Today Jeff Haas got to sit down and chat with creator of the amazing comic Atomic Robo, Brian Clevinger!
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[00:00:00] Jeff Haas: welcome listeners. A spoiler country. Today on the show, we have Brian Clevenger. How's the book business treating you, Brian,
Brian Clevinger: as well as I guess it can,
Jeff Haas: or is it hard adjusting to lack of conventions and maybe also shipping delays and whatnot?
Brian Clevinger: yeah, that hasn't been great. we haven't been hit too hard by that stuff. I mean, we haven't done conventions since early March. but luckily, you know, our readers have. Kind of stepped up and, you know, we've done little sales in places of, in place of, doing conventions and, you know, our fans are excited to try to support us in the meantime.
So those sales have helped out kind of, to kind of balance out some of the losses from, you know, not doing any convenience. mostly it's just the social thing. Like it's such a solitary, profession, you know, everybody's working remotely, even Scott and I, we live in the same city, but I work even before the pandemic.
Yeah, I worked at home. He worked in the office. So these conventions were just a [00:01:00] really great opportunity to just see our comrades here, friends to your colleagues. And, that's what I miss more than anything. And
Jeff Haas: that's got, Scott wedge in it. Right. And I press not right.
Wagoner actually got to meet him.
I think it was in Toronto combo convention. This is going back maybe eight or nine years. He's fantastic guy.
Brian Clevinger: Yeah. I like them. All right.
Jeff Haas: Yeah. It must be it. I do miss the conventions quite a bit. We were me and my wife were supposed to go to terrific con this year and I'm in August. It would have been good would have been next week.
And it's quite a blow not to be missing that this year. It's been a staple of every year going until these one convention.
Brian Clevinger: Yeah. You know, we knew we were in trouble, when Emerald city had to cancel. Cause that's our biggest show of the year. And when was that canceled? I was like, well, I bet we're not going to do a single show this year.
Just the way things are shaking down. Even though that was back in March and people were still hopeful that, you know, things are get back to normal. but then shortly after that, the Javits convention center, that's the big convention center in New York city. There [00:02:00] were started converting it into a hospital.
You're not going to have New York comic con
Jeff Haas: Oh, in the hospital
Brian Clevinger: in this year.
Jeff Haas: It'd be a very depressing account book, but Hey, table of an artist here, person in bed, medical bed, re-invent delayed right there.
Brian Clevinger: Stop coughing. I'm trying to make a sale.
Jeff Haas: You know what, as an artist, I probably would be that guy who says, knock it off.
I'm trying to talk
Brian Clevinger: here. Try to die with some dignity.
Jeff Haas: Yeah. that would be very depressing. Around here. Cause I'm, I live in Rhode Island. Our big convention in Rhode Island is we're on Comicon obviously. Cause it's one Island and it usually happens in November and I was totally convinced that would be the one convention that would be, that would still be around this year.
I was ready to go and they got canceled because obviously we can't control ourselves enough to have a, a proper lockdown.
Brian Clevinger: Yep. Hopefully next year.
Jeff Haas: Yeah, but it seems like you do very well with on Patrion. You do something very cool. I think on patron, not only do you have your, I think it pins that you do, but you [00:03:00] also show kind of like a, you kind of do a background on the comic book itself and artwork and everything like that.
I think it's a very cool way of doing a Patrion.
Brian Clevinger: Oh yeah. Thank you. mostly I just tried to stick to like a weekly sort of essentially a blog post where I just talk about my process. You know, what we've been working on lately. What we're looking forward to that I can. Talk about, right now we've been in this sort of stage where, I'm working on, I swear five things right now, but all of them are in different stages of, well, you can't tell anybody about it yet, so that's been kind of stifling.
Jeff Haas: there's one that you're working on that I may not know about that you can kind of give me a hint about,
Brian Clevinger: there's a project. If we're going to release in a few weeks, comic and that's really all I can say at this point. it'll be, it's a whole new thing, aside from robo and, I just hope folks will
Jeff Haas: input.
Now, the thing that you can't talk about, we're gonna talk about, can we talk about it just for a minute or two, if you don't mind,
Brian Clevinger: you can try to.
Jeff Haas: Okay. I appreciate that. is it for
[00:04:00] Brian Clevinger: IDW? Oh no, it's another creator own thing that we're just doing, not our own, we approached some publishers, but ultimately we decided to just do it on our own terms.
Jeff Haas: Is this going to be in the same genre and style as tonic robo? Or is this something quite different?
Brian Clevinger: Oh, it's more of a fantasy. still funny, and a bit of a goofy adventure, but, yeah,
Jeff Haas: it's got on it with,
Brian Clevinger: no Scott's is way too busy, just cranking out robo. actually he and I did work on a totally new creator own title aside from robot.
That's what he spent most of 2019 doing that does have a publisher, but the pandemic has kind of. Put all that, all those plans on hold temporarily, all of his work on that is done. So we're like 95% of the way ready to release it. But, with the pandemic and all, you know, everybody is kind of playing it safe and just, you know, holding off on that for now.
But hopefully we'll get to release that to everyone. If not later this year in 2021.
Jeff Haas: Well, I hope so. At least I'm actually a really big fan of tonic Grove. I've been buying it. For a lot of years. I mean, I [00:05:00] guess, you've been doing Tommy grobo for 13 years. Correct. And all the time it's been with Scott and I think that's probably when the longest artists, and writer partnerships I can think of right now in the industry.
And I was wondering, yeah, I mean, that's, I can't think of any partnership like that. That's been that long as successful.
Brian Clevinger: Well, it helps that I'm working at home and he's broken the office so we don't get on each other's nerves.
Jeff Haas: is it like family where you guys. Kind of bicker a little bit, or is it, you guys really do have a really solid done, you know what I'm saying?
It's like a marriage couple where there's some bickering going on.
Brian Clevinger: Yeah. I mean, yeah, there's always going to be stuff that we disagree on, but I think at the end of the day, each one of us respects what the other one, you know, cause we both know, we just want to make the best comic book that we can.
We want to make the most fun comic book that we can. And really, we're just kind of disagreeing about the exact details of how that can happen. And it's not, there's not even necessarily that one of us is wrong. [00:06:00] A lot of the time we're both right. Just in different ways. So, you know, we reach, you know, here's my position.
Oh yeah. I hear what you're saying, but here's my position. Okay. Well, ultimately what we, I think we tend to just, decide on, it's really well. Ultimately, what benefits the book? if it's my BN, if it's super complicated to draw, you know, I will obviously defer to Scott. If he's like, well, I could do the same effect or, you know, we can have the same emotional impact or whatever it is, but here's the much easier way to accomplish it.
And it doesn't break my neck and make me insane like that. I'm like, I'm not gonna argue with it. I'm like, yes, I absolutely do what you do with the non stupid way.
Jeff Haas: Yep.
Brian Clevinger: But, but you know, ultimately at the end of the day, we just, we do respect one another. You know, he can't write a comic book. I can't draw a comic book.
So we re I think we each have an appreciation of what the other brings to the book, even when we're in the middle of an argument. and again, just the knowledge we each have each other's back and that we're [00:07:00] both of us ultimately want the same thing. I think that just helps us to get over whatever the temporary argument is.
I can't even, I know for a fact that, you know, we've had discussions. About how to approach different topics or different pages or whatever. I, and I know we've had arguments about it, but they're so minor and it's difficult to even put him. Does he even say, it's his argument? Like nobody's angry, nobody's yelling and I couldn't tell you what they were at this point.
Cause it's just, you know, it's water under the bridge. It's just, you know,
Jeff Haas: is it more like a passionate debate then?
Brian Clevinger: I think we just need to make our points and you know, either we convinced the other or. Ultimately, you know, like if I've scripted a page and I mean, if Scott just, isn't just dead set against it, right?
