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NYCC ’19: Looking Back to the Future of “Robotech Remix” with Brenden Fletcher

By | December 10th, 2019
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From its inception in 1985, the Robotech franchise has captured the attention of an enormous amount of fans worldwide. Spanning multiple named sagas and various forms of media, “Robotech Remix” is the latest installment in the ongoing story as shown through the comics by Titan Comics, including elements both new and old in the process.

Writer (and avid Robotech fan) Brenden Fletcher took the time at New York Comic Con to talk about this newest series just ahead of the release of its first issue.

How would you describe “Robotech: Remix” for new readers?

Brenden Fletcher: “Robotech: Remix” is about a woman in the living midst of her nostalgia, while not being a book about nostalgia per se. Robotech was a series from the 80s. We’re clearly not in the 80s anymore. But this is a book about a woman who has been thrust into her own past. She’s a middle aged woman. She’s living in the time of her childhood now, but stuck there. And she’s stuck amidst the people who would be her parents, except the things that she has done to move her back in time, have kept her parents from getting together. Therefore, she has not been born. Therefore, in this timeline, she doesn’t exist. What is her purpose in the universe? The world seems to be getting on fine without her.

And it’s about this person reevaluating their life and the actions that they’ve taken, the people that have been hurt as a result of things she’s done, and what if any future she might have It’s the stuff we all go through, but we go through it normally. But imagine you are going through it if you got thrown back in time. It’s just that much worse.

And it’s from the 80s, but it’s a version of the future from the perspective of the 80s.

BF: I don’t know if you’ve read it, but it’s beautifully illustrated by my partner, Elmer Damaso, who can’t be here. He lives in the Philippines. But it’s the task that Elmer has is to always make things look futuristic, but as if you’re someone living in the 80s, trying to imagine the future. Very challenging. Luckily Elmer’s great.

Does the series work well as an entry point for newcomers, or is there anything they should know before diving in about Robotech in general?

BF: We do a little intro page up front to try to clear the deck and say, here’s the deal. This is the Robotech deal, everyone just in case you don’t know. And then from there, I try to be very clear about any information from things that happened before that might be relevant. I tried to make this a clean starting point. My hope is that this is a book about characters. And with all the cards on the table up front, the trials and tribulations of the characters will be clear, the story will be understandable.

Now, that said, you’re going to get so much more out of it, if you are a longtime Robotech fan, if you’ve watched the shows and read the novels, and I am doing my best to be consistent with all of the material that came before. And I’m not writing this in a vacuum. This is being edited by Titan. It goes to San Francisco and is looked over by all the Robotech guys who have a lot to say and they ask for changes and they want to see certain things happen. So while it’s my story, there are a group of us making sure that it fits firmly within the Robotech universe.

So sure, I hope that I can hand this to my 13-year-old niece, and she could “get it.” Yeah, I think she should be able to. But also, if you’re a 45 year old guy like me that grew up on Robotech, this offers you the same thing, but at a whole different level, because scenes within it, characters within it, there are things that happen, people that do things that resonate back, things from previous media echo from those things. And in fact, we’ll see more of that as the series continues, how the past comes back to haunt you.

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And since it is a re-imagining, what kind of things can you tell would likely be out there for returning fans to see in a different way?

BF: Man, everything. Off the top, you’ve got younger versions of characters that you know from one of the series being almost parented by other characters who were the same age as this character in the original series. Specifically, Dana Sterling, now living in her past, is is the guardian to the child version of her best friend from her day. Weird. But for Dana, she knows what he went through growing to be an adult. She knows what he went through through the trauma of war, being his commanding officer, and what happened to him after that, which is something that isn’t completely revealed within the Robotech universe and it’s something in the in the Prime timeline and that’s something we’ll kind of dig into through the series.

If you’re a fan, if you’ve been following it for years, anything that you know from before still exists. And you will see in this series how Dana simply moving backwards has caused stuff to change. And through that change, you will learn truths about the Robotech universe that you didn’t know before.

Man, that sounds overly complex! It really isn’t that complex. This isn’t like me trying to explain the intricacies of Back to the Future. It’s just Marty McFly gets in car ends up screwing up his mom and dad going on a first date and kissing so then he has to fix it so they kiss again. That’s the story of “Robotech Remix.” I’m basically ripping off Back to the Future and making it cooler.

Elmer Damasco and Marco Lesko did a really good job [on artwork]. How did their art and colors influence your writing on the series?

BF: I’d written that first script without Elmer being on board. I’d sort of been doing all the lead up work with the hope of getting someone like Elmer because I knew his work. I just didn’t think we could get him. And he had done the Robotech/Voltron crossover and he was like, in my mind, the perfect guy for this. And when our editor from Titan got him to sign on, I think my head exploded that day. I was walking on cloud nine.

Elmer is a perfect partner for this. And having Marco on is good continuity from the previous Titan “Robotech” series because he colored 25 issues of it – – 24 plus a Free Comic Book Day issue. All available in trade paperback from Titan right now, I might add.

