Dieselpunk + Steampunk Culture

So since I plan to run a Dieselpunk community I've been quite busy trying to get a handle on what it means exactly to be a Dieselpunk.  Now before you respond, keep reading.  Yes I saw the other two threads that discuss this, but I'm taking it a different direction.

What is Dieselpunk that Pulp Noir is not?

One can easily see that "Sin City" both the comic and the movie, is Pulp Noir.  But is it also Dieselpunk?  One of my friends said no it wasn't, I asked why.  He said it was lacking fantastical elements like sentient robots or mad scientists.  I countered with Dick Tracy, other than the two-way radio watch it's not much different than Sin City.  So is the two-way radio watch the only thing that would make Dick Tracy Dieselpunk?   What about before Dieselpunk was coined?  It was pulp, it was one of the influences for noir.  So it's probably Pulp Noir.

What about Sky Captain?  Beyond a doubt an icon of Dieselpunk.  And yet,  It's film noir.  It's a pulp style hero, it's Pulp Noir.  

SF Weekly journalist Matt Smith used the term Pulp Noir to describe the act of "Sprinting to the crime scene, skidding on your heels, and yelling at everyone and nobody in particular: 'Who's in charge here?'"  To me, that attitude is right at home in Dieselpunk.

Another Observation, most of my friends who identify as being dieselpunk dislike the term and feel it's forced, or gives too much credit to steampunk or cyberpunk.

Ever see Reign of Death?  (movie poster here: http://www.bleedingcool.com/2009/09/06/reign-of-death-the-noel-clar... )  Admittedly, I have not seen it, but see that robot back there?  This is being described as Pulp Noir.

So I present the question.  Aren't we really just fans of Pulp Noir?  How is it different than Dieselpunk?

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I don't see any real difference between Pulp Noir and Dieselpunk. If you're one of the few who follows my blog you'll see that I have a rather simple standard for something to be "dieselpunk." At a minimum it must be contemporary in origin (which leaves out the fiction, music and media, no matter how wonderful it was and how we love it, that was created then) and having a sense of decodence (being defined as having a feel or sense from the diesel era if not necessarily placed during that time). If it has, at a minimum those two elements then, imho, it's dieselpunk.
Define "Pulp Noir" and we can compare/contrast. I'm unfamiliar with the term.
My assumption was that he meant modern writings in the noir style. I don't want to come across as trying to speak for Shaunathan though.
I see dieselpunk as being an overarching term that encompasses a lot of retrofuturist styles based around the diesel era, pulp noir being one of them.
Thanks for the responses everyone. (and look! I have an avatar now!) Thanks for helping out Larry, As for myself, to understand my thoughts on Dieselpunk, you need to understand how I perceive Steampunk:

With Steampunk, what I did in my head was condense the time period that contained what I thought to be the genre. I look at this now as the sum of what happened. Weather in the real world, or in art, writings, music, invention, etc. I then deem that all possible, even the fiction. We then acknowledge the time gap between then and now. We then ask ourselves how we would contribute in that world with the experiences and knowledge we've gained as humans in that time. Basically, I try to approach it in the same way people in the 1500's approached the Renaissance of classic art and science. To sum up, I treat it exactly the way the last time this happened in human history. Acknowledge what has happened and put your own spin on it.

In the mind of Da Vinci for example, although he held high the art he held in high regard, it wasn't on a pedestal so high as to not be counted with works he and his colleagues were making. In his mind it was the continuance of those works, rather than a derivative.

Same thing in my mind for Dieselpunk and Steampunk. I consider it a continuance, rather than a derivative.

So now back to the question Tome had. Pulp Noir is a compound term with a compound definition, so let me explain how I see it. You have Pulp. Science Fiction, mostly in comic book form, sold for a dime at the news stand. And you have Noir, Mostly defined by Film Noir. So we have two separate movements one in paper, one in film. In some ways, Film Noir and Pulp are doing the same thing, They have fantastical stories that test human mettle in either the present (1930's and 40's) or the perceived future. To me Dieselpunk is the culmination of these two movements. So they combined, and here we are.

So to sum up, I feel Pulp Noir is Dieselpunk. Dieselpulp feels to limiting, and I agree with my friends I think that Dieselpunk isn't giving the credit to the aesthetic we wish to continue. Not emulate, not lament the loss of, but continue.
I've always found the term "pulp" to be a misnomer. "Pulp" novels encompassed every genre of writing, from romance and biography to action and adventure. The thing that links them is their printing stock. Granted, I understand what you mean by "pulp" adventure because we've tossed the term around so much, but it's a bad habit I'm trying to kick. It would be like describing '70s and '80s fiction as "paperback."

Let's table that for a second though, because it's not really my point.

The definition of a pulp adventure would be an "action driven story based in reality with fantastical elements where a human protagonist uses logic/science rather than supernatural powers to defeat the antagonist." The heroes of pulp adventure typically excel in one or more areas of human development to the contrast of their contemporaries. For example, Doc Savage was an Olympic grade athlete and world class scientist; Batman was "the world's greatest detective," and Tarzan was strong and cunning enough to be "the master of beasts."

The definition of noir is still muddy as critics attempt to shoehorn their own favorites into the genre, but it's generally known as a genre of crime fiction featuring tough, cynical characters and bleak settings. The hero of a noir story uses an above average amount of determination and fortitude in the face of danger to conquer his antagonists, moreso than any other quality.

You combine these, and you have pulp noir.

What I'm seeing however is a lack of artistic expression outside the genre of literature. What does pulp noir music sound like? What does pulp noir sculpture look like? What would a pulp noir building look like?

Like Larry mentioned earlier, dieselpunk is inspired by the same roots as pulp noir, but it's a contemporary expression of those roots. It meshes something from today with something from the past.