Yeah. I mean, he does have the power to just try it, however he's going to draw it. And it's all up to me to, you know, adjust the script accordingly. And, but, you know, we, we don't really argue in that way. Wait, if he was that dead set against it, he would. Tell me, you know, here. Here's [00:08:00] why I don't like it.
Here's what I would prefer to do. And I would hear that and I would process that and be like, Oh yeah. All right. You have a good point. Do it your way. Yeah.
Jeff Haas: I mean, I think I'm gonna spend what I like the most about atomic robo and reading Tommy Grove is that it feels like every time you read it, like it's a breath of fresh air.
There's so many comics out there that are definitely darker, grim, violent, that there seems like there's not a whole lot of. Kind of just fun, relaxing, funny comics out there right now.
Brian Clevinger: Yeah. I mean, there've been some more since we started. I definitely, when we first came out, which I think would have been October 26 or 2007, we were very rare, you know, a book with our tone versus here, let's have some fun, let's have an adventure and a, and see where it takes us.
not to say that like we've sparked some sort of mini revolution or anything, you know, people are going to the conference you're going to do, but there have been more comics in that vein since, but we're still, you know, definitely the minority, you know, you gotta look at stuff like, [00:09:00] unbeatable squirrel girl, you know, that was having a lot of fun.
They're still doing that hard thing. Eric is off.
Jeff Haas: See the problem, Marvel, I cannot keep up with it with their cancellations.
Brian Clevinger: That's a huge part of the problem, right? There is that people are trying to do these fun books, but the guys in charge of the money are like, eh, it didn't sell it. Wasn't the top three seller this year, this month.
So canceled a book like atomic robo with our sales numbers, we would just never get anywhere. you know, if it was held to that sort of standard,
Jeff Haas: I must admit, I think for me, the only close comparison on some level is ever the Gunilla, which is sort of like the darker, it's kind of, more violent, horror version of what Tommy Graebel is for science.
And I think that's like the only one that I can think of that is. Basically just a story about, you know, that it is about having a good time and enjoyment is I think, in itself. So extremely scary.
Brian Clevinger: Yeah. Well, like I think we strike an interesting balance where I personally don't even think of atomic robo as a comedy book.
I mean, clearly there's jokes in it, but my thinking that it [00:10:00] says a bit more like Indiana Jones or the original star Wars trilogy, where it's an adventure. Yeah. There's funny stuff in it to sort of punctuate what's happening. You know, you like Indy because. He's a bit of a, you know, he has some funny reactions, it gives him a little bit of humanity to what would otherwise be just a really flat sort of pulp character.
and so that's sort of the vein Burr we're shooting for. I mean, some adventures are funnier than others. It's just the way life is.
Jeff Haas: well, I think one thing I do like atomic robo is that for a character that basically is a robot. He does have so much humanity in that character. He does seem to be.
you know, it does have that sense of humor, but it does have also, like I said, a full rounded personality, and I think that's fantastic about the character.
Brian Clevinger: So with regard to robo himself, I something that, you know, I've always liked robot characters. I'm a scifi nerd since I can even remember. but I just, I'm kinda tired of some of the robot character tropes, you know, I right now, [00:11:00] actually on my girlfriend and I were rewatching, Star Trek the next generation show.
we do that every so often, every couple years. Cause we're just we're nerds. Well,
Jeff Haas: I'm going to show you just for one second. What'd you feel about how do you feel about the new star Trek, discovery and card? Yeah,
Brian Clevinger: so here's the thing ever. So I don't know. I don't like the new movies I saw, so I didn't see discovery.
I think this was back when we used to, you can mention it. Scott was listening or watching the new episode on his laptop or on his iPad or something. And I just happened to be in the room and, you know, he was watching it and that's fine. And, so I could overhear it. It was fine, you know, whatever sounded like star Trek, except the computer voice.
Wasn't a magical Barrett and I, because she's dead. So I don't, I understand why it's tough to get her to these days. So I get it. I totally understand, you know, why they don't have her, but it's like, That's not Trek. Yeah, I can't do it. I can't make it. I can't make that jump without her being in the computer [00:12:00] voice.
Jeff Haas: No. Fair enough. Fair enough. I did, I do say for me, discovery got better by the second season. I think it took me a while to accept it as star Trek. But once I finally just bought in, I think it worked like once I was ready to just go, all right, find the Klingons, look like this characters look like this, screw it.
I'm just gonna, I'm just gonna buy in and just go
Brian Clevinger: for it. I mean, I, you know, a lot of my friends watch it and I've heard good things, but, I just have a real problem with the entire JJ effication of star Trek, this bizarre action movie, version of Trek and th the way the plots of it has gotten a little further, like, I'm very critical of, Roddenberry's influence over early next generation.
The show feels like it's from 1967, in the first few seasons and maddening, and he can see his weird seventies, sex, weird guy stuff, vibe coming through, but he did. But what he did bring to the show was this, this optimism about the future, that was really the heart of Trek. [00:13:00] And. To see star Trek as a property increasingly become about the corruption and the darkness of the Federation.
It's just really annoying. We have enough of that in real life. Trek is about getting away from that and having the bravery and the audacity to imagine if not a perfect future one that is much better than anything that you know, we see today. And to give us all something to look forward to, or to aim for it's unrealistic and ridiculous as it may be.
The mere fact that we can imagine a future like that I think is very powerful. So I swear I had friends growing up.
Jeff Haas: Oh, you know, I'm sure you had some friends, some made up some real I'm. Sure. Yeah.
Brian Clevinger: let's we don't need to get into numbers.
Jeff Haas: You're comparing. Were you gonna compare data with, atomic robos?
Brian Clevinger: Yeah. So you know the robot, I mean, everybody loves data, but he's a very standard robot character. Oh, I don't have emotions. Oh, what is the meaning of humanity? Oh, I'm not really alive. You don't, you see a hundred of these characters, just like that, these profile [00:14:00] characters like that? Yeah.
Jeff Haas: Hello, sir. I think he might've cut out.
Brian Clevinger: Hello,
Jeff Haas: sir.
Brian Clevinger: Sir.
Jeff Haas: Can you hear me?
[00:15:00] We left off talking about and making a ton of grobo difference.
Brian Clevinger: I just wanted to see a robot character that wasn't exactly like every other robot character that we've seen. and really he is a robot primarily to solve a bunch of narrative problems. part of why we do atomic grow or part of the whole point of atomic robo was that tell these very comic booky adventure stories, but in a way that was accessible, you would never call it.
The X-Men accessible, right? There's a million timelines. There's a million reboots. There's a million teams happening all at the same time. It's crazy. Both atomic robo grobo. If he's a robot you already know is ageless. He's super strong. He's a Bulletproof, you know, so you don't need to explain how he's been around since 1920 and how and why he is still around today.
You can have [00:16:00] adventures across the entire 20th century and beyond, and people will just buy into it. and we've realized over the years that having a completely impossible character be your title character means that people will then accept a whole lot of other stuff. That's just crazy. And just let you have fun, you know, you don't have there's no.
what is it? That cinema sins that's a plateau. No, it's not. It's a story. It's just storytelling in. You're an idiot.
Jeff Haas: No, I think that's a great aspect of it, of atomic robos that he is, like you said, there's a timeliness timelessness to the character. And that has allowed a lot of inserts into, you know, with history, into the character ethic, which I find fascinating.
You have, Tesla. You've introduced, Edison, you talked about, Adam turning a lot of the pushing of the new series. And I do think that as an extra layer to the character and gives it a little more foundation in kind of like reality. So you take the extreme of the character, but you do kind of give him some grounding with history.
