Posted July 15, 2015 at 11:40 am

You know what's up. Patrons ask us questions. We answer them. Everyone gets entertained. It's so simple!

The return of zorth activity to the comic has me curious:

Your characters keep referring to zorth as the "fifth cardinal direction" but all other dimensions have two directions.  In addition to before and after, there's left, right, bow, stern, dorsal, and ventral. Is the zorth axis uniquely unipolar, or is there an "anti-zorth" direction?  Or, is zorth multi-polar, with many potential cizorth and tranzorth directions?  Thanks for clearing this up.
This may come ask a shock to some of you, but "zorth" is completely made up. And, before you ask, yes, a lot of other things in the comic are made up too. I know. It's horrible. But better you pick it up here than on the streets.
Okay. That was way too condescending, but it's too late to to take it back. It's a good and legit question, so here's the real answer.
I think zorth theory would've been developed with the natural presumption that a zorth implies an anti-zorth. But refinements in the theory that came later revealed that it's more useful to model zorth as several "directions" at once.
Zorth is our sci-fi MacGuffin for all sorts of hyperdimensional shenanigans. Especially if those shenanigans either A) shouldn't "realistically" happen, or B) if they could happen if you pump enough energy into a system to very nearly break physics as we know it, but explaining that in any sort of detail would get in the way of the next explosion.
In either case, we can just invoke "It was a zorth!" and the reader nods sagely. This comes out of our plausibility over accuracy policy.
Today I was re-reading The Deadly Art of Science, and I noticed a familiar name on the cover of the Real Science Adventures issue Robo was reading on one of the pages.
I'm not sure if this has been answered before (I don't think so?), but I was curious:

Did Robo pick the name Ironhide to use as an alias, based on the story he read in the RSA issue? Did Robo get mistaken for the actual Ironhide (assuming the Real in RSA means "this actually happened!"), and he just rolled with it? Or was Robo the original Ironhide, and was the RSA story/legend based on him? (so he could read it in the RSA book, and that made him pick the name Ironhide, causing the legend of Ironhide so it could show up in the RSA boOH GODS WE'VE GONE TIMELOOP!)

Thanks for answering!
There's so much going on in The Knights of the Golden Circle that we had to cut everything that wasn't 100% essential. On the bright side, we can revisit everything that was cut in a later spin-off series if we're so inclined.
But the basic idea is this.
At some point between 1860 - 1870 an armored vigilante starts taking out bandits in Colorado. Folks start calling him "Ironhide" and his legend grows. He soon becomes a symbol of justice and of resisting/fighting corruption, which is a darn shame for the Caldwells who are piecing together the first organized crime ring in American history right there in Colorado. The Caldwells eventually kill Ironhide, but they can't kill the idea of him. For instance, he's quite likely the source of inspiration for the Kelly Gang years later.
When Robo pops up in 1870, he tries to lay low so he doesn't screw up time. But he's in the past for about 15 years, so people are bound to catch sight of him here and there. He's immediately identified as or with Ironhide because what else is he gonna be? It's why everyone who meets him in the comic thinks he's either the original Ironhide back from the dead or someone who has taken up his mantle. These people have only heard about Ironhide's legend, so it doesn't seem immediately strange that he's capable of amazing feats of endurance and strength.
Fastforward to the 20th century and we have a young Atomic Robo who voraciously reads pulp magazines. One of his favorites is Real Science Adventures because it features stories based on real historical events. It'd be more accurate to say these stories are "based on" real historical events, but you get the idea. Anyway, Ironhide is one of RSA's more popular recurring characters since the legends of his life, his death, his other life, and his other death are vague enough to allow all sorts of crazy stories "based on" them.
Bonus metapoints: the way history and folklore inform the fiction of Ironhide that Robo reads is a demonstration of how our real history and folklore inform every volume of Atomic Robo.
One of your previous Mailbag questions got me wondering. We've really only seen two "good guy" Science Organizations (as opposed to bad guy science organizations, of which there are legion): Tesladyne and Big Science Inc.  Are there others that haven't been talked about yet? Are you planning on introducing any of them into the comic at any point?

Something to keep in mind is that they all think they're heroic. And they're all going to view the others as antagonistic. And it is our position that none of them are wrong on either count.
Of course Majestic 12/ULTRA look like villains because we're seeing them from Robo's perspective. It'd be pretty easy to see Robo as a dangerous lunatic if we did comics from Majestic's point of view. We deal with this a bit in the upcoming Atomic Robo RPG supplement all about Majestic 12.
We don't bother to make Robo the villain of the supplement. I just don't think that's an interesting "twist." Rather we shift the default point of view to show how an organization like Majestic 12 is a necessary part of keeping civilization from unravelling. Because then anything it does can be justified by the results -- isn't it worth a little collateral damage to save every life on the planet?
Doing this lets you play any type of game from, and I believe this is even a quote from the text, "Science Bastards With Unlimited Gun Budgets" to a more nuanced and psychological thing where good men and women strive to do what's right while trapped inside a corrupt organization.
But that's enough commercial, let's get back to answering your question.
Yes, we'll see more of these sci-fi organizations. I think the blanket term I've come up with is Research & Defense. The Ring of Fire shows us what Majestic has grown into, and we get some time with another organization we've never seen. Maybe two but one of them is so loosely affiliated you can hardly call it an organization. Anyway, you'll see.
I think we used to call The Savage Sword of Dr. Dinosaur, "The one where everything changes." The Ring of Fire is only our first glimpse at what that means. Future volumes will show some other R&D organizations; what they used to be like; and how they've changed in the wake of Tesladyne's fall.