What Did I Learn?: Robot 13 (#1)
Submitted by Delos on June 21, 2009 - 09:00
Today’s review is on a printed comic called Robot 13 (#1) by Thomas Hall and Daniel Bradford. Likely you’ve heard of it, read a review or maybe even own a copy, so I’ll not waste time dwelling too long on the obvious. I’ll be linking to some other sites which have more information, interviews and page samples so that you won’t miss out.
This particular issue finds the robot being dragged up from the depths by fishermen and almost immediately having to save them from a monster of the deep. He doesn’t have to save them but he is a hero and that’s what he does. The fishermen wouldn’t have stood a chance without him, really. Frozen by fear, one by one they would have simply been tasty hors d’oeuvres. One source helpfully says that Robot 13 takes place in 1939 which explains the wooden ship, guns and the odd shape of the robot. (I might suggest that Zuda hopefuls probably ought to take a gander at this to see how to sell a series within a limited number of pages.)
Other reviews have mentioned the similarities between Bradford and Mignola’s art and how much is not explained but simply shown, which I can echo. This review usefully shows one of the Robot 13 images as compared with a similar image from Mignola’s Hellboy. There are two covers – one painted and the other in the comic’s style – and I prefer the latter, personally. I always prefer that a comic’s cover image match the interior style.
I can’t show you a few of the interesting choices in layout but let me say that when I am drawing, my urge is always to use every bit of space available on the page. On page 26, the page is divided into three rows with the top two being full width and chunks paneled in. The bottom row has a single, centered panel with lots of whitespace on each side. On this page, it conveys just how alone the robot feels and is nicely done. A like layout is used on page 21 to highlight a dramatic moment. While this isn’t a new technique, it is uncommon to see it used in our world of web comics and I think it would add some depth that can be lacking. We also don’t tend to use full bleeds, either, mainly because of the limits of browsers, predicting user screen sizes and html. Imagine how different our pages would look with a full bleed scene taking up the entire screen covered only by the sidebar contents.
You are probably also aware that the Robot 13 concept is a story combination of Frankenstein and the Odyssey in that our robotic hero fights mythological monsters but can’t remember where he came from. I will also add that he does have a Myspace page though with all that monster killing I don’t know when he finds the time to update it. =) He does show a lot of character for being a robot with an englobed skull head and I am pleased to report I saw no thought balloons. The inner emotions are only shown through what is spoken or body language.
Partially because of that clarity, I found myself wondering why the Myspace page, among other places, describes so much of the robots’ internal struggle? Those are things that I would love to consider as I read the rest of the series. However, I do not excel at self promotion so perhaps I should be taking notes rather than questioning. It very well could be that this extra information is what will be needed for a good sized audience to latch onto Robot 13. One thing is very clear – always accept interview requests and make use of all avenues at your disposal. Case in point: the creators had a nice interview just posted at Undead Backbrain.
What Did I Learn?
Robot 13 has a strong concept along with well executed art and story. It is strongly promoted – even going so far as to reach outside the print comic world in multiple ways. It can be purchased online or potentially at your comic shop because Blacklist Studios has decide to self publish. It probably wouldn’t hurt to suggest comics like Robot 13 to your local shop.