Brian Clevinger: Yeah. A really big influence [00:17:00] on what I wanted atomic robe to feel as a comic book, it's a story, was watching Dragnet as a kid. And that doesn't make any sense. Usually when I pitched Tom, grobo say, you know, Scottish Buster's Indiana Jones, but grew Bonzai and the Rocketeer cause that, you know, that's all these adventures and some very pulpy it's scientists and just big, crazy adventures that all make sense.
I never tell them. Oh, and it's also Dragnet because that just makes people go what? I don't want them to go. What I want them to go. I want to buy it. So with drag, the thing about Dragnet is that it's this, I don't know if you've ever seen it, you know, it's whatever to see. It's the first procedural cop show.
Jeff Haas: it's the, just the facts ma'am right,
Brian Clevinger: right. And it's that. Yeah. But so the, and not to play up cop aganda, but the idea of the show was that they would just show, please just going about the work, you know, just, and no matter what. No matter how boring it was. In fact it would just show it and it wouldn't take time to [00:18:00] explain, Oh, this is why they're doing this step.
This is what this bit of jargon means. They would just go through it. and you would kind of have, you would have to piece it together, you know, as you watch multiple episodes. And so my that's kind of what I wanted to do with robo, where they are dealing with the fantastic candidate they're fighting.
Clockwork pyramids and evils, dieted scientists, dinosaurs, and all kinds of crazy stuff. But to them, this is just the normal day to day stuff. This is just the job. Maybe you just show up and you take care of business and move on. So, yeah, so it's grounded in reality, but in a way that lets us play with a fantastic.
Jeff Haas: Now one good thing about the comic as well that you do at least you make references to a lot of, scientific ideas. I mean, I'm not sure how real, you know, the science that you're talking about true science or is it that star Trek fantasy science?
Brian Clevinger: It's a little bit of both there. There's some psych, technobabble just cause that's fun again.
You know, I watched too much Trek as a kid. Yes. I love that stuff.
[00:19:00] Jeff Haas: But
Brian Clevinger: we do this thing where we kind of, I also am just, as you know, as I said earlier, I'm a big scifi nerd, but I'm also a big. A real life science nerd. I enjoy reading about different discoveries and different theories and all kinds of crazy stuff.
But the fun thing about atomic robos is that we can kind of slap these things together in a way that doesn't really work. Right? Like it doesn't matter. It's just sounds fun. And, or it's this excuse to amplify the scope of the adventure or to have a big explosion, whatever does it's an excuse for fun.
But one thing that I like, but. I'd like to do, is that atomic Crapo is kind of also just an excuse for me to read a bunch of history and a bunch of, you know, science articles under the guise of quote unquote research. And some of that stuff does show up in the comics. Certainly the bulk of my research is really more about what not to include, so that I can just so I can just zero in on what would be the thing that sounds fun or would be fun, but, So cause part of the problem with writing in general, not necessarily comics, but you see it, you do see it in [00:20:00] comics.
Yeah. And more often in prose novels is that you can tell that when an author is talking about a subject that they've done a lot of research on, or that they're very personally passionate about, so they just know a lot about it. And they shoehorn in all these facts or these conversations where they just really get to sort of bathe.
The luxuriate in this knowledge and sharing it because they're just excited by it and they want to share this knowledge or these facts with an audience. And that's cool. That's fun. but it just totally destroys the story like people like, yeah, I get that. This is interesting. Or at least that it's interesting to you, but in regards to me as an audience member, this is killing your story.
Get it already. Let's move on. So I try not to do that in atomic rowboat, but what I'd like to do is. Have zero in on that funded of the, you know, if I researched for what I'd like to say is that 95% of my research never gets into the book, but it's not wasted because that's, what's telling me which 5% to put into the book.
Gotcha. [00:21:00] But, I like to sprinkle in just little touches here and there, little side visuals, you know, in the background or a little line of dialogue that you wouldn't even notice unless. You are an expert in whatever field it is that we're kind of touching on and it's there so that the people who know this stuff for real, like, I don't, I'm not a scientist.
I don't know physics, but I know a lot about physics. Cause I'm just researching about a lot about it. there's just, these little hints are like, okay, we did our research. We know this is impossible. Here's a little tidbit that shows you this. Isn't just me just making up stupid stuff or trying to sound smart.
this is, we know we did it wrong. Here's your little tidbit to let you know that we did it wrong. That gives us permission to do it wrong. Just trust us and let us have fun. And then I've heard from actual scientists where like, ah, I see what you did there.
Jeff Haas: So, so you're telling me there's no actual vampire Dem dimension.
Brian Clevinger: I didn't say that. Yeah. You're now you're putting words in my mouth.
Jeff Haas: So what a great [00:22:00] character that you've had, or at least you use in your comic book series over the last decade is that you use Nicholas Tesla. Who's a fascinating character. I was wondering what fascinates you about Tesla?
Brian Clevinger: Oh yeah. So we didn't mean to use Tesla actually that wasn't our intent.
Again, I was doing my research thing, just looking at different turn of the century scientists to sort of come up with an amalgam right of this fictional person will be robos events. so obviously I came across the NYCLA test. So I've come up across Tesla before, you know, just tangentially here and there.
Just again, being a scifi nerd. But then I'd never really delved into Tesla. So once I was looking for this mad scientist character to make up, came across Tesla, dove into his life history and his work. And I was like, Oh, we do
cool. This guy who was real. And with atomic robo, even in those early days, we were thinking [00:23:00] whenever we can use real history, let's tend to do that. Let's try to do that because Scott and I are just big history nerds. we love playing around with history, not even just, you know, 20th century, but you know, ancient history as well.
and so any opportunity we have to use real events are real people. We'd like to include them if not use them outright, simply to sort of spark an interest in the readership, right? Like. You know, we're not that this comic book is any in any way, a biography of Tesla, but maybe you see Tesla doing cool stuff in the cock and you're thinking, Oh, you know, I've heard that name.
Oh, he's seems like a pretty cool guy. This character may want to research him. And you know, you'll read up the Wikipedia article and they'll go, well, I don't believe nine tenths of this. There's no way any of this is real. I'm going to read a real book about it. And you know, you just keep going. And we like to do that with whatever historical periods it is.
Hopefully there's something there that. We've dropped a little hint about history or we've alluded to an event or robos doing stuff around at different, events and, you know, somebody thinks, Oh, that sounds cool. Maybe I'll look [00:24:00] into that.
Jeff Haas: Oh, well I was wondering, could talk about Nicholas Tesla.
Have you ever seen the movie, the prestige with David Bowie has Nicholas Tesla. Tesla. Oh,
Brian Clevinger: of course. Yeah.
Jeff Haas: What did he think about the betrayal?
Brian Clevinger: Oh, well, I liked it. you know, there's, it's not a movie about Tesla, so I don't feel like it has to, you know, super zero in on it. But for the role that he played in the film, this sort of Indigo medic near, wizard in this world of, you know, stage magicians, you know, they can work and plus Bowie has his own other worldliness that he brings to any role.
Jeff Haas: worked for that. I thought they did a great job, especially it seems like Tesla, there is a sort of mystery that surrounds Tesla historically. And seems like over the year, the only is he getting more credit, but Pete there's teams seems to be all sorts of mythology built around him. And I was.
Yeah. And I feel like you do tap into that as well in your atomic
Brian Clevinger: robo. Oh yeah. I mean, just even the fact that we, suggested he could have built this atomic powered. Sentience robot in [00:25:00] 1923, you know, it's impossible, but at the same time, it kind of makes sense for Tesla. Like it's not outside the realm of what he claimed to be capable of.
and you know, some of that, of his mythology, you know, some of it is of his own making, you know, towards the end of his life, he claimed to be capable of making these death rays that were really just an extension of, other, sort of Ray technology that he talked about over the years. and nobody really knows quite how close he was to accomplishing any of that because technically, it's plausible, in fact, the whole reason.
