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A fantastical dystopian graphic novel...

The Boy with Nails for Eyes is about a boy living in a dystopian town, who starts to go mad after falling in love with a girl he has not seen.

The town Bobby and his mother live in is a grey cluster of houses trapped against the sea by a half-ring of factories. Over the horizon, a war is raging. Any day now it may sweep over the town and crush it. And Bobby has fallen in love.


It begins at school. One day, in the playground, Bobby is kissed when he is not looking. That evening, he doesn't want his dinner; his heart leaves no room. As soon as his mother releases him, he dashes outside. He has pencil and paper. He is going to draw the girl's portrait. He thinks that to draw the girl will bring her to him.

But the spell fails.

Bobby is heartbroken.

The night, the dreams begin. They come again the next night, and the next.

Bobby begins to sleepwalk. He wakes up out of bed. Days and night smear into each other. Terror begins to seep into him. It rides in on the draught from the windows. It oozes up through the cracks in the floorboards. He thinks he is going mad.

One night, Bobby wakes downstairs. He has opened his father's toolbox, dusty as a coffin, untouched for months now. Bobby watches as he steals some things from the toolbox.

A hammer, and a pair of nails.

The Boy with Nails for Eyes is a dystopian fantasy graphic novel. The story is the first in an intended three-volume series, and was long-listed for the Myriad First Graphic Novel Competition in 2018.

Background & bio

I've been working on The Boy with Nails for Eyes, off and on, for almost a decade and a half.

Several elements in the setting are drawn from my memories of living in Bahrain, where I was born and grew up. I was living there, with my family, during the first Gulf War.

An American military base suddenly there, on the waste ground opposite the school, having not been there in the morning. Waking up to find the rest of the family in my room, my mum holding the gas masks we'd been issued, tape over the windows, my dad stuffing a towel under the door. Playing at a friend's house, not realising I'd forgotten my mask until the siren went off. Huddling with his family in a room, curtains drawn, them holding their masks, me clutching a damp towel.

It was a time with an intense feeling of paranoia. That was something I didn't feel again until the early 2000s, and the declaration of the War on Terror. Once again, living on the edge of war – but this one potentially endless. It was at that time that the idea for The Boy with Nails for Eyes first broke earth. The story feels no less relevant now, as it approaches fruition.

I've been drawing since I was kid, and I learned to read from comics. First the British classics – the Beano, the Dandy. Later the US stuff – Batman was a favourite. The day my dad gave me his copy of Art Spiegelman's Maus to read was the day I first wanted to create a comic book.

Every page of The Boy with Nails for Eyes was a challenge. One page took anything from a few days to several weeks to create. At one point, the entire first draft of the comic disappeared in a burglary. So I started again. Every medium at my disposal has been used, from traditional techniques, through digital, to the completely unconventional (including but not limited to candlewax, rotten wood and sculptures made of clockwork). My ambition was to weave the dream-logic of a fairytale through a brutal, dystopian setting, telling a story about the nature of the self untethered from the world, and that every page would be as finely honed as I could make it.

The campaign

Everyone who pledges to the campaign will have their name printed in every edition of the book.

The Boy with Nails for Eyes is hardback, with 200 full-colour pages. The book is complete and ready to move on to the final stages of production.

About the rewards

Signed bookplates

There are three bookplate designs to choose from – all of them feature artwork which is not seen in the graphic novel.


There are multiple designs to choose from. Pledgers will be given the option of which postcards they want in their set of three.


The Boy with Nails for Eyes began as a ‘motion comic’, a digital comic or graphic novel featuring animation and sound, as well as images. The soundtrack was composed by me, and for the release of the graphic novel I’m composing new music – pledgers at this level will receive a copy of the soundtrack as a digital download.

Art prints (A3, A2, A1)

All art prints are limited edition, signed and numbered. They are printed on high quality art paper, using ink that will retain its colour for over a hundred years. Pledging at this reward level will allow you to chose your print (though as they’re limited edition, this is as long as your choice is still available).


More about Shaun can be found here:

Shaun Gardiner is a part-time artist, writer and graphic novelist. He lives in Orkney with his wife Anna, plus three cats. Born and brought up in the Middle East, he was until recently a self-taught artist (he's now studying for an arts degree). In his day job, he does research for non-profits.

He has had short operas produced in London and Gothenburg, Sweden. In 2015 he received the sonnet prize and second prize overall in the Ware Open Poetry Competition. In 2016 he was short-listed for the Munster Literature Festival Fool For Poetry Chapbook competition. The Boy with Nails for Eyes, his project on Unbound, was long-listed for the Myriad First Graphic Novel competition in 2018.

Currently, as well as working on his graphic novel, he is writing short stories, poetry, plays and a script for a video game. Time is his most precious commodity.

A sneak peek at the interiors:


Sketches for Volume 2: Mary [spoilers]

Wednesday, 19 June 2019

02 mary page009 copy

[Spoilers for volume 2 below. All the events shown will take place early in the story, so they're not major spoilers. I'm not a spoiler-averse person myself, as a rule, so I'm never too fussed - but if you want to read the next volume of The Boy with Nails for Eyes completely fresh, then read no further.]

Recently I've been carrying on with preparations for the next volume of The Boy with Nails…

Behind the Scenes: Procession

Saturday, 1 June 2019

Tbwnfe chp5 p3 3b 1

Hello everyone

It's been a while since I've published an update - so I should start by saying hello to all the new supporters, great to have you here!

