Boilerhead - Graphic Novel Idea

  • Hi, I want to share you this sample of an idea that I've started brewing up recently.
    The graphic novel that I'm planning to make is a steampunk-themed adventure that's thought-provoking and personal.

    It's about a young man/outsider nicknamed 'Boilerhead' with a steam-powered head due to being born without it. But being orphaned very early, his head was kept like as it was with a baby face appearance and his boiler that was connected has to maintain constantly or else he'll die out with it. His mind is stuck like it has been and his view and communication was somehow immature and naïve to those around him. His only friend that he had was a doll that he found one day in an orphanage, and dedicate his after hours trying to bring it to life through clockwork and steam. By the time he grew up, he found a permanent occupation putting out dangerous fires daily, because the city he grew up has been hit by major fires caused by unknown circumstances everyday and had to be rebuilt from the ground up every time. This made virtually all the citizens to live below ground, making everyone live in fear and isolation.
    All in all, his daily routine kept reminding him that he'll live a fragile life in a fragile world. Yet in his human heart, he felt a yearning for something that's eternal and meaningful.

    So the sample you'll see below is a straight-through introduction of the character, but this is just a style exploration test. I haven't figure out a clear plot yet at the moment, including the theme and message. But I'll try and see if I can expand it further.

    If you have suggestions or have something to say about it, please let me know in the comments section. I'll take any feedback that's helpful.


  • SVS OG

    @2mk wow... this is really dark. I have a question. Does he have a brain or does the boiler thingy function as one?

  • This sounds so interesting... how does he move around with the boiler-thing?? Does he have a cart like some people have for their oxygen tanks? Does he have a brain in his mechanical head or is he a machine? Do continue this story! :smiling_face_with_open_mouth:

  • @nyrrylcadiz Good question. His head has gears and pistons inside driven by the boiler that was connected. So if one of it starts to break down, he'll manage to replace it with the spare parts that he found from the broken devices that he took from the destroyed sites. But in the end, he have no idea how to improve himself every time he fix his head. Also, I'm a bit surprised that you said it's dark. I was thinking about adding something light in the later part of the whole plot, but that's a consideration for now. Thanks for replying!

  • This is an interesting concept, especially visually. My suggestion is before you move any further with the concept/visuals/adding parts. Figure out the theme and message you’re trying to say with this story because more often than not I’ve found a lot of steam punk (or futuristic sci fi ideas) have a theme and story that can be conveyed without using steam punk as a means to do so, so it makes me wonder what is the point of making it steam punk? Im working on developing a star punk comic idea and I’ve had to do a lot of this kind of thinking. I had to throw out a lot of fun ideas unfortunately 😿 but in the end the overall whole story benefits.

  • @aleksey I see what you mean. For me, the steampunk setting represents the fragility of the character's life and any machinery can break down easily if no-one around have taken care of it.
    I see Boilerhead as a reflection of my personal situation, so I don't want to give up on this core idea as I'm trying to figure out the overall theme in the plot about him going on a journey to improve himself. Thanks for the kind suggestion!

  • @2mk that actually sounds like it works really well.

  • Fun, I can't wait to see more.

  • Thanks for the comments!

    So what I'm going to plan next is to do some digital coloured work with each different character in a statement prior to the plot, starting with our hero 'Boilerhead'.
    Here, I've done some quick thumbnails of him going on his daily duty rescuing a young victim from the ashes of the burnt buildings.

    Stay tuned for the finished result!

  • Alright! I've done one piece here and feeling very satisfied with the result.

    So the background behind this is that every morning, the town would get a major part of a fire in a certain area and a group of mass extinguishers known as 'The Douse Angels' plugged their long hoses into one of many major hydrants that were erected recently and rocket upwards with their steam-powered jetpacks into the preferable height for them to eject their water down to put out the flames below. As for Boilerhead, he was given the duty to put out the fires on ground level due to having a life-sustaining boiler strapped onto his thin back. He first up on his thick leather coat and put his air mask onto his head just like everyone in his team. The air masks are important for them because the fires are not the ones they knew what it was, but rather very toxic, destroyed all strong materials easily, and spread much quicker than regular ones before.

    The whole cycle of destruction and rebuilding of the town started shortly before Boilerhead was born and nobody knows why it all happened during that time and how the flames got there daily other than anywhere else. It might be mysterious, but to Boilerhead, it's like a living hell in a challenging inferno.


    Keep an eye out for more!

  • Here's another one with another character.