Okay. So this is going to get into a little bit of a tangent. I go back and roll back in world war II. when that was first gearing up. So late thirties, all the industrial powers were pursuing, nuclear technologies, not for weapons necessarily, but for power. everyone figured that it was physically possible.
Just nobody knew how yet or how difficult it would be or how expensive it would be. [00:26:00] But according to the laws of physics, as understood at the time, there was no reason that it would be impossible. And in fact could probably with enough money and resources be done within the lifetime of the people doing it.
So, you know, probably by the sixth, we could have figured out nuclear power. So then we're forward to happens. And that really accelerates interest in various government. Projects to weaponize atomic energy. That would be this massive, you know, benefit whether that's for, generating yeah.
Energy or just straight up destructive ability, I think was the latter is the peer distraction. Power is probably the most interest to everybody because that would be the easiest to do. just because the difficulties of harnessing nuclear power, it's easy to, it's easy to light a fire, but it's hard to cook food on it, I guess, whatever.
So, everybody's trying different, methods. Cause again, this is all, you know, new technology, it's all highly theoretical. The one, industrialized nation that's really strongly pursuing this, that doesn't go with nuclear power is Japan. [00:27:00] They decided on, essentially, the Tesla death rate, proposal, because back in the, I'm going to say, early thirties, Tesla's making a big, pub publicity push for establishing the essentially death race that would create in his mind world peace.
You would put these giant weaponized towers along national borders, and they would just vaporize anything that comes along. And so therefore, No. Why would you even bother having more? Like you would have all these armies and they would just be destroyed. You'd have all these tanks and warships and airplanes and such, but they would be useless.
They would be destroyed before David ever got to the enemy territory, therefore into forth. Nobody really looks into this because again, much like nuclear power will, it sounds plausible, but probably very difficult, et cetera. Japan makes this gamble. They're like we are an Island nation. If we make death, rays like Tesla says as possible.
That's it we're invincible. We can't be invaded. So that's why they never pursued the bomb. They were trying to [00:28:00] work on a death rate technology just because of. Having heard about it from Tesla. And at the time I, we, we can hear that now and think, well, that was kind of stupid, but that's of course, with the benefit of 70 years of, you know, knowledge at the time, it was a 50 50 shot of which would be more plausible.
And if either could even be accomplished, nobody really knew if they would pull off nuclear power and time or nuclear bombs in time. And Japan didn't know either. And they thought, well, you know of the two, this is the death rate theories, the one that benefits us the most. So that's what we're going to try to do.
It didn't work out a spoiler alert for Whirlpool too.
Jeff Haas: Did any concept of how close they got to figuring it out?
Brian Clevinger: there was, I did. So this came up in our research. They didn't have any sort of death rate, but the, there was evidence of a lot of their research and some of their early practical, experiments in sort of Reagan technology and effect.
Not for, not like man portable like buck Rogers or anything, but essentially what we would now understand to be sort of the early particle [00:29:00] accelerator.
Jeff Haas: Yeah. There was a TV show that came out. I'm trying to remember the name of it. It was maybe on discovery or something like that code. I think it was called dark matters that had to do with extreme science.
And there was a story about Tesla that he did something at one of his, wherever he labs or wherever he does that created some sort of explosion in like Russia. And they were trying to. The
Brian Clevinger: incident.
Jeff Haas: Yeah. That's what they covered that I thought, I mean, it was fascinating. I'm not sure how much you can buy into it, but still
Brian Clevinger: Tim Tesco was a completely natural phenomenon.
I just actually read a really good theory on it. I think it was like, I think it was like an asteroid just sort of skipped off the atmosphere. Oh, wow. Yeah. So like to actually enter the atmosphere, you have to kinda, you know, be a proper angle. Otherwise, the. you just break up in the atmosphere.
That's true of, spacecrafts, true meteorites. I mean, that's shooting stars, it's just asteroids or meeting rights or whatever, just disintegrating in the atmosphere. So I, [00:30:00] but I think that, but also there's many angles that, depending on your speed instead of entering and being destroyed or entering safely and landing, and then possibly being destroyed, you would just bounce right off.
so I think the theory is that it was just one of these random space rocks, and it just happened to hit the atmosphere at a glancing blow at such a way that the atmosphere itself, you know, bounce it off harmlessly, but that bounce creates this massive, shockwave within the atmosphere itself, which then radiated down and blast it down.
This luckily, uninhabited area of forest.
Jeff Haas: Yeah. And I think one cool thing about once again, what you're doing with Tesla is that it seems on some level to follow a, let's say a narrative historically, that's going on right now, where it seems within the last 10, 15, maybe 20 years. cause you also have Thomas Edison as your villain that the credit of Thomas Edison for being a great inventor has started to decline.
As it's been determined that he has a, he actually bought most of his [00:31:00] inventions instead of a credit that he's taking credit for. Well, Tesla seems to be going up in estimation as being a better scientist. And once again, that's a rivalry you have in your comic books, every especially older. So
Brian Clevinger: the older issues.
Yeah. yeah. You know, Tesla, when you read about him, he's just not at all. Businessman, just flat out, not a businessman. he just wanted to invent things, and ideally to benefit humanity as a whole, very algebra, altruistic fellow, whereas, Edison, a pretty good scientist and an amazing businessman.
so he definitely won the marketing campaign, overall, and just had it had more name recognition. And, just, you know, he won the PR game and, but I think the over the years, people are starting to re-examine, you know, Tesla and Edison and coming to different conclusions.
Jeff Haas: Now, a couple of, I think it was five, four or five years ago.
I was able to interview for borough con, which was I sent emails. and you were nice enough to respond to me. And one question I got to ask you was what was your beef with Thomas [00:32:00] Edison? Cause you had him your villain. And that was actually before I knew how much of a Dick Thomas did. I said prove to be historically.
And I was wondering to myself, did you know he was such a Dick when he decided he was going to be your
Brian Clevinger: Oh, yeah. Yeah. I mean, you know, when you research Tesla, you can't help, but come across Edison and Edison doesn't come off well in that story and you know, then you read up more about Edison himself and yeah.
You realize, he really, he had more of a, ah, it comes across a lot more as like a modern tech bro, almost, you know, he's the prototype for that, where it's this major pitch man. And yeah, he does have some good ideas, but. not necessarily to anyone's benefit, but Edison's.
Jeff Haas: Yeah. I mean, he did win the battle of history though.
Like I said, for a very long time, he was considered one of the great geniuses come back and off that now.
Brian Clevinger: Yeah. Yeah. I mean, the thing is that Tesla won the war of the currents, their big ideological, [00:33:00] battle, which kind of electrical current would be best to electrify. Yeah, the world is in essence and Tesla one who is alternating current.
That was the technology that was most useful for propagating generating and propagating electrical energy, safely and cheaply to, you know, every home in America and across the world. And so on. and yet Edison is the one who built, you know, a lot of these, power stations using Tesla's technology.
You know, it was just the way it was.
Jeff Haas: Yeah. I mean, . So just one of the interesting, I think little side things you put into your conduct that once again, that made it just far more interesting for me. And so just going back a little bit of time to atomic robo, I, one of the things that you did, I was kind of interesting is that you actually killed off a comic robo.
And one of your series in red five was that at the time when you killed them off, were you thinking that you were going to keep them killed off or were you thinking of your new, you're gonna bring them back eventually. Oh,
Brian Clevinger: no. we knew exactly what we were doing. that was a long [00:34:00] again, it'd be in a scifi nerd.
I'm a huge time travel, you know, a maniac. I love time travel stories. And so back when we first introduced, talk to dinosaur, you know, he's this velociraptor. Oh, well, okay. I gotta back that up. You use this plastic park version of a velociraptor who claims to be a time traveling genius from, I forget which Zohak era, and he, and verb was like, no, you know, time travel is impossible.
