Have you ever wondered to yourself what it would be like if Atomic Robo co-creators Brian Clevinger and Scott Wegener sat down with Issue #1 and did a little director’s commentary thing via instant messenger?
Wonder no more!
Brian: Go with drowned.
Brian: If he’s drowning, it implies that he has a chance to make it.
Scott: And we don’t want that!
Brian: Lord no.
Scott: OK, so what are we doing again . . .?
Brian: I assume we’ll do a thing where we look through a copy of #1 and talk about what a genius I am.
Scott: Sounds good.
Brian: If you can bring yourself to look at it again. You have a habit of rabidly hating any of your work that’s a week old.
Scott: It’s in front of me.
Brian: Damn, this one reads fast. No wonder everyone whines like it’s somehow less than 22 pages.
Scott: This art is terrible.
Scott: The guy draws like the bastard stepchild of Mignola/Oeming.
Brian: He’ll probably never get any better.
Scott: I’ve seen more recent work. It’s as if he’s regressing.
Brian: I bet Issue #2 looks like it was done in crayon by a chimp.
Scott: It was certainly written by one.
Scott: (point for me!)
Brian: Ha, you wish. Your attempt at an insult upgraded my writing implement from feces to crayon. POINT: BRIAN.
Scott: Since when do chimps work in crayon?
Brian: Since shut up.
Scott: Oh. Right.
Scott: I forgot.
Scott: So lets talk about your Nazis who aren’t Nazis.
Brian: How did we make it read so quick? By skipping all the story details like that they weren’t Nazis!
Scott: Now that the book is on shelves I ONCE AGAIN say they should have been regular Nazis and not WWI throwbacks who are in fact Helsingard’s personal troops and not Nazis at all.
Scott: Because the whole friggin’ world thinks they are Nazis and that I am an idiot who can’t draw a decent German helmet and is dumb enough to arm Krauts with English rifles.
Brian: I see your point. It would certainly have been the more elegant choice for this issue to make them out right Nazis, but it wouldn’t have fit into the overall mythos. Helsingard is “bigger” than the Nazi movement.
Scott: See, if only a half dozen pages had been devoted to an exposition on the actual political leanings and costume choice of the goons of Mount Doom, it would have been a way better issue.
Brian: Even better, we should have spent 16 pages doing ultra-decompression following one soldier around on his daily routine. Then have him die in an explosion caused by Robo at the end.
Scott: Begin with revelry and his morning toilet! But in this one instance I say to hell with the mythos, make it make sense.
Brian: Would it help to say that it’ll make sense in, like, volume six?
Scott: No, because by then no one else will be able to stomach the crap art of issue 1 long enough to reread it.
Brian: So, in a way, this is all your fault!
Brian: Seriously though, had your art never improved beyond what’s in #1, I’d have never complained. The only thing wrong with it is that you got so much better every month and that was twelve months ago.
Scott: Well, I sure would have been disappointed.
Brian: In any case, it’s a miracle the book looks as good as it does. This was our second comic book and the first one we did as a team.
Scott: Actually it was my third — I’d forgotten about Jenny Everywhere. But still. . .
Brian: You screwed up by getting better. Next Robo script you’re looking at has tons of action and camera angle work and perspective. You’re boned!
Scott: I think the more challenging, the better. I sort of enjoy working out the odd camera angles now. That used to terrify me. I also like backgrounds now!
Scott: Well, not “like”, but a page is much more satisfying now when its got all the proper elements of a proper comic book page.
Brian: Yeah. I think the one con on the art for #1 is that we went with rather pedestrian camera angles. That’s as much my fault as yours, though, for trying to script the pages simple so I could keep track of them in my head.
Scott: No that’s really more my job to worry about camera angle than yours.
Scott: I’ve never seen a script that gave a whole lot of direction in that department.
Brian: Okay, I’ll be the bigger man and blame you for it then.
Scott: Writers seem to give some visual direction but not a whole lot. More like a loose sketch. The only difference between your scripts and Fraction’s is that his came with a fat paycheck stapled to it with a picture of Spider-Man on it.
Brian: I can give you a Spider-Man toy with a picture of a check on it.
Scott: I’ll take that.
