Creator owned work allows you to have freedoms that mainstream companies will not allow. Completely going above and beyond the call of creator owned comics are the creators of Atomic Robo Brian Clevinger and Scott Wegener, who with their comic Atomic Robo have proved that you can come from a smaller company but make BIG comics.
The fan base of Atomic Robo is a growing one and there’s no doubt why. With pure dedication, on time releases, and guaranteed stories Brian and Scott set the example of how creator owned properties should be handled and run. Mr. Clevinger takes some time to answer some questions, and give us Robo fans even more fulfillment with a few answers about the series, and where it’s going.
IZZYCB: The Atomic Robo comic is digital also right? Or can I only pick it up in trade?
BC: Volumes 1 – 3 are available on the iPhone, iPod Touch, and PSP. Volume 4 hasn’t made the jump yet, but it probably will shortly after it comes out in TPB this August.
IZZYCB: when you guys started Atomic Robo how did you guys get it out there? Webcomic or right to print? And how often were pages released?
BC: We wrote the first six issues, so the whole first trade, and then put together the line art for the first three issues before looking for publishers. We were rejected by everyone until Red 5 Comics contacted us. They saw some of Scott’s Robo concept art I’d posted at nuklearpower.com. We submitted to them and here we are.
IZZYCB: I bet companies and kicking themselves in the ass now. Did you guys get discouraged when the rejections came in?
BC: A little bit. Especially because the rejections were either complete silence or due to reasons outside our control. Like one publisher said Robo was “too close” to a title they were about to release. I guess they were banking on that thing, but they released maybe three issues in the last four years and you never heard of it. So, take that how you will.
But I don’t think it occurred to us to give up. It was just frustrating. Like traffic grinding to a halt half a mile from your exit.
BC: Random chance.
I’d been working on this robot character, his world, and its history for about ten years. This would be ~1996 – 2006. It all started as Kung Fu Robo Fighter Zeta, so yeah, it came a long way. But by 2006 it was Atomic Robo and I was finally ready to make something “real” of it. I started looking for artists to draw the damn thing but everyone I contacted was already too busy or not interested.
I stopped actively looking for an artist and just went back to whatever my day-to-day business. Then Free Comic Book Day 2006 came and went. By pure chance I checked a buddy’s blog. He had just posted about how FCBD was the previous weekend and he spent most of the event at a local comic book store drawing free sketches for kids. He linked to another local artist who’d been doing the same thing.
That was Scott Wegener. I knew it had to be this guy or it was going to be no one. He head exactly the right style. I sent him the pitch and blammo he was on board. A couple weeks later he went from work-for-hire to co-creator.
We ain’t looked back since!
IZZYCB: So what’s the Atomic Robo schedule like? How often do you two put out issues? Any chance of crossovers?
BC: We work in individual volumes. Issues of every volume come out monthly, but there’s a gap of a couple months between volumes so we can build up a buffer. It also provides a definite gap for the reader so it’s 100% clear when one story line ends and another starts.
We do this so we can always jump straight from one adventure to the next without worrying about filler, delays, or lead-in issues.
Crossovers are very, very unlikely. Part of what we’re doing with Atomic Robo is building a consistent world and history. Bringing in another an effectively alien property would make that a very difficult thing. I’m not saying it’s impossible, we’d just need an extremely compelling reason to do it.
IZZYCB: What makes Atomic Robo different than other indie books and mainstream books?
BC: We play around with time in a way you don’t see many other books do. We have a character with nearly 90 years of history and counting, and we jump from one era to another. It lets us keep up a good energetic momentum without devolving into an endless series of ultimately meaningless MEGA EVENTS.
And it also gives us a chance to change gears whenever we like and tell whatever kind of story we’re in the mood for at the time.
But I guess main thing is that we’re just not afraid of having fun. Lots of books seem so concerned with being taken seriously they actively avoid any sense of fun. And then the ones that dare have kind of fun have to do so “ironically” or something so it’ll be allowed. I dunno. Our approach is more like, “Ghostbusters is a great movie, man. Let’s do that.”
IZZYCB: You and Scott plan on doing anything else together after Atomic Robo? Or do you have anything on your own you happen to be working on?
BC: It’ll be a long, long time before there’s an “after” Atomic Robo. We’ve got plans for up to Volume 14 and who knows what we’ll be up to by the time we get there.
IZZYBC: When did you get approached by marvel? and before Atomic Robo what was your writing/comic experience like? Did you have any previous published work? Or was Atomic Robo the idea that opened up these chances?
BC: The story I heard was that one of their editors, Nate Cosby, had read some Robo one weekend. He called me that Monday morning and offered a mini-series. That turned into a couple short stories for a Hulk event they’re doing this weekend. And then someone thought it’d be a good idea to toss me an on-going Captain America series. THE FOOLS!
My previous comics writing experience was my webcomic, 8-bit Theater. Robo was picked up by Red 5 Comics because they were familiar with my online work there.
And Robo lead to the Marvel stuff. It’s a wonderful chain of falling ever more ass backwards into the industry. Currently I’m juggling a couple Marvel projects while Scott toils away on more Robo pages. We’ve got a couple properties we’re always trying to figure out that we’d like to do in between Robo volumes, but who knows what’ll come of that.
IZZYCB: Any final words?
Wed like to thank Brian Clevinger for taking time out for this interview, everyone should check out Red 5 comics, their other properties and keep an eye out for more Atomic Robo goodness and more that Mr. Clevinger has to offer.