You're you aren't even a real dinosaur look at you. You're from the drastic park movies. You're clearly just a modern day genetic experiment. You know, you're out of your mind. So we planted that story back in, I think 2009 we're robo is just very plainly says, you know, no such thing as time travel.
There's another story where, because of quote, unquote, time travel, robo meets several versions of himself, from the thirties and the fifties and seventies and the modern day, technically that wasn't time travel. That was a weird [00:35:00] space work thing happening because of this crazy monster. So again, we stamped, but again, we had robot flight out state this isn't time, travel time travel is impossible.
So don't worry about it. So for years we had the reader, a readership except, okay. And this setting there just is no time travel. The main character even said, so a couple of times he seems to be right. No, we did all that just to set up the fact that dr. Dinosaur would force robo to time travel and, have to have a little adventure in and confront the fact that he, that robo was wrong about that.
And also confront the fact that dr. Dinosaur was actually right about something, which is terrifying.
Jeff Haas: Dr. Dancer is a fantastic character, by the way, every time he's in the story, it just adds an extra. It just elevates it a little bit more. He's hilarious.
Brian Clevinger: Yeah, he's a lot of fun to write, but he's also really difficult to write because anything I think of no matter how stupid it is makes perfect sense.
And so it's really hard to have a story and have a plot and have [00:36:00] an end goal in mind with something like that in the middle of it. Right? Like you can go in any direction. And all of it makes sense. It's all completely plausible. If dr. Dinosaurs in there, we try to limit how much of him there is simply because it would be easy to go the Marvel route, right.
And have Deadpool or Wolverine in every single issue of every single title. This is popular. You know, everybody loves dr. Dinosaur. He's a lot of fun, but we try to keep him pretty minimized, so that when you see him, it's a tree, you know, everyone burned out on dental. Everyone burned out on Wolverine.
Yeah, they were, these characters love him. Or, you know, whether you like I'm not, or not now, they were really popular and they were exciting for a little while, but then they started showing up here for it. Now it's like, eh, I don't care as much. And we just don't want to take away that excitement from people.
Right. You know, we want them to be happy when talked to, I start shows up. We don't, Oh, not this again. We just sold this guy three months ago. Why is he bad? So we try to keep them, on a [00:37:00] leash as it were, But he a lot of fun.
Jeff Haas: Is there ever a danger when you bring in dr. Dinosaur that he could outshine atomic robo when we're together?
Brian Clevinger: I think he does every time. I think that's part of the charm of having them show up every so often for me, the doctor dinosaur functions, like a, I don't know how prevalent, wonder brothers old Warner brothers cartoons are anymore. When I was growing up Looney tunes and Mary melodies were on, you know, three or four different channels, about five hours a day.
so bugs bunny is our doctor dinosaur. I'm sorry, is our atomic robo. He's a bit of a trickster. He's the hero he's going to outwit. Whatever's going on. No matter how impossible the odds are, he's going to win any kind of know that going into the story. it's not a mystery that robo is going to be victorious.
Eventually. It's just kind of fun to see how he comes up with it, how he tricks the bad guy or what little twist he comes up with to become victorious. My favorite bugs bunny cartoons are the there's two of them. That star Cecil turtle. and it's, I think the first time [00:38:00] he shows up is it's sort of a play on the turtle, the tortoise and the Hare, parable and Cecil turtle is the only character that always beats bugs bunny.
That is our doctor dinosaur. When he shows up the standard rules that you understand about how this rules work, how this character is going to function. Dr. Donna, how Tom crib is going to function in this story. It doesn't matter. Doesn't work for him anymore. Dr. Dinosaur is now the center of this story and he's going to win even if he's defeated, he has won because cause he's made robot look foolish or he's sorted robo in some way or robos victory still.
It doesn't really stop. Dr. Dennis. We're like, he's going to show up again now
Jeff Haas: with dr. Dinosaur. I like to say, I know you said you didn't want overuse them. Have you been tempted to create a mini series for doctor dinosaur? Oh
Brian Clevinger: yeah. and in that respect, I don't think that would be overexposure because that would be its own.
Like, you know, we've done these side projects. We usually call them real science adventures. Yep. And one was about the [00:39:00] flying sheet devils. Another one was about this. Group back during the, just before the first crusades back in Byzantium. another one was about Tesla and his crew of adventurers from before he built atomic robo.
And I think in that context, doing a purely talk to dinosaur story or one that he features in heavily, I think it would be fine. We have a pretty good one in mind that we just haven't gotten around to doing so. so it's definitely not outside the realm of possibility.
Jeff Haas: Is it difficult to write a character like dr.
Dinosaur? Because he is one insane, there's a lot of stories that he can do, but he's also, you know, definitely on the goofy side as well, does having that many possibilities of the character make it harder to create a, I'm trying to think of it. Maybe not grounded, but what I'm saying to think of what to do with a character like that can go anywhere.
Brian Clevinger: well, yeah, the hard part is just. Keeping him corralled enough to actually tell a story, because again, any stupid idea that pops in my mind while I'm writing it, any [00:40:00] stupid tangent, any ridiculous, new idea, or whatever that, if it comes from dr. Dinosaur, if it's something that he claims to be true, then that's a whole side conversation that can be delved into and argued with.
oarfish just some bizarre backup plan that makes no sense. And nobody would have thought of. But it makes, but the reader wouldn't feel that way. They would be like, yeah, let's talk your dad's recourse. He set that up. So it's really, it becomes very difficult to actually manage the character in a way where you are trying to tell a coherent story.
it's worth the challenge every time. Cause I think the results are always a lot of fun, but, it is, it's just difficult for essentially to choose which version of events to go with.
Jeff Haas: Yeah. Yeah. I mean, it kind of, yeah. Tell me a little bit, as far as, not from necessarily a story standpoint, but from an audience standpoint, when you watch some of the movies with the joker and Batman, like Batman or the dark Knight, where you have a character in India, who's the villain, but is such a dynamic character and grabs your attention [00:41:00] so much that on some level you do shift allegiance on some level to that character.
Brian Clevinger: Yeah, definitely the joker to Batman or to the robos Batman. Yeah. Yeah.
Jeff Haas: so anyways, so go into some other, another thing I was wondering about, so Tommy for starts off originally with red five. Why did he move head to IDW?
Brian Clevinger: Oh, didn't so we had always, even with, when we were back, when we were with med five, we really wanted to publish online for free.
As well, cause I came from web comics, but for a time of trouble, I was working on a but theater. So for years and years I've been doing a web comic. I had tons of friends who were also making a living, doing web comics and at the time, you know, transitioning into print, my theory was that there was no danger in releasing it online for free because these were two different audiences.
No, this was back in 2007 and nobody had no publishers for doing anything digital, right? There is no Comixology. There are no [00:42:00] PDFs there might've been in. Marvel's kind of crappy the thing where it was like a subscription service and you could get some of their issues digitally, but he had to do it through this really awkward, online, portal.
I forget when exactly that was established, but anyway, so my theory having been a print comics, fan and reader, and a web comics creator, That these are two very distinct audiences that people who wanted the comic book experienced the printed issue, the trade paper back, they didn't care that it was online.
Maybe they would read it online for free. Maybe they wouldn't. They wanted the experience of going to the shows and going to the comic shops and owning them that physical item and having it on the shelf, enjoying it, enjoying that ownership versus the web comic reader. They don't care that it's. That they can buy it.
Right. They just want to read the thing. Some of them might buy it just because they love it.
Wonderful. It's two different audiences. [00:43:00] So we kind of have this conversation every so often, every couple of years with red five and to their credit. And this was quite bold for back then and for such a small publisher. They were even, they weren't even against it. They were like, you know, we hear what you're saying and we know that you come from webcomics somebody, we kind of trust what your instinct is here, but we're afraid to actually do it because we're afraid of the breed, the comic retailer backlash, cause we're, so we're such a small time outfit.
