Friday, June 8, 2012

Interview: Doctor Quincy E. Quartermain

I now present my interview with Doctor Quincy E. Quartermain, probably the biggest fan of alternate history and steampunk that I have ever met:

Can you tell us a bit about yourself?

Sure.  I'm Doctor Q. I am the Co-Founder of the Artifice Club, a social organization of like-minded retro-naughts; the Media Editor of the Steampunk Chronicle; and the Director of the Alternate History Fan Track at Dragon*Con. In addition, I write articles, DJ at various events and shows, and often speak on panels as well.  In short, I do a lot of fun things and am surrounded by incredibly creative people.

Is Doctor Quincy E. Quartermain your real name?

Not at all.  It's the name I use for Facebook.  Doctor Q is fine (I often use DJ Doctor Q for billing at shows as well).

What kind of music do you play as a DJ; steampunk or more mainstream?

I'm billed as a Steampunk DJ, which works for me.  I tend to shy away from mainstream music, but a lot of popular tunes that I enjoy - namely ones that utilize old instrumentation like banjos or accordions and such - end up on my set lists often enough.  Plus, some fun Indie tunes that have a good run on the radio are fair game.

What got you interested in alternate history?

Oddly enough, Dragon*Con.  I was a fan of steampunk since before I knew there was a word for it.  And when the Alternate History Track debuted 3 years ago at the Con, I was happy to see that it was part of a larger world.

How would you explain steampunk to someone who has never heard of it?

Steampunk for me is the most popular word that has been tied to an aesthetic movement whose origins came from literature and books, but has become one that spans every form of art imaginable. It is fabricating your own alternate future of a past that never was but you wish could have been.

What is Dragon Con?

Dragon*Con is the largest fan-run convention in the world.  It is a pop culture celebration of anything and everything you can imagine. We completely takeover Downtown Atlanta and the tracks and events span 5 host hotels.  We even have the largest parade in the City.  Nothing quite says it like a regiment of stormtroopers marching down Peachtree Street.

How does the average Atlantan feel about all of the SF that happens every year with Dragon Con?

Most Muggles know about Dragon*Con and are fine with it, those folks are far more concerned with the sporting events that also happen downtown (SEC Bowl and sometimes Braves games).  The vast majority in my experience tend to embrace it and love the Con a lot, especially the Parade.

What does the Alternate History Track do?

We run panel content and programming for the Alternate History fan community. While steampunk is the majority, we cater to any and all forms of the genre.  Our blurb on the Con Main Page says it best I think: "Join us in the world of Alternate History to explore the future of worlds that never were, but you wish could have been. Within our panels and programming, you will learn about the cogs and clockworks of steampunk, historic romance and alternate history fiction, retrofuturism, and any antique reality to explore with imagination you can think up. From the makers who bring wonders of a bygone age back to life before your eyes, to costumers who look to have stepped out of a Victorian Sci-Fi Penny Dreadful, to authors of tales spanning time, space, and all forms of alternate realities, this track has it all! If you can imagine a time when things were crafted with care and individuality, proper manners and etiquette was the norm, and wonder lay around every street corner or horizon, you will be at home with the explorers, inventors, artisans, and adventurers of the Alternate History Track."

What can we expect from the Track in 2012?

We have a brand new staff, and so this year the Track is all new.  From an official kick off at the Aether Lounge to the Mechanical Masquerade there will be plenty of social activities to see and be seen.  We have The World That Was: A Mutli-Cultural Fashion Show and the Gadgeteer's Showcase, a steampunk show & tell from makers and prop builders to display their work.  We have panels on props, publishing, and more, not to mention opportunities to meet authors like S.M. Stirling, D.B. Jackson, Gail Carriger, Jana Oliver and many many more.  All in all, if you like it, we have it at the Track.

How did you become the Director of the Track?

I had been assisting the Track for a couple of years and in addition, I am the co-Founder of the Artifice Club and we host our own quarterly events as well as tour the US (and soon the world) with our own unique brand of retrofuturistic entertainment.  I seemed to be the natural choice for the job and so when my predecessor Cindy MacLeod offered me the job, I cautiously, but gratefully, accepted.  I hope I do the Track proud.

