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A Portait of Lestrade

Daniel Cortes just sent me this new portrait depicting Inspector Lestrade. In our story Lestrade is not a bumbling idiot, but he's no match for Holmes either. Still, Holmes likes Lestrade and relays the following to Watson:
“We must give him some credit, Watson; he is meticulous in his pursuit of trivial facts, and though he very seldom draws correct conclusions in any save the most childishly straightforward cases, at least he saves us the trouble of having to gather every scrap of trivia for ourselves. Occasionally he has stumbled upon some vital shred of information, to which he himself attributed little or no importance, but which served to unlock an entire case for me. Yes, our dear Lestrade has his uses now and again.”
Steampunk Holmes: Legacy of the Nautilus by P.C. Martin


Mycroft Holmes Kicking Butt!

"Miss Holmes' appearance was that of a great biped panther, for her black fur train was thrown about her shoulders, and with her face ensconced in the same half-mask that had enveloped her in our last encounter with enemies, she was emptying the charges from two Moriarty-727 pistols into a line of armed roughs, which fast dispersed as some of their number collapsed. "

Steampunk Holmes: Legacy of the Nautilus by P.C. Martin


Watson Tests His Weaponized Mechanical Arm

"A certain underground tunnel, abandoned some time previously, following the inauguration of a more modern line, located at some little distance from Baker Street, at once struck me as an ideal place in which to test dangerous explosive devices, being near enough to a noisy underground construction site as to render the sounds of my practice runs quite indistinguishable from the rumbling cacophony of the latter."

-Steampunk Holmes: Legacy of the Nautilus by P.C. Martin


Sherlock Holmes meets Captain Nemo

As we pick up the pace in order to complete the art work for Steampunk Holmes: Legacy of the Nautilus, Daniel completes another illustration for the book. In this scene, written by P.C. Martin, Sherlock Holmes, disguised as a surly sea captain, meets with his antagonist Captain Nemo Jr. at a shady tavern called the Stinking Wharf.


The Black Widow Chases an Air Ship!

Although the blog has been a little quiet, we haven't been twiddling our thumbs.  The final draft of the manuscript is almost finished - just need to go over it with a couple of Steampunk and Sherlockian editors! Once the manuscript is completed the text-only version of "Steampunk Holmes: Legacy of the Nautilus" novella will be published to and B&N as a traditional eBook (sans images) just in time for the Holidays.

The art work for the interactive iPad edition is still in full swing. Above is a completed illustration from one of the final scenes of the book where Holmes and Watson, aboard the Black Widow, chase an Airship with gatling gun blazing.  Very cool and I can't wait for people to see it animated!

We are also planing the campaign and hope to launch that in early December - hopefully people will see how great this project is and help support the final development of the iPad version.   

Please help us spread the word to raise awareness of the project. We are working hard to bring you a class 'A' adaptation that should please Steampunkers and not a few Sherlock Holmes fans.


Gerald Price is our Narrator of Steampunk Holmes

I'm very excited to announce that Noble Beast has contracted Gerald Price to narrate Steampunk Holmes: Legacy of the Nautilus! Although I was originally looking for a younger sounding narrator, Gerald Price's audition was so good I suddenly found myself unable to decide.

After a long period of consideration I finally gave up and decided to do two different audio performances; a straight narrative by Gerald Price, as well as a dramatization by a set of younger sounding voice actors. Gerald Price's narrative will ship with the product, and the dramatization will be an optional download for readers. Of course this increases the expense of production, but the truth is not everyone likes a straight narrative and not everyone likes a dramatization, so why not give readers both? This is digital after all; we don't have to settle for one approach when both are great!

I'll have more to say about the cast of voice actors I'm hiring for the audio dramatization later, but for now take a minute to listen to Gerald Price's reading of the first couple of pages of Steampunk Holmes: Legacy of the Nautilus and enjoy his deep, English accent, the wonderful rhythm of his reading, and the very slight but effective change of voices from narrator to character.

Intro Steampunk Holmes: Legacy of the Nautilus by Noble Beast, LLC


Good-bye, Steve Jobs

Now I know why my mother cried when Elvis died.  If it wasn't for Steve Jobs my company Noble Beast would not exist and the book app, Steampunk Holmes: Legacy of the Nautilus would never have been conceived and my life would have been less than it is today.  Because of you, Steve Jobs, I have found passion in the creation of art for the sake of art.  Thank you for everything ....

Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life. Don't be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people's thinking. Don't let the noise of others' opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.   
-- Steve Jobs


Steampunk Holmes: A Preview of the Trailer

It's been a while since our last post but we've been very busy preparing the trailer for Steampunk Holmes: Legacey of the Nautilus. The trailer will help to promote the project when it's launched on and to give people a little glimpse of what is to come.

We have a long way to go on this project. The trailer will take a couple more weeks at least, and then we will launch the project, and at the same time we are working on the story, a large number of illustrations, animations, and coding the software for the iPad. I'm focused on a release in early Q2 of 2012.

In the mean time we will continue to share our adventures and art with you on this blog. Today we are sharing the first few seconds of what we hope will be a killer trailer. The trailer is being done by Daniel Cortes - the illustrator for the project. Enjoy and stay tuned!


Steampunk Holmes: The Black Widow in Action

I've spoken a couple times about the Black Widow, Sherlock Holmes' super-chopper, in our story Steampunk Holmes: Legend of the Nautilus.

I announced the intent to use Mikky's design and to even manufacture the bike for purchase back in July and then about the addition of the side car and the Gatling Gun in August - the Gatling Gun will not be included in the real bike we are going to manufacture.

Now I get to show Holmes and Watson riding the Black Widow in a big shoot out toward the end of the story. Holmes is driving and Watson is shooting the Gatling Gun. Daniel has outdone himself on this one!

I won't tell you what he is shooting at just yet, but I have included a excerpt from earlier in the story about the Black Widow and Watson's apprehension riding in the side car. Here is the excerpt written by P.C. Martin - Enjoy!
“No; a telegram from my sister Mycroft,” replied Holmes, “which promises to be of exceptional interest. Mycroft never sends for me except in cases of the most baffling nature, and I thought you might rather accompany me.”
“Certainly I would,” cried I, leaping from my pillow and splashing my face from the basin in the corner.
“Very well, then; have some coffee before we go. I'll get my coat and start up the Widow.”
I winced at the prospect. Holmes' enormous motorized bicycle, the Black Widow, was his pet hobby, and so enamored was he with its power and terrific capability for speed, he could not keep his enjoyment of the vehicle to himself. As I had shown great unwillingness to ride pillion on the monstrous machine, Holmes had contrived a marvelous side-car in order that I might share in the excitement of the Widow's adventurous sallies in what he called perfect safety. I had been flattered by this excessive kindness on my friend's part, until about ten seconds had elapsed on my first ride in the Widow's side-car.
In defense of my own courage, I have been shot at and stabbed, seen my own arm torn from my body, and witnessed the wanton butchering of my companions-in-arms upon the hostile battlefields of India and Afghanistan, and yet none of those terrors compare in my estimation with that of driving through London with Holmes at the helm. After that momentous and traumatizing inaugural ride, my mistrust of the vehicle had grown to a positive terror—less for the vehicle's sake than for my friend's tempestuous and unbelievably reckless driving skills.
As you can see P.C. Martin is an excellent writer and we are all working hard to match plot, to story, to art. I'm really excited about the whole project!


Steampunk Holmes: The Nautilus

It took two weeks of trial and error but Daniel Cortes and I are proud to present the final design of the Nautilus for Steampunk Holmes: Legacy of the Nautilus project. I want to thank Daniel for his patience and for re-conceptulizing the Nautilus many times until we got it just right.

As we work on this project I'm getting a very good idea of what it must be like to produce and direct a movie. You have an idea that you share with talented people, and they work their butts off to make it tangible. I imagine that this must require as much give-and-take as Daniel and I have done when working on characters, scenes, and gadgets. The same kind of back-and-forth I have with P.C. Martin about the story. Truly wonderful things are not built in a vacuum; they must be the result of passionate collaboration among peers.

To the left you see the final design for the Nautilus. This is a mechanical drawing that will be featured in the book along with Doctor Watson's Arm, the Black Widow, and other gadgets yet to be announced.

The Nautilus design went through many variations as we experimented with one idea after another. We have, after all, very big shoes to fill. If you look at the design of the Nautilus by Disney in "20,000 Leagues Under the Sea", a steampunk masterpiece, or the versions done by other adaptations such as "League of Extraordinary Gentlemen" or many of the animated takes on the story, you'll soon agree that the design must rise to meet the merits of the story. We knew we had to get it right, and I think we did. Click on the image to above and judge for yourself.

The Nautilus sinks many ships in the original story by harpooning them to create a great hole in the hull that fills and sinks the ship. We needed a big-ass pointy thing on the front and Daniel gave us one. I also wanted to make the ship look somewhat organic, but not like a fish. Look at the curves and I think you'll agree that Daniel delivered on that request as well. I wanted the Nautilus to reflect Nemo's Indian heritage - Something Daniel took to heart, adding beautiful India-like decorative designs. Finally, I wanted the Nautilus to be HUGE! Check out the "crew" label next to the ship.


