy

We didn’t wear full costumes every single day.


Going Casual the First Day at the League of S.T.E.A.M. Booth
(That’s Drake trying to escape the clutches of the League of S.T.E.A.M.’s mummy!)

We made time for low-key, relaxing fun like the
League of S.T.E.A.M. meetup.


The League of S.T.E.A.M Meetup

We went to our favorite Comic Con dinner spot,
Café Sevilla, and restored ourselves with loads sangria and paella.


Attending Comic Con is Hungry Work

Of course, one of the high points is always the Saturday steampunk meetup.


Steampunk Meetup
Outside near the back stairs

There were women of action!


Steampunk Women of Action

Bob Mogg debuted his latest creation. It’s a tradition.


Bob’s Latest Constructified Confabulation

But we really get together to celebrate the annual
Starburner Galactic Courier Service Awards.

2014 Starburner Awardees

2014 Starburner Galactic Courier Service Awardees

Now, as awesome as all this is, the highlight of the weekend
Andrew Fogel’s proposal to his girlfriend, Kate Walsh. Can you tell she was gobsmacked?


She Said, “Yes!”

We wish them a lifetime of steampunk shenanigans together.


Steampunk Shenanigans

Drake & McTrowell’s Fourth Anniversary

I honestly don’t know where the last year has gone! Okay, so I cheated and scanned “Latest News” tagged items from our web site and now I kinda know:

It seems like we all deserved a party for all this hard work. So we had one. We went back to our “traditional” location,
Eclipse Chocolate in South Park. This is our third year celebrating with Eclipse and our second at their new South Park location.

In addition to announcements (more about that in a later post),


Drake MC’s the Evening

...there was tasty food.


Yes, Jeff, We See You Demolishing That Cupcake

And there were libations, apparently in conjunction with some kind of sleight of hand by Jonathan Lord Ashleigh.


Sleight of Hand and Libations

I performed a spirited reading from Drake’s episode, “
Baby Squirt.”


Wait, This is the Really Exciting Bit!

But, we all know what it’s really all about, getting together with good friends to celebrate our steamy good fortune.


The Chief Inspector and Miss Sarah Slate

I hope we have as much to celebrate next year on our fifth anniversary. Five years, seriously?

These Are a Few of Our Favorite (Clockwork Alchemy) Things

Clockwork Alchemy has become our favorite convention for a number of reasons. We’d like to take this opportunity to enumerate them.

Organization: this is hands down the best organized convention out there, primarily owing to the skills and attention of
Thena MacArthur and Sharon Cathcart.


Thena in Only One of the Magnificent, Many-Hued Ensembles She Wore

Respect: this is somewhat related to the organization, but the fact that the literary events are all organized by authors means that the literary contributions of the authors are respected. One of the events they organized this year was a book release party where the authors all read from their latest books. And for all of you who were there, “Vive la France!”

Book Release

The Book Release Party

Tea: no beverage symbolizes steampunk like tea. Clockwork Alchemy hosts a tea room that is a delightfully sublime venue for resting ones feet while enjoying a refreshing cup’a tea. And it’s all powered by the almighty tea engine.


The Tea Engine

This attendee seems to have come prepared.


Too Much Tea Woman

Friends: we always make amazing new friends at Clockwork Alchemy. Last year we met the Sikes’. This year they brought along their adorable mini-mes. Dr. Messenger made their costumes.


Belinda Sikes and the Twins

They invited us to participate in their Mad Scientists’ Character Creation Panel. We brought our own lab coats.


You Say “Mad” Like It’s a Bad Thing

Drake played the dead-ish monster.


I’m Not Dead Yet

And a marvelous time was had by all the participants.


See, Not So Mad After All

This year we met Andrew Crockett and his wife.


I Can Steampunk That

I swear I’m not making up this next part. I came back early from a long business trip right before Clockwork Alchemy. I was talking to my boss just before leaving for San Jose and I commented that my early return was fortunate because my original schedule would not have allowed me to be completely prepared. He cracked that I might have arrived in San Jose to discover that I’d packed nothing but aloha shirts. And then I met Andrew; true story.

Renown: everyone knows us. We were perusing the offerings of the vendors when one of them waved down Drake. One of the owners had had her picture taken with Drake in his Mall Copper costume during
Gaslight Gathering and was proudly displaying it in their booth.


Mall Copper Squared

Drake & McTrowell’s Hot Potato School of Writing is now sufficiently well known that we have lots of volunteers. This year the
Aether Brigade pitched in...hilarity ensued. Special thanks to most excellent newbie Assistant Jen.


Hot Potato School of Writing a la Aether Brigade

Telegrams: this is the only con that offers this particularly delightful treat. They have a telegraph office. One has only to send them a text message including the name of the recipient and their location. An extremely energetic page boy delivers a printed telegram with much fanfare and volume.


Telegram for the Judge!

They even deliver to the bar where one might relax and enjoy a libation and a bit of sushi with ones steampunk companions.


The Aftermath

Entertainment: I didn’t get any good pictures of the amazing fashion show arranged by Kory Doyle, but the ensembles were smashing. And finally,
Lee Presson and the Nails rocked the rafters of the ballroom with their irrepressible style.


Lee Presson - Not Entirely Nailed to the Stage

We’ve already committed to be there next year! One final note: birthday. Clockwork Alchemy always falls on or near my birthday, so I get to spend my birthday at my favorite steampunk convention with my steamy sweetie and my favorite steampunk friends. What could possibly be better?

Of course, pictures from the Hot Potato School of Writing and the Mad Scientists’ Character Creation Panel are a gift from
Lisa. Check out her website, San Diego Steampunk for steampunk happenings in our home town and the surrounding locale.

Gaslight Gathering 2014

This year Gaslight Gathering was mostly about new costumes for us. Lisa Vaca organized the Gentlemen of Steampunk Fashion Show.


All the Young(ish) Dudes (and the Amazing Lady Amethyst)

Drake rocked the hottest steampunk Internet meme with his Mall Copper uniform.


You’re Dressed Too Fancy (With a Nod to Poplock Holmes)

One of the subtle highlights of the costume was a custom carousel pin Sparky commissioned from
Rae-Wolf Designs.


Carousel Pin

Egged on by
William Swanson’s idea for an amazing sceptre, ...


The Making of the Sceptre

...Sparky went outside her normal costuming zone of comfort and assembled a steampunk Queen of Hearts costume that she debuted at the ball.


Off With Their Heads, Well Not Her Head, but the Rest of You

Sparky went to a lot of vendors to pull together this costume:

We mixed it up on the dance floor in our new duds.


Dancing Machine(s)

And then there was
Professor Elemental leading the conga line because, well, that’s a thing. With a pint in his hand, no less.


Conga + Cerveza

But it wasn’t all costuming. There was the reproduction
Electriquette that Kim Keeline arranged to have available. This was even more fun than it looks like here!



