Madness in the Void: A Review of Sunless Skies

It has been days since you last saw the lights of port. The only thing that breaks the silence is the comforting chug of your engine, but doesn’t it sound just a little off since you stopped to investigate that abandoned homestead. Your scout bat has come up empty the last three times you sent her out and the rations are at critical levels. Just then, the chug of the engine sputters and dies. You feel a coldness inside to rival that of the sky and look to your crew as strange thoughts layout a buffet of terrors in crimson and brass.

Welcome to the Sunless Skies, a game by the good people at Failbetter Games. Sunless Skies shares much with the previous game Sunless Seas, but it takes you to a place just as strange as Fallen London. You play a line of Captains, each one the heir of the previous, exploring the sunless skies in hopes of fulfilling your aspirations and proving yourself against the dark terrors of the realm.

The strong points of the game are the absolutely enchanting atmosphere. Failbetter Games knows how to create a world with incredible depth and Sunless Skies is no exception. The music and sound effects complement the lovecraftian mood that permeates the game.

A fair warning, the game is difficult and the squamous nightmares of the Sunless Skies can overwhelm you at the worst possible time leaving you to have to start all over with only a fraction of your resources and experience. Even on its most forgiving settings Sunless Skies can be hard to adapt to and sometimes that next port of call is just a little too far off.

If you are a fan of in depth stories, mercantile games, and lovecraftian steampunk at its finest, I would highly recommend you take off for The Sunless Skies.

buy on Steam

Buy directly at Failbetter Games

Murder and Mystery at TeslaCon 10

For ten years TeslaCon has been the Fall event, the big one to finish the year. With all the pageantry and costumes along with the immersion it has become the standard for many con goers.

This year to celebrate and mark it’s 10th anniversary TC is once again making a  huge splash. With over 100 panels and special events.

David Lee- Maker

James Neathery-Maker

Karinane Gottchalk-Maker

Montague Jacques Fromage-Entertainer

Doc Phineas- TV Host and Entertainer


Plus very special guest Academy Award Winner Tom McLaughlin who ran the Creature Shop at Henson Studios and worked on the Star Wars saga and created the world of animatronics will be giving special classes throughout the weekend. Along with a free event on Sunday afternoon.

The famous TeslaCon tea room returns with a new tea…”Rain from heaven”, an interactive tea experience. All in a  setting to mimic the dining car on the Orient Express.

There will also will be the TeslaCon costume contest and fashion show Friday night along with music by Dublin O’Shea.

There are also various and different panels from costume making and leather, to paranormal Victorian subjects and actual history events. Saturday afternoon a discussion about the history of the Krampus is concluded with an actual Krampus Parade and then followed by a “German Wurst” lunch in the hotel restaurant. The evening concludes with  a grand Villains Ball featuring live music from the TC Orchestra Vardo.

Throughout the weekend the story that started ten years ago continues with more ups and downs and who done-its than ever before as the famed Orient Express whisks our Steampunk travelers across the great continents of Asia and Europe.
Symposiums, talks, games and so much more… along with entertainment and social gatherings that lead to a huge finish on Sunday!

For more information go to : www.teslacon.com for info, programming and details. Also tickets!

Teslacon does sell daily tickets at the door. You may preorder them or show up the day of. They do not accept credit cards, just cash. The Dealers room will be open to the public also- Saturday from noon to 6pm and Sunday 10-1pm. You must go to main registration to get a  pass-it will only be for the dealers room, not the event itself.

Teslacon is the longest running consecutive Steampunk Convention in North America, and one of the longest running world wide. Its use of sound enhanced –themed oriented fx throughout the hotel, music help create the atmosphere that many have come to love over the years.

So if you are looking for a fun weekend, a great time to meet people from around the world, and want to experience Steampunk at it’s finest plan to attend TeslaCon 10. Where the world of Steampunk is brought to life!

Moving Up Villainy One Musical Album at a Time

At Chicago Steampunk Exposition, we had the great opportunity to day party with V is for Villains. They were the movers and shakers to get your partying started at the convention.

They have so much high energy that they bring to the stage. It was pleasant to see a local rock band play for a group of people in the middle of the day and transport them to a night showing.

After the convention, we had a chance to talk to Nicholas Santiago, Mr. Agitator, for a little Q&A.

*How long has the band been around?

“I started V Is For Villains at the end of 2010. I started my first band, Digital Mindy in 2000, and by 2010 I felt that I had hit a ceiling. I wanted to expand, to push myself musically and in live performance. I felt like Mr. Agitator and V Is For Villains was the next logical step.”

*What made you decide to get up & start a band? Did something just click at the right moment?

“Well when I was 15 I broke my back. Two blown discs, one of which was shattered. I was in so much pain I couldn’t move or stand up straight without help. I was stuck like that for quite some time. I started taking steroid epidurals and it helped me until I had my first spinal decompression. In that period of time I was on Painkillers, I couldn’t go to school or really focus on anything through the pain. Out of nowhere I started playing with music, sounds, audio engineering. It fascinated me. This idea that a song can be born. That it did not exist before, and yet after you hear it, it is always there and always alive. It give me a reason to live. That reason has served me well for many years. Through good and bad. It is the ultimate puzzle, and in my opinion the ultimate form of self expression. In 2013 at a convention I broke my back and knee on stage in my costume, but that’s a different story….”

* Has your sound stayed the same or changed in any way from when you first started? 