Steampunk Holmes Technology: The Black Widow's Gatling Gun

As I wrote in the blog entry "Steampunk Holmes Technology: Mechanical Drawings" one of the Steampunk Holmes book enhancements is to provide more information about the various gadgets that Holmes, Watson and others use or encounter through out the story. Above is the mechanical-like drawing of the Black Widow which runs on a H2O2 steam engine and sports a Gatling gun under the hood of the side car.

I did a little research on the design of steam engines and ended up combining two designs available at the time into one. The Black Widow uses a two cylinder (or compound) engine for quick acceleration and power and a steam turbine as a second stage for sustained speed and long distances.

The Gatling gun fires 300 rounds per minute. At that time (1885) Gatling guns could fire much faster but there would be a problem with storing ammunition, so I chose a slower rate of fire but instead of being driven by a hand crank, as was common, the eight barrels turn and fire using the kick-back for the previous round (aka Recoil-Operated). The ammunition is a smaller caliber .303 Lee-Metford bullet of lead encased (jacketed) in copper to improve accuracy (lead tends to warp its shape when fired distorting accuracy).

I don't know if most readers will appreciate all the work we put into these designs, but I know we are having a total blast developing the story, gadgets and art work. Stay tuned as we are currently working on the design of Captain Nemo's Nautilus!


Steampunk Holmes Technology: Mechanical Drawings

In addition to portraits of characters and illustrated and animated scenes from the Steampunk Holmes, we are also developing mechanical drawings of the coolest gadgets in the story.

This enhances the interactive aspect of the book that much more. When you are reading the story you can already touch any character's name and see a portrait of that character and a little background. In addition, when you run across the mention of certain gadgets like the Black Widow, the Nautilus, Weapons, and so forth, a mechanical drawing will display showing the device in more detail and how it works.

The mechanical drawing to the left shows the workings of Doctor Watson's mechanical arm. It's powered by a Hydrogen Peroxide steam (the byproducts are pure oxygen and water vapor) and its movements are coordinated by a small analog computer called a Lepine Caliber Engine.

I like to think that these details add some realism to the story while also providing more art and background to add to the enhancement of the story. We've actually done a lot of research and thinking about the world in which Steampunk Holmes takes place and its fun to share some of that with readers. It also forms a solid foundation on which to develop future stories.


Steampunk Holmes: Legacy of the Nautilus

We have officially named our story "Steampunk Holmes: Legacy of the Nautilus." Above is the promotional poster showing Holmes, Watson and Mycroft. I've been calling it just "Steampunk Holmes" for a while now but as we develop the story I can't help but hope it's a success and that we can do other stories with the same world and characters. If that does happen then we'll simply change the subtitles of subsequent storeis to things like "Steampunk Holmes: Jack the Ripper", "Steampunk Holmes: Dracula", or "Steampunk Holmes: Dr. Jekyll and Mr Hyde" - as you can see I already have some follow-ups in mind.

As I've told Daniel Cortes (our artist) and P.C. Martin (our writer) a dozen times, speed doesn't matter. Take your time and produce something you can be proud of. If we release a better product later that's just fine with me.

Anyway, take a look at the movie poster and title and let me know what you think - we would love to do a whole series of books based on Steampunk Holmes, and we are working hard to make the first episode the best possible experience.


Homes and Watson Battle Rajput Warriors

If you've been reading this blog, then you know the story, Steampunk Holmes, is an adaptation of Sr. Author Conan Doyle's "The Adventure of the Bruce-Partington Plans", a story about the theft of submarine plans.

When I started thinking about what the submarine might look like the first thing that came to mind was the Nautilus from the 1954 Disney movie "20,000 Leagues Under The Sea", which was an adaption of a 1870 book by Jules Verne of the same title. This book is considered one of the classics in steampunk culture.

So, if we are going to have the Nautilus, then we have to have Captain Nemo in the story as the villain, right?

With this in mind we started outlining the adaptation. At the time we were figuring out the adaptation plot-line I got caught up watching this show from Spike TV (via Netflix streaming video) called, "Deadliest Warrior." The show pits historical combatants that never met in real-life against each other and asks, "Who would win?" They had shows with mock battles between Apache Indians and Roman Gladiators or a Spartan vs. Ninja. It's pretty entertaining although the way they figure out the winner (via a computer simulation) is a bit of stretch.

