The past 12 months have been difficult for many people; from friends suffering through personal problems to the seemingly methodical killing off of legendary celebrities. There’s also been one or two drops in the steampunk magazine industry as well. Hourglass Magazine went from being a powerful and influential publication to posting sporadic updates on the Editor’s twitch channel. Steampunk Chronicle decided to knock their Readers Choice Awards on the head. It’s not all bad news however, because a new publication started in the shape of Steampunk Confidential. It’s still in its infancy, so has a lot to do and much to learn, but looks promising. Also, Steampunk Almanac, Airship Ambassador, For Whom The Gear Turns and Steampunk Journal all saw an increase in their readership.
In this article, I’ll be looking back at some of the most popular articles posted on Steampunk Journal over the last 12 months on a month by month basis. These aren’t necessarily nice stories, some are controversial, but they were the most read.
One of the most consistently well performing articles was a short one I posted in February 2014. It posts a couple of links to some airship generator names. This post was the most viewed in January 2016. There’s one for steampunk airships and also one for names with a pirate theme. Another article that featured highly was the tongue-in-cheek story about how Professor Elemental had been chosen to write the new British National Anthem. Followed by the review of the excellent Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate which is set in Victorian era London and has a steampunk add-on pack.
Still reeling from the death of David Bowie and Sir Terry Wogan, one of February’s most popular posts was a review of Penny Dreadful’s game Demimonde. Arguably coincidentally a macabre card game about death and the afterlife. News of a new steampunk soap opera getting the green light by the ABC network was also a popular read for the Journal’s visitors.
My own take on giving an explanation to steampunk was published and well read. It’s more a prologue style article to help understand the formation of the name which can help beginners and newcomers get their head around it all.
In 2015, I launched a campaign to combat what I saw was an issue that could cause steampunk some real problems. There seemed to be a rise in people trying to dictate to others what steampunk is and isn’t. No-one has the right to do that, so in April 2015, I posted the article Steampunk is NOT Victorian Science Fiction. This wasn’t intended to push my beliefs of steampunk onto others, it was to counteract an extremely popular article that was doing damage to the perception of steampunk. It told people what they should and shouldn’t do and it told people what they should and shouldn’t wear. March saw a massive resurgence in the popularity of this post. As an aside, I have noticed that the article that motivated me to begin this campaign has been altered and is much more neutral. Whether the two are related; I don’t know.
March also saw the launch of Double D Dining. A steampunk chef began posting recipes onto YouTube which displayed her ample cleavage. It was a short-lived project as no new videos seem to have been uploaded in the last six months.
Aside from the consistently well performing articles, a popular post came in the form of my visit to the Barnsley Apothecarium. I like to get out and about as much as I can. 2016 seemed to have nearly every event on a weekend when I was looking after my children, so I couldn’t get to where I wanted to go much of the time.
I like to meet new people and one way of doing that is via interviews. It helps me get to know people in the culture all over the world. In April, I interviewed Nix Whittaker. She’s a New Zealand based author and was about to release her new book Blazing Blunderbuss in May.
The beginnings of Summer saw one of the most popular posts on Steampunk Journal. After witnessing an argument on a Facebook Music page, I wrote an article asking if Abney Park could alienate a portion of their fandom. The reason being a comment made by the lead singer about other steampunk bands which came across as belittling. Many comments have been made about it and you can read them on the article.
We saw Whitby Goth Weekend come and go in April and in May, my article highlighting some of the problems surrounding photographers proved very popular. As a precursor to my visit to A Splendid Day Out in Morecambe, I interviewed The New Jacobin Club who were headlining there. This in turn, happened to be one of the best decisions I made this year. Not only was the interview interesting to read, but I also made some wonderful new friends.
May was also a very popular month for the Journal, drawing in 60% more traffic than usual.
After a highly successful visit to Morecambe, the review of A Splendid Day Out was the most popular article of June 2016 was posted. I had a fantastic time and look forward to visiting again. The Guidelines of Steampunk was popular again and I hope it’s proving helpful to those who aren’t sure about the subculture. The Alternate News that I launched in 2015 also proves popular with some topical satirical stories. These are all 100% fabricated stories which are humorous to read but have some roots in a truthful story. Sometimes. My story of Imperialist steampunks building a multi-dimensional rift to escape Crexit was popular in June. Crexit was a made-up version of Brexit, but with the Commonwealth disbanding instead.
