Women in Comics: Steampunk

Steampunk MechSteampunk continues to be a popular genre with its combination of fantastical steam-based technology, elements of science fiction, and alternate history. With all of these elements, it is a style that can appeal to fans of a wide array of genres. It is also well suited to the graphic novel format since imaginative design is such a core component of these stories. Whether you are already a fan of steampunk or haven’t yet given it a try, these books are fun reads that will pull you into fascinating worlds.

The Infernal Devices by Cassandra Clare and HyeKyung Baek – Fans of Cassandra Clare’s works will be excited to know that the prequels to her Mortal Instruments stories have been adapted for the graphic novel format. The series is set in Victorian England as many steampunk stories are, but in a somewhat less common twist, follows a sixteen year old girl from America who finds herself alone in the city. As she discovers the world of shadowhunters, the book has a chance to come into its own with artwork that brings to life every piece of the secretive world that Clare imagined. This is a must read for fans of the Mortal Instruments series, but will also appeal to a wider audience.

Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace and BabbageThe Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace and Babbage by Sydney Padua – Though it started as a mini-comic for a friend, this series has developed into a popular webcomic and now a print book. The story takes the real life figures of Ada Lovelace and Charles Babbage and imagines them in an alternate history where the pair succeed in building the Difference Engine and use it to fight crime. Filled with hilarious jokes, funny (and impressive) artwork, and tons and tons of footnotes about the actual historical research Padua did in creating the comic, this book is perfect for history fans and steampunk fans alike.

HingesHinges by Meredith McClaren – Hinges is another webcomic turned printed graphic novel and is one I am currently reading. McClaren’s artwork is gorgeous and is sure to keep you engaged in the world she has created. The story focuses on a girl named Orio and her companion Bauble as they explore a new, clockwork city and try to find their place within it. The story is told with very few words but I have found so far that the artwork more than makes up for the sparse text. From the very first page I read, I was excited to dive into the story and I can’t wait to see where it takes me.

SoullessSoulless by Gail Carriger and REM – You may already be familiar with Gail Carriger’s Parasol Protectorate series or one of her other steampunk series, but even if you have read all of her books, the manga adaptation of her Parasol Protectorate series is worth a read. Though the story remains largely the same, its adaptation for the manga format opens up whole new portions of Carriger’s world as imagined by REM. This is sure to be popular with both manga and steampunk fans.

Girl GeniusGirl Genius by Phil and Kaja Foglio – This Hugo Award winning series by a husband and wife team is set in a world full of genius scientists who continue to let their creations loose on the world. The protagonist of the story is Agatha Clay who wishes to be such a scientist but as the book opens she doubts whether she has the “Spark” necessary to be a success. Over the course of this lengthy series, which is available both as a webcomic and in print, Agatha realizes her own talents and readers are introduced to her amazing world. This is a fun romp of a story that combines wonderful artwork with humorous and engaging writing. If you enjoy the comic, you may also want to check out the series of novels that the Foglios have written about Agatha and her world.

Have you read any other steampunk comics by women? Are you looking forward to any that are coming soon? Let me know in the comments below.

-Carli Spina