To our great delight, Madame Askew was there with her crew to officiate yet another epic round of tea dueling. It started off particularly well for Sparky with the success of
Dr. Sparky’s Gluten Free Tea Dueling Biscuits (r. Sparky's Gluten Free Tea Dueling Biscuits">see our post from 5/3/2014). But then there was the grudge match during the finals between Adam Green and Bear. The whole affair was so overwrought that Chief Inspector Drake (undercover as a Western marshal) had to be called in to break it up and force them to settle the matter like gentlemen on the field of tea.


Settle This Like Gentlemen on the Field of Tea

And we did the Martian Edition of the Drake & McTrowell’s Hot Potato School of Writing. Hopefully you didn’t miss us just because the description in the program wasn’t quite correct.


Marvin the Martian in His Martian Underoos (They Match!)

Kelly Varner and Karina Montgomery certainly livened up the the “Hot Potato” proceedings with their witty improvisation.


Our Guest Authors

We certainly hope that all our steamy friends had just as much fun!

Proclaiming Duel at Dusk 2014 a Success!

Duel at Dusk exceeded all our expectations! We had more than a hundred attendees and eight vendors at the Team Touché Fencing Center.


Good Thing We Had So Many Chairs
(Thanks to both the Lapidary Society for providing the chairs and Grady for all his help lugging them)


May I Sell You Something Steamy?
(Vendors included Wyng’d Lyon, Hootie’s Perch, Indigo Lane Designs, Gears and Roebuck, Perpectual Motion Creations & Cameron Theatrical Design, The Elegant Harlot, and Rae Wolf Designs)

We had fierce competitors.


Lucius McMonocle
(Played by Ed Pogue)


Rupert Pennyfarthing
( Played by Bryan Bishé )


Stanley Cephalopod
(Played by Ashok Pathi)


Victor Victrola
(Played by Sergey Riezaiev)

Everyone got swag.


Swag Bag Contents + a Trophy

The fencing was very exciting!


Cat Like Reflexes


This Isn’t Epee and That’s Not Target


It’s Also Not Ballet, but It’s Just As Spectacular

Of course, Drake was our intrepid MC.


Intrepid MC
(Played by David Drake a.k.a. Chief Inspector Erasmus Drake)

He did an excellent job of explaining fencing.


This Way to the Fencing

And making it clear what is and is not a regulation weapon.


Clearly Not an FIE-Approved Weapon
(FIE is the international fencing association)

And Sparky made too much food, as usual.


So Much Food

The Starburner Galactic Courier Service’s Strato Sculpin was a huge hit!


Jeb and Barbara Enjoying the Strato Sculpin


You Steer it With That Thingamajig
(Getting Some Direction from Kim Hutsell a.k.a. Lithobius Quick)


Strato Sculpin “Nose” Art


Gear Hands!

At the end of the evening, Rupert Pennyfarthing took 1st, Victor Victrola took 2nd, and Lucius McMonocle took 3rd.


And the Winner Is...!

Justin Hoke won the Trifecta Trophy for having the ticket that predicted the outcome.



So, he had to have his picture taken with the two makers of the trophy.


Justin and William Swanson


Kim Hutsell and Justin

Although this has been a light-hearted romp through the evening’s festivities, a lot of people committed a lot of their time and energy to making the evening such a success including the Starburner Galactic Courier Service, the fencers, the vendors, and the volunteers.


Way to Go Team!

Dr. Sparky's Gluten Free Tea Dueling Biscuits

I’m not much given to public boasting, but I’m very proud of my cookie-baking skills and they have served me well. I started baking cookies with Mom when I was old enough to reach the counter by standing on a chair. You’d have to check with her on the precise age, but I’m guessing I was about 6 or 7 which means I’m closing in on 50 years of honing this particular skill. In years past when we lived closer together, we used to get together at the beginning of December and spend a weekend baking Christmas cookies together...all weekend. Thousands of them, no joke. We would bake about 2 dozen different varieties and double batches of each. Over the years we found new recipes, refined old ones, and even developed several of our own. Pistachio lime crescents, anyone?

As Thanksgiving would approach, I would notice people at work getting friendlier. Some would even be so bold as to ask when “cookie weekend” was going to be. Would I be sure to drop by their offices with the tins before I deposited them in the coffee room where the ravening hordes of locusts would descend on them? True story, I had a boss who claimed he put me on an important project even before he knew about my programming skills just because he noticed my cookies and figured that was a good skill set to have on his project. (That project changed my life and career, although that was due to my engineering skills.) I have one friend who refers to me and my mother as “Cookie Lady and Cookie Mom.”

Apologies for the nostalgic stroll down memory lane; I’ll come back to the point. This is the book that started it all for me.


The Joy of Cooking - 1953 Edition

My great grandmother gave my mother a copy of this edition for junior high school graduation in 1953 when it was just published. That copy is so beaten up it’s barely recognizable, but it still works. Mom found this copy of the 1953 edition for me in 1998.

The first time I ever tea dueled at
Wild Wild West Con 2013, Madame Askew had gluten free tea dueling biscuits. Sadly, all agreed that they were woefully inadequate to the task, more like hockey pucks than proper biscuits. When we attended Wild Wild West Con this year, there was no gluten free dueling because she was unable to find a suitable weapon. And then she made some rash comment about eternal tea dueling glory for the person who could deliver this elusive weapon (or something to that effect, I swear). Challenge accepted!

Over the course of a month, I baked and tested 4 different versions with 4 additional sub-versions. And you know I kept detailed experimental notes. Drake and I tested some. Thanks to the
San Diego Tea Duelists for their tests and reviews. This week, just two days before the start of Gaslight Gathering, I arrived at version 4.0.


Dr. Sparky’s Gluten Free Tea Dueling Biscuits - Version 4.0

Yesterday, during day 1 of Gaslight Gathering, I presented a tin of 18 biscuits to Madame Askew and she tested them during Tea Dueling 101. And they worked! To show her appreciation for this accomplishment, she presented me with the coveted Tucson Steampunk Society Tea Dueling Badge.


Tea Dueling Badge of Honor

So, what about the book that started it all? I started from the Butter Thins recipe and successively altered it using the skills I learned from Mom to achieve just the right structure and texture. Oh, did I mention that they’re also tasty? So, here’s the recipe you’ve been waiting for.

Dr. Sparky's Gluten Free Tea Dueling Biscuits

Cream together

  • .5 c. unsalted butter (room temperature)
  • .5 cup sugar

Beat in
  • 2 egg yolks
  • .5 tsp. vanilla

Beat in (there’s no gluten, so you don’t have to worry about them getting tough)
  • 1 c. rice flour
  • Pinch of nutmeg (to taste)

Press evenly into a lightly greased, segmented brownie pan. Bake for 12 minutes at 375 degrees. Remove the divider while the cookies are still warm. Makes 18. Store in an airtight container once they cool. They work better when they’re fresh.

