---BOILERPLATE: THE GRAPHIC NOVEL THAT NEVER WAS

My first attempt to get Boilerplate published was in collaboration with a small-press publisher/writer. The end result was to be a 96-page graphic novel, and very possibly one of my proudest works as an artist.

For illustrating the graphic novel, I accepted a page rate that was one-quarter of what I'm paid by other publishers. I got no additional compensation for character, vehicle, or logo designs. At my own expense, I made a maquette of Boilerplate, which I planned to use for the book's photographic cover art.

Of course, I knew that agreeing to such a low page rate would necessitate sacrifices by both me and my wife, Anina. During the period I was working on Boilerplate, we had to cancel our planned convention appearances, except for the all-important Comic-Con International in San Diego. By far the most difficult economic choice we made was to suspend production of our next Heartbreakers book -- our own creation, with more than a decade of history behind it -- for up to three years.
At the San Diego convention, the publisher/writer and his partner repeatedly assured me that Boilerplate was on track for publication in 2001. This helped make the show more enjoyable for me, since I didn't have to hustle for work. Fans seemed to love my Boilerplate sample pages and maquette, which Anina and I displayed at our booth.

A few weeks later, the partner called to inform me that they were pulling the plug on Boilerplate. They had projected a financial loss on the project, at least upon initial publication. At that point I'd pencilled and inked nearly 30 pages of the story. Ironically, their anticipated loss was close to the amount already paid out to me.

The publishers felt it would be unfair for me to finish the pages myself and take it to another company, since the pages I'd drawn were based on their plot. I then offered to find another publisher for Boilerplate, with the original writers attached. They rejected that, instead offering to cut the story down to 44 pages and publish it themselves after all. They promised a revised script would be forthcoming. I haven't heard from them since.
Unfortunately, I think the project disintegrated in part because the main writer and I wanted to tell very different stories. I wanted to address the ironies of Boilerplate's existence. The mechanical man was an attempt to replace soldiers during an age when men were particularly obsessed with proving themselves in battle. It also would have been fun to see Boilerplate interact with such figures as Teddy Roosevelt, Pancho Villa, and Nikola Tesla, for example. The writer created an adventure plot about a mountain-climbing expedition in which the heroes surprisedly find their arch-enemies headquartered inside the mountain, armed with a time machine and an army of evil Boilerplate knockoffs.

Eventually I'd like to produce an all-new Boilerplate graphic novel, with Anina as co-writer. But that's on the back burner, at least until we finish the next entry in our Heartbreakers Superdigest series. We hope to publish a new Heartbreakers volume at the end of 2002 -- perhaps with a guest appearance from the mechanical man. Meantime, I'll continue to augment the Boilerplate web site with new material as fast as I can!

BTW, I'm glad to report that after 15 years of continuous output in comics, my "attendance record" still hasn't been broken. I drew a two-page story for Too Much Coffee Man #9. God bless Shannon Wheeler.

--Paul Guinan
December 2000


UPDATE 2010
A Heartbreakers graphic novel was published in 2005 that guest starred Boilerplate.
HEARTBREAKERS meet BOILERPLATE
A lavish coffee table tome was published about the Victorian robot last year.
BOILERPLATE: HISTORY'S MECHANICAL MARVEL

Selected pages from the unpublished BP graphic novel have been collected into a booklet, available in the BP GIFT SHOP.


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