I talk about this comic – which is not strictly a webcomic, but comes with a qualifier, which I’ll get to shortly – and I always risk turning into a sugared-up six year-old in Disneyland.
I love Atomic Robo. I love the book, I love the character, I love the writing, I love the art. If Atomic Robo was a woman, I’d keep her in the style to which she is accustomed, and my wife would probably let me, because her love of it is only slightly less than my own. I am a convert to the Church of Robo. I am a proselytizer of its ways and means. I am a devotee of its cause and its mission.
And yes, I think Dr. Dinosaur is about as brilliant a faux-nemesis for Robo as could be imagined.
Pause for breath, Greg.
OK. First things first. Atomic Robo is not, technically, a web comic, though if you follow this link, you can read several of the stories online. It’s a floppy first, bound to trade second, but – and this is a significant but – it reads like a webcomic. If you follow Clevinger’s pacing, his storytelling, you’ll note that pages are complete moments, that the dramatic tension propels from one to the next, but without those foolish missteps that I’ve committed. Dialogue does not hang, for instance, nor does he use captions to voice-over his transitions. He’s writing a print comic with a web-serial sensibility, and it’s not by accident. Clevinger cut his teeth on webcomics, 8-Bit Theatre, to be precise. The lessons learned are apparent. He is a terrific writer, in my estimation.
Or maybe it’s just that Scott Wegener makes him look so damn good. Comics – obviously enough – live and die upon the art. It’s a visual medium, not a textual one, and the storytelling required is thus a mastery of a very specific form. The greatest compliment I can give here is that I cannot imagine another artist working today who could draw this book. As much as Clevinger’s words define the comic, so does Wegener’s pencil. The balance between the cartoonist and the comic book artist is a delicate one, and he strikes it perfectly.
Then there’s this little treatise (which I have mentioned in the past), and which I have come to hold dear to my heart. Brian and Scott didn’t reinvent the wheel here, when they wrote this. But what they did do was articulate, eloquently and simply, a creator’s manifesto that is apparent in every panel and on every page of their work. I read this, the first time, just as Rick, Eric, and I were really ramping Lady Sabre up to speed, and it’s been a guiding philosophy here ever since. Like I said, it’s not groundbreaking in its content; its groundbreaking, perhaps, because they both committed to it, and they’ve followed through.
There’s more. There’s so much more. There’s the adherence to internal logic, something that I verge to zealous about, and something that has made collaborators and editors I deal with cry. There’s a devotion to hard science, as well as a balance with the fantastic. There’s the clear love of history, science-geek and otherwise. There’s the ever-developing mythology surrounding Robo and his cohorts at Tesladyne. There’s the fact that I can adore this book and then hand it to my 11 year-old, and know he adores it just as much, and I don’t have to worry about what he’s going to read.
And it’s fun. It is genuinely, honest to God, just fun.
So, yes, technically not a webcomic.
But such a damn fine comic all the same.