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Steampunk Character Creation at the Valparaiso Public Library

Written by Neal F. Litherland. Posted in Community News, Featured

Published on June 20, 2012 with No Comments

The word “Steampunk” describes a particular brand of science fiction that features modern ideas and mechanics executed with the steam-era technology of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. While it officially began in the 1980s and 1990s, it draws on elements of classics of Victorian science fiction. Stories like “Frankenstein,” “The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde,” “The Time Machine,” “20,000 Leagues Under the Sea” and others.

Steampunk is typically symbolized by goggles (a necessity in the time among mad scientists, pilots and other adventurers), gears, pocket watches, waistcoats, top hats and other vestiges of the Victorian time period. The stories told can vary from deranged inventors trying to punch through barriers of time and space to the brave exploits of men and women fighting off alien invasions or armies of the undead raised with chemical nerve agents. While Steampunk has been around for several decades though, the genre has blown up big over the past few years. The subculture has shown up in movies and television, from costume props on the TV show “Castle” to the aesthetic in films like “Sucker Punch,” and it was only a matter of time before it captured the imagination of the younger generation. That is, in fact, what the Steampunk workshop at the library is all about.

 “Our Summer theme this year is Dream Big,” Kate Lambert, a clerk at the Valparaiso Public Library who masterminded this Summer’s Steampunk program, said. “It started with imagination, and that led to gears and that led to machines.”

Lambert, who found out about this unique form of sci-fi because her children caught the wave of Steampunk culture as it broke off and became its own genre, thought that a Steampunk themed event would be a great follow up to last year’s comic book art classes. Particularly given that comic books are one of the most popular forms of Steampunk literature, with examples like Alan Moore’s “The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen” and Mike Mignola’s “The Amazing Screw On Head.” So on Friday June 22 at 2 p.m. the Valparaiso Public Library is hosting a Steampunk Character Art Workshop with local artist Bill Halliar.

Halliar is a local artist with experience in graphic novels who has done work for companies such as Dark Horse comics, as well as Moonstone Books. His work has appeared in series such as “Kolchak: The Nightstalker” as well as in “All Classics: Dracula” where he did ink work. He was also the artist who provided the creative talent and instruction for the comic book art workshop that the library hosted last year, and according to Lambert it’s mostly to his credit that the program was such a success.

 “Last year we filled out the 25 slots for the class,” Lambert said. She predicts that this year’s offering will be no different, though she did think that the students will be a little bit older due to the more mature aspects of Steampunk, as opposed to more traditional superheroes. “We’ll probably have more upper middle and high school students this year.”

The Steampunk character art workshop is open to any students ages 12 and up, and registration started on June 8. Registration can be done by phone, email or in person at the library. The class is free, and all paper and pencils will be provided by the library.

 “Everyone’s welcome to come,” Lambert said. “And don’t be afraid to bring a friend, too.”

To contact the Valparaiso Public Library call 219-462-0524 or email valys@pcpls.lib.in.us. The Valparaiso Public Library is located at 103 Jefferson Street, Valparaiso. To see some of Bill Hallier’s work, visit his website at www.roughbeasts.com.

Local artist Bill Halliar with experience in graphic novels will be the guest host.

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About Neal F. Litherland

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All opinions, conclusions or recommendations expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Chronicle. Neal Litherland is a Valparaiso resident who has been a freelance writer for several years. A graduate of Indiana University, he holds a Bachelor's Degree in Criminal Justice. He offers advice on money-saving tips using common-sense tactics. He welcomes suggestions and comments. Contact Neal: neal@thechroniclenwi.com.

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