Bonsart Bokel is a familiar name in the British and European steampunk community. He came into steampunk around 2010 from a background in 14th century re-enactment. During his time there he watched a lot of anime and was drawn in particular to Last Exile. The retrofuturistic series featured art deco design and had great airship battles. Arguably the spark for steampunk began when somebody convinced him to write science fiction. He had doubts due to having dyslexia but he persevered and it would seem it paid off. One of his stories was published in a Dutch steampunk anthology and his story was regarded as one of the reader’s favourites.
Two years later, Bonsart attended his first steampunk event; “Emporium Vernesque”. As with many people visiting for the first time, it inspired him and sparked his creative side in a different way. By 2013 he had established his blog Tupperware Steampunk and began his theme group “113th RAG-TAG, Regiment Anachronistic Grenadiers – Tactical Artificer Group”. Bonsart plays the role of The Corporal and in 2016 they released a short film called Tales of a Broken Reality. The group are currently working on a follow up episode.
Bonsart is probably more well known for his YouTube channel Radio Retrofuture. The channel was created in March 2016 and hosts regular videos including interviews and discussion panels. Since then, the project has been an ever evolving work as his filming and editing has improved. In fact, aside from the Steampunk Beginner’s Guide and live streams, there was no real plan; it was just a way to get steampunk creativity out into the world. There’s a big plan, however as Bonsart says; “I want to do reviews of board- and video – games and maybe movies that are more satirical in nature. I wanted to include my character Dankaert Lexicon in such reviews and create a stories that connects these as a series, but time and resources have limited Dankaert to the Steampunk Beginners Guide.”
Most challenging – and a hurdle any publication faces daily – is growing the audience. About 75% of Bonsart’s audience comes from his Steampunk Beginner’s Guide. But, he says, “I am experimenting with new content, and already have original music donated by artists like Dr. Malice and Marco Iannello, of ‘A Clockwork Opera’.” Growth is slow because there’s a distinct lack of steampunk presence on YouTube. However in the last six months viewership has doubled.
Bonsart has announced that he’s going to move away from the interviews on Radio Retrofuture. Part of his way of evolving and shaping the channel is to balance it out more with other content. He will still conduct interviews when people approach him for them, but he wants to divert his resources and time into a more even video magazine.
Recently Bonsart set up a Patreon page. This is something that we’ve been looking into at Steampunk Journal. It works by allowing people to donate a monthly amount and in return the artist offers special privileges and access to exclusive material. “I have six patreons now that are more interested in supporting my project that the content itself. But I have some ideas I want to put into practice; like merchandise. Also Patreon get to see previews like that of the Youtube-version of the Fallout-station, and also get access to my Discord.”
Speaking of the Fallout 4 involvement, the popular game was released in 2015 and has a large modding community. Bonsart has recently been asked to help with the music for Old World Radio (OWR) which was created by Brandon Redding. “One of the big appeals of the Fallout Universe are the Radiostations within the game that play music from the early 20th century, like the Inkspots. But the only have a couple of hours of music and for a game where people put in hundreds of hours it get repetitive. OWR solves that by adding a few dozen new stations, all with their own themes, hosts and storylines. Some of these stations play audiodrama’s were I did some voiceacting for as well, like ‘My Brain and I’.
It came about after I contacted Brandon Redding for a possible interview about Old World Radio. It never came about but we remained in contact. During a RRF episode with, I think, Mark Petty the subject of a Steampunk-radiostation came up. Then I contacted Brandon about it. After hesitating for about 5 minutes he agreed. Then he asked if I could also write and voice the host. After that I made up the character Balthazar Gerards, an absinthe obsessed technician, and his robot ASP. Then I started contacting musicians and started writing segments for the host and his robot, while learning things about sound editing and voice acting.”
Bonsart calls steampunks to action
The response from the community for musicians to get involved has been typically positive. Such are the big, generous hearts of steampunks. In fact,as Bonsart explains “Of the dozens of bands and artists I approached, only one refused. All others, that responded, gave their permission pretty much without hesitation.” Hopefully, despite the lack of monetary compensation, this kind of work will open other doors in the future. Being involved with the production of a video game is certainly somethign that Bonsart would love to be involved with.
On top of all this work, Bonsart’s mind is racing with other ways to expand his universe. He’s already writing a second series of Radio Retrofuture for the Fallout universe and beginning the second episode of Tales of a Broken Reality. However there’s nothing better to get your creativity flowing than viewer interaction. “I hope for more viewer interaction. Like people making suggestions for video’s, etc. One way is to improve the Patreon-rewards. I have some idea’s planned for that. But suggestions are more than welcome.”
You can follow Radio Retrofuture on YouTube here: Radio Retrofuture YouTube channel
You can support Bonsart and his work on Patreon via this link: Radio Retrofuture on Patreon
Facebook page: Radio Retrofuture on Facebook