Rajput Armor - 18th Century
Anyway, I watched one episode where they pitted a Roman Centurion against a Rajput Warrior. What is a Rajput Warrior? They are kind of like the Samurai of India.

The Rajput weapons are very cool and their style of martial arts is very different from the Asian styles we have seen in movies and on TV. Captain Nemo, our villian, is also from India.

Well, it took me about 10 seconds to decide we needed Captain Nemo's henchmen to be Rajput warriors, and we absolutely, positively needed them to battle it out with Holmes and Watson at some point.

So now there are two scenes where the Rajput battle it out with the English. The image at top left (click to enlarge) is a scene painted by Daniel Cortes depicting a battle between some Rajput warriors and Holmes and Watson. I won't tell you how it goes but lets just say its a good thing that Mycroft is on the scene.

I love the Rajput weapons as shown on the "Deadliest Warrior". The armor, double edged long sword (Khanda), killer frisbees (Chakram), punching blades (Katar) and whip-sword (Aara) are simply too cool.

Of course, Daniel couldn't just use them straight away, he had to enhance them; so the Katar, for example, can shoot out trailing a wicked steal ribbon as shown in the image above. Daniel also steampunkified the Rajput armor. The above image shows real Rajput armor from 18th Century. The image at the top shows Daniel's steampunk Rajput armor.

When you can take a cultural artifact and recast it with googles and brass work, that's steampunk at its finest.


Welcome to our new writer, P.C. Martin!

I'm very excited to introduce our new adaptation author, P.C. Martin. Like Daniel Cortes, P.C. Martin hails from Argentina - Daniel Cortes recommended P.C. when I told him I was looking for a new adaptation author.

P.C. presented me with some sample writing specific to Steampunk Holmes and I was very, very impressed. P.C. adds humor, drama, and action to the story and has plans to make some changes from the original "The Adventure of the Bruce-Partington Plans", which is fine with me since I don't think that story was working out so well. We'll keep many of the elements from the original, but we are going to re-arange things and basically modernize the short story. This may not sit well with traditional Sherlock Holmes fans, but the point is not to stick to canon but to introduce a new interpretation of a classic set of characters in a steampunk universe. Anyway, P.C. is an excellent writer and will produce a story that is as engaging as Daniel's art work. Welcome aboard P.C.!

The above scene is an unfinished illustration by Daniel Cortes of a meeting between Holmes, Watson, Mycroft and Lestrade in Mycroft's government office. It's not done and Daniel may not like my posting it, but its too cool and I just had to share it.


Steampunk Holmes

Back in June 2011, I posted about an idea I had to develop an interactive iPad adaption of a Sherlock Holmes story with mashup of steampunk. Since them we've made a lot of progress on the project developing the script, hiring wonderful artists and writers, and making deals to promote music as well as merchandise along with the book when its launched.

We've already been working on the book layout and have created some character portraits for the main characters. Daniel Cortes is also working on illustrating scenes from the story that will be animated and interactive. The whole project is really taking shape! We've also landed some deals to promote steampunk artists including Abney Park (their music is fantastic!) and even a super cool steampunk motorcycle, The Black Widow, that will be available for purchase through the book. More announcements on promotion of artist is coming so stay tuned!

I was able to dip into my savings - thanks to the support of my wife - to finance part of the development of this project but I'm going to need more funds to launch it. The art work by Daniel Cortes is stunning but its not free. Neither is the wonderful writing by P.C. Martin. In addition, there are lots of costs associated with development and marketing. To cover these costs I hope to raise some capital from, a social funding site that is really awesome. I'm floored by the willingness of people to support so many different artist projects (musicals, comic books, games, etc.) and I hope we can get some supporters of our own.

Our hope is that this first episode, "Steampunk Holmes: Legacy of the Nautilus" will be the first of many!

This particular post is going to be pretty organic. I reference it frequently from other posts and I want to keep the overview up to date, so I plan to make changes now and then to reflect new progress on the project.

The Black Widow Gets a Side Car

In Steampunk Holmes, Watson rides along with Holmes on the Black Widow in a very cool side car.

I asked Mikky Solifague to design one to Match the Black Widow, and within a couple of weeks instead designing one side car he designed three! They are all cool, but the one we chose is shown here - it's as beautiful as the bike itself and a credit to Mikky's design skills.

I'm not sure if Casey Putsch is going to manufacture the side car as an option with the Black Widow - it really depends on how Casey Putsch and Mikky feel about it. I'm fine with making just the bike available for purchase, but it would be cool if the side car was available too. We are discussing that now.


