Team Robo guarantees:
And here’s why.
No angst: Loading characters up with angst was a revolutionary move on the part of Marvel Comics back in the ’60s. I haven’t looked at a calendar today, but that was four decades ago. There are other emotions and motivations available to characters. Atomic Robo is not a comic that will be 100% sunshine and jokes, it would be idiotic to portray a complicated life of 80+ years as a nonstop party with scientists, but we aren’t going to delve into melodrama either. You are not going to see Robo mope about his lack of emotions, or pine to be human, or throw a tantrum over daddy issues, or whatever childish nonsense passes for characterization in most comics these days.
No “cheesecake”: This is nothing more than Scott and I having the audacity to treat women like human beings. I mean, come on, 99 times out of a 100, there is no reason at all to frame a panel from the perspective of a girl’s ass. Grow up already.
No reboots: They’re frustrating, unnecessary, and a jarring reminder that all fiction is a thinly veiled series of lies. The major events of Robo’s lifetime were plotted years before we worked on the first page of the first issue. Anything Scott and I add to that has to fit organically into the existing framework. If it doesn’t fit as naturally as if it’d been there all along, then we skip it and move to the next idea. This is a much better solution than making a deal that the character would never make with the devil he’d never deal with to change “one” thing that alters the entire universe in ways that no one in charge seems to fully comprehend or address. Ahem. Everything that happens will fit into the larger mythos; everything that happens will happen for a reason; and nothing that happens can be “undone.”
No filler: This one’s pretty simple. Why should we devote a month of our short lives to creating an issue if it isn’t worth reading? And then why should we try to sell you an issue that isn’t worth buying? The main source of filler issues seems to be due to moving set pieces from the aftermath of one event to set up the next one. Since we have no reason to follow Robo’s life as a linear chain of events, we’re free to jump straight from one adventure to the next. Maybe Robo fights a sea monster. Maybe we follow the lives of Action Scientists when off duty. But it ain’t filler.
No delays: This one’s even simpler. The industry’s gotten so bad about delays that they have become the norm. No one is surprised any more when a comic is delayed. And when a comic has no delays, there’s that unspoken “yet” or “in a while” tacked at the end. Red 5 Comics was constantly praised, praised, merely for delivering books on time. What kind of industry is this? Think about it for a minute. Imagine if you were lauded by co-workers and supervisors just for showing up to work on time. It’s ridiculous. We could make more money if we gave you 12 issues a year, but we take a break between each mini-series to build up a buffer on the next one. We’d rather deliver nine issues a year exactly on time than promise you twelve issues and deliver one of them late.
Pick up any Big Two title and you’ve got a 50% chance of finding one, some, or all of those rules broken between its covers. Pick it up for a year, and it’s a 90% chance. This is what’s wrong with comics today. I mean, honestly. What kind of maladjust goes out of his way to read melodramatic borderline misogynist stories with incomprehensible continuities that constantly shift when there’s a story at all if it shows up on time?
It’s not that people don’t like what mainstream comics are about. They flock to superhero movies and TV shows. People want episodic adventure and comics can deliver that like no other medium. So, it’s got to be something else. Do you really think Heroes* would’ve taken off if every scene involving Claire* or Nikki* was shot at ass- or boob-level? If the events of previous episodes changed with every new episode? If the show occasionally aired an hour, or a day, or six weeks late? TV shows don’t do these things because that’s not how you build an audience.
You can blame cable television, and DVDs, home entertainment systems, and PC and console games for the decline of comics readership. I don’t doubt for one second that those contribute to the problem. But, maybe, just maybe, people sought other forms of entertainment because it is a rare comic that treats itself or its readers with respect.
*This was originally written back before Heroes went off the rails. Please replace it with a more relevant reference at your convenience. Thank you.