A temperamental grey sky ushered in the first day of the second Wild Wild West Steampunk Convention, and like many others, my arrival was delayed due to the stormy conditions. As fat drops of rain pounded against the car’s windshield, I wondered how the event organizers planned to combat the inclement weather in Old Tucson’s largely outdoor location. As they day progressed I only heard of one only scare—proving once again that if nothing else, Steampunks are a group of inventive, resourceful people.
Kiara Scrafano was moderating a panel in the chapel with Abney Park when she got an emergency call over the radio to send all staff/volunteers to the vendor’s tents, which were threatening to blow away. Noticing the sudden departure of several in the crowd, Captain Robert asked what he could do to help, which resulted in Scrafano leading the entire party to the tents. Thus Abney Park SAVED THE DAY—or at least their combined forces with staff, volunteers, and fans did, anyways. I heard at one point the tent was re-staked to the ground using a modified gun as a hammer—I’m PRAYING that somebody got a picture of that!
Still, I would call the first day of the convention a resounding success. I attended a meeting of the League of Supremely Evil Revolutionaries (L.O.S.E.R.) and learned about the rules of Villainy (Once you’ve caught your hero, you must remember to WALK AWAY!) I’ll definitely be attending the Villain’s rights protest march on Saturday at noon starting at the clearly labeled Super Secret L.O.S.E.R headquarters next to the Kid’s Zone.
The next panel I attended was called “Earning your Goggles: Learn from Our Pain!” which featured Steampunk Boba Fett, Captain Whittacker (Airship Isabella), and Joe Hernandez (Penny Dreadful Productions). Definitely my favorite panel of the day, these gentlemen brought the room to laughter as they shared costume/prop fabrication horror stories. From the witty zingers that flew back and forth (“Guys like you are affectionately known by the fire department as ‘job insurance’’) to the way Steampunk Boba Fett stealthily donned his helmet when the “Special box” of dangerous ‘Steampunk Landmines’ came out, you could tell that these men are actually friends and that love what they do, which definitely made this panel such a FUN experience. Admittedly, most of the advice was of the “don’t do this at home,” and “don’t be like me” variety, but considering their injuries, it is counsel I am definitely willing to take! These three embodied the genuine niceness of the DIY Steampunk community, sincerely urging the audience to ASK QUESTIONS when doing any modification. “The online community is really supportive,” explained Captain Whittacker. “We’re always on forums. If we don’t know how to do something, we can usually find you somebody that does or we’ll bend over backwards trying to figure it out with you.”
The panel for “Creating Steampunk Characters: From Concept to Costume” was composed of a diverse cast. Emperor Justinian Stanislaus of the Red Fork Empire extolled the virtues of coming up with completely original characters, while Steampunk Boba Fett explained how he has reinvented an established character and turned it into something recognizably unique. From L.O.S.E.R, the Mime explained how important he thought it was for character development to grow organically through play, while Cerulean St. Amor (“say no more, say no more”) described how she took elements that inspired her (such as a Southern accent or a poufy, Scarlet O’Hara-esque skirt) and created a character from there. Joe Hernandez described the creative process for the short film Remnant, and how characterization manifested itself in costume design. The panelists agreed that it was important to start with something that you love, and to make sure your personality shines through the character.
Though I had a nice chat with the gentlemen from Steampunkins (the original Steampunk jack-o-lantern), I’m looking forward to the next two days to get a better look around at the vendors. The weather is expected to stay blustery, but don’t let that keep you away from the Wild Wild West Steampunk Convention if you’re looking for a great time!