You know, if we kind of, if we are doing this and they see it as a threat, We really, you know, they could just stop supporting us, then we're not gonna sell any comic books. We're not gonna make any money. And then, you know, then what, and I totally sympathize with that. Again, this would have been very early days.
This was back before Comixology had even dominated the digital comics market. so they weren't wrong for having that, position. but it just came, eventually I think sort of in 2009 or 2010 or something, I think I could be totally wrong on that [00:44:00] date. But anyway, the contract that we had signed with red five was coming up.
it was about to expire. And so we said, we just said, okay, we been happy dealing with you guys. You know, you've treated us very well over the years. but we're going to start putting the Comicon line for free that's. That has to be part of the new deal. And now that was essentially when they were just like, no, we can't do it.
We're afraid of pissing off all the retailers and the backlash that would cost us. And so we were like, well, then we cannot. sign up with, you know, this is kind of like our red line. This is something that we want to do to help bring a Tom crop to the next level. And so, you know, we just had to part ways at that point and the plan then was that we would do what we're doing now, which was put the comic online for free and, do new hardcover additions through Kickstarter.
So we started to doing that and I think it was during the first Kickstarter campaign, but we were going to reprint the entire back catalog, which at that time would have been the first nine volumes in hardcover for the first time. There's all new bonus material and all kinds of nice stuff. [00:45:00] IDW just came across that and they were like, Hey, we see you're not with red five anymore.
So are, do you have any plans to be in the direct market? And we're like, no, it's just too much trouble for. Me and Scott, you know, we're just a couple of guys and two to manually put ourselves in a direct market. It's just a lot of hassle. diamond is a very difficult company to deal with all that's the most polite way I can put it, which is fine, you know, whatever it is.
he was like, well, we'd like atomic robo. can we do it? Can we, you know, if we just, if you guys just give, since you're just making comics anyway, you know, just give us the files. We'll print. the issues for you. And we'll just include that in our print runs for whatever it is we're doing. And, you know, do you want soft cover trades?
Cause I see you guys are doing hardcovers now and we'll just do all that through the direct market and you know, just free money for everybody. We're like, Oh yeah, sure. Whatever sounds fun. You know, and we signed some paperwork and we were off, it didn't occur to me at the time that IDW was one of the biggest publishers.
Yeah. We were just like, Oh yeah, that sounds cool. You know, whatever you want to [00:46:00] do, it's fine. So that's how we ended up with that VW. they were just, they saw an opportunity.
Jeff Haas: Okay. is that the reason, on your website, you list atomic robo as being, a web comic? is that the reason why it's labeled that way?
Or is it, are you going back to a web most primary, primarily web form?
Brian Clevinger: Oh no, you know, it's we put it all online. Generally first. and then just because of the way the publishing schedules are, you know, sometimes we just happen to get a whole lot of pages done, a couple of issues down before, you know, why do you think he's pretty disrupt printing them?
And so, you know, we just start putting them online and, sometimes the print schedule catches up. Sometimes the print issue, you know, towards the end of our run, maybe the print issue comes out before the online edition, whatever. I think it's just easier to call it a web comic, especially online, You know, cause you're already in kind of in that ecosphere, right.
You're already online. So you may as well just think college of webcomic without complicating the issue that we're all, technically we're aware of comics, but technically we self-published hard numbers, but technically you can also get it through your local complex shore, but not the hardcovers, but definitely this [00:47:00] issue know, is this a sentence with seven, 18 different clauses in my, like, nobody has time for that.
Nobody cares. You know, just let them read the comic. If they're gonna read it online. That's great. if they don't realize it's available in the comic shop, you know, they'll figure it out eventually, but that's through us, just, you know, talking about, Oh, Hey, you know, this is available and go buy it. Or they just see it on the shelf, whatever, you know, they'll figure it out.
They'll buy what they want to buy and they'll read what they want to read. Now
Jeff Haas: I need w is I.
Brian Clevinger: Lucy
Jeff Haas: company in
Brian Clevinger: America. Oh, hang on. I think I'm having connection issues.
[00:48:00] Jeff Haas: You know, it makes you wonder if atomic robo could ever exist because of the amount of problems you would have with techno
Brian Clevinger: really.
Jeff Haas: Alright. So
Brian Clevinger: you were just, you were right in the middle of asking me something about it. W
Jeff Haas: yeah. So RDW, is the fourth largest publisher in the country. Yeah. And
Brian Clevinger: we like idiots.
[00:49:00] We did no research. We didn't, we weren't, we were barely polite to them with the context. Cause we were at this time, we were just sick of the direct market. Not, I want to be absolutely clear, not sick of red five. They were, they always treated us great. we had an excellent experience with them, just the direct market itself, essentially diamond being such a pain, being such a cancer on the entire American comics industry.
So we were like, eh, we just don't need that. We're going to do our own thing. So an IDW comes along, Oh, Hey, we were thinking of maybe we'd print you. Yeah. If you want to. And that's fine. Do whatever. We don't care. Just send the checks and be prompt once the paperwork's all signed, then I look into it. Oh, they're the fourth biggest publisher.
Jeff Haas: Yeah. I mean,
Brian Clevinger: Marvel, DC and image are the only things in front of them. Like that's huge.
Jeff Haas: You really need to do is go to Marvel, trebled them off and just keep the series going that way. Just this blow up on publisher at a time. Yeah. Yeah. Why not? Is there any pressure with [00:50:00] knowing that your now your combat is part of the fourth largest company in America or.
It doesn't change anything for you,
Brian Clevinger: Scott and I have always just wanted to tell the best stories that we can have the most fun doing it that we can. And, you know, we don't really think about it in those terms, in the terms of, you know, we all, we gotta live up to whatever standard, you know, we're just trying to keep ourselves entertained and hopefully, people just like what we're doing.
Jeff Haas: Now your latest title that you had, at least your latest mini series was atomic, robo Donovan, new era, which ended March, 2019. that's a pretty long time between minutes. Are we going S we're seeing it back any time.
Brian Clevinger: Oh yeah. So yeah. So part of that is that, like I said earlier, Scott and I were working at another creator owned project.
so he was working on that throughout most of 2019. His work on that has been done for awhile. So now he's back to drawing the new volume of Atomico Bo atomic robo, and the vengeful dead. so we're, I got in the middle of working on that. [00:51:00] I think we're good. Yeah. I think we're going to start seeing, pages of that online, later this year.
So luckily, I mean, the pandemics kind of screwed up, comics publishing, but it doesn't stop the web comic. So, we should have that for you guys coming up pretty soon.
Jeff Haas: Right? Good. Like I said, cause I've been looking for a new series and I was saying, I was thinking the last time I remembered a new comic robo story.
I was like, it's been, I don't know, a lifetime ago. Maybe
Brian Clevinger: it feels like
Jeff Haas: now I did really did enjoy, Donovan new era and I think. You have a great character with Allen? Oh, it was again, it's another robot and he's kind of on some level, a little how 9,000 ish, at least from w when you think of maybe where he, you know, the original, how Alan came from.
Yeah. Yeah. So
Brian Clevinger: I'll go ahead. Alan's kind of like our, so, you know, like I was saying earlier, we didn't want robo to be just another robot character. He didn't want to be another, data or bender from future holler or whatever. Alan is kind of our opportunity to play around with [00:52:00] the sorts of plots you can do with data.
