DieselPunk Ship

Dieselpunk battleships, spaceships, and submarines

The Yamato, The SDF-1, The Huáscar

I remember it clearly when I was a young kid. Space Battleship Yamato (1974) (SBY) is a Japanese anime based on the battleship of the same name that sank in World War II. I barely remember the characters nor the plot, the only one that come to mind: is the selfless captain that chose to die with his ship instead of saving himself. That picture of the sinking captain is clear in my head today.

From what I read, and conversations with friends and fans, the Yamato sci-fi series was hugely influential in Japan,  (and in Peru too), and an essential precursor of a more influential TV show for me: Macross (1982). This show started my love for robots, anime, romance, and probably, my passion for art.

There was a colossal battleship too: The SDF-1 or Super Dimension Fortress with its mighty and deadly “Daedalus attack”.


Peruvian Dieselpunk spaceship

The Huáscar comes into play as our own doomed and heroic battleship sunk during the Pacific War with Chile, back in the nineteenth century (1879).

Her captain was Miguel Grau, Perú’s most emblematic and revered war hero who died in the final attack on the ship. His death in the Angamos combat (October 8th, 1878) has to be among the top 5 most painful memories for us Peruvians, as a nation, if there is ever such an unfortunate list.

Grau was the underdog hero, a gentleman warrior who was smart, strategic, patriotic, and merciful with his defeated opponents.

It made sense then to use him and his ship as raw material in Yute and Tocuyo’s imachinarium to recreate it as a super dieselpunk ship in their world of everything reinvented. The original Huascar, now standing as a war trophy in the Maritime Museum of Talcahuano in Chile ran on coal, so my new super flying ship should run on a combination of diesel first and atomic energy later, a mix of the fully contaminating, and the cleaner but potentially deadly energy source.

Dieselpunk ship

The Star Wars Influence

Yes, Star Wars, again, and specifically the Millennium Falcon.  I love that ship, and I love that whole franchise. I don’t really understand where the Falcon’s coolness comes from. It’s weirdly round and clunky, it’s not sleek at all nor aerodynamic, and it’s hardly the Ferrari of the Star Wars universe, but as the Huáscar, she is an underdog, and she has gained mythical status in our psyche.

It could be its amazing resume and achievements. She can accomplish incredible feats with little resources. So did Grau’s Huáscar. So will the Retro-Huáscar, or the “Millenium Huáscar” among Yute and Tocuyo’s dieselpunk ship inventory. The influence has to be there.


Junk technology in dieselpunk ships

Star Wars also brings this idea of old and used technology, which is evident in many dieselpunk ships, and which talks nicely with the Yute and Tocuyo’s universe.

Its likely that the used technology idea from George Lucas’s first Star Wars film has a practical reason. It’s easier to bring junk together and build something believable for a lower budget. And the budget is everything in movies. That’s cool because it’s innovation coming from scarcity which is “the way” in emerging economies.

That also works with my work, and with Yute and Tocuyo’s concept: they exist in a “lived” world where they have to innovate and recreate from post-apocalyptic trash. They build the modern and contemporary from the useless and forgotten.

That is the reality of developing nations: A top-tech BMW exists together in the streets with a low-tech junk motorcycle. We live between the super new and the super old, between the super-rich and the super poor. Yute and Tocuyo brings the old and the new and make something new and cool, but they are also rooted in the old and mythical, in the depth of psychological concepts that affect us all.

Here is another dieselpunk ship, The Retro Fish. The fumes are clear, Tocuyo pilots her with an AI version of Miguel Grau, also called “Grau robot”, and Yute is lying on the back pondering how to create a more efficient source of energy, one which allows them to travel further distances in their explorations.


dieselpunk ship

   The Retro-Fish Dieselpunk Submarine

The Retro-fish is a classic of Yute and Tocuyo’s world.

Its been one of my more emblematic pieces and I’ve done multiple versions of it. She is inspired in the weird and mysterious angler fish, this monstrous sea creature that seems to be always following the light hanging from his head. So does Yute and Tocuyo who are looking for a kind of enlightenment. They want to find their creator and the purpose of their existence.

The questions “Who am I? What am I here for? Who made me?” triggers their final adventure, and dieselpunk ships and atomic punk ships of all kind are the vehicles to go places and solve parts of the puzzle.

The Retro-fish exhibits the characteristics of the dieselpunk ship: looks strong and metallic, although she has some leather tributary of a more steam-punk era. Predominantly, she shows the exhaust tubes on her side that throw the fumes out.

She is small, which means that she does not require too much power, but as our characters thirst for innovation increases, they will have to go nuclear.


dieselpunk ship
dieselpunk ship
dieselpunk ship

From Dieselpunk Ships to Atomic Punk Ships

The Imachinarium exists because of a nuclear holocaust.

Something happened in a day close to our present that destroyed everything. Nuclear war? A nuclear accident? An alien invasion? Mysteriously atomic bombs abound and are re-used and re-converted as sources of infinite energy. They are called emoji-bombs because each reinvented and adapted bomb, has an emoji painted by Tocuyo.

And Tocuyo paints emojis because of a simple reason: He does not speak. The only words he utters is “The light”, as the character of Groot in Guardians of the Galaxy, or Hodor in Game of Thrones. He communicates by painting emojis everywhere, as a silent artist who speaks through his actions and his creations.

Behind the emoji-bomb concept plays the idea that what terrorizes you is also a source of psychic and creative energy.  Its a metaphor for Jung’s shadow, that creativity lies in bringing darkness to light. But emoji bombs were not the initial source of energy. In the beginning, there was diesel, and hence the vehicles were dieselpunk ships.

After diesel proved to be a limited resource, Atomic energy and atomic technology replaced it. So dieselpunk ships ceded to atomic punk ships which is what you will mostly see in recent works.


dieselpunk ships

Huaype, mechamorph battleship

Huaype is the ultimate Atomic-punk ship. It looks like a dieselpunk ship variety, but it needs to be powered by atomic energy because of its size and extended transportation use. Only the emoji bombs can perform like that. She was built to travel long distances and to carry Yute and Tocuyo through the different worlds and find the clues to answer the question.

dieselpunk ship

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