Steampunk Holmes and the Black Widow

Our hero, Steampunk Holmes, needs a cool ride, something totally radical. After searching for ideas I came across the motorcycle on the left, the Black Widow. It was designed by Mikky Solifague of Solifague Design in Russia. You can find some other images of it here. This is Mikky's 2007 design he has since updated in 2010, but I really preferred the 2007 design.

To make a long story short I contacted Mikky and asked permission to use its likeness in the Steampunk Holmes book. It's such a beautiful design I asked if he had ever built it. The answer was no, but if someone wanted to order one he could get it built. That set me to thinking.

Solifague Design's Black Widow
Remember the post I had about offering Steampunk merchandise for sale from within the app/book - done non-intrusively and with taste? What could be cooler than offering the Black Widow for sale? I spoke to Mikky about this and he was interested, and had someone in Moscow that could build it with some design changes. I wasn't comfortable having it manufactured all the way over in Russia. They would probably do a great job but with the language, distance, and time differences it would be difficult to coordinate.

I remembered having read an article about a race car engineer in Ohio who had built a real Batmobile in five months complete with a working jet engine (see pic below). It's been featured on Wired, Top Gear, Born Rich, Auto Blog, Endgadet and many other sites. The workmanship is really execellent.

I reached out to the engineer, Casey Putsch, to see if he would be interested in manufacturing Mikky's Black Widow. I was delighted to find out that he is interested! What's more is that Mikky loves the idea of having Casey manufacture his dream bike. I'm in the process of connecting Mikky and Casey so that they can modify the design of the Black Widow to be street legal and manufacture it in the United States!

What is really cool is that we will have Steampunk Holmes driving around London on this incredible chopper and people will be able to order the real thing directly from within the book itself - or at the least contact Putsch Racing to order one!

Now if that isn't the coolest merchandise associated with an entertainment property I don't know what is. I'm so excited!

It's not a done deal yet, but both Mikky and Casey are confident we can pull it off and have given me authorization to announce our intentions on my blog.

Update: 7/28/2011: Mikky has designed a side car to go with the Black Widow.

Just in case you didn't read about Casey's Batmobile, watch the video below and go to his web site to check it out. With Mikky and Casey joining forces to design and build the Black Widow you can bet its going to be the coolest motorcycle on the road. I can't wait to see the art work that Daniel will come up with showing Homes riding this bad boy!


Abney Park to provide music for Steampunk Holmes!

Abney Park
I'm really excited to announce that Noble Beast (my publishing company) has signed Abney Park, the best Steampunk Band out there, to provide music for the Steampunk Holmes app/book.

I've been discussing this with Captain Robert (Robert Brown) the lead, manager, and owner of Abney Park, for about three weeks. Robert Brown is a prolific musician and entrepreneur. In addition to having produced, written and preformed six albums by Abney Park, Robert has just launched "Abney Park's Airship Pirates" a Role-Playing Game based on the rich universe of Abney Park alternative universe. It looks like a lot of fun.

I've been listening to three of their albums "The End of Days", "Æther Shanties, and "Lost Horizons". I can't say enough good things about their music. It's excellent! I'm excited to work with Captain Robert to bring their music to the Steampunk Holmes app/book!

In addition to featuring Abney Park's music in the Steampunk Holmes book readers will also be able to access all of Abney Park's songs and albums for download to their iPhone, iPod, or iPad via iTunes from within the book. This is the kind of high-quality merchandising I was talking about in my an earlier post.


Introducing Doctor Watson

Doctor Watson
I'm really excited to show off the character design by Daniel Cortes for Holmes' famous side-kick, John H. Watson, MD. As promised, Doctor Watson has a very cool mechanical arm in Steampunk Holmes - he was wounded in Afghanistan in the Battle of Maiwand in 1880. In the first Sherlock Holmes story, A Study in Scarlet, Watson has an injured arm, not a leg as in subsequent stories. We decided to modify things it a little so that he lost his arm and now uses a steampunk prosthetic.

A mechanical arm powered by steam technology might seem like a stretch until you discover that researchers at Vanderbilt University actually built one in 2007, and continue to research the use of steam technology to better power prosthetics. Of course we are not revealing the actual mechanics of the arm, it might be steam or it might be clockwork; but one thing is for sure: it kicks butt and has multiple attachments, including some firepower. In our story, Holmes and Watson have made a number of upgrades to his mechanical arm, which will prove very useful later.

The process by which Daniel Cortes illustrates characters is pretty cool. I provide him with some ideas about the character and his background, Daniel adds his own thoughts, and then I get a concept sketch. I might suggest changes but in most cases I love the concept and approve it. After that Daniel creates a color portrait.

