This blog post is the second of two in recognition of Black History Month, in which I focus on influential African Americans in Dieselpunk.
Tony Snipes is the Founder of Portsmouth Aeroshipbuilding Co. Many of you may recognize him as a guest on the Dieselpunk Podcast. Recently, Tony was kind enough to answer some questions for you, dear reader.
- Tell our readers about yourself.
I'm Tony Snipes, mild-mannered Media Marketing Executive by day...SciFi/Fantasy Illustrator by night! I've been a visual artist all of my life, but have dived deep in my craft with the boom of the internet. (It's mostly because the medium has allowed us to reach any part of the world with our passion!) I've worked professionally in the advertising departments of Newspaper, Broadcast TV and now Broadcast Radio, learning how to reinvent each traditional media outlet with the boom of the Digital industry.
- How do you define “Dieselpunk” to non-Dieselpunks?
I define "Dieselpunk" as a subgenre of Science Fiction. It is a "retro-futuristic" creative expression reflecting the historic era of the "Jazz Age", the Art Deco era. Taking place from about the start of World War I until about the era of the launch of Sputnik. It's a blend of that historic era that includes either sci-fi, fantasy or magic.
- If you could only have 3 Dieselpunk movies in your DVD collection, which ones would you have and why?
"SKY CAPTAIN AND THE WORLD OF TOMORROW"-because to me it's the best visual example of the genre.
"CAPTAIN AMERICA THE FIRST AVENGER" -because it's the best mainstream example...and to me, the one of best examples of quality in storytelling of the genre (without looking like a video game!)
Peter Jackson's "King Kong" (2005)-because it's a great example of the Dieselpunk era with the twist of fantasy/horror versus the usual sci-fi addition. Also, because it was deliberately filmed to make modern theater goers feel like those that saw the original in 1933.
- Tell our readers about the Portsmouth Aeroshipbuilding Co.
It’s the 1940’s and the world of The Portsmouth Aeroshipbuilding Co. has access to technology before it’s time. It’s a world rooted in the true shipbuilding history of my hometown of Portsmouth, Virginia.
- Do you have any new projects in the works?
Coming off the publishing of another annual calendar, this year I plan to dedicate most of the year to publishing an illustrated "coffee table book" to serve as an overview of the Portsmouth Aeroshipbuilding Co. experience. It's called "GUIDE BOOK".
- February is, of course, Black History Month here in the US. While the Diesel Era saw a long-overdue recognition of African American art and literature, such as the Harlem Renaissance, it also saw horrible racism with the Second Klan's rise and Jim Crow laws' entrenchment. As an African American man, how does this dark source material affect your vision of Dieselpunk?
For many years I've been passionate about discovering the rich, hidden legacy of African American history. I've used art and events to pass on what I've found on to others.
The Dieselpunk genre has allowed me a dynamic and intriguing backdrop for retelling of African Americans in history. Discovering that African American medics served at Normandy on D-Day...being introduced to jazz pianist Hazel Scott who'd go on to having her own TV show in America...all while these greats pass through our gates as aeroships float overhead. This is my way of reclaiming our hidden history and sharing it with the world.
- Is there anything else you would like to say to my readers?
Please be sure to stop by and visit The Portsmouth Aeroshipbuilding Co on Facebook at:
This blog post is the first of two in recognition of Black History Month, in which I focus on influential African Americans in Dieselpunk.
“Vintage style, not vintage values.” – Dandy Wellington
There may be no one who embodies Dieselpunk as a lifestyle other than Dandy Wellington. Not only is he a talented performer, but, as described by the web site for the magazine Rob Report, Wellington dresses “exclusively in vintage clothing, whether at the dancehall or the dentist.”
A quick view of Wellington’s YouTube videos reveals that his style is much more than vintage. There is a fresh, lively style to his fashion. His mantra, “Vintage style, not vintage values,” is pure Dieselpunk.
I highly recommend reading the Rob Report interview with Wellington. Then swing by his website and join his Patron account. You can also take your fashion style up a notch by joining his class “Wardrobe Building.”
“In the eyes of many in the world, this every-four-year ceremony we accept as normal is nothing less than a miracle.” - President Ronald Reagan
On January 20, 2021, the United States inaugurated Joseph Biden as the 46th president. However, it hasn’t always been held in January. Interestingly, the date change has a connection to the Jazz Age.
Historically, the inauguration had been on March 4th, which was four months after the election. This date resulted from Article I, Section 4, Clause 2 of the Constitution. Congress set March 4, 1789, as the date “for commencing proceedings” of the newly reorganized government. These scheduling decisions resulted in a long, four-month lame-duck period between the new President’s election and inauguration. Because they were voted out of office, defeated politicians would serve as lame ducks, incapable of effectively representing their constituents or affecting public policy. Critics, particularly those in the Progressive Movement that had been vital to other political reforms, argued that shrinking the gap in time between elections and taking office amounted to an immediate call to public service.