“My music has certainly evolved. My tastes, like most, have changed and refined through the years. I was never too worried about having a “good voice” or a certain “sound”. I was always more entertained by something that is interesting. I think as a songwriter, you end up in a very interesting position as creator and listener. You are creating while listening. If it interests me as a listener, that’s usually where I gravitate. I think my sound in Digital Mindy was different. I try to bring something unique to every album. I never want the listener to say “Oh well, I heard this album 4 years ago…”. I know that is what some people like, and that’s okay, it’s just not the story I’m interested in telling.” 

* Which do you prefer doing personally & as a band, live or studio recording?

“I honestly feel that they are two totally different experiences as a performer and as a listener. The Recording process is full of intimacy. Very internal. Where the liver performance is a group experience that is shared with the audience. Two different flavors and I honestly love them both. At the core, I am far more of a song writer and audio engineer at heart. Writing the song is usually the most fun aspect to me. I do however love playing with people on stage and pushing the expected envelope. Mr. Agitator is a fitting code name.”

*How did everyone’s personas come about? 

“I think everyone probably has their own personal meaning in their personas. Mr. Agitator is very much an amalgamation of all of these things that have influenced me and remain present. The persona is very inspired by Batman, The Joker, The Phantom Of The Opera,The Shadow, and so on. My only prerequisite was to not take ourselves and our influences too serious. I think humor is important. You have to be able to laugh at yourself and to take negative criticism. It’s all a part of the game.” 

*Who are your musical inspirations?

“I am a huge fan of 90s Industrial music. I love Nine Inch Nails, KMFDM, PIG, Depeche Mode. I have always been very big into this idea that a synthesizer as a tool can shred like a guitar if you use it correctly. I love the idea that Digital sounds are capable of what the writer pulls from them. On the same coin I grew up listening to film scores. I love composers and scores and still very regularly play them. I think it did a lot to teach me about the narrative of music. That sounds can tell a story. I also grew up loving mainstream artists like Billy Joel, Harry Connick Jr, The Beatles, Frank Sinatra. A good song is a good song. I love my influences but I don’t care to be those artists. I want to make something new.”

*What do you do to inspire yourself to write an album and the songs? 

“I feel like the album as a whole work is dying out. In the Digital Age, we are not thinking of works as a whole anymore. Just 2 minute YouTube bytes. I’m not saying this is wrong, but it’s not my favorite method. I like having a full album. I think it’s cool. I always go into a collection of songs trying to provide a greater feel. I always look at my albums as a collection of short stories. An anthology series like Tales From The Crypt or Creepshow. I write purely on emotion. I am not musically trained whatsoever so it just has to feel right. “

*What’s the best way for people to listen to your music? I assume the best way to purchase though would be straight to your website since you’ll all get the money then. 

“The latest album “Villains Never Die” is only available for sale on our website until around December. Then it will be available to stream on all streaming platforms. Our other albums “Evolve or Die” and “Murder In The Art” can be purchased on iTunes, through website or on Spotify. We also have dabbled in music videos on YouTube.”

*Why do you prefer the villain over there hero? (Personally I always do too) 

“I feel that what makes someone a Hero or Villain is only a matter of perspective. To some people we may be Heroes, to most we are Villains. That line has always interested me. In today’s society of cancel culture and social execution before trial, I feel that line is thinner than ever. I have seen people that I thought would be life long allies turn on a dime. It’s hard to understand or explain, its just a side effect of the current world. I think its so easy to be branded Villain. Why not wear the title proudly?”

*How have the Steampunkers & Chicagians responded to your music? 

“Honestly it’s been a very mixed bag. It’s been mostly positive I think. I feel like the larger community expects a certain “thing”. We are NOT that “thing”. I feel like that  can lead many to block out or avoid without truly listening or trying. If someone really gives it a chance and it isn’t their thing, I am 100% supportive of that. It’s not my intention to tell someone if my music is good or not, my job is just to present it. I want people to make up their own minds. Most of the people we have met in the community are very kind and supportive. I always appreciate when people listen.”

*What’s the best way for people to contact you for setting up a gig? 

“We are an independent band, if you would like V Is For Villains for you live show or Event you may message me directly at visforvillains@gmail.com”

*Is there anything else you would like to add about the new album, you & the crew, or any random fun bits of information? 

“After being off of performing for over a year, we are back at it. V Is For Villains next show will be headlining the Cubby Bear in Wrigleyville on Saturday October 26th! Come out, see the show and make up your own mind. Until then, remember: Villains Never Die”

New Convention Puts Chicago Steampunk on Full Display

In 1893, the World’s Colombian Exposition brought many wonders to the city of Chicago, and this September you can imagine yourself walking the thoroughfares of an “alternative” 1893, filled with strange contraptions and eccentric inventors. Experience retro-futuristic visions of an antique future at the Chicago Steampunk Exposition as you wander through the exhibits, artists, authors, vendors, presenters, and entertainment in Rosemont Illinois on the weekend of September 27 – 29 at the Westin O’Hare Hotel.

The term Steampunk was whimsically coined in April 1987 by American science fiction author K.W. Jeter as a play on Cyberpunk when he noticed a new trend of some novels that had Victorian settings, but with dystopian themes. While the name Steampunk is 32 years old, the genre itself stretches back to Victorian authors such as H.G. Wells and Jules Verne, and some date the birth of Steampunk as June 14th, 1822, the day that British engineer Charles Babbage almost invented the first modern computer, The Difference Engine! It was designed in 1822, but was not actually built until 1991 when it was proven to actually work. So in the laws of alternate realities, the Information Age occurred during the reign of Queen Victoria, and Steampunk fans like to dream and create what that world might have looked like; they are “historical reenactors of a future that neverwas.”