About that segmented brownie pan. It ensures that the biscuits are a uniform, proper size for tea dueling, and that all of the biscuits have “edges,” which is also important to stability. This one on
Amazon is very similar to the one I have including it makes the right number. I don’t know where mine was purchased because it was a gift from Mom.

Happy Mother’s Day, Cookie Mom, from the Cookie Lady who’s so very proud to be your daughter.

Wild Wild West Con 2014

What’s hot and cool, dry and steamy? Wild Wild West Con!


The Judge Steaming Up the Desert with the Turleys

It’s where we first learned about tea dueling from the
Tucson Steampunk Society. Here’s a posse heading off to a duel. Note the serious determination on their visages.


Tea Dueling Posse

If you didn’t have the great privilege of witnessing the finals, I’ll clue you in. The Judge beat the Prussian in the most dramatic, theatrical duel we have ever had the thrill of witnessing! And here’s the winner explaining to his chagrined opponent that it’s all in the wrist.


Winning Tea Strategy

Is it safe to assume that you’re familiar with the dangerous, top-hat wearing, carousel riders meme? Well, there’s a carousel at
Old Tucson Studios. Sadly, it’s currently non-functional, so we were unable to ride. But the gracious staff at the theme park allowed the San Diego Steampunks to have a meet-up in front of it. Extra bonus, Poplock Holmes showed up and performed his new number, “Carousel,” just for us!


Dangerous Top Hat Wearing Riff-Raff

Of course, Poplock also did a couple of regular performances for all the attendees.


Monster Hunters!

The crew of
Airship Isabella was there. Keep an eye out for some of their illustrations in our forthcoming print book, “London, Where It All Began.”


Momma Warned You

Because we’re steampunks, we can steam up anything. Bowler + gear + mustache + Dalek = …


…Steam Dalek

One of our favorite panels was given by
David Lee Summers. His fans know that he’s an astronomer in his day job. He gave a really fun panel on the history of the Martian “canals” that was also incredibly informative. Now that’s my idea of a great panel.


Martian Canals

The park has a rule that we have to vacate the park before evening events, and then they let us back in right before the event. Since Old Tucson is on the far side of the Tucson Mountains from Tucson, dinner options are limited. Here’s the Texas solution; annex a portion of the parking lot for a barbecue. Does Miss Jocelynne look like she’s up to some kind of shenanigans?


Parking Lot of Texas

In closing, I just have to ask, why do two people need so much stuff for a weekend? Seriously, somebody call Mary Poppins and order me a carpet bag or ten!


Traveling Light, Not!

If you’ve never been to Wild Wild West Con, you should really make the effort to make it next year. It’s an amazing, immersive experience. We’ll be there.

Steampunk Symposium 2014

We had barely recovered from our Parisian adventure than it was time to pack up the Dr. Sparky-mobile and head north to Long Beach for Her Royal Majesty’s Steampunk Symposium.


Chief Inspector Drake Investigates the Queen Mary’s Engine Room

Relieved of presentation duties, we sampled various entertainments. I’m not sure what the highlight was.

Was it
Aiden Sinclair’s amazing illusions? That’s Aiden there in the middle. He entertained us for hours with his amazing skills.


I Feel a Magical Conspiracy Coming On

I like to think of myself as a skeptic, but I was the subject of one of his illusions and neither I nor any of our friends in the audience could figure out how he did it.

Since there were no actual adults present, Drake engaged in a little tentacle-y sock puppetry during the Cthulhu Prayer Breakfast.


Sock-re Bleu (and a Little Orange)

And we helped arrest some of the


...In Slow Motion

Mellivora Rathbone; she’s nothing but trouble.

Lee Presson was there with The Nails giving his usually swinging concert, but the next day he gave the most inspired, energetic Poe reading I’ve ever heard.


Who Knew He Had This Skill?

Dyno Staats was there and up to his usual shenanigans. As you can see, he was very concerned about our pushing the buttons on his contraptions.



Okay, I’m pretty sure it had to be the off-the-hook party in the Suite de Vacas.


It’s Not What it Looks Like

What you can’t hear is the loud music that Drake’s “dancing” to and you can’t see the crush of people at the party. I swear. Really. Lisa Vaca took this picture and she’ll swear to it, won’t you, dear?

I really have to come up with an acronym that means “Thank Lisa,
yet again, for the awesome pics.” Nope, it just doesn’t roll off the tongue.

Well, it was a fantastic time. Going back to the day job was really, really tough. Need sleep...

L'aventure Parisienne de Drake et McTrowell

Set the way back machine to almost two years ago. Drake and I had been to London recently, so I took the opportunity to assemble a Google map of locations that appeared in our first book, “London, Where It All Began.”

Well, we had the good fortune to be in Paris over New Year’s, so I’ve assembled a new one, “
L'aventure Parisienne de Drake et McTrowell.” On their way to and from the Bavarian Airship Regatta, Drake & McTrowell had time for some unplanned adventures in Paris. This map highlights locations of these unplanned adventures and illustrates them with pictures we took along the way.

Now here is the trick to enjoying the map. Click on one of the links, and …wait… until the picture shows up. Google takes its time to download all of the images in the map pushpin descriptions. It loads all the images at once, so that’s the only waiting you’ll have to do.

L'aventure Parisienne screen shot
Click on the map image to get the Google Map

Bon aventure!

Steamcon 2013

One of our New Year’s resolutions here at Drake & McTrowell is to return to getting our posts out in a timely fashion. It seems we’ve been running a little behind in the last few months. What better way to get back on track than to get out our bloop on Steamcon V (which was actually two months ago)?

Although the theme was “Around the World,” I detected a note of
Bavarian Airship Regatta. There were Russians. We still miss the brave Ivan Krasnayarubashka.

Russkiye Steampunki

Russkiye Steampunki

I thought I spotted our villainess in the crowd.

Ishild is That You

Ishild, Is That You?

Of course, we had to have McTrowell saving Drake from certain death at the hands of the pirate queen.

Saving Drake in the BarvAirshipRegatta

Saving Drake in the Bavarian Airship Regatta

Of course, it all had a happening ending.

Smooching in the Clouds

Smooching in the Clouds

In other news, Baron Von Fogel of the
League of S.T.E.A.M. was there. Is it just us, or is everyone dying for them to start Season Three?

D+McT and Von Fogel

Baron Von Fogel

The masquerade had many treats to offer. I particularly liked this one.



But I think these two were king and queen of the steam geek prom.

We Rule

We Rule

And you know the comic-reading, Comic-Con-going, steampunk adventuress in me just could not resist these three.

