The latest from steampunk/fetish maskmaker Bob Basset is the "Insect Inspector": "Leather, Brass, Glass, soviet gas mask parts."
I've previously reviewed Phil and Kaja Foglios' Agatha H books, these being prose adaptations of their spectacular, award-winning Girl Genius comics. Now, the UK's Titan Books has brought out the first two novels in handsome paperback editions, reasonably priced for all to enjoy.
The transition from comic to print works surprisingly well. While the action sequences sometimes feel a little like a script for a comic, they're always funny and delightful. The effect is a little like the high-speed feeling of reading a fast-paced comic, but with the depth of character that you get from a prose-novel's capacity for introspection and internal monologue.
In the Girl Genius world, the Industrial Revolution has all but destroyed the world, thanks to the Sparks, industrial wizards who are born with the mad scientist's ability to make uncanny machines and lifeforms that upend order and send villagers fleeing to the hills. Finally, Baron Klaus Wulfenbach brings some order to the chaos by conquering Europe and grinding it under his (surprisingly benign) iron heel. Agatha Crumb is a lab assistant at Transylvania Polygnostic University, ward of two "constructs" (reanimated corpses) that dote on her and care for her in her parents' absence. When her benefactor is killed by the Baron's men (and monsters), she is forced to flee, but before long, she is the Baron's prisoner aboard his flying airship castle, "the only capital city that was able to patrol its own empire."
Filled with folgian touches -- Borscht-belt comedy accents, things that go sproing, adorkable sentient machines, and laugh-a-minute slapstick -- Agatha H is a tremendously fun addition to the Girl Genius canon.
Bob Basset -- Boing Boing favorites, steampunk and fetish maskmakers -- have issued a rather lovely art calendar for 2013 with Mell Ghandy.
OK, so this is pretty amazing: Etsy seller Brute Force Studios has leather, steamed-out buckler with an equally steampunk wrist-keyboard/touchpad, which talks to your computer over Bluetooth and just, you know, wow.
-- 3-in-1 multimedia wireless keyboard (Keyboard, TouchPad, Laser Pointer)
-- Control your media while sitting on the sofa, lounging in bed, up to 100 feet away
-- Built-in rechargeable lithium-ion battery with a short re-charge time
-- Includes mini 2.4 GHz USB wireless receiver
-- Wireless receiver stores inside keyboard when not in use
-- Stand-by time: 500 - 700 hours
Yesterday, I blogged about Bob Basset, the Ukrainian steampunk leatherworker, discovering one of his designs in the Design Toscano catalog without credit or royalty. The publicity that the Internet gave to Basset's cause caused Toscano to contact Basset and offer him a royalty, and they blame an unscrupulous supplier who claimed the design as its own:
To clear up the issue on the Steampunk piece that has some of our customers questioning our motives we would like to explain.
The statue was produced and offered to Design Toscano as one of a portfolio of new sculptures to review. There was some confusion between Mr. Bob Basset and the factory that produced this piece for Design Toscano. Mr. Mike Stopka, president of Design Toscano, spoke directly with Mr. Basset and explained that Design Toscano had been mislead in the creation of this piece. Mr. Basset and Mr. Stopka have worked out a generous plan that the artist will get compensation for his work and Mr. Basset has graciously allowed Design Toscano to continue to sell his fantastic work of art. Design Toscano is appreciative to its customers who informed us of this oversight and as always we celebrate artists and their creative work
Rob Murdoch sends us a link to his site, where he posts, "Science fiction themed retro looking sculptures of machines, animals etc all made from recycled machinery. Built in Dieselpunk fashion and of very high quality and design!"
They are indeed super cool. Alas, there appears to be no way to buy 'em! Rob, if you're reading this, please drop by the comments and let us know whether and how to buy these things.
Update: Design Toscano has apologized for this and agreed to pay a royalty to Bob Basset. They blame an unscrupulous supplier who presented the design as its own.
Design Toscano, a wealthy, fast-growing company, is selling a leather steampunk mask that clearly plagiarises the work of Ukrainian leatherworker Bob Basset, a favorite around these parts. As Rob Murdoch points out in his post, Toscano could easily spare the budget to work with Basset to produce masks or designs for them -- the ethical thing to do. Basset, a poor artists living in Ukraine, feels powerless to do anything about it. This ugly business calls all of Toscano's products into question: are all the designs in their catalog unacknowledged rip-offs from independent designers, or just this one?
So having known and loved Bob’s work for 10 years at this point, imagine my happiness for him when I came across a sculpture of one of his masks being sold on this site. I thought “Great for Bob! More of his work is out there and it’s a great paying gig for him!” (Toscano is a multi-million dollar company so they can afford to pay their artists well and they often give credit to the artist). Then I had the horrible thought that maybe this isn’t good and it’s a case of a big company ripping off the little guy, which has happened before and will happen again so long as companies can get away with it. So I popped over to Bob’s personal Facebook page and linked him the online catalogue page with his mask and asked if he knew about it. An hour later, he replied with “Yes, I know they simply stolen our design. But what I can do from Ukraine I don’t know.”