But, but I feel like with robo, there is sort of this foil. It's not just, it still feels a little fresh, right? Cause it's this isn't merely Alan wishing he was human. Cause he doesn't, you know, he's quite likes being a robot, just like robo. But it's sort of like Alan, figuring out how to integrate into society because he's new to the whole concept of society and being around people and just kind of, and just being curious about the world around him and wanting to become a part of it, which I think is a, it's something you get a little bit of that with data, but that, but I think the writer's kind of unimaginable hinge it a little bit more on this bizarre notion that had no emotions, even though.
I mean, he displays emotions throughout the series, but that's a whole, that's a whole other topic.
Jeff Haas: It is funny how with data that we say he's not emotion, but he seems to, you know, he has curiosity, which is not sort of like an emotion after you show him sort of angry at times is he had emotions when plot necessitated.
Brian Clevinger: W, I mean, he has friendships. He has people he [00:53:00] cares about. I don't get me started.
Jeff Haas: All right. Well, that's, what's off, that's a soft area for you, but we'll slowly back away from that one. Thank you. So, so Allen, is he okay? Okay. Someone who's read does a lot of reading and especially reads comic books, looks at Allen and how he's introduced and how he's perceived by a lot of the side characters around Allen.
And the first thing we think about is, Oh my God, he's your next super villain?
Brian Clevinger: Yes.
Jeff Haas: Is he going to go, how 9,000 or he's going to say more like a cell 9,000.
Brian Clevinger: I go, that's nice. Now, not that many people are into the 2010. It's well done
Jeff Haas: the movie. Yeah,
Brian Clevinger: that's a good book too. Oh, well, how should I answer this?
So we're that's all I can say is you got to keep reading.
Jeff Haas: Oh, wow. Okay. that's a little mysterious.
Brian Clevinger: Yeah. Well, I really, I, cause I can't stand. It's not that I can't say it's for others. Cause I got my way to split on my stuff on all kinds of stuff. But I really like, what we, what part of what we do with dunk [00:54:00] robos that I try to present stuff.
In a way that is surprising, but not a pointless twist, which is to say, you know, I want you guys, readers to think about to expect certain things, right. And then to just subverted a little bit, not in like a jerk way or not in a completely out of nowhere way that is, you know, just a twist for the sake of a twist that can't stand, that you see a lot of that in movies these days,
Jeff Haas: I'm not showing on none of them,
Brian Clevinger: but, but I do want, but I like to surprise readers.
again, like I said, with , Tom Kobo and dr. Dinosaur establishing beyond a shadow of a doubt, there is no time travel. And we did that specifically to time travel robo to annoy him. And to let that be a surprise for you, you're just like, Oh boy, it's happened. I can't believe it. Yeah. So, so Alan, you know, clearly there is.
Certain characters think and are worried that he could go a certain way based on his origins. and I will [00:55:00] say as, not as the Arthur, not as the author's voice, but as the sort of independent outside observer, they aren't wrong to have that opinion. but Rebecca's argument that, you know, that Alan won't be a threat in that way.
Because we're integrating him into society and teaching him the value of human culture and relationships and morality and ethics, then, you know, he's no more of a danger to civilization than anyone. You know, we all kind of have that, you know, sociopath do happen, but they are the minority.
They become billionaires and politicians, we can keep an eye on them. So just don't elect Alan and don't give them a billion dollars and we should be fine.
Jeff Haas: So I know you don't like to borrow this, but can you tell me if the story the storyline continues into. Or the reveal of what happens with the storyline continues into your next series.
Would that be when you get a sense of it?
Brian Clevinger: Yeah, the next few are going to, so what we tend to do, with our volumes is that we tend to do one modern day, one historical, one [00:56:00] modern day to catch up to where we are now in the modern day, two or three years later. And then another historical when just, you know, randomly in the past.
And we'd like to do that to sort of. cause we just enjoyed telling the historical stories and we enjoy allowing the setting to sort of percolate and to have these little time jumps where we don't have to explain every little thing, in the same way that you don't explain every little thing to someone that you've seen every day of your life.
Even though the readers haven't seen them everyday their lives. but the next few volumes will be modern day. cause we're kind of. Learning about Alan and watching him develop and watching him learn about humanity and society and ethics while he's having these big adventures with robo and his new friends.
so yeah, that's sort of the macro arc that we're dealing with is. Now that Allen is another Provo has introduced challenges to, humanity and effect. how does Alan then react to humanity, but does he learned from them? and how does he become a bigger part of [00:57:00] society? He's still overall a secret, in robo, everybody in the world knows about robo he's a worldwide celebrity, but right now nobody only the people at Tesla don't really know, but Allen and.
You know, how long does that secret hold? What happens if and when, it gets out, what are you going be a big deal? Cause I think most people wouldn't know about his original, his original incarnation. Cause there was such a weird in universe secret in itself. so yeah, that's just something we're going to be doing for the next few years is just having different modern day ventures and Allen's there.
hopefully, entertainment people.
Jeff Haas: Yeah. I mean, I think over the years you've developed some really great characters. Let's say dr. Dinosaur, we had Alan and the look how, cause I really have been enjoying his Jenkins. Oh, he's kind of, it's kinda like the Clint East scene feels like on some level of the atomic robo world and this is he going to character that you're going to see maybe in real time, some ventures or maybe get his own storyline
Brian Clevinger: at some point, not just because part of what makes Jenkins work so [00:58:00] well is how little we know about him.
it's not even what we show, although we do show him just doing these amazing, you know, incredible heroic things. but it's just the, all in which other people, including robo himself, having him and describe, the stuff that he's done that I think really sells the legend of Jenkins. That's partly what makes him not tedious is that, or feel like, you know, a quote unquote, Mary Sue, is that all the characters.
are kind of scared of him, but the officer, so just enough, of what he can do to be like, yeah, actually there, they are correct to be scared of him. but to really sort of just have a whole storyline based around that, I think would, it would be very challenging to find a way to do it in a way that was really, that would actually satisfy readers, cause keeping it a little mysterious kind of allows every individual reader to have the sense of.
their own personal sense of how amazing he must be. Right. But anything we show would kind of deflate that in a way
Jeff Haas: we're not expecting any miniseries, [00:59:00] like origins where he's going to find out his name is James Howlett or something. And came up with some diligent world war one or whatever the hell that was 19th century.
I can't remember this. The miniseries let's remember, for, I think at some level, her, some of the prestige of Wolverine after that point.
Brian Clevinger: Yeah. I mean, you, that was the whole hookup. Wolverine was that we didn't know his origins. He didn't know it was the origins. And to reveal that. You know, it takes away that mystery takes away that hook.
Even if let's say this, it's a great story. You still took something away.
Jeff Haas: I completely agree with you. another thing that I think is really fascinating about your tonic robo. I think it's the only independent combo I can think of that actually has his own role playing game.
Brian Clevinger: it's about to have one there.
I think they've just announced that they're going to do a version of, fifth edition Dungeons and dragons. Actually. No, there's a few others. you know, cause we're also small time though, other than help, we help boys kind of picked time. it's just easy to miss, right? Cause it's like a niche of a niche.
Yeah. And like, I know that they [01:00:00] existed, but I can't name any others, but I know they're out there cause I've seen him.
Jeff Haas: Are you going to tell Mike Manolo that he ripped you off?
Brian Clevinger: Oh Lord. Now
Jeff Haas: once again, I do love Hellboy, but so why a role playing game? Like what made you think? You know what Tommy cripple really needs a role playing game.
Brian Clevinger: Oh, cause it's gotten, they're a huge role playing game nerds. back when we first started, you know, we had just, I think we were like halfway through the very first volume. We were already talking about what should go in the role playing game. And this is before. We had any expectation that there would be a second volume.
That's how far back it goes.
Jeff Haas: Is there any thought of maybe doing an online role playing Virgin of atomic robo so people can play with you guys?
Brian Clevinger: no. So here's what we discovered while making atomic robo, roleplaying game, Mike Olson, he's the main designer. He did an amazing job of adapting, a fate core rules to, the atomic robo universe.