While Steampunk is the main focus of the Exposition, there are several rooms devoted to specific aspects of the fandom

It was around 2005 that Steampunk began to evolve from a literary genre and blossom into the full subculture of music, art, fashion, and shared community that we enjoy today. During that time Steampunk events have been emerging across the globe, and this year Chicago is ready to play host to one of the biggest in the world. The Chicago Steampunk Exposition is a blend of part Comic Con, part Renaissance Festival, and large dash of eccentric mad scientist, all mixed up with Victorian style and grace. In September, both floors of the Westin O’Hare’s conference rooms will play host to the massive gathering with almost a hundred exhibitors including artists, writers, musicians, vendors, and over a hundred hours of workshops, presentations, and entertainment.

Goth and satirist Aurelio Voltaire headlines the music program which also includes: Unwoman, V is for Villains, Sir Reginal Pike Devant Esq., and Chicago’s favorite retro-futuristic DJ, Vorteque. In addition to music, the entertainment also offers dramatic and comedic theater performances from Outerworld Theatre, Moebius Theatre, Terra Mysterium, and L.I.V.E. (Locked Into Vacancy Entertainment) Radio Show. Throughout the weekend, there are also workshops on costuming, prop building, and a huge variety of presentations on Steampunk related topics. 

Numerous speakers will be offering up their real and alternate history expertise, many of whom are widely regarded in the Steampunk community and publishing industry. Writers Leanna Renee Hieber, Michael Coorlim, and other authors will share the joys of writing and Steampunk literature. From film and television the Exposition is joined by actor Bishop Stevens of The Steampunk Adventures of Salem Tusk, Thomas Willeford of the show Steampunk’d, H.H. Holmes documentarian John Borowski, and other filmmakers. Diana Pho, the leading Steampunk multicultural expert and TOR Publishing editor, is the featured speaker for the “Around the World” track that brings Steampunk from beyond Europe and North America.

While Steampunk is the main focus of the Exposition, there are several rooms devoted to specific aspects of the fandom, such as the aforementioned “Around the World” program. For those liking the darker and shadowy side of the Victorian Era, there is the “Gothic Parlour,” and for those who like tabletop gaming, there are several rooms devoted to board games and role-playing games in the “Steampunk Gaming” track. If you like to make things with your hands the “Maker Room” and the “Crafts Room” are places you should visit, and for aspiring writers or avid readers, the “Retro-Futurist Writers Conference” is a must. There are various other presentations on offer, and with activities for all ages, much of the weekend is family friendly.

For a Chicago event of this size, tickets are very reasonably priced, starting as low as $5 for Sunday tickets for children aged six or above; five and under get in for free on any day. One day tickets are available for Friday, Saturday, or Sunday, but many people opt to buy a full weekend pass in order to get the whole experience. Parking at the Westin O’Hare is just $10/day, which those familiar with Chicago events will know is a great bargain. For those taking public transit, the Westin O’Hare is just a block from the Blue Line Rosemont station, and a dozen bus services also go to the Rosemont CTA stop. A free shuttle runs from O’Hare Airport to the venue, so whether you are flying, busing, driving, taking the train, or steering your steam powered airship, the Chicago Steampunk Exposition is easy to find.

It is worth noting that while many people will dress up in various outlandish and elegant Steampunk outfits, all explorers are welcome regardless of attire; as Steampunks like to say, “costume admired, but not required.” That said, however, there will be plenty of merchants at the Exposition with amazing outfits and accessories available if you find yourself taken with the style. Also, there will be many workshops that teach you how to make your own Steampunk props and costume pieces for the DIY inclined.

To find out more, and delve further down the rabbit hole, visit www.ChicagoSteampunkExpo.com for information about ticket prices, special events, entertainment line up, and much more.

A Convention Out of This World

As I stepped off the plane, I had no idea what to expect, and I wasn’t the only one. As confused as we all were, the best course of action was to just go with the flow. That same idea is what made this adventure fun– no real planning.

I had met a lovely, older couple from Texas who were introduced to Steampunk through friends. Their friends drove, versus flying in. The overwhelming consensus was to drive, if you can. Flights may be quicker, but, as any con-goer can attest, you can pack so much more, as well as have a car handy. This would have been especially helpful at Wild Wild West Con (WWW), in Tucson, AZ.

Thursday was badge day for early arrivals, as well as any last-minute troubleshooting (which is the norm, as far as convention schedules go). For most there, it was a reunion, with hugs, tons of laughing, catching up.

Friday was the big day! The whole event takes place at Old Tucson. Old Tucson is an historic film studio/park, opened in 1939, where nearly every popular western was filmed, Including Tombstone and The Three Amigos.  The first western filmed here was called Arizona, in 1940. The title could not have been a better choice for this perfectly appointed film studio, about to hit its stride in the big business of western cinema. There are, of course, small museums set up throughout the park. The park also has shows running constantly for guests to enjoy, in the form of can-can girls in the saloon, or a high-noon style shoot-out in the streets. With WWW being held at Old Tucson, it gave the “normal” folks some extra fun. Some even requested to volunteer, due to how much fun everyone was having.

