It's time for another MAILBAG.
Let's get rolling.
I'm curious why you guys decided not to have weird science filter into the mainstream universe a bit more. I mean, sure, you've included enough secret societies and everything to make it plausible (heck ALAN by himself would work just fine as a reason), but, before you included all that, you had to decide "Are we going to have a world where Action Science has changed everything or one where Action Science is more hidden and hasn't affected the landscape of the world so much?"
I'm curious why you went with hidden science. Also, if you're planning on making it less hidden anytime soon.
It’s a question of accessibility. That’s the feature of this series that we championed above all others. It informed the shape of everything we’ve done. It’s why Robo is a robot. You never need to see the origin story. You see a robot on the page and you never question why it’s strong, or invulnerable, or ageless, so we never have to waste time talking about it.
The robot main character lets us build a big and complex continuity across 100+ years without retcons or compressions. That means every story counts and with a little planning every story fits with all the others without any of them getting in the way. And that means readers can start anywhere and read the rest in any order. That’s less of a concern now as the whole comic goes online. But back when print was the only option, you could never be sure that any individual reader would have access to the whole catalog.
Anyway! A big part of how all that history fits together seamlessly is by making sure that it closely resembles our own so we don’t have to devote a lot of space to explaining How Things Are to everyone. Memory and Wikipedia do it for us. Super duper crazy science has to be suppressed or destroyed in the course of these super duper crazy science adventures to keep the world recognizable so we don’t have to keep reminding readers about Kennedy’s second term or when the Fourth Reich claimed Antarctica in 1972.
I mean, sure, that stuff is fertile ground for fun and interesting alternate history stories, they just aren’t the ones we’re doing with Atomic Robo!
Modern stories are going to be a little different. Volume 10 is our first glimpse of a little thing we’re calling Weird Future, the new ongoing “now” of Atomic Robo’s continuity. It’s not that this will be an era where the “hidden” science will become revealed at last. Rather, it’s clear that our immediate future of the real world is going to become very strange. It seems like every day I read articles about emergent technologies that would’ve been considered ridiculous as recently as a year ago. We'll have to let things get a weirder just to keep up.
We've seen a large number of maniacs, mad scientists and explosions in Atomic Robo.
What I gotta ask is if there have been any initiatives made by Tesladyne to reach out to the potentially deranged and help them? Be it to save out on the massive explosions that tend to be an end result of their experiments and/or projects.
With the general awareness of mental health these days, it's bound to have happened at least one, right?
Well, there’s a very in-depth psych evaluation for potential Tesladyne staff and their immediate families, but there’s only so much that can be done to screen for these sorts of things in the general populace.
And, really, there just aren’t that many mad scientists. It may seem like there are, but it’s only because we don’t do comics about days when Robo is bored out of his mind waiting for the results of the latest experiment to come back from the lab.
We've gotten hints that Robo, at some point, got extra A/V stuff wired into him -- the brain phone, getting RSS feeds in his head, watching TV with no screen. This begs all sorts of questions.
Is Robo a WiFi hotspot? Can he 'speak' Bluetooth? Does he have IR emitters so he can act as a universal remote?
Unrelated: Is canonical George dead?
What, no love for Canonical Ananth?
Without spoiling anything for readers diving into the Atomic Mythos for the first time via this website, there are events in Volume 8 that put the ultimate fate of, uh, 95% of the Action Scientists into the Question Mark Zone.
My philosophy is that these guys aren't dead until the comic tells us they are. They have become Schrödinger's cast.
As for the other stuff.
Universal Remote, no. But he does have a cell phone in there.
Has the transition to webcomic changed how you do each page? Before a reader would read each issue as it was released, but once the website is caught up readers will be reading a page at a time. So in a way each page is its own issue.
Does the fact that we are currently using more DC than ever before have something to do with Edison? Or has he moved on to bigger and better things?
Oh, and a third question, will we ever find out where Edison's Robot came from?
Thanks, Timothy T.
I WAS PROMISED TWO QUESTIONS.
It’s funny, the webcomic transition is pretty much meaningless on my end because I was already writing Atomic Robo like a webcomic.
It’s a habit I picked up without knowing it until Greg Rucka told me. I tend to structure my pages to be specific units that will be experienced separate from all other pages because I spent ~10 years writing a webcomic.
Back in the wild days of 8-bit Theater I made sure there were several gags per page. With Atomic Robo there’s less of an emphasis on “gags” because it’s not primarily a comedy series. Still, something important happens on every page. Which you ought to be doing anyway, because my god, what was the point of that page otherwise?
I suppose the big thing is that there’s a sense of completeness to each page. It means pacing things so there is a natural pause at the end of each page. Even if the scene keeps going on the next page(s).
As for Direct Current, we use it so much because it’s so handy! Alternating Current is not a miracle technology for all applications as some Tesla nerds would have you believe. In certain contexts, it’s unquestionably superior to Direct Current. But DC is unquestionably superior to AC in other contexts. Having access to both of them is pretty great.
As for Edison’s robot, he built it! Probably the most successful out of what I assume to be Edison’s many attempts to build a better Robo.
Fun Fact. The robot is called the Dynamic Electro Consciousness Engine or DE-CE or “dee-cee” haha get it. Yeah, that was dumb.