It's a great games. A lot of fun. It very, really captures, what it feels like to read a [01:01:00] book or Rita and Tom grobo adventure. even in just the rule book and then to actually play the game, it feels just like you're reading the comic it's, I just cannot emphasize enough. how well Mike pulled that off, and how well, the real support, stories that just spontaneously you, you know, you and your friends or make up the story that feels just like it came from atomic robo.
He did an amazing job here and that's why I don't like to play it. Because to me, cause it's everyone else. That's a lot of fun, right. For me, that's like, I'm sitting there and I'm thinking I should be writing this down. Why aren't I getting paid to do it?
Jeff Haas: this is
Brian Clevinger: job. I can't escape. So yeah, we actually in a bizarre twist of fate, we actually don't like to play it.
And that's a terrible endorsement I realized, but it is actually a lot of fun. It is fun. Just not for me or Scott, because it's so perfectly. Simulates the experience of reading a Tom grobo that for us, it's like working on top of grow book and it's like, well, that's what we that's [01:02:00] already what we do. We should, it gives it.
I don't know because there's this weird anxiety like, Oh, we're wasting our time. Oh, we should be writing this down or we should be drawing this out. Huh?
Jeff Haas: So it shouldn't say on the box, Tommy grobo role playing game. I don't like to play it. Yeah.
Brian Clevinger: Not endorse this at all.
Jeff Haas: Now, since you have probably been played it, are you any good at it when you have played it?
Brian Clevinger: Oh yeah. Yeah. I mean, you know, it's just a standard roleplaying game. It's, you know, you have, you achieved the victory that you set out to do, you know that you have, you defined your success and you have fun and yeah. No even I even got to play rope at once in a game at a convention that was a lot of fun.
Jeff Haas: Well done. So another thing, obviously, just, the thing that you I've read a lot of yours is your real science adventures, which as we mentioned a little bit earlier, it's sort of like a semi anthology book. Now, do you, when you choose your stories for real science ventures, are you more wanting to build upon character you already recreated or is it like a testing ground for characters that you're considering [01:03:00] building up more later?
Brian Clevinger: I think it's mostly the, and occasionally the latter. I wouldn't even say it's a testing ground, but it is a sort of an opportunity to just flesh out the world of atomic robo. and so, so it does tend to gravitate towards secondary characters that we've seen in previous volumes. having just being around robos orbit.
And so it's a nice opportunity to tell a story about these characters without robo in it. just to see them on their own terms. but as well, like with our most recent one, that nicotine is job where it's about the, this heist back in the 12th, 11th century, late 11th century, which is quite a departure for us.
It wasn't so much a testing ground for the characters, although, as it turned out, I really enjoyed writing them and that world and doing the research for it and would love to do more with them. it was just that, I had been researching a whole bunch of a whole bunch of stuff for this other story that I soon realized was far too big, to contain in a single volume, essentially it began 50,000 [01:04:00] years ago.
And then spanned up until I think the 17th century. I was like, okay, this is too much for 110 pages. So let's just zero. Let's just, you wrote down a little bit. Yeah. And so that kind of led me toward this big heist in the 11th century. so it was just a lot of fun, to play with this characters.
And I do hope to do so again.
Jeff Haas: Oh. Cause I think once again, just like Tommy grew up with the main series, it feels like it's been, I don't know, a century since we saw the last real science adventures. I mean, you want to see more of it. Yeah.
Brian Clevinger: Oh, yeah. So the main problem with real sense adventures is that, so we have a bizarre, publishing deal with it with IDW.
They don't really well got to say they don't pay us. They do pay us. They pay us royalties. it would be a terrible deal. They didn't pay us. They pay us royalties, which is pretty standard, but, they don't pay any advances, to us. they're not paying any page rates for anything, not the writing, not the art.
not the lettering, not the coloring. [01:05:00] so any, so you have Scott and I are paying or have to pay ourselves and we're apt to pay our colors. We have to pay her, whatever. That probably sounds like a terrible deal. But the thing is that, like I said earlier, that was the plan, right. We were going to self publish everything.
And so it wouldn't make sense to budget for some strange third entity that doesn't exist yet to be paying half of our staff. so when IDW came along, that was kind of part of. what made it such a good deal for them was the fact that since we were making these files anyway, we were paying these people.
Anyway, we just kind of deliver the finished product to IDW. They pay for the printing and the distribution and everything to get it into comic shops and all. So for them, It's peanuts, right? it's basically, it's all they do is just add to their print order, which has already, you know, fact kind of factored into their overall annual budget.
So it is in effect for them. It's a very good deal. It's free money for us. It's a very good deal because we're making all these sales, the direct market that otherwise we wouldn't, and it costs us no effort. We were [01:06:00] already making these files. Right. We just email them to this other destination as well.
Yeah. So, so both companies. Are in effect making some free money off the same market. It's a good deal. but because they're not paying us upfront, that then means that when we make a real science adventure, is that okay? The doubles, you know, our expenses, right? Yeah. The real science adventures doesn't sell as much as a Tom grobo because in that, does that make sense?
Of course, it's this spinoff book. So robos already kind of a niche title, or, you know, where did this small time in the group. So we're really only appealing to other atomic robo readers. Not necessarily all of them, not everyone's going to want more, a ton of critical stuff, or there's going to be people who just want atomic Grove stuff.
They don't want the side character stuff. Right. So we're doubling our expenses cause nobody's yeah. You know, we don't, we shouldn't be paying people less. we should be paying them what they deserve. but it's not making as much in sales. So, it's hard to do real science adventures [01:07:00] anatomical, but at the same time, because, we end up in these kind of money crunches where we're like, Oh, we really need a big boost of income pretty soon.
And then luckily it's always come through, but it was just stressful. So, we have strayed away from doing real science adventures of leap.
Jeff Haas: Now, obviously with DCN, Marta would do in that situation, they would force you to buy real science ventures by having it be a crossover story.
Brian Clevinger: Yeah. that's what we should do,
Jeff Haas: but just like foursome,
Brian Clevinger: but like, like much like Tesla we're bad business people.
So, you know, we're just more interested in just telling these stories and hoping that people enjoy what we do.
Jeff Haas: Well, like I said, I do love Atomico, but I think. it, I think it's just a great, it helps my mood a lot to read a story like tonic robe, which is just fun, which is just a fun, relaxing.
So I don't have to worry about continuity that deeply like DCA marble, you don't have to worry about the over amount of drama you're gonna be dealing with in Batman moping all the time and stuff like that. it's just fun. I do have one more question for you and then I can let you go. I read somewhere where you said stated that your favorite car comics are the ones where the jokes are on the reader.
Brian Clevinger: That's true.
Jeff Haas: So what do you mean by [01:08:00] that?
Brian Clevinger: kind of, well, like, like I was saying earlier, you know, there's no time travel on top of Grupo until ha jokes on new reader. Yes, there is all sorts of the joke is on robo. So I feel like that's not exactly mean-spirited. You know, I just, like I was saying, I just enjoy, subverting expectations.
I mean, that's the essence of comedy itself, right? Like the punchline, a punchline is funny because you didn't expect it. and so I just, like, I just liked playing around with that structure and the larger scale where the storyline itself, isn't a joke on the reader necessarily, but it's, it ends in a way or concludes in a way where it leads to a destination where.
You know, once you've read it's inevitable, but on the way there, like it takes you by surprise.
Jeff Haas: Oh good. At least I was really, I was wondering what the man, I was like, wait, what do you mean? But no, that makes perfect sense to me. Makes perfect sense. And I'm so I just want to thank you. mr. Clevenger for spending some good time with me, it was fascinating talking about Tamika.
What makes a fantastic character and hope that more people, find it over through us.