A fair warning, Old Tucson is about 20-30 minutes from the main hotel, which was the Double Tree by the Tucson airport. Due to this long distance from the main hotel to the convention, I highly recommend finding a friend who has a car, making friends to those who have a car, or renting a car. I cannot stress this enough. Luckily, I was able to use the VIP shuttle service, an underutilized, but wholly appreciated service, specifically for entertainers of the convention, which means that I met more friends on this shuttle, which should be no surprise to anyone who has ever met me. I’m friendly, and not even the tiniest but shy. This con shuttle’s drivers were also entertainers, and fantastic ones at that. My primary driver was a tiny powerhouse, who went by the name “Mama.” She was entertaining, educational, and determined to give excellent and timely service to those she drove. She was applauded by the head of VIP transportation, who impressed that she and her fellow drivers took their jobs seriously, and got everyone to and from their venues safely.

An amazing group to know is the Tea Scouts. What I’ve learned is that you can count on the Tea Scouts for just about anything. They’re fascinating for tea conversation, but if you need help with anything else, they are quite useful. I got a ride from one named Charity one night because I was still learning the ropes of the VIP shuttle services. We never met before that day, but she was willing to drive me to my hotel (as were my Texas friends, who gave me a ride another night). Tea Scouts are now international, and can be found on Facebook, in both local and main chapters.

The first day of the convention, Friday, was overwhelming, with the size of the venue, the convention covers, and the fabulous costumes. I attempted, admittedly poorly, to figure out all the panel sites. I was distracted by intricate costumes, shows, belly dancers, talking to wonderful people, and so much shopping. There was one panel I, regrettably, missed on Saturday, featured a special effects person from Star Trek: The Next Generation© but I was drawn in by another, equally fun activity.

Throughout the convention, different people have small ribbons or buttons, the size of your badge, to collect.

One activity I would recommend to other convention organizers is organizing a scavenger hunt for ribbons or buttons. I’ve seen this at other conventions, but this was much more colorful than any I’ve seen in the past.  Throughout the convention, different people have small ribbons or buttons, the size of your badge, to collect. The ribbons I saw had a saying or quote or image that went with the theme, or reflected the person/vendor distributing them. People loved collecting these! I saw a woman whose impressive collection was as long as her skirt.

The vendor halls are, in a word, amazeballs. The halls consisted of one large tent, a few small tents in between, and a barn. There was also an artist/ vending area at the “city hall” location. Personally, I really enjoyed the larger of the vendor halls. WWW even had a vendor from Japan, who will be featured in a later issue, comparing the vastly different Steampunk scenes of America and Japan. What made the layout more epic was that there was a space between the large vendor tent and the barn, used exclusively for belly dancing performances. The sound of the music being played in that area made me want to shimmy while I shopped. It was reminiscent of sci-fi wastelands, or a trading planet from a certain, fictitious landscape (heavily- copywritten, possibly rhyming with “far snores”). The atmosphere  was so welcoming, and the people doubly so. The music ranged from Beats Antique to Wumpscutt (gypsy music to industrial music).

The after-hours entertainment for any night is an extra fee that is highly suggested to buy in conjunction with the convention passes, while being bought online. That threw me off a bit, due to the conventions we have covered prior to this one. Paying for the big entertainment is a regular occurrence at the cons we’ve attended. Fees for events, such as an after-hours tea duel (alcohol or not) or an absinthe tasting panel has been a pretty cheap, sometimes nonexistent, price (with unlimited drinks) when going to the Wisconsin Steampunk conventions. To make it worth the attendee’s money, WWW’s absinthe panel came with a complimentary, gold-plated absinthe sugar spoon/holder. The swag was fun, but, I’ve genuinely been spoiled by Wisconsin convention hotel parties.

The main Saturday event was absolutely worth every cent of admission. Professor Elemental graced the stage as the main performance. The opening performance, however, was Tommy Spase and the Alchemists. They lit up the stage with the energy needed to start the night after a very long day (most attendees never leave Old Tucson to change or to freshen up, since it is so far away from the hotels.).  They were great, and I highly recommend checking them out, I won’t get into much detail (I plan to interview them soon), but I will say they were high-energy. A 4-year-old, little girl, by the name of Gypsy, ended up becoming the center of the show, dancing & loving the band with all her little heart. It was freaking adorable to see a little girl, dancing to her own beat, which absolutely captured the spirit of her namesake.  

When Elemental was introduced on stage, the energy of the crowd swelled. As a long-time fan, I have to ask: Who doesn’t need Elemental in their life? He makes sure everyone has a great time, no matter what. Towards the end of his performance, he invited everyone to the stage. If you haven’t seen Professor Elemental live by now, why not? You can watch an old video of the Professor at TeslaCon on our Facebook page to get an idea of how much fun it is to experience his show.

What I can say about the Arizona Steampunk community is they will welcome anyone with open arms and helping hands. A few conventions ago, the community helped gather money for a gentleman who needed a lung transplant. They arrived on Thursday to thank everyone for the support and to report the transplant’s success. He was still recovering at this point, so he and his wife showed up, in brief increments, to enjoy their community.

A big shout-out, and major kudos, go to Deena, Jason, and their amazing team, for their continuous work on getting their convention up and running. Every person was essential to the smooth operation of the convention and knew their shows inside and out. The rumor is that they broke records for the largest steampunk convention, as well as record-setting attendance for Old Tucson itself. Considering the venue is approximately 320 acres, it’s not hard to pack people in there, but impressive nonetheless.If you love history and entertainment I highly suggest Old Tucson. If you want to experience one of the best steampunk conventions out there, with the wildest, most imaginative costumes, and some of the nicest people you will meet, check out in Tucson Arizona.