I thought it might be interesting to see how a character progresses from wireframe to painted portrait in Daniel's studio, so I asked him to provide me with some before-and-after images. He did one better: He sent me an animated GIF which allows you to see the art from conception to the finished portrait.

Just click on the image at left to see the animation - it's very cool!


Concept Sketch for Mycroft Holmes

As I mentioned in my last post we've decided to make Mycroft Holmes Sherlock Holmes' sister in Steampunk Holmes. When Daniel Cortes was told that Mycroft would be a beautiful genius, this is the sketch he drew up - he had other things to do but couldn't resist taking a swipe at it.

It's a great start - we need to put her in something a bit more practical for attire, but otherwise I love her look (click on the image to see a larger version)!

Marta and I have also decided to have Steampunk Holmes and Watson ride around on a big-ass steampunk motorcycle with a side car for part of the story. I can only imagine what kind of cool imagery Daniel will come up with for that.


Here is another concept sketch of Holmes' sister, Mycroft, by Daniel Cortes - we'll probably use both as she appears a couple times in the story.

Mycroft Holmes is such an interesting character. She is as brilliant as Holmes but applies this intelligence differently. As described in the original story by Sr. Arthur Conan Doyle, Mycroft is an exceptionally important personage in the Government who takes
"The conclusions of every department are passed to him, and he is the central exchange, the clearinghouse, which makes out the balance. All other men are specialists, but his specialism is omniscience. "
In other words, Mycroft is an intelligence analyst that is so ingenious that Holmes says that he not only works for the Government but that:
"Occasionally he is the British government ... the most indispensable man in the country."

Our Mycroft is as beautiful and vain as she is brilliant. Where Holmes is unkept, Mycroft is immaculate. Where Holmes is uninterested in sex, Mycroft's sexuality oozes from her pores. Where Holmes loves to get his hands dirty, Mycroft is almost allergic to physical labor. She makes a wonderful counterpoint to Holmes himself.


An update on the art and manuscript of Steampunk Holmes

Steampunk Holmes
Check out the portrait painting by Daniel Cortes for Steampunk Holmes (click on it to see a larger image). Daniel is going to start working on the book design with me next and then come back and do more portraits and scenes from the book. He's such a great artist I can't wait to see what he comes up with next.

I've also been in nearly daily communications with Marta Tanrikulu about the story. Here are some of the things we have in mind - I don't want to give a way spoilers so I'm not going to reveal everything: Mycroft, Holmes' Brother in the Conan Doyle canon, is going to be his sister. I wanted to have a strong woman character in the story so I originally thought of Lestrade. But Marta convinced me that Mycroft is a better option because Lastrade always plays second fiddle to Holmes, while Mycroft is his intellectual equal.

We are also throwing Jules Verne's Captain Nemo and the Nautilus into the story. The original story, "The Adventure of the Bruce-Partington Plans" is about a submarine and the ultimate Victorian submarine is the Nautilus so this mashup is a lot of fun. Anyway, I'm excited about the direction of the manuscript that Marta is working on and I can't wait to see a first draft.


Steampunk Holmes Merchandise?

Steampunk Holmes Pocket Watch
A while back I googled "Steampunk Holmes" to see if anyone had done a story with that title before. I was relieved to see that no one had but I was surprised to find that term was used to describe a pocket watch designed by a Steampunk jewelry and watch maker. This gave me an idea that I've been playing with:

What if the Steampunk Holmes app/book sold merchandise related to the story?

Since then I've been looking into it more and I'm really kind of excited about it. Imagine if you could read the story and then buy some of the clothes or devices in the story? For example, the pocket watch used by Steampunk Holmes. The other merchandise I had in mind was Music. I hope to have more to say about that within a couple of weeks.

What I love about the Steampunk genera is the gadgets and clothes - there are a lot of people who like to dress up in Steampunk and have Steampunk parties. The possibility of doing merchandising tie-ins to the story is really intriguing because if this kind of business is going to work at all its going to have to have a commercial aspect to it and what would be cooler than selling Steampunk jewelry, clothes, and gadgets?!

Of course it has to be done right or not done at all. I can't just stuff a bunch of banners for merchandise into the story - that would ruin it. But, if I could provide a menu option where you could go, when not reading the book, to view merchandise related to the story. That would avoid tainting the story with adverts and blatant product placements while providing a possible venue for earning more income beyond the cover price of the book.

