The sub-genre of modern science fiction known as steampunk has exploded in popularity over the past few decades. Heavily influenced by the works of great authors like Jules Verne and H.G. Wells, steampunk is often set in an alternate version of the Victorian-era, or even the Wild, Wild West, featuring tales of characters and steam-powered machinery like airships, and even analog computers – all powered by steam. Along with popular works of literary fiction, movies and TV series have embraced this increasingly popular form of sci-fi. As it turns out, even web series have become part of the steampunk canon. One such series, now entering its third season, is THE ADVENTURES OF THE LEAGUE OF S.T.E.A.M.

The show, which debuted in 2009, has its first two seasons available on Youtube, Blip.TV and its official web site. As of October 1st, the series has successfully reached its funding goal of $25,000. via Kickstarter. In fact, as of October 3rd, the campaign has surpassed its initial goal, and the third season has been fully funded at a grand total of $30,842. As a result, viewers can expect not only more exciting adventures from the League, but also two big events that will take place during the new season: a musical episode, and an episode featuring a specially constructed rock monster!

THE ADVENTURES OF THE LEAGUE OF S.T.E.A.M. follows the adventures of a group of extraordinary individuals who could collectively be described as the steampunk equivalent of GHOSTBUSTERS: inventor Crackitus Potts (Nick Baumann), the League’s co-founder who serves as not only a ghost hunter, but also as an expert in non-lethal weaponry. Potts welcomes the newest member of this elite organization, supernatural historian and ghost expert Albert Able, Esq. (played by series executive producer Trip Hope). The group also features Coyote (Glenn Freund), the co-founder of W.A.T.C.H. (Worldwide Alliance For The Tracking Of Creatures and Haunts), in addition to being its resident craftsman and ‘charlatan medic’.

Rounding out the ensemble cast is Sheyne Fleischer as Ellie Copperbottom, who co-founded W.A.T.C.H. with Coyote – and who chooses to help the league from the comforts of home as opposed to alongside them. Robin Blackburn portrays Lady Ameliorette Potts, the group’s tactical specialist who sometimes saves the day for the group, and Andrew Fogel plays Baron Von Fogel, the League’s resident exterminator of the undead. Together, they find themselves up against the most vicious monsters and ghouls in the world. While the first season consisted of short, self-contained stories, the second season featured a narrative arc where the League found themselves pitted against a mysterious villain who sought to destroy the group, and to prevent them from accomplishing their mission of protecting the world from its most feared paranormal adversaries.

THE LEAGUE OF S.T.E.A.M. was co-created by several members of the group, including Fogel and Baumann. As Hope explains, its production was a true collaborative effort between the group – a talented core of artists, prop and costume designers and performers. “All the members of The League are the creators and production team behind the show. The original team came out of a huge costuming event called Labyrinth of Jareth where Nick, Andrew, Robin and others dressed up as steampunk ghost-busters and ghosts. They were a huge hit at the party and both a web series and live show organically grew out of requests to see more,” says Hope.

While the first season’s cast was comprised mainly of League members and their friends, the second season of THE ADVENTURES OF THE LEAGUE OF S.T.E.A.M. featured an impressive roster of guest stars, some of which have already been involved in web series: Doug Jones (from the HELLBOY films, plus the hit TNT series FALLING SKIES, and the comedy web series RESEARCH, previously covered on this blog), Robin Thorsen (from the pioneering gamer web series THE GUILD), plus Grant Imahara (MYTHBUSTERS), and Lisa Foiles (from the popular ‘90s Nickelodeon teen sketch comedy ALL THAT).

Hope says that viewers can expect more guest stars in the third season, along with the other important elements that make THE ADVENTURES OF THE LEAGUE OF S.T.E.A.M. one of the web’s most entertaining and distinctive shows: “More fantastical steampunk monster hunting gadgets, more monsters & bigger monsters, new guest stars, more appearances by friends, fans, and notables within the steampunk community, cool new locations and higher production quality,” he says.

The pre-production phase of THE ADVENTURES OF THE LEAGUE OF S.T.E.A.M. was a team effort, with the show’s characters and storylines developed substantially. “It came up from the stories we tell each other. We have a fairly extensive bible on our characters backstories, as well as some of the adventures they might have gone on,” Freund says.

The show’s overall style, both in terms of its production and storytelling, have evolved considerably over the past two seasons. “The first season was mostly improvised out of an idea for an episode. There were still prop and costume builds, but most of it was ‘fly by the seat of your pants’. In the second season we were much more structured, with written scripts, a scheduled costume and prop build, a shooting schedule, shot lists and new camera equipment. Since the second season was funded by fans, we needed to deliver the highest level of production quality possible,” Hope says.

Just as the visual quality of the show’s production changed in the second season, so did the writing process. In addition to writing the episodes, each member of the League contributed their feedback and ideas for each episode before cameras rolled. Sometimes, though, as Hope explains, the group gets some extra help on some scripts. “We have a web series group within The League that comes up with all the ideas. We pitch show ideas, write scripts and do all the production within our group. However, on a few select scripts we do reach out to writers we know and trust. Sometimes we do ask our fans for input on what topic they’d most like to see in our series.”

Even more, the production process itself became more efficient in the second season, and the visual quality improved with it. “It’s worlds different – from the development of stories in the first season to the second. We are able to keep to a production timeline, and able to get bigger and better locations, as well as improve and upgrade equipment to raise the production quality of the series,” Freund says.

As the show’s co-creators explain, the steampunk aspect of THE ADVENTURES OF THE LEAGUE OF S.T.E.A.M. sets it apart from many web series – both in its portrayal of the genre, and in its production style. “We think steampunk itself makes us unique. As far as we know, we’re the longest running steampunk web series that offers the most impressive production design, gadgets and costuming. We also think we’ve got some of the most impressive practical effects for a web series,” Hope says. It’s also a series that takes a refreshing approach to its storytelling. “We provide a light hearted version of steampunk done with comedy. Unlike most steampunk series, we do an American Old Wild West take on the genre as well,” Freund adds.

Both Hope and Freund hope that with season 3 of THE ADVENTURES OF THE LEAGUE OF S.T.E.A.M, they can continue to bring viewers a quality series that both kids and families can enjoy together. “We ultimately want to inspire and entertain. We hope our crazy inventions and delving into a science fiction world where you can encounter any kind of monster or supernatural creature will excite your imagination. We hope to spread the awesomeness of steampunk and encourage others to explore the community and other steampunk artists out there.” Freund echoes those sentiments. “We want to bring enjoyment to our fans and to show people that steampunk doesn’t need to be serious and that by using your imagination and time you can make wonderful things.”

The show’s Kickstarter page can be found here: