The Biggest Superhero Films That Didn't Happen, Part 2
Comic Books, Film
Atomic Robo, the long-running adventure comic by Brian Clevinger and Scott Wegener, is making the move to the web.
The creators announced they allowed their contract expire with Red 5, where the comic debuted in 2007, and will soon switch to a digital-first model, serializing Atomic Robo online before releasing a print collection.
First, however, they’ll upload to their website seven years’ worth of comics, complete with creator commentary and process drawings — more than 1,000 pages in all. The first volume, Atomic Robo and the Fightin’ Scientists of Tesladyne, will be released online in full on Wednesday. Afterward, a new issue will be release each Monday, Wednesday and Friday.
If you’ve ever done a random browse of webcomics over the past decade, chances are you ran into a sprite comic.
The sprite comic uses aesthetics from the early generations of video games, an era spanning the rise of Pac-Man and Donkey Kong to the video game crash of 1983 to the rebirth under Mario and Mega Man once Nintendo came to dominate the market. The aesthetic itself has evolved and flourished in a variety of media. A lot of it is deeply rooted in nostalgia, as when Community aired an episode in which the characters are sprites in an ’80s-style RPG.
Organizations | The Siegel and Shuster Society is seeking donations to repair the fence surrounding the former site of Joe Shuster’s childhood home in Cleveland and to help maintain the new Superman exhibit at Cleveland Hopkins International Airport. The wooden fence, which is decorated with large metal plates depicting the first Superman story from Action Comics #1, was damaged early last month by a drunken driver. Repairs are expected to cost about $3,000; any additional money will be put toward future restoration. Dedicated in October, the airport’s Superman Welcoming Center has suffered wear from visitors encouraging children to pose for photographs beside the statue. The group is seeking $1,500 to fix the damage and install a barrier to keep kids off the exhibit. Donations can be made through the Cleveland Foundation. [Cleveland Plain Dealer]
Conventions | It’s time for the mass media to start earnestly explaining Comic-Con to their readers; here’s one that gives a quick overview of the history of the con and gathers quotes from various notables, including Marvel’s Joe Quesada, the guy who runs the Walking Dead obstacle course, and CBR’s Jonah Weiland. [The Long Beach Press-Telegram]
Just hours after launching a Kickstarter campaign to fund a companion “field guide” to Atomic Robo, creators Brian Clevinger and Scott Wegener have already rocketed past their $7,500 pledge goal — by more than $16,000. The project was fully funded within two hours.
Tesladyne Field Guide isn’t a comic book, however: It’s a handbook for employees of the fictional Tesladyne Industries, founded by Atomic Robo, that tackles such topics as “How To Deal With Errant Dinosaurs,” “So You’ve Got An Evil Twin” and “Coping With Alternate Realities.”
While the book is certainly incentive enough for many Atomic Robo fans to donate, some of the pledge rewards may be a big draw. “We […] figured if we were doing a Kickstarter, then we should throw in some crazy tiers and do stuff we would never do if we were just opening an online store,” Clevinger writes on the Kickstarter page. “So, we’re making campaign exclusive polos and lab coats and other goodies that we will likely NEVER MAKE outside the Kickstarter.”
The lower tiers feature prints, buttons, T-shirts and the like, but it’s when you get to the $250 level that things start to get fun: the “Junior Action Scientist Kit,” with lab coat and a Tesladyne polo shirt; the “Junior Doctor Dinosaur Kit,” with a lab coat (“slightly ruined), “Genuine Hollow Earth Crystals”; and so on (the rewards for the $500 tier and one of the $250 tiers are already gone). Clevinger also quickly added stretch goals, which the campaign has already surpassed.
“We’re choosing to err on the side of caution with regard to calling out our goals at this point,” Clevinger writes. “We’d rather not say or suggest or imply what we’re planning until we’re 100% certain we can make it a reality. ‘Cause otherwise we’re just jerkin’ your chains.”
The Kickstarter campaign ends Aug. 9.
Free Comic Book Day is once again upon us, the day that current and hopefully potential comic fans flock to their local comic shop to sample a buffet of comic choices from publishers large and small. There’s a lot to sink your teeth into this time around, from previews of new or upcoming stuff — like Marble Season and Superman: The Last Son of Krypton #1 to first issues of brand new comics — like The Strangers #1 and Aphrodite IX #1. There are original comics, licensed comics, kids comics, anthologies … basically something for everyone.
Some retailers will offer all-you-can-eat options, while others might have limits on what you can get … so if you have to make a choice, here are six comics we’re particularly looking to sink our teeth into.
The Fictory has released production art and a short clip from Atomic Robo: Last Stand, the animated short the studio is making based on Brian Clevinger and Scott Wegener’s popular comic. There’s no concrete release date yet, as the project was delayed when the studio chose to start over after completing an overwhelmingly successful Kickstarter campaign. The goal was just $12,000, but the project raised more than $72,000, so rather than forge ahead with the film they started on no budget, the animators rebuilt from scratch.
“We knew that if we were going to do things right, we needed to start on solid, consistent ground,” writes Creative Director Joseph Krzemienski. “This meant a lot more work, but we knew it was the right call.”
Atomic Robo writer Brian Clevinger has revealed some of the plans around his and Scott Wegener’s (and Nikola Tesla’s) robot for the coming year, and there’s some really cool stuff. In addition to the next miniseries (Atomic Robo and the Savage Sword of Dr. Dinosaur), the previously announced role-playing game, and an animated short, there are also plans for another volume of Real Science Adventures.
Unlike the more random, first volume of RSA, this one will be six issues featuring the Centurions of Science, sort of the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen of the Atomic-Roboverse, including historical figures like Tesla, Annie Oakley and Harry Houdini. According to Clevinger, “The first three issues are one shots focusing on different parts of the team as they encounter what appears to be an ever more vast conspiracy. The last three issues unite the Centurions against the full force of a threat that looms over the entire United States.”
There’s also another Free Comic Book Day issue coming, some more merchandise, and — if everything goes smoothly — a third Real Science Adventures volume and the start of the ninth, full miniseries, Atomic Robo and the Knights of the Golden Circle.
After launching its Long Box skateboard line last month with an Erik Larsen-illustrated Savage Dragon deck, Freak Show has announced the addition of an Atomic Robo design by co-creator Scott Wegener. They’ll ship in mid-September, with the company offering a limited number of decks signed by Wegener and his Atomic Robo collaborator Brian Clevinger.
Unsigned Savage Dragon decks sell for $59.99, plus $5 shipping; presumably it’s the same price for Atomic Robo.
… I think mistaking someone’s identity usually involves surprise on the part of at least one of the parties. To the second, I’d like to put forward the perhaps radical idea that an uncharted South Pacific island full of women AWOL from WW2 is actually unusual. We’ve seen Robo immediately doubt unusual things when he first encounters them for six volumes. His reaction here is no different, and it’s not out of proportion to other unusual events he’s come across.
– Brian Clevinger, responding to accusations that Atomic Robo may be sexist in “The Flying She-Devils of the Pacific.”
I’ve read the issue and didn’t think Robo’s reaction to the all-female team of air pirates was unreasonable, but I’m hardly unbiased being a) a man and just privileged enough to not always notice that kind of thing, and b) enough a Robo fan to give him (and his creators) the benefit of the doubt. It’s worth pointing out though that Clevinger’s already gone on record as saying that he goes out of the way to make Atomic Robo as inclusive as possible, so maybe a little doubt-benefiting is in order?
If you’ve read the issue, what do you think?
Welcome to Food or Comics?, where every week we talk about what comics we’d buy at our local comic shop based on certain spending limits — $15 and $30 — as well as what we’d get if we had extra money or a gift card to spend on a splurge item.
If I had $15, I’d walk out of the comic store with one book this week Fatale, Vol. 1: Death Chases Me (Image, $14.99). I fell off this book after the first issue, preferring to read in trades, and now that time has come. I’m looking forward to being surprised at what Brubaker and Phillips have done in this first arc as the debut issue was very promising.
If I had $30, I’d load up at Image with Manhattan Projects #4 (Image, $3.50), Prophet #26 (Image, $2.99) and Hell Yeah #4 (Image, $2.99). Prophet is becoming my favorite Image book because it unites my comic heroes of childhood (Prophet!) and one of the top cartoonists out there (Brandon Graham) with a surprising introduction of BD-style science fiction. Hell Yeah is a fun romp reimagining the staples of ’80s and ’90s comics as if John Hughes were the eighth Image founder. Last up I’d get Wolverine and the X-Men #12 (Marvel, $3.99). I was worried this series would get derailed by Avengers Vs. X-Men, but Aaron and Co. have managed to keep it on point as best as conceivably possible. It’s an ideal opening to bring Rachel Summers to the forefront, and the smirking Kid Gladiator on the cover is full of win.
If I could splurge, I’d get Michel Rabagliati’s Song of Roland hardcover (Conundrum Press, $20). I’ll always admire Free Comic Book Day, because it was there that a little Drawn and Quarterly one-shot introduced me to Rabagliati’s work. I’m surprised to see this new volume of his work not published by D&Q, instead published by Canadian house Conundrum. Anyway, this book appears to deal with the death of the father-in-law of the lead character, Paul. It’s been extremely engaging to see Paul grow through the series, and having him deal with events like this as I myself grow up and experience similar events is really touching.
Conventions | Creative director Rico Renzi discusses HeroesCon, which celebrates its 30th anniversary this weekend with a three-day event that’s experienced a spike in advance ticket sales: “Stan Lee’s attendance to this year’s show has definitely caused a spike in advance ticket sales from what I can tell. I honestly like the show at just the size it is; it’s just right. I used to hop on a bus from Baltimore to go the NYCC and I loved it for the first couple years. It just got too big for me too enjoy it, you couldn’t walk around without rubbing up against strangers. It’s a great alternative to San Diego now I guess. If you’re looking for a pure comic book show though, HeroesCon is where it’s at.” In addition to Lee, this year’s guests include Neal Adams, Mark Bagley, Cliff Chiang, Frank Cho, Becky Cloonan, Geof Darrow, Kelly Sue DeConnick, Evan Dorkin, Tommy Lee Edwards, Matt Fraction, Francesco Francavilla, Jaime Hernandez, Dave Johnson, Jeff Lemire, Paul Levitz, Mike Mignola, George Perez, Louise Simonson, Walt Simonson, Scott Snyder and Bernie Wrightson. [The Comics Reporter]
“One ‘defense’ for not making the effort to be inclusive is, ‘Aw, but man, I don’t want to have to think about this stuff, I just want to read/write stories.’ And, y’know what? We’re sympathetic to that. Thinking about it can be really taxing, confusing, and depressing. Imagine if you had to think about that stuff all the time. Perhaps due to being not white? Or not male? Or not straight?”
– Brian Clevinger, explaining why Atomic Robo is specifically designed to be as inclusive as possible, while still telling awesome stories
We used to handle these things with short stories in the backs of our issues, but we weren’t satisfied with that model. The artists who drew those stories did so in their own free time. Call it fan art that just happened to be based on a Robo script they found. In their inbox. Sent by me.
We loved being able to pack a little more content in our issues, but we came to hate that it got there by exploiting our friends. Sure, they came to us, in some cases they begged. But if these guys are going to take the time to draw comics for us, they should get paid for the effort.
-Atomic Robo writer Brian Clevinger, explaining the ethical component of creating an anthology series about the dinosaur-slinging robot and his team of Action Scientists.
In a industry where so many creators are willing to work for “exposure” (and so many publishers are willing to exploit that), this is really damn cool. Those back-up stories have always added so much to the various Atomic Robo comics that Real Science Adventures was always an exciting idea for a series. This makes it even better.
An animated version of Brian Clevinger and Scott Wegener’s Atomic Robo, subtitled “Last Stop,” went into production some time ago. Now The Fictory, the animation studio that’s been working on it, needs about $12,000 to finish it.
“The Fictory, a small animation studio, is running a Kickstarter to raise funds that would allow them to complete work on a short Atomic Robo animated film,” Wegener told us over email. “No one involved is actually getting anything out of this. This is a total labor of love. But love needs to pay the electricity bill and eat every now and
again. Hence the Kickstarter.”
The project page has a list of all the rewards they’re offering, including DVDs of the project once it is completed, T-shirts, art books and animation cels, among others. Check out the trailer for the project after the jump.
She-Devils was supposed to be Volume 2. And then 3. Also 4 through 6. We kept finding reasons to push it back, but the truth was simply that we weren’t yet good enough to pull it off … Which means that, yes, a multi-generational time travel story that eschews traveling through time was a less intimidating story to us than She-Devils … [W]hat happens in it is hard as hell to pull off on a craft level. Moreover, I think Scott and I sensed that this had the potential to be one of those stories, a synthesis of everything that is an Atomic Robo tale. Hopefully we’re nearly good enough now that we won’t screw that up.
Click the link for his full comments as well as Scott Wegener’s thoughts and research on the She-Devils, pictured above.