At times, this lame-duck Constitutional provision led to some bizarre attempts by presidents to circumvent it. In 1916, during World War I, President Woodrow Wilson devised a plan to avoid a lame-duck presidency and allow his Republican opponent Charles Evans Hughes to assume presidential powers immediately if Hughes had won the election. Wilson planned to appoint Hughes as Secretary of State. This appointment would have made him first in line to act as President in the event of a simultaneous vacancy in President and vice president’s offices thanks to another odd feature of Article 1. President Wilson and Vice President Thomas R. Marshall would have then both resigned. Wilson never implemented the plan since he was narrowly re-elected.
In 1932, to resolve this problem, Sen. George W. Norris of Nebraska proposed a twentieth Constitutional Amendment. This amendment established that the “terms of the President and Vice President shall end at noon on the 20th day of January, and the terms of Senators and Representatives at noon on the 3d day of January, of the years in which such terms would have ended if this article had not been ratified; and the terms of their successors shall then begin.” Because its goal was end the lame-duck Congress, the Twentieth Amendment became known as the “Lame-Duck Amendment.”
On January 23, 1933, the Twentieth Amendment was adopted making FDR the first US president to be inaugurated on January 20th in 1937.
On January 2, 2021, one of the administrators of Dieselpunks Depot, Eddie Payne, posted a message to the Facebook page. Stuart Antony, who founded the group, had passed away.
As Payne wrote, Antony had “been a driving force in the dieselpunk community ever since.”
Stuart Antony will be greatly missed. Rest in Peace, diesel brother.
Alexander Weygers was a renaissance man. He was a sculpture, engineer, architect and philosopher. Weygers was born in 1901 to Dutch parents and grew up on a sugar plantation in Java. He and his wife Jacoba Hutter later moved to the United States. Tragedy struck when his wife died during the stillbirth of their only child. After his wife’s death he threw himself into sculpting, which he’s most famous for. After World War II he built a house using his blacksmith skills out of recycled materials and scrap metal. Some describe the house as looking like a mushroom that blended perfectly into the surrounding forest. He called it a “geodesic dome gone wild.” He also built a steam-powered car that he and his second wife Marian would drive. Weygers died on July 23, 1989.
Of all of his creations, there is one that may be the most intriguing for Dieselpunks. A disk shaped aircraft that he dubbed the “discopter.”
Two words come to mind when you see his proposed craft: flying saucer. The discopter would essentially be a helicopter with the blades inside the body of the craft rather than outside. Lift would be provided by the blades. The craft would move forwards and aft by a series of louvers in slanted positions, with all the steering done from a central cockpit.
While I’ve been unable to find images of his 1920s initial design I’ve found numerous drawings that Weygers made when he had it patented in the 1940s. In addition, Weygers made illustrations of how he thought cities could be redesigned to incorporate the discopter.
Weygers tried to sell his design to airplane makers, carmakers, and helicopter makers but none would buy the rights to it. Interestingly, the US military did build several experimental craft, such as the Avro Canada VZ-9 Avrocar, that had a haunting resemblance to his discopter. Weygers went to his grave believing that the military had stolen his idea.
Music is a big part of the Fallout games. For those unaware of Fallout, it’s a series of post-apocalyptic role-playing video games set during the 21st, 22nd and 23rd centuries. Fallout has a strong retrofuturism aesthetic with its setting and artwork influenced by the culture of 1950s United States and its Cold War paranoia of nuclear annihilation.
I’ve recently found Fallout Radio and I love it. Fallout Radio is part of the family of Old World Radio, which hosts several game themed streaming YouTube stations such as Fallout 76 Appalachian Radio, Rockabilly Radio and Vintage Radio.
Of the Old World Radio different stations I most enjoy Fallout Radio.The music is largely swing tunes from the Diesel Era (i.e. Jazz Age) along with American Standards. As part of the fun, they include odd songs such as Radioactive Mama by Sheldon Allman along with strange and darkly humorous Cold War themed Public Service Announcements. Fallout Radio music programs are set in the Fallout universe and include Cadillac Jack's Radio Shack, The Storyteller's Old World Tunes, and Radio FNGS.
The game Fallout along with Fallout Radio raises interesting questions for genrepunks and retrofuturists. With its mix of Swing and American Standards with 1950s Cold War culture is there really a genre that we can call “atomicpunk” or “atompunk”? If so, where does dieselpunk end and atomicpunk begin? Might what we call atomicpunk simply be a variant of dieselpunk, much like decopunk?
For now, I’ll let you, dear reader, ponder those questions. I plan to return to those at a later date. In the meantime, sit back, open yourself up an ice cold bottle of Nuka-Cola, and tune into Fallout Radio.