Scott: I got paid for my first 15 pages today. I had to laugh, because it was more than twice what 25 pages of Robo pays.
Scott: Of course it all went to paying the bills that have not been getting paid.
Scott: And Orange Box.
Scott: And the new Katamari.
Scott: And a wireless USB card thing
Brian: One day, the fat Robo royalty checks will crush Marvel’s!
Scott: I truly believe that to be true. I am getting to the point where I will be seriously shocked if Robo doesn’t make us a ton of scratch.
Scott: Which is a really nice side-benefit to something as awesome as he is.
Brian: I will probably curl up and die if it doesn’t pay off. Mostly because my entire plan for the next fifty years requires for it to as Step One.
Scott: Well, mine too y’know. I did sorta quit my job and all that based primarily on the assumption of lots of Robo work.
Brian: Pfft! I think, as the Marvel works shows, you’ve got something to fall back on.
Scott: As long as they keep finding themselves backed into a corner with a terrible deadline!
Brian: One of the Big Two running late on a title? It’ll never happen again!
Brian: Do you have a favorite page for #1? I kept trying to find The Page to post prior to release to tease people, but I could never narrow it down. Any page I picked, I’d want to post like the five before and after it too.
Scott: I really liked my Mignola rip-off page (#1). But there’s no robot in it.
Scott: I never really liked page 9 (where Robo first steps out of the capsule)
Scott: But I do like the page where he pulls out the lightning gun.
Brian: Page 1 is good. I feel no shame in tooting my own horn and saying that I love the dialogue between those soldiers. It’s a 100% rewrite I had to do at the last minute because someone (you) loves ignoring the panel layouts I give you and I have to go back and re-write half of every goddamn issue.
Scott: The dialog is great and Robo looks okay — though his eyes are friggin’ HUGE all through the last part of the story.
Brian: Heh, yeah. They kept getting bigger!
Scott: I really never got comfortable with Robo until around Issue 5
Brian: As early as #2 Robo starts looking more standardized, so you did a good job of hiding that discomfort until #5.
Scott: They are about the right size on pg9 and then it all goes pear-shaped around pg15
Brian: It’s probably a subconscious reflection of your panic. “What the fuck did I do signing on with this moron and his ‘What if Hellboy was a robot?’ idea?”
Scott: If only it was more like Hellboy! I could just trace the panels in Hellboy and slap a Rocketeer helmet on HB!
Brian: On an unrelated topic, I just finished our next five volumes…
Scott: God, these not-Nazis looks like garbage in every panel. I don’t think I even knew how to draw a proper eyeball back then.
Brian: You didn’t! I had to ask Ronda to add irises.
Brian: Or pupils. Whatever. Eye-thingies.
Scott: . . .really? Oh yeah . . .
Scott: I just really liked those squinty little black lines-for-eyes. Now I can’t help drawing full-on eyeballs on even the smallest faces.
Brian: In the inks it didn’t look that weird, but once they got colored, it was like they were all dead on the inside and the whole issue took on this weird zombie apocalypse vibe made all the weirder by no one commenting on it. So, yeah, Ronda added some dots.
Scott: Thank God for Ronda.
Brian: She made me fall in love with #1 all over again.
Scott: Yeah, me too.
Brian: Ronda’s just wonderful. Jeff doesn’t get enough love in the reviews. The irony of lettering is if it’s done really amazing, then it gets completely ignored.
Scott: Yeah I know. Robo’s cool speech bubbles, the kick-ass logo, etc.
Scott: I think its so good because he’s a really good artist as well. Most letterers are just amateur type-setters from what I see. Jeff can see the aesthetic of how the page should flow and makes it flow more smoothly.
Brian: Yeah, that’s what I love about his stuff. The positioning adds to the flow of the dialogue as well as the content of the panel and the page as a whole.
Brian: Have we exhausted the thrilling behind-the-scenes info for this issue?
Scott: I think we might have. Issue one sucks.
Brian: Especially that shit cover by Oeming!
Scott: For real!
Brian: You know what I heard? That guy’s a jerk!
Scott: Haha. Don’t print this part.
Brian: Seriously, Team Robo loves Oeming. He was our first supporter from the professional side of comics. I would totally kiss him if I was gay.