DCU Steampunk Chicks Rule

DCU Steampunk Chicks

Final note of happy news: apparently there’s going to be a Steamcon VI! There was some question about this at the end of Steamcon V, but I found their website as I was preparing this bloop. Nobody tell Drake that I’m going to volunteer us to do “Drake & McTrowell’s Hot Potato School of Writing. ©”

Zazzle Store

You may have noticed that Drake and I have a couple of D&McT t-shirts that we occasionally wear while traveling to and from cons, or on the last day of Comic Con when we can’t face shlepping those heavy leather coats around for one more day. Well, some fans have noticed. And they’ve also noticed that we have them and they don’t. Happy fans = good. Grumpy fans = bad.

Zazzle to the rescue! We have set up a
Drake & McTrowell store on Zazzle. I love that they print and ship your shirt directly to you.

We currently have two offerings. The first is a sand-colored shirt with the
&McT Artwork: Jake Rieman">Jake Rieman illustration on the back and our logo on the front.


Classic D&McT - Back


Classic D&McT - Front

The second shirt is yellow with Drake’s own “
It’s Not That Kind of Serial,” illustration on the front and the punchline on the back.


It’s Not That Kind of Serial - Front


It’s Not That Kind of Serial - Back

Comic Con 2013

Oh my word, where to start? Well, the weather was cooler this year than it has been the last couple of years, so we didn’t roast in our leather coats. (Insert mental image of D&McT in leather “brownin” bags like you use for your holiday turkey. There’s a somewhat-related, but true, super-funny anecdote about a Christmas goose that overcooked for hours. The pictures are not for the faint-of-heart.) But, I digress. We just said, “no” to Hall H and Room 20, which contributed to this year’s sanity. I’ve heard some epic tales of amazing surprises that awaited the stout-hearted souls who braved the interminable lines to get it, but we just couldn’t do it this year. Instead, we opted for smaller, more personal panels.

You may not know this, but both Drake and I read
Mad Magazine as kids. Go ahead, say it, “That explains a lot.” And we both adored the little incunabula that Sergio Argones drew. So, we lined up to see the Mark & Sergio show. Sergio came out before hand to chat with the fans. How cool is that? As he was standing next to us talking to another fan, when a young boy and his dad approached. The boy was carrying a sheet of card stock with a piece of paper covering the top. When he got to Sergio, he uncovered the card stock to reveal that he was simply a messenger. The sheet was from Nick Meglin and it contained nothing more than a couple of scribbly doodles and a challenge from Nick. Apparently this is a “thing” they do. One of them makes the scribbles and the other has to make a picture out of it. I’m not sure, but perhaps the result is always supposed to be a comic portrait of the two of them. Below is Sergio’s response.



Epilogue: during the actual panel, Sergio got to talking about what had really mattered in his career. When he tried to explain how important the fans are to him, he started to choke up with emotion. It was heartwarming to see one of our hero’s softer sides. This is why I brave the lines and the non-parking to go to Comic Con!

We now return you to our regularly scheduled steamy, pithy commentary. I want these wings.

Fairy Wings

Fairy Wings

You can’t really tell from this pic, but each of the six wing elements is hinged in the middle of her back so they can be arranged separately. They’re made by
Fairy Wing Factory.

Okay, this isn’t steampunk, but for all you Whovians out there, I just had to share because this costume is so good.

Novice Hame
Novice Hame

I swear it’s going to be steampunk from here on out. I ducked out of Comic Con to visit the
Gaslight Gathering Steam Worlds Fair for a few hours on Friday night. I caught Poplock Holmes’ show that was sadly shortened by technical difficulties. It was still good fun.

Run DM Steam

Poplock Holmes

Veronique Chevalier organized a very thoughtful panel on Steampunk as a Super-Culture. Her panelists were Trevor Crafts and Bruce Boxleitner (Lantern City), Thomas Willeford (Brute Force Studios), Paul Guinan (Boilerplate), and Brian Kesinger (Tea Girls and Walking Your Octopus).

Veroniques Panel

Veronique’s Panel

Sorry for the blurry picture. My hands must have been shaking from excitement.

Of course, the big event for the steampunks is the steampunk meetup on the back stairs that includes a massive photo op followed by the
Starburner Awards. I’m sure we all save up our best new costumes for this event and here’s the proof.

Mysterious Marine MIchelle

Mysterious Marine Michelle

I swear I didn’t realize this was Michelle until she took off the scallop breather mask thingy.

We had not one, but two steampunk Batmen.



I don’t recognize the fellow on the right, but that’s Bob Mogg on the left, astonishing all with his creativity and skill as usual.

Max Metzler, aka
Alastar Hyde, had a new hide.

Alastars New Hide

Alastar’s New Hide

Seriously, you didn’t think I was going to let that one slide by did you?

I’m still having nightmares about this one.

Steampunk Raptor

Steampunk Raptor

Remember back before all these nifty pictures I mentioned that this event culminates with the Starburner Awards? Or perhaps you missed my previous bloop on the subject, but we
won one of the awards for our radio show! Congrats to all this year’s winners:

  • Jeffrey & Lisa Vaca - Community Support
    • Anastasia Hunter – Events
    • Max Metzler - Public Relations
    • Michelle Scrimpsher – Costuming
    • Erica "Unwoman" Mulkey – Music
    • Brian Kesinger – Art
    • Fred Jeska - Gadgetry

And hats off to the 2013 Starburner Galactic Courier Service inductees:
  • Daniel Bissonnette
    • Paul Bailey
    • Jeb Haught

We hear that there will be more awards and inductees at other events later this year, so keep an ear out for the details.

The last steampunk event of Comic Con was the Steampunk Generations panel organized by Daniel Bissonette. It was a multi-generational look at steampunk’s attraction and direction. The panelists were
Hannah Vaca (our very own Gertrude and the voice of Margaret O’Malley), William Swanson, C.J. DeAngelus, Kim Hutsell, and Duane Matthews.

Hannah and Her Brothers

Hannah and her (Steam) Brothers

The highlight for me was when Hannah admitted that her mom, Lisa, is the coolest mom in the world. Now it’s on the Internet; it must be true.

None of us really wanted to admit that Comic Con was over, so we hung in the hall for a while catching up. I’m not sure what these two are up to.

Amethyst + Phineas

Lady Amethyst + Phineas Sinclair

Maybe she was bragging about being the coolest mom in the world.

I’ll just close by saying, “I’m a fan of Jeb’s work.”

I'm a Fan

I’m a Fan

Starburner Award

I’ll do a full bloop about Comic Con later, but this piece of news is too exciting to wait. We won a Starburner Award at Comic Con 2013 for our radio show of “London, Where it All Began!” They’re the matching medals with the red and black ribbons. Congrats to all the winners and thanks to the Starburner Galactic Courier Service for promoting and recognizing contributions to the steampunk genre and community.

Starburner Medals

This Rocks!

By the way, if you missed the radio show when it ran on
Krypton Radio, you can buy yourself a copy from our shiny new General Store for the low, low price of $2.99.

Our Third Anniversary

Following my theory that, once you do something twice, it’s a tradition, we had our “traditional” anniversary party at Eclipse Chocolat. They’ve moved to a new, larger location since last year and their new digs have a private back room. Good thing because the steampunks completely invaded!

