• Interviews 

    Multiversity Comics Presents: Brian Clevinger

    By | August 11th, 2009
    Posted in Interviews | % Comments

    A crazy awesome home made Atomic Robo suit

    This week on Multiversity Comics Presents we have Brian Clevinger. Brian is one of Multiversity’s favorite writers as he is the creator of massively successful webcomic 8-bit Theater, co-creator and writer of Red 5’s awesome comic Atomic Robo, and a creator on a number of other fantastic projects. Brian is one of the most successful webcomic creators ever, and his ability to create utterly original and hilarious characters and concepts is paramount to that success.

    Multiversity Comics is honored to present our interview with Brian Clevinger. If you enjoy these posts, please leave a comment!

    So what is a day in the life of Brian Clevinger like? How does a successful indie comic writer go about his daily things?

    Brian Clevinger: I wake up at 9am and get to work. Mon, Wed, and Fri that’s writing the 8-bit Theater comic I’ll put together that afternoon or evening. After lunch I write…something else! Depends on what deadlines are coming up, but it’s generally something related to Atomic Robo, Warbot in Accounting, Emerson Wild: Monster Hunter, or How I Killed Your Master.

    I go to bed around 2 — 3am and start all over again. About half the time I have to finish 8-bit on the following morning. I also work all weekend and consider holidays/vacations to be nearly unbearable interruptions.

    8-Bit Theater is one of the bigger smash hits of the web-comic world and is pretty much limitless in its potential. How exactly did you come up with it (did a wizard do it?) and how much longer do you see yourself running with it? And what does the future look like for Warbot in Accounting? (which, as a side note, is easily one of the most hilarious concepts/things we’ve ever read)

    BC: 8-bit Theater began as an excuse to essentially do nothing and get college credit for it. Somewhere in the middle of that scam many, many thousands of people started reading it and begging me to find ways for them to throw money at me. I was (and still am) perplexed, but I was happy to oblige them.

    The future of Warbot in Accounting is bleak. If it wasn’t, it would be some other comic!

    Atomic Robo has to be one of the funniest characters we’ve ever read and reads like a more humor oriented Hellboy. What was your inspiration for Robo, and the book in general? And where is he headed after the latest adventure?

    BC: Atomic Robo is a synthesis of The Ghostbusters, Indiana Jones, and Buckaroo Banzai with a dash of Dragnet.

    One of the things we’ve noticed about Robo is that we get a lot of allusions to his “birth,” but we’ve never actually really seen Tesla or where Robo came from. Are there any plans for a Secret Origin of Atomic Robo type story?

    BC: Nope. There’s really nothing noteworthy about Robo’s origin other than the fact that it happened at all. Tesla worked on him in secret for ten years or so and unveiled him to the public in 1923. That’s where it gets interesting.

    How did it feel to be nominated for an Eisner Award for all your work on Robo? And how much do you hate Gerard Way?

    BC: Let’s just say we were surprised by both the nomination and the winner.

    Can you give us a little bit of exclusive info on any new creator owned works coming down the pipeline?

    BC: I could have had I replied to this in anything like a timely manner. But I didn’t! In the meantime, I recently launched a new webcomic called How I Killed Your Master. It’s about kung fu and revenge cycles. And we just released the first teaser trailer — which, at five minutes, I’m calling a teaser episode — of Emerson Wild: Monster Hunter. It’s created by Warbot in Accounting co-creator/artist Zack Finfrock and I do the writing.

    Continued below

    Is anything ever going to happen again with Nuklear Man and/or Nuklear Age? Has Kevin Smith heard of it yet?

    BC: I tried writing the sequel for about four or five years, but I just couldn’t get my head back into that world. I could see revisiting Nuklear Age in some capacity, but we’re at a superhero saturation point in and out of comics, so it’ll be a while before I pursue that.