Entire photos & videos of WWW8 taken by Sarah Harris (even the super bad ones of herself) are here if you click.

A Close Encounter with Victor & the Bully ~ UPDATE

This article is a joint effort between Sarah Harris and Kasandra Zavrie-Higdon.

We met up with the dynamic duo known as Victor and the Bully at TeslaCon 8. They were very energetic and easy to talk to from the very moment they entered the convention. They hail from London, England and have hit the Steampunk community by storm. Victor (AKA Matthew Victor Rodgers) and the Bully (AKA Harry Mack) have been performing together for over 3½ years now. Matt says jokingly that when he first met Harry, he thought that he wanted to shag him. Harry wanted to play with Matt so badly that he lied about being able to play the guitar. Matt called him out and Harry confessed that he had no clue on how to play the guitar. Matt dismissed Harry and told him to come back when he had actually learned to play guitar, thinking perhaps that Harry would just give up and leave him alone. Harry proved him wrong and learned to properly play the guitar. Matt tested him and made him play all sorts of cords. Harry proved to be quite good and could play anything that Matt threw at him. Shortly after, they started writing songs together and perfoming in public and eventually cutting their and first record, Death Bed Confessions.

They had played 30 shows in 2017 and Tesla- Con was the largest crowd that they have ever played in front of. The room had somewhere around 900 people with 300 on the dance floor and up against the stage the entire time they played.

Everywhere they go people are up against the stage having so much fun except for that one Thursday night in Camden. They were getting paid for the show but they had no one there. They were literally playing for just the bartender and the sound man and another show where they literally blew the speakers and the management hid in the back and didn’t come out. So roughly 2 bad shows in all their time performing seems better than most performers including rock stars.

How they decided on the name is an interesting story as well. Matthew says that his grandfather’s name (as well as his middle name) was Victor and he taught Matt how to play the ukulele. Matt’s grandfather, Victor, had been in a band and played the ukulele. Once his grandfather passed away, Victor inherited his grandfather’s ukulele and decided to dedicate his music to him. As for ‘the Bully’, Matt was watching Family Guy on television when they were saying, “Bully Bully! I’m having a bully day, are you having a bully day? Bully!” And so it was. He loved the idea of that name and so Harry became ‘the Bully’ as in ‘that’s Bully’ and so forth. They say that they love dance music and so that is why their music is so up beat and dance-able. Harry says that it’s music ,”you can make love to vigorously.”

Victor & the Bully mid interview.

They were promoting their new album when we met them, it had yet to be released. As of the time of this publication release, it is out. The name of the new album is 8th Deadly Sin. They want the whole album to be successful
and they want everyone to love the whole album instead of just a few select songs. They say that performers in the UK actually help each other out and appear on each others’ records. It’s just something that they do. They want to see everyone succeed. They say that there is a certain psychology to writing songs and stage performance. Victor says that it’s all about the hook. We suggested that they make sing-a-long videos for YouTube but it went down hill fast after that talking about our mutual love of muffins and our dirty minds.

These two lads made us laugh the entire interview. I haven’t had this much fun interviewing a band in quite a while. Wouldn’t it be fun to have them back again in the next year or two? I would love to see these boys again. They really are very fun and extremely funny besides being so talented.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

November 4th we got an update as to what is going on with the duo. Harry has decided to step away after 7 years and pursuit some different projects, or so Victor posted on their Facebook page. The full press release reads as follows:

After 7 years of working together Harry has decided to step away from Victor and the Bully to pursue other quests and endeavours in his life. We have certainly had one hell of a ride of this time, with the release of 3 albums, 6 trips to the USA, lots of stays in hotels, lots of beers, late nights partying and everything in between. As sad as this roller coaster had to stop for both of us I wish him the absolute best with what he wants to do and I know you guys will support him all the way. We have certainly had the time of our life doing this and played some incredible shows over the years. Harry was always an absolute firecracker on stage and always put in the most effort to make sure everyone got up on their feet to dance the night away.

NOW WHAT?!

WELL!! Ladies and Gentlemen, Saints and Sinners, Children of all ages.
VICTOR AND THE BULLY IS NOT ENDING!
The reason for not changing the band name is because people know it. There has been so much, merch and marketing that has gone through with it that it needs to be kept the same.

Stepping in on guitar is the absolutely wonderful and incredibly talented Joe Marshall better known as “Crowboy”!
After Falling into a Vat of Crows, Crowboy rose with his guitar, ready to play to the Sinners!
We have been playing together for around 13 years, and our first band together was a Psychobilly band “Billy Rebel”. We have had many years of writing songs in a drunken stooper, in fact you have actually been listening to songs we wrote together including, Food Fight for a Cannibal, Stone Cold, Causa Mortis, Suit Up, Monotony, 8th Deadly Sin Intro… and hot lava (everybody do the shake).He has stepped in many times over the last few years to help out and I’m extremely excited to bring him on board.

Now…. The Big Reveal!!
Introducing “Halo”!! Yes, There is going to be a female Bully! A Bullette as it were. I first met Nancy a few years ago when she was a dancer at a Steampunk Event. Since then I have seen her grow doing her own projects including her own band “Nova Halo”. I wanted to bring something completely fresh and new to Victor and the Bully which is why I wanted to bring Halo onboard. She has been working hard to show you guys a great show and a new dynamic you haven’t see with us.


