Posted January 27, 2015 at 03:45 pm
Welcome to our first ever Weekly Mailbag! Where Patrons submit questions and then we pick some of them and publish the answers for all to see. And we’ll do this every week. Or every other week? It kind of depends on your participation. So, y’know, get on that. We're now taking questions for the next installment.
Enough! Let’s get to the questions...
Has Tesladyne employee attempted using lab equipment (lasers) to emulate Superman using his heat vision to shave?
If so, who and why did they think it was a good idea?
We live in the era of safe laser hair removal thanks to the noble sacrifices of a few brave men and women. There’s a plaque somewhere.
I'm curious about character development. When creating, say, a new Action Scientist, do you start with a sketched silhouette, which will inform the personality and motivations? Do you write a fantastic pun, realize nobody currently in the scene could pull it off, and invent a character on the spot who can fill the void? Is there some way to blame it all on Dr Dinosaur?
We’ll have a design, or a hint of a personality, and then put them on the page to let those things influence one another. And, in a way, the story tells us who that character is.
We have a very collaborative process that brings out the best ideas from both of us. The things I write don’t necessarily appear on the final comic page. And when they do, they don’t necessarily appear as I’d intended. Which, y’know, is fine. In general it’s little details. Things like a facial expression or posture. Or a character interacting with the environment in some way. These are great touches that add a lot of life to a scene. It’s Scott’s way of taking up the slack I leave in a script. I’m more concerned with the timing and execution of gags -- not jokes, necessarily, just bits of dialog and visuals -- so I tend to leave out the little details that make a character human.
Scott puts those in. And then those visuals force me to change the dialog a little. Like, if the dialog is some kind of pun about getting punched, but he’s drawn a kick, well duh of course that needs a change. And then that change influences where we take the character.
Two of our original Action Scientists from Volume One make great examples of this. Bao Lang and Bernard Fischer. They weren’t given names in the script. None of the Action Scientists were. They were all SCIENTIST #1, SCIENTIST #2, etc. Scott just picked the three he wanted to put into the first issue where they appear, and we rolled from there. Since these guys mostly popped up in conversations with each other, it meant that any one of them could have borrowed lines from two different sources depending on how we played with the scene. Lang kept popping up around sassy lines from SCIENTIST #2 and #3. Actually, I didn’t mention him earlier, but that’s how Vikram became who he is too because he kept popping up around lines that sounded like a Wild-Eyed Theorist’s. So, that’s what he became.
And then there’s Bernard. His sad little line in the first panel of this page sealed his fate as the guy who will always be in the wrong place at the wrong time.
It works a little differently with historical figures since we have facts to fall back on. Obviously, those facts are up for interpretation, but they give us some common ground to work from.
Hi Brian and Scott,
I discovered Atomic Robo because of Free Comic Book Day, and I absolutely loved the 2011 FCBD story. The ending, with Emma arriving to join Tesladyne when she grew up really touched me (here's hoping she reappears in some issues in 2021 :) ). My question is:
Do you plan to still put out Atomic Robo stories for FCBD? And will there be print issues for comic book stores?
Whatever our plans for FCBD future, it’s far too late for us to participate this year. You have to get that stuff turned in and approved, like, nine months ahead of schedule or something ridiculous.
I’ll just say that FCBD is always on the first Saturday of May and we’ve timed the release of our back catalog so that new Atomic Robo content will start to come out in mid-May. So, y’know, early May might be an interesting time around this here website.
Curious question. Since this Patreon marks the beginning of making Atomic Robo creator-owned, what does this mean regarding your affiliation with Red 5? Will print versions of the comic still exist? If so, do you currently have a distribution plan? Atomic Robo doesn't seem to be Red 5's cover focus on this year's FCBD so I have the impression that you've cut ties with them altogether.
A long-time fan since Vol. 2,Chocolancer
Point of order! We’ve always been creator owned. We just had a publisher before. Now we’re still creator owned and self-published through the internet.
But, yeah. Our ninth volume, The Knights of the Golden Circle, will be the last Atomic Robo material published by Red 5 Comics. We’ll handle the publishing of new material and reprints of the back catalog.
On the one hand, it was an amicable split. On the other, I don’t think either party was thrilled by it either. We stuck with them and the direct market for seven years, but there just wasn’t enough money coming in. Scott and I are well into our thirties and we’re still living like college students. And Scott’s daughter will soon be a college student. Like before Volume 14. We had to either cut out all the middlemen or stop making Atomic Robo.
I suppose we could have bargained for larger page rates, but it felt wrong to even suggest it. “Expose yourself to way more risk by giving us bigger advances or lose your best selling title,” is a lose-lose proposition. We couldn’t ask them to make that choice, because it’s an unfair proposition from the start. Red 5 Comics isn’t an abstract corporate entity that we can make heartless decisions about. It’s a couple guys. We just couldn’t bring ourselves to blackmail them.
So, here we are!