Illos From An Abandoned Boneshaker Comics Adaptation Pitch

OK, “abandoned” isn’t the most accurate turn of phrase–maybe “on hold for the time being” is better. Anyway… a while back, my then-agent and I were mulling over possible projects to pursue and one possibility that came up was a proposal to adapt an existing book for the great SF/fantasy publisher Tor Books. Looking over my bookshelf for potential books to adapt, the first thing that occurred to me was Robert Charles Wilson’s Darwinia, which I wrote about a bit here, but what ultimately seemed like the most viable option was a more recent novel: Cherie Priest’s amazing steampunk zombie adventure Boneshaker.

If you know my comics, you’re probably thinking something steampunk would be an odd departure for me, but consider this about Boneshaker: (1) Unlike most steampunk, it’s set in the United States, (2) It’s set during an alternate Civil War era (3) it’s got airships! As I looked to working up some drawings for this, I made a deliberate effort to avoid for the most part visual references that dealt with steampunk and instead  sought out historical imagery from the American Civil War. My approach to this was just to forget about “steampunk” entirely and to approach the project as an alternate history of the Civil War.

Ultimately, what hung me up was the zombie aspect. I did a lot of research and a fair amount of sketchbook doodling, but I never could figure out a way to depict zombies that was sufficiently non-cliché. I started looking at images of mummies and the like, thinking that that’d be a potential route to pursue visually, but the text is pretty specific in its descriptions of the zombies and I decided that approach would diverge too far from the base material.

Anyway… as I said, this is more “on hold” at the moment than truly abandoned. If some visual zombie inspiration strikes me, I’ll for sure jump back on this and maybe work up a full proposal. Tor was nice enough to send me a copy of Stephen Hunt’s The Court Of The Air, which I’m dying to read–although I (foolishly, I guess) started in on The Song of Fire and Ice series and that’s the kind of thing I have a hard time putting down mid-stream.

In the meantime, here’re a few images just for fun: two of the airships from the book plus a sketch of the book’s main character, Briar Wilkes.


2 pings

  1. Rich Zellich says:

    It looks like something Miyazaki would do. Maybe you should re-pitch it as an animated movie, instead of a comic book (or both, with the comic as a tie-in to the movie).

  2. Ben says:

    @Rich – Any comment on my work that references Miyazaki I’ll take as a compliment!

  1. This many things make a post : Cherie Priest says:

    […] last cool thing that came across my desk today – Illos From An Abandoned Boneshaker Comics Adaptation Pitch by Ben Towle. I’m always tickled to see how other people imagine my world and my characters, […]

  2. Ben Towle gives steampunk a fresh twist | Robot 6 @ Comic Book Resources – Covering Comic Book News and Entertainment says:

    […] Towle has posted some sketches on his blog of a work that is not so much in progress as on hold: A graphic novel adaptation of Cherie Priest’s steampunk zombie novel Boneshaker. Towle has an interesting perspective: As I looked to working up some drawings for this, I made a […]

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