What is the Artifice Club?

"The Artifice Club is a collection of like minded artists, performers, creators, and patrons who gather together for the chance to share stories, compare notes, and to show others the glory of a future that never was.  It is a place to see and be seen, to hob nob among those of like interests, or to add a unique retro-futurist spin on your private event.  Regardless of form or desire, the Club is founded as an open forum for those who have one foot in the past, one in the future, and no thought to the present. All who share the love of the past may apply, and our social events will breathe fresh life into the mundane doldrums that is the present day." I wrote those words almost two years ago and they still are spot on.  You can find us at www.theartificeclub.com (soon to have a remodeled website as well).


What is the Steampunk Chronicle?

The Steampunk Chronicle is the leading news source for all things steampunk.  From reviews on the latest media to profiles of airship groups or fashion designers and much, much more.  We have weekly releases every Tuesday.  You can find us at www.steampunkchronicle.com.


Do you have any other projects you are working on?

Between Dragon*Con, The Artifice Club, and the Steampunk Chronicle, not to mention DJing and speaking at other Cons, I am overfull on projects and commitments and then some at current.  However, we have the next Artifice Club show to look forward to - the Midsummer Night's STEAM: A Dandies & Darlings Dance on July 7th featuring Live Music, Demos, DJs, and more, followed by the Mechanical Masquerade at Dragon*Con this year (it is our annual Club celebration, and as our 3rd year's show, bringing it to Dragon*Con seemed the best way to do it proud) and then the Imperial Secret Society Speakeasy in the works for December.  So yeah, I've got a lot going on for sure.

What are you reading now?

Honestly?  Lots and lots of comics.  I'm a comic book nerd through and through, and I've even given some panels on Alt. History and Steampunk in comics.  Speaking of which, I've been really loving All-Star Western in DC's New52 - it feels like an Alt. History tale.  Elseworlds has been a gold mine for content, though we're seeing a lot more Steampunk and Victoriana in comics now more than ever, particularly from Dark Horse (like Hellboy) and the other small press comics like Arcana (Clockwork Girl), Archaia (Return of the Dapper Men), and more. Even Image has put out an Indie fave or two, like Matt Fraction's Five Fists of Science for one.  But yes, lots of comics

Do you have any advice for someone who has never been to a SF convention before?

To survive at a Con you need to follow three simple rules (which I have dubbed the three H's):

1.  Hygiene.  Please remember to bathe, brush your teeth, use deodorant, etc.  I know this sounds like common sense, but you'd be surprised.

2.  Hydrate.  For the love of Science, be sure to drink plenty of water.  Even if you don't drink, just walking around place to place and consuming massive amounts of caffeine and sugar will dehydrate you faster than you know, and you may find yourself passing out due to heatstroke waiting in line to see your favorite guest.

3.  Harmony.  Remember we're all in this to have fun.  Don't hate on your fellow fan and they should respond in kind.  You've paid a lot of cash to go there and have fun, but remember it's up to you to choose to have fun and not let anyone bring you down.

Really, hygiene is an issue?  I always thought the smelly nerd was just a joke.  Why is it such a problem?

No seriously.  You have to understand there is such a diverse range of ages and social aptitudes from the extroverted preteen to the basement-dwelling elder hermit.  Many of whom forget the basics like showering and breath mints in their rush to see everything that the Con has to offer.  And we're crammed into small elevators that resemble Guinness World Record Phone booth attempts so you notice any all odors in your vicinity.  Often.  And it's seriously not just the guys.  I must say it's gotten better over the years, but it is always worth mentioning.   It makes for funny stories and question answering like this one.

Hygiene aside, do you feel that nerd culture has evolved to the point that it is just now popular culture?

While a lot of my world is in the nerd culture, until sports and reality shows either go away or cater more to the nerd culture I'd say we're still two separate worlds.  After all, as popular as it's become, statistics still put us well behind shows like Dancing with the Stars or the latest Braves game.

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