Share to Facebook Share to Twitter Tumblr this Google Buzz it More... More...


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.