While you peruse the Dieselpunks, you'll see that 95% of our content is submitted as inspiration for developing dieselpunk art, not as an expression of what we think dieselpunk art is.
Hey Piechur. How's life?
Interesting. I like how you defined both Pulp and Noir and would agree with both. I think only in the last part of your statement where I still have a difference.

|"Like Larry mentioned earlier, dieselpunk is inspired by the same roots as pulp noir, but it's a |contemporary expression of those roots. It meshes something from today with something from the past.
|While you peruse the Dieselpunks, you'll see that 95% of our content is submitted as inspiration for |developing dieselpunk art, not as an expression of what we think dieselpunk art is."

Where you were talking about Dieselpunk as a contemporary expression of these roots, I would describe it more as a continuance of the original expression, by a new generation. Rather than something separate, with my Renaissance example I tried to show it's one animal, just continuing to define itself. For example, one can still make a cubist or expressionist painting without being "one of the masters". If your painting follows the aesthetic then it is an expression of that art style. Same thing here. If you make a piece of Film Noir whether you make it in 1938 or 2008 it is still Film Noir.

Now as for this portion:
|"What I'm seeing however is a lack of artistic expression outside the genre of literature. What does |pulp |noir music sound like? What does pulp noir sculpture look like? What would a pulp noir building |look like?"

I find the question a little constrictive as it doesn't hold true for known genres which are not as deputed as Dieselpunk. For example, put Film Noir to the test:

Q: What does Film Noir music sound like?
A: Jazz, Swing, Classical, Lounge. All of these are correct and can be found in Film Noir, Do we need to call them "Film Noir Music" to lend legitimacy to Film Noir? I don't believe so.

Q: What does Film Noir sculpture look like?
A: From the films i've seen it appears to be Classical and Art Deco. Does this mean that Classical and Art Deco sculpture is Film Noir? No.

Q:What would a Film Noir building look like?
A: Typically it is Industrial Gothic, Art Deco, Constructionalist, Post Constructionalist, or other building design of the time. Does this mean these are "Film Noir Buildings?" I think you see my point.

A genre like Film Noir, and I'd argue Pulp Noir and Dieselpunk are not defining their parts, they are in fact defined BY their parts.

As for your finial statement:
|"While you peruse the Dieselpunks, you'll see that 95% of our content is submitted as inspiration for |developing dieselpunk art, not as an expression of what we think dieselpunk art is."

I'd wonder if that's not just a lack of people posting material rather than a lack of material. Granted I'm new to the forum, and for the purposes of this post, I'll admit I'm lazy and I haven't researched every thread on dieselpunks.org, but have they posted these items?




Granted this is all anecdotal evidence, but I guess my point is I'm not having trouble finding things I'd consider Dieselpunk on the internet.

But then this whole thing is a huge sidebar, I'm trying to make a case that perhaps Dieselpunk has had a name for some time and perhaps it's Pulp Noir.
FYI the flying fortress is awesome! I just enjoyed reading through it up till there was a year long break.
I totally agree with you about continuing an established form of art versus creating a new form of art.

The main defining part of dieselpunk is that it blends something new with the aesthetic of the late '20s, '30s, 40s, or very early '50s.

If I paint a traditional impressionist piece of a traditional late Victorian setting or theme using traditional techniques, then that's an impressionist painting. If I painted an impressionist piece Lady Gaga on the computer using Photoshop and printed it on paper, that would be post-modern and a little Steampunk. The "style" would still be impressionist, but the result would be something more.

This leads to the question, can't something be both "pulp noir" and "dieselpunk?" I say yes! There's a lot of crossover as both film noir and books printed in the pulp style were popular during what we consider to be the "diesel" era. However, dieselpunk does not stop at pulp or noir, and that's why I consider it to be different.

To address the videos you've listed above:

Raygun Commercial

I'd say that the commercial is dieselpunk because it uses modern cinematic techniques to tell a story about something inspired by 1940's sci-fi, but the raygun itself isn't necessarily dieselpunk. It's 1940's sci-fi like you were alluding to. Unless it uses modern tech to create something at least a little different than its original pulp inspiration, it doesn't make it into the "dieselpunk" category for me.

Dieselpunk Stereophonic Amplifier

Definitely dieselpunk. It is a combination of modern technology with 1930's aesthetics. I don't see what's "pulp" or "noir" about it, so this is a good example of the difference between pulp noir and dieselpunk.

Post Apocalyptic Dieselpunk Gun, modded Nerf Maverick

As much as I loathe Nerf Maverick mods, I would have to say that parts of this mod might fit into what I consider steampunk, but it's mostly inspired by cyberpunk. To address the steampunk part (the "screws" and heavy cast metal look), it combines modern technology (the functioning nerf gun) with the aesthetics of late Victorian industrial products.

Based on what I feel defines "dieselpunk" as a genre of post-modern art, there is definitely a lack of dieselpunk artwork in contrast to real world historical inspiration for dieselpunk. Hence, the lack of it on this website. It's still growing as a genre, so I expect more to be discovered as people discover it and the community to share it with.
Excellent. I'm just surprised to see you join. You seemed to have a lot of venom for us last year.
To my mind pulp is just a name for the often badly written fiction from the old days, regardless of the genre it was in. Dieselpunk to me would be the same kind of retrofuturism as steampunk, but set in the 30´s instead of the Victorian age. There´s plenty of pulp stories which have no elements of science or technology, such as many crime stories. Noir is just crime fiction with a certain style. Pulp would as mentioned refer to romance, crime, science fiction, fantasy and such from back then. Dieselpunk would just refer to the science fiction.

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