Sunday, November 30, 2008

"A Titan Against A Titan..."

When I started working on the incarnation of Robot 13 that we ultimately decided on, I started reading alot of Greek Mythology. If you read any commentary at all on Greek myths, you will discover that the Greeks, like all major civilizations, wrote their stories to convey not only a sense of their religion, but to project to future generations the ideals and values of "true" Greek society. In other words~ if you look at what the underlying messages are in Greek myths, you will discover what types of behavior and character traits were valued by the ancient Greeks.

Some of those values are compatible with our modern society and some are not. For example: it is very clear if you read Greek mythology that there was a very Xenophobic side to their belief system. Time and time again, the myths show that people who leave their homeland do so at their own risk, because everything outside of Greece is either viciously deadly or designed to keep you from what really matters... your home. That is why there are so many giant monsters in Greek myths~ they symbolize the fear of things that are different.

Often, when something that is new to us presents itself, the challanges associated with it seem all the more great (or "Gigantic" as it were) because we are out of our element. Once we understand those things more fully, the key to overcoming those challenges becomes quite clear. This is why the Greeks always give their giant monsters one hard to discover yet obvious flaw...

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Robot 13: Vampire Hunter?

When Daniel and I began to develop KING! and began working on the first one shot, we talked about the basic ground rules of the series. We knew that one of the things that tends to kill a series over time is when a creator falls in love with their characters to the point where they forget what the point of those characters is supposed to be. The "MY character can do ANYTHING," mantra not only wrecks a good thing, but it just isn't a good idea.

For King, we decided we came up with something short and sweet; It was not only our simple framework for the character, but it winds up being our sales pitch at conventions...

"He Kills Monsters."

That's why, when you open a KING! comic, you know what to expect.


And monsters.

And King killing the monsters.

While, as a writer, my goal is always to provide a good story and to develop characters and make the plot interesting, I also know I have to adhere to the basic "rules" of the book. In the case of King~ he can meet pretty much any monster, as long as that monster can end up dead in the end...

Robot 13, on the other hand, has a totally different set of rules. Sure, he will also fight monsters, but not just ANY monsters...

And those monsters, not being randomly selected, live in a world that is governed by rules. And if those rules affect the monsters, they will affect out Hero as well.

What ARE those rules?

You'll have to wait a bit more before I spill the beans on that.

Needless to say, however, that while King may be fighting Vampires in the not too distant future, Robot 13 most definitely will not.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Message In A Bottle

As Daniel was fine tuning the visual look of Robot 13, I was busy sharpening my pencil and trying to make the book worth the eventual drachmas that you will spend to get yourself a copy. I had the basis for the issue 1 script done for a while~ an opening scene that would start the book off with a bang was already in place, but we needed a back story for our Robot and some clear and cohesive idea of where we were going with everything.

While in the past, I went very high tech with my research, this time around I decided to break out the ball point pen and write everything into a notebook. On a trip from New York to Phoenix (and at odd moments when I had time during my stay) I scribbled pages and pages of notes and script into a notebook I bought at Target for a buck. While I did end up revising and re-writing some aspects of the script for our mini-series, the bones and most of the meat of our story are in there...

I could let you peek inside, but you know what I'd have to do to you at that point, right?

I thought you did.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

No Bones About It

It wasn't long after both Daniel and Jeff had completed covers for Robot 13's first issue that a few things started coming together.

First was Daniel's decision to "firm up" the design of our Robot hero. While he did move away from some of the more "mechanical" elements of the design that form the basis of the "Movie" version, he did make some aspects of Robot 13 look like they could actually work given some superior technology.

If you compare today's image with the earliest design shown here, you can see the subtile yet important changes which happened as Daniel evolved and developed Robot 13.

Under the surface, the character was changing as well...

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Head Hunter

By the time the covers were pretty much in the bag, We had the first issue script completely written and I had put together a pretty complete backstory for Robot 13. If you know anything about me by now, you will know at least 2 things pertaining to my writing: I love to research the stories I write, and I am pretty much a packrat when it comes to ideas...

The story we settled on for Robot 13 ultimately came from a variety of sources~ some was born out of details from my research, some from ideas kicked around by either Daniel or myself and some came from things we had "disgarded" along the way in the process of creating other stories. One such "misfit" idea won't appear until issue 3, has it's roots in the first draft of Enlightenment, but was left on the cutting room floor pretty quickly.

Hopefully, the new home it's found will be the right one.

We will see...

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

An Early Christmas Gift

Not long after I received Jeff's rough layout, I got this~ the finished cover.

It's been almost a year now, and it still wows me...

Monday, November 24, 2008

"A Drawring"

Not too long after I sent Jeff everything I had concerning Robot 13, I decided to let Daniel know what was going on. Although he was already working on his own cover, he was a big a fan of Jeff's work as I was & was happy to have Jeff take a stab at it.