As ever, thank you to everyone who's supported the project so far! The very best thing you could do (beyond your much-appreciated pledge) is to show the project to people you think would like it. The more pledges, the sooner the book goes to print…

Today only - download the prologue of The Boy with Nails for Eyes for free!

Saturday, 4 May 2019

The boy with nails for eyes by shaun gardiner prologue page3

It's Free Comic Book Day! To participate, I'm giving away the prologue of The Boy with Nails for Eyes, appropriately enough, free. 

Without further ado, right-click the link below and hit the save option to get your free copy of the Prologue.

Click here to download your copy.

And if you'd like a quick sample before proceeding, here are the first three pages:

Donwload the prologue of The Boy with Nails for Eyes for free on Saturday

Friday, 3 May 2019


So, this is pretty self-explanatory.

Tomorrow is Free Comic Book Day - an annual event that happens on the first Saturday every May. To celebrate this - and the fact that The Boy with Nails for Eyes now has 100 backers! - I'm going to be giving away a digital download of the story's prologue all day tomorrow.

This is one day only, so if you want to make sure you secure your copy, follow…

Planning Volume 2

Wednesday, 10 April 2019

Scan 190309 0002 copy

Hello all

The campaign recently reached 85 backers, just shy of a quarter funded! As ever thank you everyone for your pledges. If you like the project, please consider showing it with a friend, or posting something online – the more people see the book and back it, the sooner it'll be gracing your shelf.

Chief among my activities of late has been preparing animations for a live reading. Another…

New trailer!

Tuesday, 2 April 2019

Hello everyone

For the last few weeks I've been getting to grips with OpenToonz, a new piece of (opensource) animation kit. As part of this, I've updated the trailer for The Boy with Nails for Eyes - and here, without further ado, it is.

This scene will also form part of the live reading - with this done, that's a major step taken towards finishing this part of the project. Other stuff has been…

Animation: 'That night the dreams came...'

Friday, 8 March 2019

Moon planning

Hello everyone

It's been a long time since I've posted any updates here; apologies for that. I haven't been idle, but a lot of the things I've been doing have been technical - coding and such - and hence probably not that interesting, to anyone except me.

Until now that is. One of my dreams is to one day perform a live reading of The Boy with Nails for Eyes, making use of sound effects, music…

Time lapse: Dreams

Wednesday, 6 February 2019

A very quick update this time - this is a time-lapse video showing the development of the colours in Chapter 2 of the story.

This image took some time to plan (there's significance to almost every detail) and then execute. I want to do a longer post about it in the future from planning (I pored over Alphonse Mucha and other art nouveau artists to prepare), through reference (my wife Anna posed…

The Burglary (or the time half my art was stolen)

Sunday, 23 December 2018


Hi everyone

Week four just about over, and the campaign’s hit 55 supporters – thank you everyone who’s pledged to the project, it means more to me than I can say. This will most likely be the last update before 2019 – so happiest of holidays everyone, hope the New Year is a good one.

For this update, I wanted to tell a story, a true one. 

Back around 2006 we – Anna and I – were living in…

The Behemoths

Saturday, 8 December 2018

Behemoths stage by stage 1

Hello all -

Well, two weeks into the campaign and we've exceeded 40 backers - I'm utterly thrilled with how things are going, and of course a huge thank you to everyone who's pledged! There's a ways to go yet, but it's as good a start as I could hope for. As ever, if you want to support the campaign, then one of the best things you can do (beyond pledging of course) is to share the campaign with…

These people are helping to fund The Boy with Nails for Eyes.

Kirsteen Stewart
Kirsteen Stewart
Marit Elise Lyngstad
Linda Jansson-Färm
Alia Gardiner
Ed Scolding
John Perkins
Seana Mallen
Sara Bailey
Magnus Jonason
Clair Le Couteur
Carolina Martins
Philip Doyle
Simon Russell
Wojciech Rogozinski
Par Olsson
GMark Cole
Amy Blackwell
Lili Soh
Alan Sims
Catherine Breslin
Ruth O'Leary
James Beck
Adam Butler
Adam Barber
Jim Eunson
Alex Fitch
Sheena Stromness Books and Prints
Freyja Winter
Kim Jansson
Hugh Pyper
Carol Isaacs
Tom Woodman
Gillian Tait
Alyssa Pearson
Miriam Landor
Brendan Gage
Nate Whitten
Amy Allan
Rich Oswald
Suzie Letts
Anna Letts
Alison Moore
Ben Whitworth
John Ross Scott
Hannah Gilbert
Marta Silva
Sarah Harris
Cynthia Chaddock
Neil Sharp
Claire Hutcheson
Samuel Purcell
Christopher Herdman
Karl Sherratt
Julie Ritch
Yvonne Harcus
Imtiaz Farookhi
Tim Irving
Marcus William Low
Lucy Gibbon
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John Abraham
John Abraham asked:

When is this likely to be shipping?

Shaun Gardiner
Shaun Gardiner replied:

Hi John - ultimately that depends on how quickly the campaign finishes.

The way things are going (which is well, as far as I'm concerned) I expect some time in 2020 or 2021. That said I'm new to this gig, so that's speculation. I'll talk to my editor, see if that's a fair answer, and let you know if I've mislead you.

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