One of the things I want to be careful of, however, is that I don't end up buying merchandise wholesale and shipping it myself. I've done that before in one of my other ventures and it was horrible. Instead I would like to be the conduit to sales allowing the vendors themselves to handle the customers relations - I'll just take a small percentage for referrals. Anyway, there is a lot of thinking to be done before I go down the marchandising road but I wanted to share the idea with those of you following the blog - this is in keeping with my totally open policy on the entire venture.

UPDATE: 7/27/2011

Announcements about Merchandising Deals for Steampunk Holmes


Steampunk Holmes: Concept Sketch

Daniel Cortes sent me this wonderful concept sketch of Steampunk Holmes. Daniel rightly wants him to be fairly tall, focused, handsome, and disheveled. As Daniel told me, "Holmes is so totally focused on his surroundings that he completely forgets himself. He doesn't worry about his hair being combed or condition of the clothes he wears." I love that.

Another thing that Daniel wanted to know is how punk is the world of Steampunk Holmes? Is everyone very proper and dressed only in victorian garb or do folks have rastafarian hair and nose rings? I said yes to both. Click on the concept sketch (left) to get a bigger image. Notice the intensity of Holmes gaze. Awesome!

I've also been talking with the adaptation author, Marta Tanrikulu. Marta is already trying to figure out how to shorten the exposition at the beginning of the story and add some more action. I've asked Marta (and Daniel) to read The Difference Engine and extrapolate what that world would look like 30 years later. Marta told me that she got the book in the mail today and would start reading it right away. I'm reading the book for the fourth time and starting to make some notes about how Steampunk Holmes world has advanced. For example, in the original book there were no airships yet. We are definitely going to have airships floating around in the background of our story.

UPDATE July 7th, 2011

Daniel just sent me another concept sketch of Holmes which is really cool. I think in this version he is a bit younger and punkier and, if possible, cooler.

UPDATE 7/29/2011

The writer working the project has changed. It's now Prescott Martin.


Character Portraits for Steampunk Holmes

John Singer Sargent
One of the features of the Steampunk Holmes book will be what I call reference cards. When you see a character's name in the book you need only touch it and up pops a reference card with a portrait of that character. Touch the portrait and it flips over to reveal background information - no spoilers.

I was talking to Daniel Cortes about the art work, and he had some wonderful ideas we are going to try out. For one, Daniel wants to do the portraits on the reference cards in a style similar to one of his favorite artists, John Singer Sargent. I couldn't agree more. Of course Daniel will add a little modern edge to them and he had this great idea of having the portraits animate just a little. So, for example, the portrait of Steampunk Holmes might have smoke rising from his pipe and he might blink now and then - simple but fun things like that.

Daniel is also going to help out with the design and art work for the pages themselves, menu items, borders and so on. I want the look and feel of the entire book to be consistent with his art work in style. I'm really very excited about working with him on this project - his enthusiasm for quality and beauty is well aligned with my own.


Dr. Watson's Mechanical Arm

Steampunk Arm by Morrigun
Although Dr. Watson is normally depicted as having a bad leg, in the original story of Sherlock Holmes - "A Study in Scarlet" - he had a bad arm, which was injured in a military battle in Afghanistan. For Steampunk Holmes it's a lot more fun to keep the injury in his arm so that he can have this super cool mechanical arm.

The question I have is how is it powered? I don't like the idea that it's powered by steam because maintaining a miniature boiler on your arm and feeding it coal sounds pretty impractical. Instead, I've decided to borrow from the clockwork (aka clockpunk) genera and make it powered by a wind-up spring. The spring will self wind (like a self winding watch) from normal movement but if the arm is put to intense use there is a hand crank that can be deployed to wind up the spring that powers the arm. I also like the idea that the arm has different attachments including, of course, a huge gun.


The World of Steampunk Holmes

I've always been a huge fan of William Gibson ever since I read Neuromancer the year it was released (~1984). I've read just about every book he's written. When The Difference Engine came out in 1991 I did as I always do when a new Gibson novel is released, I ran to the book store and purchased it. I was delighted by Gibson's and Sterling's alternative history novel. It was, for me, a totally new form of science fiction but I had no idea it would turn into a genera called "Steampunk" until several years later. I've been listening to the audio version narrated by Simon Vance and I've fallen in love the book all over again. I can see from the ratings that many people would disagree but I consider the book to be one of the best I've ever read.

In Gibson's & Sterling's The Difference Engine Charles Babbage's mechanical computer which he invented in 1822 is actually built and it ushers in the computer age a 130 years earlier than in the real world (in reality Babbage's invention was not built until 1991). The result is pure Steampunk, which is not surprising since this book helped define the genera.

