Boston Gets Weird
By Brendan Flaherty
Published Oct 1, 2015 8:00 AM
Running a business is one thing; creating a universe is quite another.
It’s 1895 Boston. Well, not exactly our 1895 Boston.
In this reality, Steampunk technology powers computers and electronics, and air travel is by dirigible. Oh yes, and an evil force from a parallel dimension threatens the city. Enter an ex-Pinkerton investigator , his spirit photographer partner and an inventor intent on tracking down the evil. In the background pulling strings is a secret organization called B.E.T.H. You may have heard of its members—Alexander Graham Bell, Thomas Edison, Nikola Tesla and Harry Houdini.
Welcome to the inventive, six-part steampunk sci-fi web comic “Boston Metaphysical Society,” created by Madeleine Holly-Rosing, M.F.A. ‘09.
"Steampunk in its most simplistic terms probably could be defined as Victorian science fiction, with a twist," Holly-Rosing says. "The technology is based on steam, but the twist is whatever you want to make it to be... It isn’t just this hard and fast genre. You’ll find steampunk westerns and multicultural steampunk set in Japan, in Asia, in the South Pacific. That’s the nice thing about it. It’s wide open for interpretation, and it allows the creator to be creative."
Holly-Rosing has always loved science fiction and history, but she wasn’t familiar with the genre that blends the two until she began creating a TV series in a Developing the Drama Pilot class at the UCLA School of Theater, Film & Television. Following the suggestion of a classmate and Holly-Rosing's own extensive research, the Boston Metaphysical Society transformed from TV idea to steampunk comic. Holly-Rosing enlisted a team of graphic artists, and soon, reader enthusiasm inspired Kickstarter-funded print runs, which in turn, spawned the self-published story collection, Boston Metaphysical Society: Prelude (A Seven Story Collection), available now in print and for e-reader through Amazon.
“I have always envisioned this project as a transmedia project,” she says. “Obviously, I hope at some point that it’ll move back into a TV pilot phase or a web series phase. But because this world is so rich, there are possibilities for it as role-playing games, video games [and] novels.”
In the meantime, Holly-Rosing plans to attend twelve Comic Cons, where she will don steampunk garb to meet fans and sell her printed comics, books and lapel pins. She is also busy maintaining an active presence on social media and orchestrating Kickstarter campaigns — a topic on which she is teaching classes and has recently published a book.
“It’s running a small business,” she says. Made even more challenging when you’re creating an entirely new universe in the process.