Gear Hands

Invasion of the Gear Hands

Of course, there were lots of delicious chocolate goodies.

Sea Salt Nib

Now That’s a Chocolate Bar!

Now Children

Now Children

There’s plenty for everyone; no need to fight over it. Gertrude wonders why the adults are behaving like children.

Pensive Gertrude

Pensive Gertrude

In addition to eating, drinking, and admiring each others’ costumes, we sampled a bit of one of our Krypton Radio shows. And then we handed out the special CDs we made of the entire radio show + the interview on Event Horizon. We made a disc for each friend who volunteered their voice talents, many of whom were present.

Handing Out the CDs

Handing Out the CDs

You might think these two are Thelonius Rex and Mellivora Rathbone. They also happen to be the voices for Mrs. McCreary and Alistair Bennington Rutherford/Constable Higgins.

Drake genned up a special treat just for that evening, a brief comic skit entitled “Panic in the Apothecary.” We “recruited volunteers” to read the parts including some repeat offenders such as
Dr. Edmond Pogue. Kelly Varner also demonstrating once again what a good sport she is.

Panic in the Apothecary

Panic in the Apothecary

We made a serendipitous find: Drake’s beer and Sparky’s root beer. We rounded up a few for folks to take home as gifts in addition to the lovely logo chocolates that Eclipse has been making for us since this time last year. Where does the time go?

Drake's and Sparky's

Drake’s and Sparky’s

Pictures by Lisa…as if you didn’t see that coming.

We want to thank everyone who attended and made it a great celebration of another year of all things Drake & McTrowell.

Clockwork Alchemy 2013

Question: why do two people need to bring so freaking much stuff for a weekend convention? Answer: who cares, as long as I (Sparky) get to spend my birthday with my steampunk friends? We spent Memorial Day weekend in San Jose at Clockwork Alchemy. We arrived on my birthday and headed to a French restaurant for dinner with the bestest fans ever…Lisa and Jeff.

Birthday Pig

Dîner, Birthday Girl?

In addition to the customary delight of dressing up, hanging with friends, being gawked at by mundies, and being chronically amazed by the creativity of others, the weekend had some very special treats of its own.

First, Clockwork Alchemy hosted a tearoom; very civilized. That was our very first stop in order to consume some delightfully refreshing and energizing caffeinated beverages while making our plan of attack.

Tea at Clockwork

Tea @ Clockwork

The Mysterious Gentleman Admirer was so mysterious in the tearoom, that you can’t see any of him except his coat and boutonnière.

On the advice of our pal, Karina (aka
Mellivora Rathbone), we had badge ribbons made up for this first time. Of course, the first ribbon had to go to Lady Amethyst, all kitted out here for one of her cryptozoological expeditions.

First Ribbon

First “HOT POTATO!” Ribbon

We made new friends. Aaron and Belinda Sikes came to our Team Writing panel.

Aaron and Belinda

Aaron and Belinda Sikes

Wikipedia Thumbs Up

Drake Gives Wikipedia the Thumbs Up During Team Writing

They just had their first co-authored short story published in Mechanized Masterpieces! And then, to prove what a team they are, she volunteered him as a guest author for Drake & McTrowell’s Hot Potato School of Writing™ when we came up short one author. True love.

Hot Potato Part Deux

Hot Potato School of Writing, Part Deux,
The Game of Sticking It to Your Fellow Author

Normally I wouldn’t post a picture like this (below) because it suggests disharmony in our (D&McT) creative enterprise, but I imagined a snippet of dialog that goes like this:

Sparky -
Seriously, you’re going to pick that Hot Potato?

Erasmus -
Hey, with my incredibly fabulous new double-breasted waistcoat in delicious butterscotch and cinnamon candy stripe from Mr. Alan Jeffries, I can pick any Hot Potato I want.

You're Going to Use That Hot Potato

Seriously, You’re Going to Pick That Hot Potato?

I can’t continue this post without sending extra special thanks to Thena McArthur and Gene Forrer. This is the first con we’ve attended where the writers got first class treatment. They set up a special room for writing panels, called “The Library,” that was actually decorated like a library.

Clockwork Library

The Library

So cozy. And Thena was responsible for organizing all the writers and writing panels. It was so well organized and welcoming!

Jake Von Slatt was there! I can’t help it. His work is just so amazing and I’ve never seen him in person before. Did I mention that he’s a really nice human being?

Tin Etching with JVS

The Über-Maker Himself

And the Mysterious Gentleman Admirer was there getting tin-etching tips.

Mysterious Gentleman Maker

Mysterious Gentleman Maker

As fortune would have it, our radio show on Krypton Radio was scheduled to run during the last day of the con. With a little bit of scrambling, we managed to set up in the hall outside the Library for folks to listen live. (What am I doing here?!)

Listening Live

Listening Live

More thanks are in order for all of the Clockwork Alchemy goodness. Here goes…

Gene Forrer got the troops rallied to advertise the playing of the D&McT Krypton Radio Show on less than a day’s notice. Seriously, a sandwich board!

Sandwich Board

Good Old Fashioned (Just-in-Time) Advertising

And Gene Turnbow at
Krypton Radio adjusted his programming schedule overnight so folks could hear two shows in a row, both the first and second. That explains why we all look so happy in this pic.

Gene Turnbow + D&McT

Just-in-Time Radio Programming

Steam Powered Giraffe was there and they actually played two shows.

Hamming with Hatchworth

Hamming it Up with Hatchworth

But then there was this other special moment when the band was hanging in the foyer chatting with fans. And Michael Reed was just sitting in the corner playing whatever he felt like on the piano.

MPR on Piano


Okay, I saved the best for last. All of you who are FoL (Friends of Lisa) know that 1) she has really long hair and 2) she has a really wacky imagination. Put those together and WHA-BAM! You get this.

What Octopus

What Octopus?

It’s been nearly a month and I’m still laughing about this.

Are You Looking at Me

Are You Looking At Me?

I really hope Clockwork Alchemy invites us back next year…hint, hint, hint because we had an amazing time!

I need to come up with some clever acronym/meme for thanking Lisa once again for providing excellent pictures for us to use. Thanks, Lisa!

Krypton Radio Update


This is just a quick update on our show on
Krypton Radio. They’ve agreed to double up our shows each week in our assigned time slot. This means that when you tune in on the hour, you’ll hear the previous week’s show followed immediately by the new show. So, if you missed the show the week before, fear not, you have three more chances to catch up!

Remember, the times are:

  • Monday, at 3:00 AM PDT (6:00 AM EDT)
  • Monday at 11:00 AM PDT (2:00 PM EDT)
  • Thursday at 5:00 PM PDT (8:00 EDT)

So, to put it simply, on Thursday, May 30th, Krypton Radio will air shows 1 & 2 of “London, Where It All Began.” Next week, they will be airing shows 2 & 3.

