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Like these chumps did.
So my question is kind of a multi-aspect one. One of the wonderful things about Atomic Robo is, of course, the historical aspect. And one of the wonderful things about comics in general is the collaboration between artist and writer. And so I find myself wondering about how the historical characters get developed.
Historical characters; how much is fact, how much is Brian, how much is Scott, and how fun is it to blend it all together?
It’s a tremendous amount of fun to play with historical figures, that’s why we use them so often!
There’s no set ratio of realness to fictionality. We do our best to stay true to the spirit of the historical personality because what the hell is the point of putting them into your story if you’re going to make up a character for them? Just to have a famous name associated with your own? Sounds kinda crappy to me.
That said, we aren’t slaves to historical fact either. We got big fun time sci-fi stories to tell. And, I mean, Atomic Robo himself is the most historically inaccurate thing in the pages of Atomic Robo the comic book. But Tesla was one of our earliest pioneers in what could reasonably be considered robotics, so while it’s impossible for Atomic Robo to be made by Tesla, at least it’s within the purview of Tesla as a character to make something like Atomic Robo.
Ever since we read volume one both my dad and I have loved Atomic Robo. Obscure science! History! Robots punching things! It's all here! I have volumes 7, 8, and 9 right next to my bed ready to read. We've got the Patreon too, and the RPG. But enough gushing about this awesome action science comic. It's time to turn on the swinging lamp because I have some questions for Brian and Scott! Respectively!
Brian- Do you have any plans to include Sergei Korolev in the future? He's a great obscure science guy who spearheaded the soviet space program.
Scott- What's the secret to the Wegener crud/weathering surfaces?
Dave & Gabe
No specific plans for Sergei. Yet. But don’t worry. I’m a huge fan of the space race, especially the early Soviet efforts. We’ll soon plant some seeds that could lead us to elaborating on what our version of Sergei got up to back in the day. Stay tuned!
Scott had this to say about his cruddiness…
There's no real secret to be honest. When I first started drawing comics I just wanted things to look kind of scuffed up and gritty. As a kid Star Wars looked like this totally lived in and thus believable universe, and that always stayed with me. I loved the abstract way that Mignola did that, so I just applied little abstract shapes to anything and everything because I thought it looked cool.
In other words I had no idea what I was doing, so it was successful about 50% of the time.
Eventually I started looking at this desire to create a specific look with some purpose. In The Deadly Art of Science I stopped inking my work and switched to very tight pencils instead of inking the pages.It's very easy for pencils to look muddy and just kind of gross and I wanted very much to avoid that. I wanted a nice clean and almost animated look to things. So I was no longer able to do any sort of shading because the pencil strokes would always show up no matter how careful I was, and I found it kind of broke my own immersion in the fictional world we were creating.
Enter the Crud.
I have learned, literally through years of trial and error, to use my crud/weathering as a shorthand to stand it for the visual depth that would normally be created with cross hatching and spot-blacks. Obviously my colorists also play a huge role in this. I find that when I get it right, the scuffs and stains that I use help create a sense of volume to characters and objects that would otherwise look very flat and bland. So I decide who or what needs to really pop and what can fade into the background, and then go to town making a thousand little tick marks on each page.