So there you have it. There is no mistaking that the sculpture is a copy of Bob Basset work: his style is so unique. Not only was he not given credit for it, but he was not compensated at all for their using his mask. Now I hate to have to bring this to light because I have loved Design Toscano for years. I have a lot of fantastic statues and art from them lining my walls. But something has to be said. And you have to wonder, why did this happen? Toscano makes good money on the art they sell. They didn’t need to copy this work without compensation. Why not have approached the artist who made the masks they obviously liked and wanted to sell and commission a sculpture from him? Artists live or die by their sales. They need to be paid by people who want to make use of their work, and they need to be credited for their art.
Toscano's catalog copy is an exercise in chutzpah: "Get ready for a little anti-establishment, alternate history with our forward-thinking Steampunk gas mask that boasts a gramophone for hearing and no end of techno-Victorian charm!" They even call it a "Design Toscano Exclusive." Well, yes, they are the exclusive purveyor of the cheap knock-off.
Ben sez, "In 'Being More Human,' an essay in the fall/winter issue of Oregon Humanities magazine, Intel futurist and technological optimist Brian David Johnson explains what steampunk has to do creating friendlier, more humanist gadgets."
Steampunk reveals three relationships that people want with their technology. First, they want their technology to have a sense of humor. Humor and jokes give us a way to connect with and understand each other. Also, humor is a great cultural indicator that we understand each other. Studies show that if I can make you laugh, you not only think I’m smarter but also feel a deeper human connection to me. If we want to have a closer relationship to these technologies that are filling our lives, it makes sense that we would want them to get our sense of humor and make us laugh.
Second, people want their technology to have a sense of history. History is the on-ramp to the future. Only by understanding where we have come from can we make sense of where we are going. It might surprise you to realize that a pocket watch is a lot like an iPhone. We carry both around in our pockets. Both give their owners an advantage over other people who may not have them. But there is one difference: a pocket watch was designed to be handed down from generation to generation. An iPhone is designed to be refreshed from generation to generation. For an increasing number of people this doesn’t work. They want their devices to have grounding in history, a connection to the past so we can have a clearer view of our future.
Finally, people want their technology to have a sense of humanity. They want their devices to understand them as individuals. If you sleep with your smartphone next to your bed you want it to know who you are when you wake up in the morning. As our devices become increasingly smarter and central to our lives, we want these devices to understand us as individuals, not as consumers.
PeteJ sends in "a steampunk desk lamp I built, the valve is also the on/off switch." That's a hell of a switch.
I've long admired happy mutant illustrator Dan Hillier, who produces beautiful line-art collages that combine Victorian woodcuts with original illustration to produce beautiful and surreal effects. He's just uploaded a passel of new work, including the wonderful "Wayfarer," above. You can buy 'em as prints online, or from his stall in the Sunday Upmarket in London's Brick Lane.
The Internet Archive has a complete scan of James Redding Ware's wonderful 1909 treatise "Passing English of the Victorian era: a dictionary of heterodox English, slang and phrase," ganked from the University of Toronto's Robarts library. The Archive has OCR'ed versions, hi-rez PDFs of color and b/w scans, and every ebook format you're likely to need.
If you'd prefer a hardcopy there's a paperback reprint for sale, too. It's really something. Here's a few gems:
Enobs (Back slang). Bone, in ordinary plural. A very favourite inversion is a sort of rebus, bones showing affording a study of ' knobs '.
But he swallowed a box of matches one day which burnt away all the fat and left the mere enoba you see now.
Evening wheezes (Peoples'). False news, spread in evening half- penny papers in order to sell them.
Fairy (Lower Peoples). A debauched, hideous old woman, especially when drunk.
Fake a poke (Thieves'). To pick, or manipulate, a pocket. This phrase is a singular revival. Johnson has ' Fake amongst seamen a pile of rope,' and as to poke ' a pocket or small bag'. ' I will not buy a pig in a poke !' Camden.
He denied that when entering the music hall he was accused by a larty of picking her pocket, and further said that when called out he did not say he had never ' faked a poke ' in his life. People, 6th September 1896.
Fake pie (Straitened Soc., 1880). A towards -the-end-of-the- week effort at pastry, into which go all the ' orts ', ' overs ', and ' ends ' of the week. See Resurrection pie a term which this has superseded.
Penny puzzle (Street, 1883). Sausage because it is never found out. (See Bag o' mystery.)
Wingers sometimes called Flanges (Colloquial about 1865). After the Crimean beard, which meant all the hair growable on the face, had lasted in fashion about ten or twelve years, the chin came to be once more shown, and the whiskers were thrown back, or pulled away from the cheeks, and allowed to grow as long as nature decided. The name was obtained from their streaming and waving character.
(via Making Light)
Greg sez, "This project is using a number of computational photography techniques to document Charles Babbage's 'Difference Engine No 2' for the Computer History Museum in Mountain View. There are interactive gigapixel images for the four cardinal views of the device available to view."