Thanks, Krypton Radio!

Gaslight Gathering 2013

It seems like we barely get our “steampunk” attire clean and pressed before we need it again. The weekend after Wild West Fest, we were back in our D&McT duds for the local convention, Gaslight Gathering III. We stopped for a quick photo op under one of the many rose arbors that dot the grounds of the Town & Country Hotel.


Drake Under Roses

To sail along with us, click here.

Wild West Fest 2013

It was hot…hot like a western, silver mining ghost town. Oh wait, it WAS a Western, silver mining ghost town. Calico to be precise. We popped up early on a Saturday morning to head out toward Barstow for the inaugural Wild West Fest at the Calico Ghost Town.

Wild West Fest Sign

First Annual? Wild West Fest

For all the smokin’ hot shenanigans, click here.

Steampunk Picnic

On the list of San Diego coolness is the Poway Midland Railroad in Old Poway Park. It’s like honey for steampunk bees. So on a warm, sunny weekend day, we put on our finery and headed east for a choo choo train ride! Who’s still five years old, huh?

Rogues Gallery

Picnicking is Hard Work!

For a steamy stroll in the park, click here.

Krypton Radio


If you’ve been following us on Facebook or attending any of our panels at conventions lately, you know that we’ve been talking about
Krypton Radio for a few months now. Well, folks, this is the big announcement!

We’ll be interviewed on
Event Horizon, Krypton’s on-air science fiction, fantasy and technology discussion panel on Saturday, May 18th at 5:00 PM PDT (8:00 PM EDT). The show repeats that same night at 9:00 PM PDT (midnight EDT) immediately following DJ Willow Leafstorm’s Steam Powered Cabaret, and again on Sunday, May 19th at 4:00 PM PDT (7:00 PM EDT).

But wait, there’s more! The Drake & McTrowell radio show premieres on Monday, May 20th at 3:00 AM PDT (6:00 AM EDT)! This means that our friends across the pond will hear it first (we’re talking to you Ickenham and Linköping). For those of you who keep more civilized hours, tune in at 11:00 AM PDT (2:00 PM EDT) that same day or 5:00 PM PDT (8:00 EDT) on Thursday, May 23rd. Coolest birthday present I ever got…except from Drake who purveys birthday gifts like no one else.

A new show will run in these same time slots for nine weeks until we’ve covered all of “London, Where it All Began.”

Perhaps you’re asking yourself, “Self, why should I tune in?” It will be egoboo for some local San Diego steampunks who lent their voice talents to our little enterprise (and a certain professor from Brunel). But mostly you should listen because it sounds like this!

Click the controls below to listen to the five and a half minute teaser:

For details on Krypton Radio shows and air times, see their table of show times.

Wild Wild West Con 2013

True confession: I lived in Tucson for a decade and only went to Old Tucson once, and that was the version that burned down in 1995. So everything about the old western set was entirely new to both Drake and me when we arrived for Wild Wild West Con.

As promised in “
Oh Hats!,” we premiered our new Drake-and-McTrowell-before-they-were-D&McT costumes. Luckily, Lady Amethyst was there to capture us in our new finery. (Thanks, yet again, for making us look good.)

Sparky del Pecos

Can You Say Pecos Incident?

Drake as Pirate

Thar Be a Fancy Pirate

For (lots) more dusty, steamy fun, click here.

Oh Hats!

I’m pretty sure that at some point in my life I uttered the words, “I’m not a hat person.” Wrong-o! I now have one whole shelf at the top of my closet stacked up with hats and hat boxes. Maybe I should put hooks into the ceiling.

For some time now, Drake and I have been talking about developing “Drake & McTrowell before they were Drake & McTrowell” costumes, i.e. costumes for our back stories. If you’re not sure what that might mean, here are a couple of clues.


Other Clues are Hiding in this Pic

If you’re still not sure, I recommend catching up with “
The Pecos Incident” and “The Parisian Party.” Failing all else, catch us at Wild Wild West Con next week where we’ll be premiering our new ensembles. Not a hat person, indeed!

Steampunk Saturday

There was a perfect storm of steampunk-ness in San Diego last Saturday (not to be confused with the Saturday before). First, there was the Friends of Villa Montezuma Victorian Valentine Tea at the Westgate Hotel. All the most fashionable steampunks were there including Lady Amethyst and Her Mysterious Gentleman Admirer, although they were in disguise as proper Victorians.

FOVM tea 1

Lady Amethyst and Her Mysterious Gentleman Admirer (sans Mask)

To get the scoop on all the day’s happenings, click here.

Me and My Baby

…love Saturday night. Surely you didn’t think I could go this long without an SPG post! Notice how this picture looks like we’re way in the back? Not so. We had pretty good seats. The show sold out with 800 attendees, and by the show of hands, about half of them had never seen Steam Powered Giraffe in concert before. In addition to enjoying the fabulous show they put on, we really love that they sold out this bigger venue. We’re looking forward to being able to say, “We knew them when…”

Me and My Baby
Steam Powered Giraffe at the Four Points Sheraton

It's Not That Kind of Serial

We were recently exchanging email with a friend who wasn’t entirely certain of the spelling of “serial,” as in “cyberserial.” She spelled it “cybercereal.” Because Drake and I only have one brain between the two of us after so many years together, we both instantly had the same mental image. But it took Drake’s skill to render it thusly.

Cereal Box v1

Now With Pocket Watches!

We’re thinking of printing greeting cards, but we’re also considering it for the next round of Drake & McTrowell t-shirts.

HRM Steampunk Symposium 2013

One of the dangers of my catching up on past bloops before the end of 2012 is that I don’t feel the tremendous weight of the previous backlog. Oooo, I could just go on for pages and pages about our first event of 2013, Her Royal Majesty’s Steampunk Symposium aboard the amazing Queen Mary. I’ll try to restrain myself, but I make no promises. There were pirates.

Blue pirate

A Pirate in Blue, Not to Be Confused with Bluebeard (Who Was Also There)

Click here for the rest of the fun and frivolity.

Steamcon IV

The theme of this year’s Steamcon was “Victorian Monsters.” I have to lead with these guys because it was Girl Genius that got me started with steampunk.



If you are stout of heart,
click here to witness the rest of the horror.

SPG Cavalcadium Safari Day

Last summer when they had their ever-single-day-in-the-blazing-hot-sun gig at the San Diego Zoo, Steam Powered Giraffe held their Cavalcadium Safari Day for their fans: picnic, crazed photo scavenger hunt through the zoo, watch the band perform a few sets. Let me be completely upfront about our performance. It would not have been possible without our third teammate, Natalie Brodie.


Knowledgeable Natalie

To cavort through the cavalcadium with us,
click here.

