The Boy with Nails for Eyes
By Shaun Gardiner
A fantastical dystopian graphic novel...
Publication date: TBC
Hardback and Signed Bookplate
Hardback, Signed Bookplate and Postcards from Dystopia Set
Sounds of Dystopia Set
Seeing Dystopia Set
Window on Dystopia Set
Door to Dystopia
Frequently Asked Questions
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A young boy living in a grey prison of a town starts to go mad after falling love with someone he hasn't 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
Quick select rewards
Hardback and Signed Bookplate
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.
- 25th November 2020 Exciting News!
Sorry it's been a long time since my last update. I have some great news about The Boy with Nails for Eyes which I'm happy to share.
Last year Lizzie Kaye, who commissioned The Boy with Nails for Eyes at Unbound, set up her own publishing company, Cast Iron Books. Cast Iron specialises in graphic novels, and illustrated and experimental fiction. I'm delighted that Cast Iron Books…24th January 2020 Blimey more sketchbook!
Just a quick update to show you a few thumbnails from my sketchbook. These are all plans for volume 2, so look away now if you don't want to see spoilers.
Mary arrives at the Bunker. These are all graphic pen and chalk, and each layout is about 3 inches on the shortest side.
Searching. I realised that the set of panels on the left lacked variety, so I made some adjustments…12th January 2020 Music!
First off, a very happy new year everyone. (Is it too late to say that? Also, is it permissible to wish that, given the start the year's had. Ah well...)
I want to share what I've been up to for The Boy with Nails for Eyes. It's been a long time since I've written an update – my fault – and much has been happening in the background.
I've been working…5th November 2019 Thought Bubble
This week it's Thought Bubble.
(If you didn't know, Thought Bubble is a comic convention. If you did know, you can skip the foregoing sentence.)
I'll be jetting (read: boat-and-training) down to Harrogate to take part - if you're attending, I'll be there on the Saturday. I used to live in Yorkshire, I'm looking forward to seeing the place again.
So - most likely I'll be at the…30th October 2019 Boo! Halloween discount and sketchbook update
First things first, there's a promo going on at Unbound today and tomorrow - there's 20% off all pledges to Unbound's 'Halloween-y' books, including The Boy with Nails for Eyes.
If you're thinking of upgrading your pledge, now's a perfect time to do it - or if there's someone you know who you think would be interested in the project, let them know that now's the time, if they…5th August 2019 Illustrating 'Actaeon'
One problem I have is that I rarely have a chance to post artwork here. This is for two reasons. First, I've been very busy with other things - writing, mainly - and haven't been able to do much art lately. Second, the artwork for The Boy with Nails for Eyes is basically finished, and so there's little process going on to share, aside from prep for the next volume - and sharing that has already been…28th July 2019 Interview about The Boy with Nails for Eyes on Pipe Dream Comics
Just a quick update to let you know there's an interview with me on Pipedream Comics about The Boy with Nails for Eyes. I discuss influences, inspirations for the story, some favourite artists and how the project found a home at Unbound.
Here's how they describe the book:
A surreal and dream like book that mixes the nightmarish world of Guillermo Del Toro with…19th June 2019 Sketches for Volume 2: Mary [spoilers]
[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…1st June 2019 Behind the Scenes: Procession
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…4th May 2019 Today only - download the prologue of The Boy with Nails for Eyes for free!
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.
And if you'd like a quick sample before proceeding, here are the first three pages:…3rd May 2019 Donwload the prologue of The Boy with Nails for Eyes for free on Saturday
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…10th April 2019 Planning Volume 2
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…2nd April 2019 New trailer!
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…8th March 2019 Animation: 'That night the dreams came...'
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…6th February 2019 Time lapse: Dreams
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…23rd December 2018 The Burglary (or the time half my art was stolen)
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…8th December 2018 The Behemoths
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 have reserved their exclusive reward for The Boy with Nails for Eyes.
Sean De Souza
Rev. Karen Heavey