Next year, let's hope that Comic-Con's steampunk panel/meet-up is in a larger room. The line-up for Saturday's event, lead by L.A.'s League of S.T.E.A.M. (Supernatural Troublesome Ectoplasmic Apparitional Management), aka the Steampunk Ghostbusters, began nearly two hours before its scheduled time and extended far down the second floor hallway. As the time of the panel quickly approached, the line swelled from 200 to 300 bodies, more than double than what would have fit in the facility. Meanwhile, passers-by caused a severe case of gridlock as they stopped to photograph the elaborate costumes, in particular the oversized, brass-heavy backpacks/weaponry favored by the League of S.T.E.A.M. Add this to the hefty amount of steampunk items in the Exhibition Hall and it's clear that this subculture is taking quite a hold of the annual comic book/pop culture convention.
The panel itself was a fairly information session. There was mention of an upcoming steampunk film called HMS Victory from screenwriter Jimmy Diggs (Star Trek: Voyager, Star Trek, Deep Space Nine) and several major steampunk gatherings this year, including Steamcon in Seattle and a Steampunk versus Pirates party at the Queen Mary, both occurring this fall.
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People shared their stories about steampunk and gave costume tips ("Don't be a Goggle Nazi," being the catchphrase of the day). Afterward, the crew, including those who couldn't get into the panel, gathered on the back steps of the San Diego Convention Center for the world's largest steampunk photo shoot, which was apparently documented for the Guinness Book of World Records.
Later that night, the steampunks congregated at San Diego nightclub Radio Room for The Ventricular Engine. Featuring a live performance from L.A.'s The Unextraordinary Gentlemen, DJs Synexx and Professor Greyshade playing tracks from up-and-coming steampunk artists and an interactive equipment display from League of S.T.E.A.M., the event reinforced what we saw at the afternoon panel, steampunk's popularity is growing and it's only a matter of time before those outside of the underground take notice.