Comic Con 2012

Every year I grouse about the crowds and lines, but every year I sign up to go back. That’s right. We’re talking Comic Con. Since we started writing and cosplaying D&McT, it’s become a special kind of fun. Even though I get my photo taken if I happen to be walking around by myself, it happens a lot more when the two of us are walking together. I’m still waiting for the day when a total stranger comes up to us and says, “Hey, aren’t you Drake & McTrowell?” A girl can dream.

It’s Them…in Sepia

To see more Comic Con steampunk sightings,
click here.

San Diego Automotive Museum

The local San Diego steampunk community acquitted itself with valor by providing the curation and content for the marvelous Steampunk Exhibition at the San Diego Automotive Museum. And, to get it off to a rousing start, the community had a picnic for the grand opening! I think Drake looked particularly dashing in his picknicky best.

Picnic Drake

Drake Dines Al Fresco

To see some of the actual exhibit, click here.

Gaslight Gathering 2012

Part of the fun of Gaslight Gathering is that it’s in our own backyard, so we get to hang with all our local steampunk friends! The League of Supremely Evil Revolutionaries was there.



For more disreputable miscreants, click here.

LoS Season Two Wrap Picnic

As you may recall, we had the honor and delight of serving as extras in the League of S.T.E.A.M. season two episode, “Curses!” In addition to earning ourselves IMDb credits, we also got an invitation to their wrap picnic at the Old Zoo at Griffith Park.


Eat, Drink, and Be Merry

To see if you can spot other familiar faces and places, click here.

Short Hiatus

As you can tell from our last post, we have finally finished our third story. It was our longest and most ambitious to date.

We’ll be taking a short break from now until the end of January 2013 to catch up on other D&McT business including getting our Facebook page in order, posting all the bloops about 2012 events, and recording a demo for
Krypton Radio. In case you haven’t seen it on their web page, Krypton Radio approached us about a radio series (link is here). We are very excited and are in the planning stages of recording voice, music, and background sound effects. Wish us well! This is a real-life adventure!

Drake & McTrowell Icon


Because our trip to London coincided with my birthday, Drake planned an excellent adventure. We took the British Pullman from London Victoria Station to Folkestone. This train is the UK branch of the Orient Express and it’s appropriately posh.

Spoiled Sparky

Fine China and Mimosas

To join our adventure to the English seaside,
click here.

Comic Con Art 2012

It’s hard to thoroughly categorize all the awesomeness that is Comic Con, but one of our personal favorites is the opportunity to meet new artists and commission D&McT illustrations. We’ll do a full blown Comic Con bloop later (soon, really), but today I just want to share our two newest commissions.

To see the commissions,
click here.

Antique Gas and Steam Engine Museum

Okay, a Civil War re-enactment isn’t exactly a Steampunk event, but the word went out to the Steampunk community because it was held at the Antique Gas & Steam Engine Museum, which had been on our “must visit” list for quite some time.


We Did Our Best to Look a Bit More American

To read further about our visit to the Antique Gas and Steam Engine Museum, click here.


A major milestone has been reached! Yesterday’s post was our 100th D&McT episode. Well, 100th “actual text” post, not counting the Airship Regatta Broadsheet, or any of our bloops on art or conventions, or announcements of new logbook entries. This has gone well past the “hey, let’s write an on-line story!” and into the “wait-a-minute, how many pages is this entire thing now?” We want to thank all of you readers that have given us feedback (interestingly, much more in face-to-face conversation than in our comment sections), and we also want to thank those of you who wait to receive our upcoming episodes with bated breath. Yeah, you know who you are.

But much like watching the odometer in your airship roll over to an interesting number, it’s a passing transition, a temporary fascination with digit-related repetition. We must continue on, telling the tales that must be told. Perils, in this case, in a postulated past.

How long, you might ask yourself, does it take to write 100 episodes? Well, we normally write an episode a week. By “normally” we mean that sometimes we just don’t always quite make it. Those pesky day jobs that pay the bills seem to get in the way periodically. So, the answer is that it took us 2 years, 1 month, 1 week, and 2 days. We started on July 5th, 2010 and finished yesterday. But that didn’t stop us from celebrating at the 2-year mark. Thanks to all our fan-friends who came out to help us celebrate by eating chocolate…yeah, we know, it’s a rough gig being our fans.

IMG_1151 IMG_1152

D&McT + Fan-friends + Eclipse Chocolat!

Her Royal Majesty's Steampunk Symposium

The inaugural meeting of Her Royal Majesty’s Steampunk Symposium (whew, that’s a mouthful!) was the grandest event Drake and I have attended so far this year. It was held on the Queen Mary for four days, and was a non-stop steampunk party. For us, there were two really cool things about the symposium. First, the venue: it was on the Queen Mary(!), which is permanently docked in Long Beach. Perfect for such an event!


McTrowell at the Helm of the Queen Mary

To read further about Her Royal Majesty’s Steampunk Symposium,
click here.

Steamcon III

I was looking at the dates for Steamcon IV, planning flights, and then it hit me: I hadn’t pushed out a blog entry on our trip to Steamcom III yet! We did tell you faithful readers about our preparations for it (here & here), though. Well here it is ...

The theme for
Steamcon III was “20,000 Leagues Under the Sea” and I was incredibly impressed by how many of the attendees enthusiastically embraced the theme in their costumes.


Is That You, Captain Nemo?

To read further about Steamcon III,
click here.

Steam Man Band

I know it seems like I’m covering a lot of SPG these days, but what can I say? I’m a fan girl.

Just like last year,
Steam Powered Giraffe is going to be performing four sets plus a meet & greet photo op daily at the San Diego Zoo starting June 23rd and running through September 3rd. We only managed to catch one of their performances last Summer, but we stuck around and got this epic pic.


We’re hoping to make it out for a few more this Summer, including the day of our Second Anniversary Party.

By the way, check out SPG’s
new video, “Automatonic Electronic Harmonics.” The production quality is fantastic. Look for hats/glasses/goggles changes. And even more than usual, the robots are really cranking out their robotic movements!

Our Second Anniversary

I can’t help it. All those steampunk shades of brown make me think of chocolate!

It’s been two years since we started writing Drake & McTrowell, July 5th to be precise. That sounds like as good an excuse for a party as I can think of (and I can think of lots of reasons to have parties). Drake and I are hosting a chocolate party for the San Diego steampunks and any other SoCal steampunks who feel like making the trip.

On Thursday, July 5th, we’re going to catch
Steam Powered Giraffe’s last performance of the evening at the San Diego Zoo at 7:30 PM. We’re members of the San Diego Zoo and huge SPG fans, so what better way to start the evening. Please feel free to join us there if you’re so inclined. Please note: you’ll need to be members of the zoo or pay for daily admission to attend this part of the event.


We will thence decamp to
Eclipse Chocolat at 8:30 PM. Our anniversary falls during their annual cupcake extravaganza, so Drake and I will be buying cupcakes and non-alcoholic drinks for all steampunks. Alcoholic drinks are also available for purchase as well as a multitude of amazing chocolate goodies.

