Announcing Duel at Dusk 2017

Duel at Dusk Logo 2017 with Alpha
“Duel at Dusk” is back! This is the third time we are offering this event. Drake & McTrowell, along with help from the steampunk community, is making it even better than ever.

See our Duel at Dusk event page here.

Not familiar with Duel at Dusk? It's a steampunk parlor event with dueling. But this time there will be four types of dueling: steampunk nerf gun dueling, tea dueling, compliment dueling, and our traditional Olympic-style foil fencing! We will also have our usual dazzling array of steampunk vendors, and much, much more.

6 P.M. to 10 P.M. on Saturday the 14th of January, 2017

Location: Team Touché Fencing Center
11468 Sorrento Valley Rd. Suite A-1
San Diego, California 92121

On-line tickets are no longer on sale through the Drake & McTrowell General Store.
You may buy tickets at the door of the event. $15 for adults (age 17 and up) and $8 for children.

On-line tickets may be purchased for $10 for adults and $5 for children (only available on-line until 11 PM January 13, 2017 - that's right, Friday the 13th! Ooh, scary!). Adults tickets are for ages 17 and up. Children are ages 4 through 16.

So acquire your tickets, stuff your photographic apparatus into your carpet bag, take in an early dinner, and come join us on the evening of January 14th to participate and/or watch the competitors!

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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.

cefalopodo_1 Angry_octopus Cefalopodo_2

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

We met new folks and saw some amazing costumes.

OSF_attendees_1 OSF_attendees_2 QoH@OSF

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

Dancing@OSF_1 Dancing@OSF_2 Dancing@OSF_3 Dancing@OSF_4 Dancing@OSF_5 Dancing@OSF_6 Dancing@OSF_7 Dancing@OSF_8 Dancing@OSF_9 Dancing@OSF_10

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.

Capn_America_Steampunk_Crossplay Guinan Steampunk_Earwings Rictusempra Steampunk_Wolverine_Crossplay

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.

SaaMVA_1 SaaMVA_2 SaaMVA_3 SaaMVA_4 SaaMVA_5

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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Book 5 Episode 3: Leaving San Francisco

Thanks, Pier 1!

In this episode, Drake and Sparky address the issues of leaving Sparky's hometown.

Click here to read the new episode ...

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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.

Atlantean_Foundation_IH1 Atlantean_Foundation_IH2 Atlantean_Foundation_IH3

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.

Wired_hat Accompanying_octopus Steampunk_guard_dog Iron_Horse_family

It Wouldn’t Be Steampunk Without the Costumes

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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

OMG_Dr_Young Sock_Puppet_Dragons_Teeth Whazzat You_Dont_Say ToTHI_Thespians ToTHI_Shenanigans

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!

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