These guys are an incredible team for me. Everybody gets it like, from me to Elmer to Marco, to our editor, Martin [Eden] in London. This is a team that’s firing on all cylinders. Everybody wants the same thing. We all want to experiment in different ways with it. So we’re all coming at it from the same angle and then challenging each other to experiment in different ways.

I think what you see in that first issue is is just the starting point. Things are just going to get crazier from here. And I’ve seen the artwork. It gets even . . . I mean, some of it just does get crazier. Some of it is more beautiful. It’s really incredible. Great art team. I’m very privileged.

You’ve done some work in science fiction with the likes of “Assassin’s Creed,” “Ghost in the Shell: Global Neural Network.” How did those works influence how you handled “Robotech”?

BF: I learned some interesting lessons working on “Ghost in the Shell” with my co creator, Lorenzo Ceccotti, who goes by LRNZ. I wrote a script for that book. And Lorenzo called me from Rome, and he said, “I love it. Do you have time to workshop it with me on Skype?” And I said, “Yeah man, sure. So you want just talk for an hour and go over some things?” And he’s like, “No, no, I think we’ll break it down and do three sessions of maybe three or four hours each for each part of this.” I was blown away. Lorenzo and I got to talk about different ways of experimenting with storytelling on “Ghost in the Shell.” And it’s a well-known sci fi anime property, much like “Robotech.” So I can’t say I like one to one applied the sort of things I learned working with Lorenzo on that to “Robotech,” but certainly I carry over a lot of that experience. I had done it only a short time before being asked to work on “Robotech,” so it was a little fresh in my mind. But yeah, I definitely carry that one with me.

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“Assassin’s Creed” was so long ago. With that one, I think it might have been the first time that I had felt the willingness of a publisher or an editorial group to allow me to add to a universe. I think as a fan, you have a little hesitation to come in and say, as we did with “Batgirl,” “I’m gonna make a whole new part of Gotham City. You guys are good with that, right?” I think before “Assassin’s Creed,” I just didn’t have the balls to do that. But the guys at Ubisoft were just so open to us pitching anything that just expanded the universe in new and different ways. I think that really empowered me in my work with DC, on licensed stuff, obviously. And then coming over to Titan to work on this “Robotech” book, I think I feel a little more empowered to push forward with the weird ideas and things that don’t fit into the old parameters of what the IP was.

Any particular things you’re excited about with regards to writing Robotech?

BF: Like everything. I am such a huge Robotech nerd. Me and my buddy Karl [Kerschl] grew up on this. We started watching it right around the time we met in grade six. Might have been grade seven that it started, actually. But I mean, here we are, 35 years later, I’m writing the new “Robotech” book and Karl’s doing a cover for it, after having done the covers for the previous “Robotech” book. And I think this only happened because for some reason Chris Thompson was following us. Chris Thompson, who was with Titan at the time, was following us on social media and knew that we were big Robotech nerds, so then came after us until we wouldn’t say no. It’s such a thrill to be getting to build upon this world that we were obsessed with when we were kids.

I think one of the one of the things I never thought that I would be fascinated by or excited about is building upon the character of Dana Sterling, who seemed like a vapid young woman in the original animated series. And I get the privilege of giving you the reader some kind of route to the reason behind her behavior. I get to flesh this out for you. Why was she like that? What was the reason for it? Where did she go from there? What is her journey now that she’s middle aged and lost, literally lost in her own past without a hope of any independent future for herself? Who was she? Who is she? What can she be moving forward and what is her place in this Robotech universe?

That is the most exciting thing to me: the meta story of this thing, the meta text of this whole thing, the fact that there is a character from an animated show called Super Dimension Cavalry Southern Cross, stuck in the world of another show called Macross. There’s just so much to say. Her name was Jeanne Fránçaix in that show. She was a completely different person. But because of the way Robotech was written, she became Dana Sterling, the daughter of two other characters and part of this grand saga, this grand legacy I get to make. I get to comment on that, in a way.

I’m very lucky. I can rant on the internet about that stuff if I want, but I get to write a cool story that has that as subtext.

And the last thing: are there any other last comments you’d like to share about “Robotech: Remix?”

BF: I got my best friend to do the covers of the first issue. Elmer Damaso is such a find. I do not know why this man is not a superstar right now because he’s incredible, so, so gifted. The team on this book are beyond words. Marco’s doing a great job, Jim [Campbell] on letters. Martin is an amazing editor. I just feel very privileged to be able to work on this thing, to say the things that I’m being allowed to say with it, to bring recognition to the original animated series from Japan in ways that I feel hasn’t been done that much here in the West. And I hope everybody will check it out. Let me know what you think.

Catch “Robotech Remix” #3 today wherever comic books are sold, with “Robotech Remix” #4 coming January 8, 2020.

//TAGS | NYCC '19

Gregory Ellner

Greg Ellner hails from New York City. He can be found on Twitter as @GregoryEllner or over on his Tumblr.


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