In The Difference Engine mechanical computers, based on Charles Babbage theories, are the size buildings constructed of brass gears and metal springs. The machines are programmed using punch cards as were originally used for mechanical looms. It's really a fantastic dystopia. I can't understand why its not universally accepted as a genera defining masterpiece the same way Lord of the Rings is for fantasy or Neuromancer is for cyberpunk.

Since The Difference Engine has always colored my view of alternative histories and Steampunk I've decided to place Steampunk Holmes in the world created by Gibson and Sterling, but 30 years later. The Difference Engine takes place in 1855 while Sherlock Holmes was doing most of his work around the 1885. This really sets us up for some fun because we get to imagine what technological advances would have taken place in the 30 years between Gibson's & Sterling's alternative history and our own. Where would technology had evolved? What path would it take? Would steam have been replaced by combustion engines? Would the telephone have been invented? What about a crude sort of Internet based on the telegraph? We are going to explore these questions as we develop Steampunk Holmes and hopefully we will do William Gibson and Bruce Sterling proud with our own adaptation.


Steampunk Holmes' Artist: Daniel Cortes

Art by Daniel Cortes for Warsquared
I'm very excited to announce that Daniel Cortes has signed on to create the art work for Steampunk Holmes. Daniel was a late entry but his portfolio of art and motion graphics along with his enthusiasm for the project won him the work.

Daniel is a character designer for the gaming industry and is currently working on a steampunk strategy game called WarSqaured; you can check it out here.

To get a flavor of just how cool Steampunk Holmes is going to be, check out the art and motion graphics demo that Daniel did for the WarSquared promo video. You can expect to see this kind of quality art and motion graphics in Steampunk Holmes

War Squared Trailer from Daniel Cortes on Vimeo.


Choosing an Author for Steampunk Holmes

Datamancer Keyboard
I spent the last few days re-reading many Sherlock Holmes stories and I have to say that while the characters are really cool, the short stories about Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle really don't work all that well for the Steampunk genera. Sherlock spends a lot of time in his flat interviewing clients. Most short stories unwind as narratives about the client and their problem with very little action by Holmes himself. Usually Holmes listens to the client tell there story and then he pretty much solves the mystery with hardly any action other than a site visit. Steampunk Holmes will need to be much more active employing devices of his own design and traveling the streets of an alternative, steampunk London. After all, this is speculative fiction so we need to see some cool locations, characters, and devices.

For this reason I've asked the authors who have posted an interest in working on this project a request to submit to me an original story idea for Steampunk Holmes as well as examples of their writing. I've already received three very different story ideas all of which are excellent. I'll choose the author with the best writing (or most appropriate writing style) and the best idea. It's really cool to see the ideas that come out of speculative fiction authors - they are so creative!


Artists for Steampunk Holmes: The Finalists Are ....

SCAPS Agent Game Guide by Firstbase
As I mentioned in a prior post I put a job posting up on Elance for artists and writers to work on the Steampunk Holmes project. I've had over a dozen responses to the Art post and have narrowed that down to four artists. I've asked the artists to submit a sketch of how they envision Steampunk Holmes looking - I hope to have those in my hands for review within a few days.

In the meantime I thought I would discuss each artist and why I like their style;

Daniel Kopalek
I really like Daniel's comic book illustration style, inking and coloring. I hadn't thought of doing a comic style but after looking at his work and another I've decided that it must be considered. I've always thought the current state-of-the-art in iPad comics fails to leverage the full potential of the medium. With work like Daniel Kopalek's I can take my own shot at how to integrate comic art with short-story format.

Manuela Soriani
Manuela is another comic book illustrator whose art I really like. It's different from Daniel's but like Daniel she is able to convey emotion, create complex environments, and works well in drawing, inking, and coloring.

Robert Schoolcraft
Another comic book artist who also sent me some line drawing showing victorian scenes which I really liked. I also like his the way he illustrates women as I've been thinking of making Steampunk Holmes a woman - a beautiful strong woman would be different and possibly wonderful.

These guys have a totally different approach: 3D. They already have lots of experience in doing Steampunkish 3D work in their own game multi-player game, SCAPS Agent. The problem with 3D is that it's really expensive and I don't know if I can afford it. However, they also do page layout and they sent me a sample of their work, the game guide to SCAPS Agent, and the layout was really cool (Click on image in upper left of this blog). So while they may be too expensive for basic illustrations they may be perfect in helping with page design and layout.

I want to choose the right artist but I also need to figure out how much art I need and compare not only talent but also - sadly - the price. My next step is to narrow down an author.