    Do you see yourself ever moving to one of the bigger giants of the industry, such as Marvel or DC, and doing work on a property you did not create? The Red 5 relationship seems great, but it would be amazing to see what you could do on one of their flagship books (Amazing Spider-Man sure does have a lot of writers in its stable…).

    BC: It’s not really a goal; I’m already working on my dream project. I mean, if I can find work at Marvel that appeals to me, doesn’t get in the way of making Robo comics, and doesn’t involve editorial mandates or crossovers, I’ll do it. We’ve all got to pay the rent. But, like I said, it’s not something I’m actively pursuing.

    Tying into that last question, if you could write an arc on any book, what would it be?

    BC: Scott and I would love to revamp Gravity and Darkhawk in a buddy team-up book. Yeah, they’re re-vamping Darkhawk right now, but — and I say this with nothing but respect for the creators working on Darkhawk right now — any version of that character that doesn’t involve him hiding his superhero identity from his superhero roommate who is also hiding his superhero identity from Darkhawk just isn’t the right re-vamp.

    Now on to the more serious side of the industry: You’ve been quite the outspoken opponent of Diamond’s business model which, as you’ve said, effectively cripples the independent publisher and almost drives them out of print. With your already giant web presence and Red 5’s transition of their comics into digital media (as frequently advertised in Atomic Robo issues), could you see yourself moving out of print entirely? What keeps you making print comics, and what do you think the future of the industry is?

    BC: Scott and I are very pro-digital. We’re working on a 7-page Atomic Robo short right now that will be online exclusive. If it were up to us, I think Atomic Robo issues would go completely digital with print trade paperback collections. I don’t think the industry at large will move to that unless there’s a massive technological upheaval like cheap, high-resolution, full-color smart paper, or a Super Kindle or something. In the meantime we’re going to see more digital distribution alongside print distribution. Perhaps the largest factor that keeps comic books out of the mainstream is that it’s nearly impossible to find them compared to, say, DVDs or video games. Comic shops are simply far and few between compared to Best Buy and Blockbuster. Being able to find comic books for sale, at a fraction of their regular price, from anywhere with a wireless connection or cellular signal can only be considered a boon to the industry and its readership.

    What comics do you personally read (web/print)? Anything out there you think is woefully under read and deserves some attention?

    BC: I read very few comics these days. The vast majority of DC’s output has been unreadable since the conclusion of 52. It’s a shame, too, because you can see by and large it has nothing to do with the creative teams, it’s the mandates they have to swallow and the hoops they’re forced to jump through. And I’m basically boycotting Marvel until they stop with this latest bout of endless mega-crossover super-events.

    I’m the worst indie creator in the world. Most indie comics don’t appeal to me. I’m a champion of them, and their contribution to the industry, culture, and art are more important than mainstream comics…but most of them aren’t my thing!

    Finally, as a last note of important discussion: Grant Morrison has often stated his love for animals, cats especially. He puts them in a lot of his books, either as background pets (Final Crisis, Supergirl’s cat), supporting characters (Seven Soldiers, Klarion’s cat Teekl), and main characters (WE3, Tinker aka “2”). We’ve compared Robo with Hellboy, who loves cats. You yourself stated on the back of Nuklear Age that you have 2 cats. So…cats. How awesome are they?

    Continued below

    BC: They’d be better if they could get jobs!

    If you enjoyed Brian’s comments and have yet to check out any of his work, click on any of the links below and get in on the fun!

    Nuklear Power – Home of 8-bit Theater
    Atomic Robo
    Nuklear Age
    Brian’s author page on Amazon


    David Harper

    David Harper mainly focuses on original content, interviews, co-hosting our 4 Color News and Brews video podcast, and being half of the Mignolaversity and Valiant (Re)visions team. He runs Multiversity's Twitter and Facebook pages, and personally tweets (rarely) @slicedfriedgold. By day, he works in an ad agency in Anchorage, Alaska, and he loves his wife, traveling and biscuits & gravy (ordered most to least, which is still a lot).

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