2 BULLIES!?

Well, yes.. and no. There are indeed 3 of us but some gigs will be 2, some all 3. It all depends on the dynamics of the show, who’s putting it on, accommodation, train fares etc. Crowboy is also in a band “Maven” and Halo is in “Nova Halo” so they have commitments with that as well.

So.. 2020?
Well, we are working on lots of things and have big ideas. One thing I can tell you is that were working on a new album, but I guess that’s kind of a given. The artwork etc will be changing and we have recently finished a photoshoot with Roj Whitelock who did the previous VATB shoots and they are looking freshhhh.
We have some other things planned but im going to keep it secret for now until all the pieces are in place.

We hope you will continue to support Victor and the Bully for years to come and although the lineup has changed the enthusiasm, commitment, fun, debauchery and silliness has certainly not slowed down at all. I would like you all to welcome on board your new Bullies and I hope you are as excited as I am for the future.

Thanks for everything Sinners! Bring on 2020!

Victor

This coming year should be full of new things and good surprises from this trio. We will try to keep you updated on Harry Mack as well. I hope he releases some solo work that we can share here otherwise he will be missed greatly.

There’s Now an 8th Deadly Sin

This article is a joint effort between Sarah Harris and Kasandra Zavrie-Higdon.

Sarah: Victor & the Bully are two of the most energetic people I have met.
It’s great to see them come out with a new album. They told us their thinking process for songwriting and composing and essentially it is; make a tune and sit on it until it nags you and you can write ear catching lyrics. They just love making feel good music that you could hum to, or dance to. This new album, 8th Deadly Sin, is no exception. At times I have the song Barrel of a Gun stuck in my head while I’m sleeping.

Kasandra: Their debut album, Deathbed Confessions, was a good romp
through their musical talents and creative minds. They burst open the doors of the steampunk community and took it by storm. They are in your face and laughing, dancing and shooting at your feet making you dance (metaphorically speaking). Their smiles are as contagious as their music is dance-able. Also, who can resist a ukulele?

This, their second album is full of mischief and mayhem, a true musical delight to my ears. As I sit here and write this, I am dancing in my chair. My feet must tap to the beat. Whatever they have done to make this sound work for them, work it does. This is a splendid second album. I loved the debut album but the 8th Deadly Sin is even more fun and I didn’t think that was possible.

This is a great album to start off your collection of steampunk influenced music. It’s very upbeat and stomp-able to say the very least. The first release
from the album was F.R.E.A.K.S., which was very warmly received in part because it also featured Professor Elemental on vocals. I must admit when I
heard it, I was very pleased.

I love their energy. Every song tells a story and that story comes at a fast pace that will leave you feeling breathless but wanting for more. If you don’t want to dance when you hear these gents, then you are dead. I can see why Sarah likes Barrel of a Gun so much. She is probably singing the chorus in defiance in her sleep. It’s one that can get stuck in your head easily. My sing along song is Fur Better or Worse. Who’s afraid of the big bad wolf, is the question and I love it. If the true 8th Deadly Sin is being a Victor and the Bully fan, then I am guilty of that sin and proud of it.

If you haven’t heard anything from Victor and the Bully, then what are you
waiting for? You can sample them on Spotify or iTunes as well as Soundcloud for free.

Fantasy Poetry

Poetry is provided by Eric Jobes.

Ghosts of Camelot

Long after the blood shed, pain and cruelty
The ruins of Camelot still stand Its lands stained red by warfare
The ghosts of Camelot wailing with pain and sorrow over there befallen king
Brothers fought brothers and sons fought fathers
The air is permanently chilled with the fog of the dead
Air charged with cruel magick that muddled the minds of once valiant and just knights
Walls that once harbored so much peace and happiness, broken and defiled by the blood of their guardians
The Table that once stood for justice and might, cleaved in half by the Black One’s deadly claymore
Myrddin’s tower once the pinnacle of magickal knowledge, now a forever burning beacon and monument to the destruction and death that happened there
The Forest once teeming with wildlife, now filled with restless spirits of fallen soldiers and of wights feasting on the lands sorrowful
pain and dark energy
Oh the horror and the sadness that this land will never be cleansed of the vile magicks
Morganna used to seek her revenge
Never will this land be free of the agony of the trapped souls, never will they feel the peace of Avalon

The Monster Inside

I am sorry so very sorry
Please do not be mad at me
I have no control over the monster that calls my mind home
His actions are not my own
With teeth of stained ivory and eyes of abyssal black
He lurks in my thoughts and fears waiting for the right moment
I don’t mean the things he makes me say please come back
Please my loved ones I need you
Help me exorcise this monster, this foul beast!
I don’t want him here
……As the last of you leave me so does all hope of being rid of this curse
Soon his whispers become louder
Now we share one voice one mind one soul
You shouldn’t have left me
My fate was in your hands
Now yours is in mine
Forgive me for this but you didn’t help me
So I am no longer me but the monster inside

The Circle of Song

A cacophony of ancient noise and sacred voices
Laughter and joy blast out in waves
Light and love to all
The sounds of our ancestors ring out from the veil
“Be at peace my friends all are welcome”
A chorus of chanting and singing
Rolls like a wave over me
The circle of song calls out…And I shall answer!

The Death of The Universe

Lo! Despair, Tis the face of our God!

