Boilerplate-A Mechanical and Graphic Marvel

While I don’t dress up as the nefarious Dr. Von….anything with Victorian techno goggles and chrono-whosis.  I do identify  to being ..steampunk curious.  Okay, I built a cool ray gun in my garage… busted ( I’ll take pictures and post) .   I do wear a pocket watch in my vest, but it’s a regular pocket watch it doesn’t distort any temporal ..anything  just tells me I’m taking too long a lunch. Now, that bit of therapy is over… I came a cross a very cool book recently, ( “cool” as an adjective should be used in relation to steampunk stuff whether it’s great writing or not)

Boilerplate cvr

that not only embraces the Victorian fascination with ingenious pin striped mechanical devices, and adventure stories but is meticulously illustrated and written.  “Boilerplate: History’s Mechanical Marvel”  by Paul Guinan and Anina Bennett (168 pp. Hardcover, Published by Abrams Image) is a wonderfully fun (and serious) documentation of the worlds first robot soldier.  The book traces the “birth” of Boilerplate by inventor Archie Campion in 1893 and then goes on to place our iron hero at the cross roads of history in a  Zelig-esque fashion.  Boilerplate is unveiled at the Columbian Exposition in Chicago, Boilerplate explores the Antarctic, Boilerplate accompanies Teddy Roosevelt as he charges up San Juan Hill, Boiler plate during WWI.


(above) Theatrical poster depicting Boilerplate with Kitchener’s forces during the Sudan Campaign of 1897.



(Above) After five months, the pack ice shifted enough for Boilerplate to effectively carve out a channel that the Euterpe could escape through. The expedition arrived at Cape Evans in the spring of 1895.


Paul Guinan (artist and writer), and Anina Bennett (writer and editor) have a wonderful grasp of historical ephemera.   The book crafts a visual narrative on the phenomena of clebrity that this mechanical marvel enjoys. As time passes sometimes the ephemera is all that’s left of a person place or thing that at one point captured the attention of millions. Examples of period buttons, tickets dime novels, wind-up toys all featuring Boilerplate have been created and mocked up to attest to his celebrity.  THere is even evidence of boilerplate’s story being “revived” as some 70’s era cartoon. They (the authors) are so successful at it that even knowing it’s a charade you at some point begin to ask yourself if this is real.  I consider myself a fair hand with Photoshop and I’m impressed at the level of craft in the art.  Guinan and Bennett include their inspirations as well which adds to their scholarly approach.  A really great fictionalized history that I loved and would recommend picking up. There is a description of how to make a Boilerplate figure at as well as appearances, Guinan and Bennett were at Steamcon .this past Oct.


Soc. of Illustrators of LA 47

Two illustrations of mine (previously posted) were accepted into the Society of Illustrators of Los Angeles     Illustration West 47 .  There were close to 1600 entries so it’s really nice to recognized. The two illustrations will be posted to the SI-LA web site in the spring and exhibited in March at Gallery Nucleus in Alhambra Calif.


(Top) Summer Reading, Gary Rogers Art director/Newsday, (Bottom) Ernest Hemmingway’s suicide, Mammal Magazine

Fall Reads Cover

Here is a recent illustration I did for the Books Section of Newsday announcing recommended reading for the  Fall.

Unfortunately the page ended up being on a black and white spread so the illustration ran as seen below.  Next to the B&W cover are some of the preliminary squirrel sketches I did.  I wasn’t quite sure where I was going with the puffed out cheeks , they just reminded me of a squirrel. He looks like he’s looking for a place to spit something out.  The tail with a body wave still looks interesting to me , I just think it draws your attention away from the books.  Gary Rogers was the art director on the piece.

When Harry Met Maddy

Here is the Illustration I did to accompany the review of Joanne Harris’ Book Rune Marks. Taking place in a post apocalyptic world (five hundred years after the end of the world), The protagonist of the book is a 14 year old girl named Maddy. Any book involving a young teen and magic invites comparisons to Harry Potter, and the review acknowledges the comparison by asking is Maddy the successor to Harry. Or at least the successor to his readers. I have to admit I’m a Harry Potter fan and enjoyed the series a great deal (the movies left me feeling flat though). I have to confess I have not read Rune Marks, I seldom get the opportunity to read the books that are being reviewed prior to beginning an illustration. I do really like the detective work of finding enough visual clues and info from various sources to do a book justice in a drawing and understand the review. Where Maddy’s rune mark (sort like a tattoo I gather) is on her body are things that look like no-brainers in the finish but you end up exhaustively researching to make sure it’s right. The world of Rune Marks is awash with Norse mythology which is what made the illustration fun to work on. Thor can be seen behind Maddy in my drawing, with Loki as a shape shifter to her left. Of course, a quidditch broom can be seen in the background as a nod to Harry.

Summer Reading Illustration

Illustration for the Books SectionHere is the latest illustration I did for the books section of Newsday to kick off a list of essential summer reading. I’m just beginning to line up my reading for the summer.

I did just finish reading (A book read after Memorial Day qualifies as summer reading, right? ) Alison Bechdel’s Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic. A really great read, Alison explores her relationship growing up with an emotionally distant father and the effect it had on her as she was coming out. Her visual narrative style is perfectly suited for her memoir. After reading it I went out and bought two other copies and sent them to friends.

Along with re-reading Frankenstein I’m open to suggestions for good books graphic or other wise. I’ll post a “what’s on my bookshelf ‘ list which I’m sure will scare the pants off some and prompt recommendations pretty damn quick.