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.
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
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: basementgarden.uk
Animation: 'That night the dreams came...'
Friday, 8 March 2019
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
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…
Saturday, 8 December 2018
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.