A few days after I spoke to Daniel, this rough sketch was Emailed to me by Jeff. While it's plain to me now, I was a little confused as to what he was proposing... even so, I trust Jeff like I trust Daniel in these things, so I acted like I understood it and told him to go ahead and do whatever it was he wanted...

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Moving Pictures

When Daniel and I decided that we were going to develop Robot 13 as the star of his own comic, I started thinking about promoting it. While we had done a pretty good job of getting the word out about KING!, I knew we could do much more. One night, while I was trying to think of ways to accomplish this, it came to me that I knew someone who could do a butt kicking cover for us that would be sure to get some notice- Jeff Slemons.

While it was true that Daniel is pretty adament about doing his own covers, I reasoned to myself that Jeff's art was just so off the chain that I would risk the potential of getting Daniel a little miffed just to see what Jeff would do. Besides, I figured we could always make Jeff's piece into a poster or something if Daniel protested...

At that point, Daniel didn't have one definative look for Robot 13, so I sent Jeff everything I had. Since the one shot that Daniel did for the CGI folks had a ghostly "face" instead of a skull (because they thought the skull would "scare kids," like THAT was a bad thing...) I crudely pasted the skull from one of Daniel's other shots over the "face" of the robot.

That image would become the basis of our "Movie Version" of Robot 13.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

"...Don't Be Afraid Of What You Can't See..."

One of the things I have admired about Daniel from my early dealings with him, is that he has always pushed himself to put his best into the final product. Each image should have as much impact as possible, and should be everything that it can be. I also strive for that in my writing, and I try to push myself to find an angle to every story that isn't the expected or hasn't been done before in that particular way...

Of the many ways that this quality manifests itself, is that Daniel likes to do his own covers. That initial image should ideally draw a person in, and make them want to find out what is inside waiting for the reader...

Daniel did the image above as the cover for Robot 13's 1st issue. I have no doubt that it will be, but it won't be the only cover...

Friday, November 21, 2008

"It's Alive...ALIVE!"

When Daniel and I collaborate on a story, it usually will start with something visual that Daniel has sketched out or has been thinking about. When I see a piece of his art for a new character design, I almost always start asking questions about it~ why some detail is there or what he thinks the character should be like. I get a lot from Daniel's initial impressions that end up in our stories, and quite often those discussions lead to things that neither one of us would have probably thought about on our own...

If you have seen any of the interior preview pages from Robot 13, you may notice a subtle omission to the design in the image above. In the actual comic, our robot has prominent electrodes above his shoulders.

WHY is this an important thing to note?

Well, when Daniel and I had one of our first discussions about the Robot, he told me, "I didn't do it in the picture I sent you, but he has electrodes..."

"Like Frankenstein, you mean," I asked him.

"Yea," He replied.

The rest of that conversation was all about Frankenstein, and how cool the original book was & the theme of the old movies, where the point was being made that there should be limits to science and that people shouldn't play God. Because of that discussion, there are elements in Robot 13 which very much relate to Frankenstein~ exactly what they are will remain a mystery for now, but if you look for them, they can't be missed....

Thursday, November 20, 2008

More Tall Tales To Tell

A while back I gave a partial recap of some of my favorite links that I complied when I researched the Kraken for Robot 13. If you like, you can look at the original post here~ I double checked all the links & they still work.

I had a few really goodies that I never put up, plus a few that people have sent me since that post, so I figured now would be as good a time as any to share them.

The UnMuseum has a nice entry on the history of the Kracken. While they point out that a creature named a "Kraken" isn't really a proper Greek monster, there is a tradition of squid like monsters in Greek lore.

Go to Historychannel's "Monsterquest" site & check out this: if you click on "all monsters" and select "giant squid," you'll see some great content.

Gentle Giant has an AWESOME action figure of the Ray Harryhausen Kraken for sale!

I was emailed this Kraken image, from a RPG website~ very nice art.

The Melbourne Symphony Orchestra plays a snappy tune called "Kraken."

Even better~ I was sent this link, for a "squid-centric" website simply called "Squid."

From the highly addictive (and highly recommended) game spore~ here is a dancing Kraken.

Finally- one of my favorites is the monster alphabet by Ape-Lad. Aside from a Kraken, there are plenty of fun monsters to enjoy...

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

It Came From Beneath The Sea

For the past few years, Daniel and I have been setting up shop at comic conventions. It's quite an undertaking~ having to pay for a table means that we not only want to have enough merchandise to cover our costs, but we need to have things which make people want to stop and take a look. Shortly after we parted ways with the CGI guys, Daniel made this image of Robot 13, which we sold as a print. As you can see, Daniel abandoned much of the added mechanical aspects that we added to our robot to make him more "movie friendly." You will also notice the giant octopus that Robot 13 has just killed; this image helped solidify the new direction for us, and got me thinking about taking our story in the direction it would ultimately go.