July saw the compassionate side of steampunk come out as the two main stories were based on charity. Professor Elemental reworked his popular hit I’m British to I’m European. The proceeds of which were donated to a refugee charity Refugee Action. An act we all found delightful given that the hate speech of Britain First was the motivating factor. Meaning that Britain First helped raise money for refugees.
Then we heard the terrible news that steampunk fairy performer Freyja the Fairy’s shop window had been smashed by vandals. Freyja is a regular at A Splendid Day Out and I’d watched her perform there earlier in the year. She set up a crowdfunder for some CCTV for the shop to deter it happening again. I even helped donate in the name of the Journal.
August sees the return of The Weekend at the Asylum and I couldn’t help poke fun at the fact that a bunch of nut cases willingly go to an asylum every year. I used it as an article for the Alternate News and it proved quite popular in August.
There was also the interesting story of how an American couple who live as 19th century as they can, had been turned away from a Victorian garden because they were “too Victorian”. They were celebrating their 14th wedding anniversary. I noticed that a local news agency had picked it up and tried to make it about religion and gave Islam a bit of an unfair bash, so I wrote a counteracting post.
September figures grew sharply thanks to the story that Penny Dreadful props were to be auctioned off after the end of the third and final series. This post alone constituted as 25% of the month’s viewings! I also shared some initial images of the new steampunk themed chocolate factory that’s being built in Orlando, Florida. The Toothsome Chocolate Emporium stands on the Universal Orlando park and has stunning food available.
My thought for the month was this incredible rise in the popularity of burlesque – or neo-burlesque – and how it had gotten to where it is today. I wanted to articulate how I found it interesting that burlesque was practically dying out in the 1940s, 50s and 60s yet the rise of neo-burlesque is in part due to the rockabilly culture. They’ve claimed it as their own and do a fantastic job with it.
In October, the steampunk reality maker show Steampunk’d took the spotlight thanks to my interview with Tayliss Forge and an article speculating why it got cancelled after just one series.
October was arguably the most popular month of the year in terms of readership, but since the Summer I’d seen a gradual rise in the readership numbers. It was around this time that I could confirm that Steampunk Journal was the most popular steampunk magazine website in the world.
November was the most popular month at Steampunk Journal. December is always a quiet month in publications and this year was no different. November was explosive, though. It started with an article I wrote that I thought was sympathetic to the Goth subculture. I asked if we – as steampunks – should start to move away from the Whitby Goth Weekend festival. Not because we don’t like them, not because the festival makes us feel unwelcome. It was because a few Goths had expressed their disapproval at steampunks being there. Those few don’t represent the many, but I wrote on the basis of where there’s smoke there’s fire. It wasn’t meant as a defamatory article or to make anyone feel bad. It was an extremely well viewed post garnering 30% of all views that month and shadowing even the second most viewed article.
In December, Abney Park announced they were to be playing at Whitby Goth Weekend in April 2017. I reported on it and learned a few valuable lessons from the stupid errors I made in the post. First, don’t try to write at 2am and convince yourself it’s 100% accurate. Second, drink more coffee. Third, give everything a second read and check your sources twice.
I mixed up an article that I’d read and used as source information. This was because it was at the top of the search results. Sadly I didn’t check the date and got it all completely wrong. I made an apology and corrected the problems, but not after I’d been torn apart, called names and called out by the organiser of Whitby Goth Weekend.
On a lighter note, I launched the crowdfunding campaign for The Hellfire Club. This new project is a gallery website of steampunk art nude photography. The site will go hand in hand with the Journal and will help to fund it. It will make sure that people are paid for their time. Subsequently, it will try to dispel the issues surrounding artists getting “exposure”. The campaign is live until the end of January. You can still pledge here: Hellfire Club photography gallery crowdfund campaign
I also created a new events listing directory for steampunk events to be listed. This is a global listings page, so events from all over the world are welcome to post there.
All’s well that ends well?
2016 has been a tough year for many people. Whether it was Britain’s decision to leave the European Union, the sheer volume of legendary actors passing away or people who disagree with the president-elect. For me personally, the latter two months were hard. I did what I thought was right and received a lot of flak.
However, 2017 is a new year and new promises will be made. Whether they’re kept is another matter, but whatever happens, we will only grow stronger and the community will grow as long as we uphold the fundamental principles of what it means to be steampunk; inclusion, tolerance, etiquette and above all remaining splendid to ourselves and everyone else.
Have a wonderful new year everyone and see you in 2017.