Eclipse Chocolat
2121 El Cajon Boulevard
San Diego, CA 92104
Ph.# 619.578.2984

Here’s the really important bit: RSVP to so Eclipse can be certain to have enough fresh cupcakes on hand.

Profiles in a Postulated Past

Last summer, a business trip took us to Orlando and we decided to go a few days early to spend some time at DisneyWorld. Jonathan Lord Ashleigh, I mean Ashok, has been a huge fan his entire life and has been many times, so he arranged everything. He even booked dinner for the two of us at the very posh Victoria and Albert’s. Super romantic!

On the day we did
Epcot, we discovered a silhouette artist in “France.” You may have noticed that silhouettes are making a comeback. I had always thought they sat you between a light and a blank wall, and used the shadow to create the outline. It turns out they have you sit in profile and cut out your silhouette free hand by just looking at you. What’s even more amazing is that we weren’t dressed as D&McT. We showed Bruno, the artist, a couple of pictures from our web page (love the iPhone) and he added all the costume details from that.

Bruno’s Handiwork

I especially love that he made my nose and chin a lot cuter than they really are.

The silhouettes are now featured in our little steampunk gallery at home, beautifully displayed using our
victorian spring clips to hold them up.

Comic Con 2011

About every other year I swear I’m not going back to Comic Con because it’s just too crazy and I get tired of sitting in line for hours. And then I realize that practically everyone else in San Diego is going to the party (at least that’s what it seems like when we’re looking for parking). In the end, there are so many amazing things to see, do, and buy, that I give in. How can you resist a steampunk, TARDIS dress?

Steampunk TARDIS Dress

To read further about Comic Con 2011,
click here.

King of Indie Animation

Surely you know that we mean Bill Plympton! We’ve been fans of his work for decades, so we seized the opportunity to see his panel at ComicCon last summer. (There will be a bloop devoted to the rest of ComicCon 2011 later.) All joking aside, he’s very animated in person and has lots of interesting stories to tell. He was there showing “Guard Dog Global Jam,” a remake of his Oscar-nominated short “Guard Dog,” but redrawn, shot for shot, by dozens of other animators using their own styles. It’s brilliant! See it if you get the chance.

But, I digress. He was also plugging his new book,
Independently Animated: Bill Plympton. The deal was that if you went to his booth and bought a copy, he would sketch a quick cartoon of your choosing inside the front cover. Previous bloops have highlighted some of the drawings we’ve commissioned of D&McT. We couldn’t pass up the opportunity to have one by Bill Plympton, plus we got the awesome book too! I think we look a bit like the grandparents in the original Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

Plympton Sketch
D&McT ala Bill Plympton

First Anniversary

When our buddy, John (who is the inspiration for the various, doomed incarnations of John Redshirt), “bet” us that we would only write about half a dozen episodes of D&McT before giving up, the gauntlet was thrown! We missed a couple of weeks that first year. Okay, we’ve missed a couple of episodes this year too, but who’s counting? But when we got to July 5th, 2011, we had 50 posts and miscellaneous other material on our website, and that sounded like as good a reason for a party as any.

Mad Fondant Skills

To read further about our first anniversary,
click here.

Gaslight Gathering 2011

As we’re busily making preparations for the second Gaslight Gathering, we thought we would take a moment to reflect on last year’s Gathering, a wildly successful event right here in our own backyard, figuratively speaking. We don’t call San Diego “America’s Finest City” for nothing!

With two and a half days of events, we got to try out a few costumes (although I confess to devolving to my limited-edition D&McT t-shirt for the end of the last day out of sheer exhaustion from wearing multiple layers). Like this one where I’m wearing my John Bull topper and the cool, purple leaf vest my mom made me, but no leather duster. (It gets really hot!) Drake proves that he has more fortitude than I by wearing his.

McTrowell loves Drake
Oooo, McTrowell loves Drake

To read further about Gaslight Gathering 2011,
click here.

Curses!: in Which Our Authors (Nearly) Achieve International Fame

Surely all of our readers are familiar with League of S.T.E.A.M. We’ve been following them since McTrowell got to wind up the Crackitus Pottsplunger launcher at Steamcon II. So when the League of S.T.E.A.M. put out a call for local-ish steampunks to work as extras in a webisode for season two, we jumped at the chance! We packed the Dr. Sparky-mobile full of costume bits and headed up to South Pasadena early one Saturday morning. They provided coffee and bagels, and we provided our photogenic selves.

Hanging in the Alley

To read further about our being extras for “Curses!”, click here.

Golden Gears

Just about the time Drake said, “We shouldn’t let this thing take over our lives,” we strolled into our favorite jeweler’s, Charles Koll, and Drake asked one of the jewelry designers, David Armstrong, to make us a couple of lapel pins with our logo. Thinking such a design task would take quite a bit of time, we left and went on our merry way. David Armstrong is a jewelry design geek…and a steampunk fan. He called a week later, “Oo, oo, oo, you guys have to come in and see the design.” We were thinking it would just be a sketch or maybe the CAD.

Simple Dissolve

Okay, he had the CAD. But he also had the wax parts fabricated from their 3D printer. (Seriously, these guys are amazing designers!) Including, wait for it, the actual gears. The center of the gear with our faces is stabilized by the pin on the back. The outside of the gear turns…which turns three, tiny, gold gears in the back which counter rotate the bezel on the front holding the diamond!

Jewelry Wax Molds

And here are the results!

D+McT jewelry

Mine, on the left, also has a fold-down bail so I can wear it on a chain. And then I had to have matching earrings. Too. Cute! I just have to remember to wear them in the correct ears so we’re not backwards.

Many thanks to Charles Koll Jewelers and their incredible designers.

Steampunk Croquet

Way up at the top of our list of people to party with is The League of Gentlemen Adventurers. Last year we participated in their Second Annual League of Gentlemen Adventurers International Invitational Croquet Tournament & Symposium. (Okay, so that was way back in May of 2011 and we’re obviously running a little behind on our non-story posts.) These guys sure know how to cater an adventure! Here we are, defending the honor of D&McT and acquitting ourselves with valor.

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Photo credit to The League of Gentleman Adventurers - May 2011

Inexplicably, we didn’t win. I think the fix was in. However, my wounded pride was considerably assuaged by the scrumptious repast and the perfectly executed kir royale. Oh yeah, I also got a story idea out of the whole affair. The tournament was the inspiration for an episode of D&McT, Pall Mall.

Steampunk Cufflinks

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To read further about these aged Drake & McTrowell cufflinks,
click here.

Tour of London

Back in May, we had the good fortune to find ourselves in London on business. We took the opportunity to visit most of the sites in London where we staged many of our episodes. They don’t look quite like they did in 1851, but most of the buildings have been there since then and many of them a lot longer. Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese has been there since 1666!

Tour of London

Thanks to Google Maps for Making this Bloop Possible

To read further about our London tour, click here.