Their blank gaze fills all of the world with dread and terror
Their face a sanguine mirror of apathy and stoicism

The sanctity of life rests between its palms!
A solid black orb swallowing every ounce of light around it

All around it a viscous, inky, void splattered with the colors of the Vital Humors
Extends into infinity, Light and Dark at the same time

Our ears bleed due to the lack of noise
Our eyes water from the light and the lack thereof

We shudder from the cold yet feel also warmth
We feel no breeze, yet our clothes and hair flutter

Life is over, There is nothing
Our existence is gone

We are but a brief candle struggling to stay lit
…And then the great entity takes a mighty breath

…Nothing, no more love, no more hate
No more life, no more death
No more light, no more dark

The Strange Golems

The Lands barren of all life
The sky the color of amber

Dust storms ravage the terrain
Rendering mountains to rock; rock to sand; sand to dust

The only remaining remnants of life are the stalwart corpses of giants
Desiccated monoliths that once watched over the citizens of this long dead planet

Eyes, sightless voids, once illuminated with flames of carmine light
Limbs that once touched the heavens, lie useless next to their bodies

These automatons are cloaked in tattered blood red robes covered in the symbol of their people
Once vibrant, clean and well cared for…Time and the elements has made them dirty, old, and ragged

What happened here? Why is your world so desolate?
What strange eons have come for thee?

…These questions are useless for these sentinels will never answer
And as the suns set and the moon rises, the land turns to the color of dried blood

…The ground is littered with skeletons of a alien biology
And a single…lone drop of water leaves the guardians eyes

…As if they still can feel, see and hear the silence, the desolation, the sheer absence of life
…And weep for they can do nothing to help and are themselves locked in a eternal torturous existence







Balefire

The air thick and hot like the breath of some unholy beast
Thy lungs struggle and writhe within thy chest

The moisture of thy body leaves through thy mouth like storm clouds
Tainted by both the toxic viscous miasma around thee and the plague within

Thy face drenched with both perspiration and tears as thy agony grows
A waterfall of sorrow and pain cascades down thy face soaking thy tunic

All around thee I see the air shimmer and squirm as if some unseen serpent slithers through it
Silence echoes around thee as the land is deathly still

Thy heart begins to hammer in thy chest
Bringing thee even more agony and pain

Moist, throaty gurgles escape thy throat as they chest begins to burn as if Helios himself was coming forth
Thy agony is so great, I cannot think of naught but thy demise for it would be a sweet release from this pain

As thy pain escalates, ever further I feel thy breast begin to crackle
I look down and scream with soul wrenching anguish as thy chest smolders then is caught aflame

The center of thy torso is a raging inferno of some mysterious origin
I feel something crumble, and thy last thoughts of the ones I am leaving behind come forth as I am sent to thy eternal rest

L’illusioniste

Smoke billows beneath his tenebrous cloak
His laughter echoing across the stage as his doppelgangers move in time with him

His hands flash as knives and fiery will-owisps are conjured seemingly out of mid air
They flit and flicker across the stage bending to his indomitable will

Eerie music plays from the Aether, no instruments or audio devices in sight
The music alternates between uplifting but and a frantic tempo to a offbeat funeral dirge filled with nothing but deep melancholic reminiscence
His eyes aglow with lavender fire, cast their hypnotic gaze from under his cowl

The rest of his face obscured by whatever void is being conjured within
Hours upon hours of breathtaking tricks and mesmerizing illusions he shows the audience
All leading up to a finale that is beyond awe inspiring

Turquoise gloves aflame with eldritch energy he brings forth ethereal shades
They dance and march to music that transcends all belief

They soon vanish, and with a flourish of his cloak of unearthly wonders
The tent, the stage and even himself disappear without a single trace of his being their except for one

….Our memories

The Egregore

Hark! Heed my words and Beware!
The Servitor cometh!

Venture not into the gloom, for there lies a entity of unadulterated malice
Its form that of a simple arrow
..But be forewarned looks are deceiving

This renegade thought-form was created to help serve its master with daily menial tasks
But is soon developed a sentience that would make it reject its masters orders and seek to subjugate and torture humans

It will break your bones and burn your flesh
Fray your sanity and flay your hide

It will bring you to the point of death, with you begging for it
…Only for it to heal you and begin again

It never tires, it does not require food or drink as we know it
It sustains itself on this plane through the fear and agony it inflicts

It makes no sound, there is no preparing for it to arrive
It simply appears and the horrors follow soon after

By the gods I hope you are able to stay out of its path
For you life will become naught but an agonizing immortality.

The Light in The Window

On a the shadowy corner of a darkened street
Lies a house whose occupants you never want to meet
You hear no noises or sign of anyone living
As this house is spine chilling
For you see during the day this house is like any other
But at night your terror will smother
At night you see only one thing to cause a nightmare
One lone window illuminated with a single figure just standing there
You see not their demeanor or their face
But something about this person makes your heart race
The person stands there unmoving as if waiting
Further increasing the terror its creating
You close your eyes wishing it would go away
As you open them you might have gotten your way
For as you look now there in the window is nothing at all
But your hopes become dashed by a sound that makes your skin crawl
As you slowly turn around you are met with a gruesome sight
The Man Who Should Not Be is the cause of your plight
As he stares you down with his soulless eyes
You are aware that you are about to meet your demise
With a guttural laugh that rends your sanity asunder
As the skies fill with soft rain and thunder
He ends your life sending you into the realm of the nether
Where you will stay forever.