When I saw the picture, I asked Daniel, "What's that in the picture with the robot?"
"A Kraken," he replied.
"Why a Kraken," I asked in return.
"I like drawing Squids," Daniel said. "All those tentacles are fun to do."

"How about if he fights a Kraken in issue one," I said.
And then I started looking into the whole sea monster thing...

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Mad Monster Party

As I pointed out last time, it was during the time when Daniel & I were working to develop a CGI project with his "Retrobot" character that we re-named him Robot 13. What I didn't explain was why this change took place.

Up until that point, Daniel & the whole group of us were using the name "Retrobot," as a working title; It was so popular with the CGI people, in fact, that they almost immediately got cold feet on the project once we changed the name. We did so because we found out that not only was "Retrobot" NOT an original character name, it was being used by a very good friend of ours. His name is Daniel Davis~ an amazing artist and the mad scientific genius behind Steamcrow, a site that you should visit early and often. If you go here, you can see t shirts of his "Retrobot" design...

Now, Steamcrow isn't the ONLY company using the name "Retrobot."

You can play a Retrobot video game, print your own Retrobot Paper Dolls, shop at the Retrobot online store... and none of these other "Retrobots" are related, either. While we COULD have used the name as well, in the storyline we had created for the CGI project we decided that our robot wasn't the first (or the last) incarnation of super robot, so our Hero would be Robot 13 and yes, there was going to be a Robot 14 and 15 and 21 and on we would go...

As for the design~ well, there have also been robots with skulls in them. The picture above is also a Steamcrow design. I have a signed one in my home & you can buy one here.

And for the record, Daniel Davis really LOVES Robot 13, just like we love his stuff. He will most likely do a very cool pinup for one issue of our mini series when it hits next year...

Monday, November 17, 2008

Pimp My Robot

As Daniel & I were mulling around what exactly we wanted to do with "Retrobot," we were approached by some people who did CGI animation; They told us they liked our work & wanted us to create something new, which they wanted to spin off into a "big" CGI project.
Although they were very nice guys, they really didn't know exactly what they wanted or how it was all going to work itself out. I put together a whole futuristic storyline for the project~ the concept was that our robot was "throwback" type technology in a sleek, "World's Fair"/"World of Tomorrow" type Art Deco Utopian society, which was invaded by man-made giant monsters. It was very Cold War meets Toho stuff, and I really enjoyed working on it. I scripted 4 interlocking "episodes" for this new venture, and Daniel re-designed the robot in the ways you see above; The animators wanted something much more mechanical and detailed, and Daniel went at it...
We got to a point where it was obvious that it wasn't going to work out, so both sides walked away amicably. We took our creative property with us~ although we decided we didn't want our comic to go in the direction we were taking it as an animated project, it yielded some interesting ideas for me to build our new story and gave our character a new name.
He was now officially Robot 13.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

"The First Rule About Fight Club..."

Right around the point where Daniel was looking to streamline the look of his robot, he started telling me about his ideas for the character. We had just finished producing the first KING! one shot, and we were looking to kick the next installment up a notch. Daniel sent me this piece that he created when a publisher was looking for newer shots of KING!, and suggested that King fight his "Retrobot" character.

I took one look at him and firmly said, "No."

King, for all his crazy antics and wild fashion choices, does one thing very well.

He kills monsters.

The problem with that, is he ALWAYS kills monsters. That's part of the fun~ you might wonder how he's going to do it, but he's always got to walk away from the battle as the victor...

"Why kill off such a cool character," I asked, "when we could make him the center of his own book?"

While I didn't know exactly what that book would be about yet, I really wanted to save him until we figured that out...

Saturday, November 15, 2008

The Patron Saint Of Bees

The next time Daniel's "Retrobot" character surfaced, it was for the above image~ a pin-up for a good friend of ours and over all great guy, Eric Merced. The other character in the shot is Eric's creation, a hero called "Dog Saint." It's a really great comic & I hope that someday it gets wider exposure, because both Eric & the comic deserve it....

Eric later returned the favor and did an awesome color shot of a Chibi version of Robot 13.

If you like, you can go to Zazzle and buy a T Shirt with the image on it here...

Friday, November 14, 2008

Ghost In The Machine

When Daniel had a free moment to work on his idea of doing an old school looking robot, this was his first attempt at it. He called the character "Retrobot," and the concept he had in mind was that the robot's lack of "real world" mechanical function and floating skull were to be explained by having the robot inhabited by a ghost of some kind. He also, by his own admission, went a little overboard on the number of bolts used to hold the dang thing together.

Future incarnations would not contain as many bolts.

Would there be a "ghost?"

The answer to that depends on how you look at it...

