Thursday, 27 September 2012


I dream the world. Each person, each creature each plant that inhabits it, from the shape of the coasts and the depths of the sea to the pattern of the stars in the sky, but it is transformed from a series of black pixels on a screen into frames that you can loose yourself in, as you clock the splendid details, by the skill of the artist. I have come to realise that the writing is secondary to the image in sequential art ( that's comics to us-Ed. Oh and by the way when are you going to stop pillaging Incredible String Band songs for titles?). Making the setting believable is the first step in this process, and this takes many hours of living in your head like a hermit.

This past fortnight I have been conducting a conversation concerning the motive power of the airships in CO2. I have to confess I had been anticipating this question. I had seen a line of development from the one person fliers of Dragon Empire that soundly defeated the slow, lumbering airships of The Church of The Holy Footprint in the Second Dragon War. Discovery of this new technology would have plunged The Church into both a practical and a theological dilemma. Practical because they had to develop countermeasures that would stop their airships from being shot out of the sky and theological because the engine was powered by a series of explosions and carbon dioxide was a waste product. I viewed the development of the bioethanol engine as heretical science that is adopted by The Church as a short term expedient measure that has never been rescinded because it is essential to their infrastructure.

So when David asked me what powered the airship I was able to reply Wankel engines ( look it up on Wikipedia-Ed). I was waiting for him then to ask me what powered the airships up to the end of the Second Dragon War. This had taken a little thought and what I had arrived at was that in 1830, Maple White, a Balancer in the Southern American Continent had found out on the pampas, a series of isolated valleys. Living in these valleys were the last Giant Sloths. The discovery of this untouched Eden led The Church to blockade the area to preserve the habitat.

Later, when adaptions of animals were seen by The Church as theologically acceptable, a search took place for an animal with the least mass and the most strength to power a theoretical super weapon-the airship. I am sure you are ahead of me, yes, the poor old Giant Sloth got the gig. And in the first of the Maplin Heresy Sequence you will see above the streets of Barcelona, the airship of The Head of The Church, powered by an adapted Giant Sloth. As I say it's the artist who are the real heroes, not us authors.

Thursday, 20 September 2012


This week Steampunk Czar Tim Hart tells us about The All Seeing Eye!

There is a phrase we often hear banded about Big Brother is watching you. These days it is a hackneyed cliché used by those who welcome or loathe public surveillance. But if you go back before reality television and even before George Orwell, for me it has another, far more personal meaning: the idea that you have an older brother who is watching to keep you safe.

So how does my take on a cliché relate to the glorious steampunk sequence that is Victoriana? The idea that there is an organisation that observes and records reality is central to the narrative. This organisation The Agency of The Eye was formed in Georgian days to gather information, you could say that The Agency is the ultimate fence sitter, for me the organisation personifies the very word neutral (although they may occasionally gives events a helping hand).

So quite what do they do? They are simply the observers, recorders and facilitators. From the upper-class Goodship Estate in Central London, a whole network of communications and subterfuge stretches out across the world like a spiders web, with its centre in deep underground facilities. The official origin story that goes around the office, is that there was a terrible prophecy, one that foretold the fall of the British Empire. Unfortunately the details of said fall were not apparent at the time and a decision was made to ensure that the Empire would never fall. The Agency was given a large government stipend to develop resources to prevent the factors – unknown as they are - from coming into play. The rest, of course, is history.

The Agency is currently under the command of Lord Erasmus Mayfair (the third head of the facility) and under his leadership it has flourished. London is constantly monitored and agents span the globe from the New World (that’s America to you lot-Ed) to Hong Kong. These reports are returned by various means, telegraphs, coded messages and by courier pigeon.
So how is the organisation structured?
There are ranks within the Agency;
Top Level: Overseers & Acknowledgers.
Mid Level (Sergeants): Seers and Specialists entities.
Lower Level (Agents): Observers and recorders.
And at the very bottom the Gatherers. These hail from all walks of life and are paid well for any titbits of information they provide. These are the vital lifeblood of the Agency, it is their work that ensures the constant flow of information.

So by now you are asking how do the Sisters Bast come into this?
Well, the answer to that question is simple. Once The Agency has gathered and recorded every foreseeing, prophecy and rumour, The Agency allows them to happen. Even if this does mean that there must be some interference to make certain it is fulfilled. Be that a loose cobble or an accidental Laudanum overdose in a politician’s morning coffee. The Sisters just aren’t there in anything and that is why The Agency must find out as much as it can about them.

Welcome to the Weird Era my friends.

Friday, 14 September 2012


This week we have been all astir as we received a new publication off our favourite comic tycoon, John A. Short ( and it has caused no end of discussion here at the rookery. We recently interviewed John and have in the past reviewed his excellent comic The Clock Strikes. His new comic The Sixpenny Murder is something very different.

It concerns a senseless crime, the murder of a passerby in Liverpool in 1875 by a group of youths who ask him for a tanner (that’s six old pence to all you post decimalisation dudes out there, who are not as aged as us here in the rookery) (That’s two and a half pence in today’s money – Ed.) to buy beer. John economically and elegantly tells the tale of the “Thithebarn Street Outrage” as the press of the day dubbed the murder, in a brief afterword he explains that all the events and the dialogue are based on actual records of the case.

The illustrations by the mighty David Hitchcock are superb, he captures the essence of the brutal times the criminals existed in and the hopeless lives that they had lived. David manages to convey the soulless, machinery of the law, blind justice grinding inexorably onward. I suspect that David has visited the cells at St. Georges Hall ( as he captures the atmosphere of the cells and law court with his artwork. He lovingly evokes Victorian Liverpool, one of the rookeries favourite cities (after Barcelona – Ed). I’d also like to highlight the lettering by JAS (could this be the hand of the magnate himself we ask?).

What has set us yorping and arguing all week has been how contemporary aspects of this murder are, demonised youth, knife crime and the role of the press in making a brutal, senseless act, that had dire consequences for all concerned, into an opportunity to sell papers and promote a frightening view of society. We have also been struck by the lack of support services available to the dispossessed and the disadvantaged, how the government had failed the vulnerable (sound familiar? – Ed).

The story was edited by Emily Alison of Portagoras Forensic Services and Interventions Ltd and is produced as part of the Change Places + scheme. The aim of which is establishing a positive core  identity for young people, increasing confidence, empathy and interpersonal skills. A key aim of the programme is to reduce gang linked and weapon orientated violence. The comic is a non-profit venture and so we here in the rookery take our hat’s off to John. 

Thursday, 6 September 2012






Here at the rookery we are nothing if not diverse, in fact diversity is the touchstone of our business plan- or would be if we had one- letting the cat out of the bag there!

This is a roundabout way of announcing that our next publication will be a novel. An exciting steampunk mystery, the first in a sequence of novels featuring Captain James Owen, ex of His Majesties Cheshire Regiment, and now working for the Special Investigations Department in Whitehall.

The SID was created by Charles Forte for the newly elected Liberal government in the early 1900’s. Its brief is to investigate happenings too bizarre for the local police. And there is nothing stranger than the death of Julius Richmond who drowned in a paving stone. Your eyes do not deceive you, the actually stone liquefied and smothered the innocent mill worker on the night of the 20th September 1926, in Frome in Somersetshire.

Intrigued? We hope so. The novel will be available as a paper edition and an eBook. 

There will be more information in the coming weeks. For now I shall repeat my warning- prepare for the coming of The Jowler.