    From one of the many underground dwellings lived an enthusiastic girl named Phoebe. When she's goes out everyday, as the fires are not around and structures are newly built, she searches for the people and places that she finds very heartful and records down on her notebook down to every detail from the clothes that they wore to the number of windows that were attached in each building. And by every time an inferno have been put out, she gets out with her bag and picks up the pieces of burnt materials and the bits of cloth that are left in the rubble. She then brings down to her small workshop which was the deepest room in her dwelling, Based on what she had on her notebook, she shaves off the pieces into miniscule parts to be made into a doll sized version of the building that was once stood before with the exact parts. Then she fashioned each patch of cloth into small clothing for the dolls that she hand-made with the leftover pieces and made them look like those who are lost in the hazardous fire, as if she memorialized them.
    For most of her life, she felt delirious of the disaster that happen constantly above. She couldn't remember a time before the constant fires started in her hometown, only she remembered seeing an innocent face of one of her parents as the fire consumed all of their property above, forcing poor Phoebe and her brother to move down in the smouldering grounds below. From there, they sought sanctuary in a crowded orphanage with the atmosphere that was dreadful as the tragedy above. With little light in the discreet space, she felt that all the living are going to be died out, never to recover completely. And with that, she decided to dedicate her entire life to preserve the memory of the things above, starting with the parent in the from of a carved doll with the wood that she brought down during the devastation. But after the young Phoebe left the doll in the dorm unfinished, she come back finding it missing. Could be that somebody here have an interest on her craft and took it as something rarely precious? She'll never knew the mysterious outcome shortly after that.
    When she and her brother grew older, they we're adopted by a kindly old person who have recognized her talent as an artist, and took them to the only place where there's more light and space than any other around below. As they moved in, she spotted a vast space filled with gas lights that are as bright as the sunlight above, and knew immediately that it was the perfect spot for her work to be put inside for safekeeping. So ever since, she made every single doll and building to be put in a special room that was above her workspace with an arrangement that was like a new miniature place, a place that she is longing for, a dreamful utopia that could be last forever.


    More in the coming days!

  • Here's yet another one.


    Somewhere close to where Phoebe's working, a nihilistic man named Stefan, who was her brother, came up above the windowless brick tower and into a compact greenhouse full of plants and vegetables, left from the fiery grounds below. The glass dome of the greenhouse was built in the fresh air above the thick smog of the daily inferno to keep and maintain the greenery inside for longer provisions of the inhabitants in case of emergency. To Stefan, this was his only comfort zone due to being one of the Douse Angels during day shifts for most of his time. One time he almost burnt his face during a rescue mission in a hot swirling blaze, almost knocking off his mask in an exposure of the trailing heat. Since then, he questioned about his oppressive duty and the way the world around him works. Although he was aware that the people of this fragile town will not survive for another generation due the low ration and limited scapes as a result of the fires, he felt that he didn't even care of everyone in terms of despair. He would also questioned his sister's work of preservation, thinking instead that life is just nothing but survival.
    Deciding to calm this thoughts, he would usually go straight up to the dome; out through one of the glass panes and sat on the edge to take a breath of fresh air, thinking of escaping alone. Sometimes, he would wear his uniform that he made for himself (to feel trustworthy and independent) and tinkering with a gun to make it all purpose with every part that he found from his guardian's workshop, just to protect himself from any situation.
    As he sits down and looking out beyond the tall rigid mountains surrounding the town full of inescapable inhabitants, he wonders if he can find his own destiny once he was able to get of the crumbling trapped environment.

    I'll do one more later on!

  • Finally! Done this last piece from now onwards.


    From the deepest chamber of Phoebe and Stefan's dwelling, an old lady by the name of Ada is trying to finish off her lifelong work on the train-cum-rocket, even though she got recurring blow-ups in some parts. She could barely remember a time when her town was starting to adapt steam technology rapidly.
    At that time, her former husband became part of a small group of inventors who are figuring it out a more efficient way to travel outside their known borders due to their town is surrounded by tall granite mountains that seemed impossible to climb. However, someone (who would later be Ada's husband) came up with a rocket that will accelerate on rail before lifting off by an upward ramp. But as they started off building it, a series of deadly fires starting consume the town, putting the whole plan at risk.
    Knowing the ground above is not safe for their rocket, they decided to built the whole thing underground in the deepest place possible for secrecy from those who are trying to escape the inferno. The chamber that they made is only accessible by lift close to the windowless brick tower, and they have to bring their parts in from the most discreet places. But as the project continues on, numbers of those who are working have been lost to the flames including Ada's much-loved husband, who was the last to be succumbed by the flames.
    Left as a widow, Ada decided to continue the work of her husband's dedicated project, using the tools and materials that are left in the chamber. She then adopted two siblings, seeing that one of them have a skill of mending and crafting.
    But as time went on, she became more worried that resources and provisions above are running out and humankind around are dwindling in smaller numbers due to the deadly recurring flames. She felt that time was on her side and the rocket was their only hope to save all of those who are left in the inferno, trapped in their miserable underground dwellings.

    That's all there's to it! I hope next time I'll do some more development work. See ya!

  • SVS OG

    I’m really interested with your story but I always wonder how the your flames kept on burning. Won’t at some point the flames run out of fuel or anything combustible to burn and they’d all die down?

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