We are currently assisting Eric Jobes on publishing his first poetry book complete with illustrations. Keep watching for updates.

Publisher’s Best Pick: Anime Midwest

So you probably wonder why I picked this particular convention as my favorite in the Midwest. Actually, it’s pretty simple; it’s the most friendly, hospitable, charming, creative and fun anime convention that I have been
to so far in the Midwest. They go all out from the panels and special guests to the all you can eat for free ramen noodles, rice and sometimes even salad. They want to make sure that you enjoy yourself. There’s a lot of free things to do such as karaoke, games, watching anime and just being silly.

Everyone is so friendly. You cans stop people and ask to take their photo very easily. People love to pose for the camera and gladly do it all day. The attention to detail that the cosplayers put into their costumes is phenomenal. As for gender roles? This is cosplay and who needs them. If you want to be a guy dressed up as a Powerpuff Girl, then you can do it and no one bats an eye. This is part of why I love the cosplay community so much, they are very understanding and forgiving. No body shaming is allowed. You can be what you want to be and no one will stop you. You have so much more freedom at an anime convention than you will anywhere else in the world. Perhaps this is why anime conventions and cosplay
are starting to take over more and more of the world.

LadyBeard with fellow member of group LadyBaby

There’s a maid cafe that they take very seriously. They practice and rehearse before the convention opens to make sure that everything
is just right. The maid cafe isn’t free but it is one of the best features of the convention and the only anime convention that I have been to in the Midwest to actually pull off a real functioning maid cafe. There’s singing and dancing from the hosts and maids to games and taking photos at the end and of course let’s not forget the delicious cakes accompanied by tea. They try very hard to make the experience as close to being in Japan as possible. The health inspector has to come around and make sure that everything is up to code. It has to be inspected and approved just like a real cafe would because of serving food and drink, even though they don’t make the cakes on site.

Everyone is so friendly. You cans stop people and ask to take their photo very easily.

The first year of the Maid Cafe was 2013. In 2014, William Froelich became the department head for the Maid Cafe. He brought organization and guidelines to the project. At the time of this publication, the numbers for each year have increased steadily and the hours of operation have also been extended to accommodate more people into the Maid Cafe experience. They have now incorporated more table games that require interaction with the maids and hosts as they continue to not only get new business but a lot of repeat business as well.

You must be 18 to work at the Maid Cafe. Most people who work at the Maid Cafe are between the ages of 18 and 23. They must commit to the whole weekend for the convention or they cannot work there as they are required to set up on Thursday night and tear down on Sunday after the convention.

Members of the Anime Midwest Cafe.

All uniforms must be approved by the department head and only one uniform per worker. They are taught to present a good memory of the event using an instant camera photo decorated and then presented to the attendee. The whole Maid Cafe experience takes an hour and costs (as of this publication) $15. From our experience, it is well worth the money. You can also apply online to work for the Maid Cafe through the Anime Midwest website.

Another reason I love this convention so much is the free ramen. As far as my experience is concerned, this is the only convention I have ever been to that offers free food to its attendees. We found not only ramen, rice balls and salad were served in one room and in the other room there were all sorts of carbonated sodas, all for free, with all the condiments you would want for your food. Granted, it can be a bit of a mess but when we went there, the staff and the attendees were trying to keep the food mess to a minimum.

Near the free food area is free karaoke, but there is always a waiting line and you have to sign up early to get a spot. Still, it was great fun to watch and even sing along while we ate our ramen.

A couple of Steven Universe Cosplayers.

My favorite people are the cosplayers themselves. If it weren’t for their undying love and obsession with Manga, Anime and Comics in general, we would not have these conventions, these outlets for our souls to be free from constraint and our imaginations to run free. Whether you have an original character or one you have made up, there is no denying that you have an outlet here.

People painstakingly transform their ideal into a character or persona that they can enjoy and embrace for the day. It’s like Halloween but you don’t have to wait for one day in October to enjoy it, you can do it anytime at
any convention anywhere around the world. That’s a pretty exciting prospect and if anything a great opportunity to just people watch
as the attendees line up when the doors open for registration and the myriad of characters falls through the doors spilling onto the convention floor. Some characters you might recognize and some are more obscure and
you may not. At any rate, there is someone in the room who knows what the character is besides the person who is dressed as that character.

Karkat Vantas cosplayer, a Homestuck character.

The vendors are one of the reasons why a lot of people come to Anime Midwest. You can find a wide variety of artworks from various artists as well as collectors items. There’s everything you can imagine for sale such as t-shirts, original artworks, comic books, plushies, costumes, jewelry, imported items direct from Japan and more. One of the great things about going to Anime Midwest is that if you find an artist you like and you want a commission, you can get it there usually finished that same weekend, depending on the complexity of course. There’s so much to choose from that you can spend more time with the vendors than any place else.

There’s a game room that features Pachinko and DDR as well as other video games straight from Japan. Special guests are featured all weekend long and sometimes even special art exhibitions as well. There’s always a musical guest or two and after the concert there’s a rave with a live DJ and even a fancy dress fantasy cosplay ball. If you want to show off your costuming, there’s Masquerade, where you can compete against others to win best cosplay costume in front of professional judges.

What convention would be complete without a ton of panels with everything from voice actors to costumers. Every year the panels change but there is always a huge line for each so come early and expect to stay late.

Anime Midwest is held at the Hyatt Regency O’Hare and Stephens Convention Center in Rosemont, Illinois and will be held July 5-7, 2019.