Thursday, November 13, 2008

The Fall Of (robot) Man

Daniel and I got together because I saw an on line comic he did & was blown away by it. As I have mentioned before, I wrote him a letter to basically to let him know that I saw things in what he was doing with his art that I really felt I knew what to do with as a writer. We talked ideas and influences and found that we both wanted to go in directions that we didn't see other people going in. The result was Enlightenment, the story of a young homicide detective who can see the spiritual world all around her, and her quest to find a demon possessed serial killer before he or she kills again...

We originally planned the book to be a thick graphic novel in Black & White, illustrated in a style very different from Daniel's current one. When we pitched it to an interested comic book publisher, however, we were told it "needed" to be in color, and put out as a 4 issue mini series.

Daniel and I started re-working the book, changing not only the art but some of the storyline to make it flow better in that format. During that time, Daniel was asked to do the front cover of Automata, the music magazine of Flaming Fish records. He produced the image you see above, and they ran an article about his art & an ad for Enlightenment...

This image started the wheels turning in Daniel's head, giving him the idea to draw robots. Other things took precedence, but the idea came back several years later...

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Thirteen Ghosts

During the life cycle of the average human being, a person's appearance will often change over time, with some of the changes being more drastic than others. Babies, for example,
will often look more like one parent than the other at birth. As their bones harden and the child goes through their early growth stages, however, that resemblance, while never fully gone, can fade. If you were "blessed" by being a person who was regularly photographed as a child, you can see that, while you grew into a very different person over time, there are aspects (often unexpected) which stand out, making it unmistakable that all your pictures are really of you...
Comic book characters often go through a similar transformation; As they are developed from their embryonic state into a (hopefully) more polished and fully realized character, there are often changes which take place. Some are visual, some in the "back story" of the character, but in every change, there are usually "artifacts" left behind from earlier incarnations.
Earlier this year, Daniel put together a Robot 13 sketchbook for the New York Comic Con; Unlike most "true" sketchbooks, it detailed the evolution of the character & gave people a glimpse into the book, as well as showing B&W inked versions of the first 8 pages of the upcoming book...
There is more to the story than Daniel could put into the sketchbook, so over the next few days, I will attempt to give you what you missed if you bought the book back then.
Either way- sit back and enjoy the show...

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Changing Gears

Yesterday, I took a day off to work on Robot 13. Aside from working on the dialogue for issue 3, I did alot of research on Greek Mythology & History. Why Mythology? For those of you not in the know, the "hook" to Robot 13 is that our Hero doesn't just fight monsters, he fights the creatures of Greek Mythology. Why? Well... for that, you'll have to read the book.

As I have done several times in the past, I wanted to take the opportunity to share with you some of the cool things I found along the way... is one of the best overview sites I have found.

Mythweb is also top notch, and has images for a great number of it's entries.

Jason and the Argonauts, a classic Ray Harryhausen film, can be seen in it's entirety on in 11 parts: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11...

Although Mr Harryhausen designed a rather wonderful looking Cyclops (seen here), it's not very close to the Greek depictions like this or this, where he looks almost human.

In issue 1, Robot 13 will fight a Kraken- read about them here, and see one on a Mycean Vase here.

Although The Kracken is a rollercoaster, Phoenix is also a very cool video game- play it online here for free!

Did the Ancient Greeks build robots? They created The Antikythera Mechanism, this robotic machine and some say they has help from UFO's...

Finally- look at these skulls? Do they prove something or are they simply freaky?

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

A Brand New Day

Yesterday, I told you that we were announcing the second issue of Mecha Manga Bible Heroes; What I neglected to mention, is that we have a new artist for the series.

His name is Josh Alves.

Aside from being an awesome guy, he is fast becoming one of my favorite artists. Josh has been amazing to work with, and I am SURE that if you liked issue 1 in any way, you will find issue 2 to absolutely blow your mind.

I will be offering you glimpses in the near future of what the new storyline will be like, along with some great stuff by Josh...

In the meantime, take a look at today's image. It's Josh's version of the core cast of characters for the new series: In the foreground, you can see David and his best friend Jonathan. Lurking behind them is Saul (David's sworn enemy and Jonathan's father) along with Doag, a major henchman of Saul...

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

The Rise Of David

As promised, we have BIG news on the Mecha Manga Bible Heroes front.

In March 2009, we will begin telling the story of David after his battle with Goliath to the point where he takes the throne and becomes King. It's really and truly a wild ride~ David will become a fugative and run for his life from Saul, all the while commanding a loyal group of dissident soldiers who will fight enemies on every side...

Today's image is the amazing cover by Jeff Slemons!

Monday, November 03, 2008

Coming Attractions

In the next 24 hours, alot will happen. Not only will we will elect the next American President, but a very big announcement will be made here.

Keep watching.