Time for another installment of the Weekly Mailbag where we take questions from our Patrons every week, or whatever, and answer them!
On to the questions! And, I guess, the answers!
I just realized that in the Atomic Robo timeline, Nikola Tesla dies the same year that Marconi loses some of his patents based on Tesla's work. How does their dispute play out in a world with lightning guns and war zeppelins? What nastiness is Marconi up to before he turns his focus to Science City?
This is one of those answers that's gonna need a quickie history lesson in front of it. Surprise, that happens fairly often with Atomic Robo.
Okay. Marconi is mostly known for “inventing” the radio. He did this by taking something like seventeen devices patented by Tesla and assembling them in ways previously and publically described by Tesla himself. This is like putting together bookshelves from IKEA and then claiming to have invented the bookshelf. Marconi lost the radio patent eventually, but the damage had been done and today everyone thinks of him as the father of radio.
What most people don’t know about Marconi is that he was into fascism. Like “pals with Mussolini” into fascism. Member of The Grand Fascist Council into it. So, yeah, just a super guy all around. Our version of Marconi plays this up by claiming that his death was faked in 1937 to allow him to direct the efforts of the Axis Space Program secreted away in the remote mountains of Venezuela.
If this sounds completely insane that’s because it’s one of the more obscure, but I assure you absolutely real -- UFO conspiracy theories I’ve come across. It was so absurd I knew we had to incorporate it into the history of Atomic Robo.
And while doing this with Marconi gives us fun stuff to play with like the secret Nazi space station and the hidden ruins of Science City, it doesn’t do much to affect the Marconi vs. Tesla shakeout because everything Marconi is getting up to post-”death” is totally secret and evil. I think canonically it's not even discovered until the 1960s.
He does manage to launch a secret Nazi orbital weapon in the final days of the war, so that's kind of cool. We get a hint of how that worked out in Vol 8 and we’ll get some more details on it soon.
By now, any alt history nerd worth a damn should be asking, “Hold up, why make Marconi the head of your space program when you’ve already got Von Braun?”
Because Von Braun’s experimental chemical rocket designs had already proven themselves essentially sound by 1934, and that made his work too valuable to the fatherland's build up for war. As per the completely insane UFO theory above, Marconi started working on anti-gravity, obviously a lateral move from radio. So, when Italy joins the Axis Powers in 1937, part of the deal is to give Marconi the freedom and funding to perfect this technology and launch the ultimate space weapon. Hence: faked death + secret South American space port.
If there was to be an Atomic Robo anime series, which studio would make it and who would direct?
HAHAHAHA you’re stupid for asking this stupid question because all of anime is stupid!
Except for the ones I like. Obviously.
But it’s Evangelion era Gainax for maximum “?!?!?!” Because why entertain an audience when you can baffle them into rage?
Question about Atomic Robo history.
My first exposure to the tales of Nicola Tesla came in 1984, when OMD released their wonderful song, Tesla Girls:
Now I'm wondering if Atomic Robo was involved in that song in any way. Did he write it? Was he aware of it? How does he feel about it? And just what WAS Robo up to in the 80s?
Thanks for the great comics, guys!
I figure Robo is barely familiar with most media of the last fifty or sixty years. So, uh, nope! Sorry.
As for what he was up to in the ‘80s, you’ll see! Uh, eventually. Volumes 10, 11, and 12 are already accounted for, but at some point after those we’ll get into the ‘80s with Atomic Robo and the Soldiers of Fortune. The idea for that one: write a love letter to all the action / super vehicle shows of the 1980s.
One of my favorite things about Robo has been the use of real historical figures and events to add verisimilitude to the world you've created. Have you had a particular favorite person or event you've researched for a volume?
The cop out answer is all of them. You can’t help but become fascinated by the likes ofBass Reeves, or Edison, or Tesla, or Houdini, etc. Atomic Robo comics are a way to get paid to read up on the historical people and events I want to learn about anyway. I mean, really, that’s the whole point of being a writer.
Robo’s a great excuse to learn about Western history.
We’ve got a couple Big Crazy Space sci-fi projects on the far horizon, probably nothing you’ll see until 2016 at the earliest, but those have been great excuses to learn more about the extremely strange and exciting frontiers of astrophysics and cosmology.
If I had to pick a favorite, and for this question it seems I must, it’s probably Annie Oakley. She was a real firecracker.