The Crossroads of the Aether
Brass is the new black: the steampunk aesthetic in fashion, glamour and pin-up.
This missive will be cross-posted to our Facebook page, the Brass Goggles Forum, steamfashion on LiveJournal, the Steampunk Empire, and finally, the magazine itself. Hopefully, this is allowable and will not offend.
First off, I would be remiss if I did not acknowledge that there are already many fine steampunk-themed publications available on the “Aethernet”: Steampunk Magazine, Gatehouse Gazette and Exhibition Hall to name but a few. While Gearhearts may share certain features with these esteemed journals, it is not in any way an attempt to compete with them.
No, our focus will be on one rather unique and lovely aspect of the subculture that has gone without a proper showcase – the steampunk pin-up. Meaning, a celebration of neo-Victorian costuming, fashion and the female form.
I have seen pin-up websites and print-zines for just about every subculture and fetish imaginable: goth girls; gamer girls; “sexy nerds”; costumed superheroines; vampire chicks; Switchblade Bettys; Japanese cosplay; and even (ugh!) zombie girls.
And in just the past two years, I have seen many an attractive young lady decked out in amazing steampunk finery, either at the myriad of local anime and comic book conventions, or in portraits on the Web. Some were professionally taken “studio” photos, while most were “point and shoots” taken at various genre conventions and nightclub events. In either case, I always left wanting more. Wouldn’t it be grand if there were a venue to display this outpouring of steampunk beauty? Obviously, I would have Gearhearts be that venue (crossed fingers).
Gearhearts is a project that is very near and dear to my heart. I have been working on it for three of the four years I have been active in the steampunk community.
At first, the plan was for Gearhearts to be an e-zine: to put out a couple of issues to establish our credibility, then court advertisers as a way to cover production costs. But truth to be told, I always dreamed of Gearhearts being a “real” hardcopy magazine.
Then Antarctic Press happened.
Antarctic Press is one of the longest running independent comic book and graphic novel publishers in America, at 20-plus years and counting. Gearhearts will be its first non-comics publication, and its first reach into the general bookseller market.
A special eight-page preview is currently available within the pages of the second issue of Victorian Secret, itself a steampunk-themed comic art pin-up magazine, featuring the work of some of Antarctic’s best and most popular artists. The first issue is still available and comes highly recommended.
There is another unique aspect to Gearhearts of which I am immensely proud. I only wish I could lay claim to any forethought in its creation. If there’s one thing all Steampunks have in common, it’s pride in the “do it yourself” ethic. From stylishly retrofitting a laptop to modding a Nerf Maverick, the Steampunk is always “hands on”. It seems this magazine is no different.
I am embarrassed to admit that it wasn’t until practically halfway through the production of the first issue that I realized that Gearhearts is of a truly grassroots origin. Our cover model, Katy Dehay, illustrated this issue’s featured prose, written by Patricia Ash, who will pose for us in the next issue. My webhost, Diana Martin, also poses for us in an upcoming issue, in addition to working behind the camera in future issues. Alaina Appleby, one of our Penny Dreadful reviewers, has graciously (and enthusiastically!) agreed to pose for us for a future issue. And all of the above will be modeling their own outfits, put together and constructed by their own hands.
It is from the bottom of my heart that I wish to thank these ladies, for in every way that’s important, this magazine could not have happened without them.