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CSBG Archive

Alex Robinson Chat Transcript!

On Thursday, September 4th, Alex Robinson, writer/artist of the acclaimed graphic novels Box Office Poison and Tricked, as well as his most recent work, Too Cool to be Forgotten (about a man traveling back in time to his high school years), stopped by to chat with our readers.

The following is an edited (for easier reading) transcript of the chat!

Enjoy!

Brian Cronin: Welcome, everyone, to Alex’s chat!

AlexRobinson: Hey!

Adam P Knave: *applause*

AlexRobinson: Oh, stop! Everyone sit down!

BrandonHanvey: Greetings
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Brian Cronin: How did ComicCon treat you, Alex?

BrandonHanvey: Yeah I got Too Cool there. The candy cigs were a nice treat.

AlexRobinson: Comicon was awesome–exhausting but awesome.

Brian Cronin: Do you like having it be so close to a new release? Or would you prefer to have had more time to hype the book?

AlexRobinson: No, I like having something fresh and new.

AlexRobinson: The best situation at a show is to have people handing you money, so the closer you can get to something being brand new the better.
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BrandonHanvey: Is there going to the a soft cover version of the book?

AlexRobinson: There are no plans for a softcover.

AlexRobinson: Top Shelf figured a softcover would go for around $10 anyway, so it’s not that big a savings.
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Brian Cronin: Regarding designing the book like a cigarette pack, was that your first pick or did you have other earlier designs?

AlexRobinson: Originally we were going to go with a yearbook theme but couldn’t settle on an idea Top Shelf, Matt Kindt (the designer) and I liked, so we changed direction.

AlexRobinson: And I really love the cover

Brian Cronin: Yeah, it’s a striking look.
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Adam P Knave: Who do you follow, comic/artistwise these days?

AlexRobinson: I mostly follow a lot of the usual indy comics suspects.

AlexRobinson: But I don’t enjoy reading comics as much as I did before I “went pro.”

Brian Cronin: How often do you go comic shopping?

AlexRobinson: I go shopping for comics about once every two or three weeks but I don’t buy stuff all the time.

AlexRobinson: The last two books I bought were FART PARTY

and the collected JOURNEY.

Brian Cronin: Wertz reminds me of your stuff a bit
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BrandonHanvey: So does Too Cool take place the BoPverse?

AlexRobinson: My thinking was that TOO COOL takes place in the BOPverse but someone pointed out some inconsistencies so I’m not sure.
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BrandonHanvey: So who came up the the editor’s note at the end of the book?

Brian Cronin: By the by, for the uninformed, Alex had a character think the word “dad” where he meant to say “did” – Alex meant it as an intentional Freudian mistake, the editors did not want people to think it was a typo, so there was an editor’s note at the end of the book explaining that the typo was intentional.

AlexRobinson: The “editor’s” note at the end was a compromise between Top Shelf and myself.

AlexRobinson: I really wanted to keep the heavy-handed foreshadowing in there and they felt just as strongly to fix it.

AlexRobinson: So I semi-jokingly came up with the idea of the note from the “editor” and actually wrote the comment.

Brian Cronin: How has the reaction to that been?

AlexRobinson: I think it might’ve been a mistake, since enough people have commented on it that I think it might be a distraction, and at least one person told me that having that right at the end was sort of jarring.

AlexRobinson: Top Shelf and I are sort of keeping a running tab on people who liked it and people who didn’t, in case there’s a second printing.

Brian Cronin: It is a distraction, but I don’t think one that really affected my reading of the book.

AlexRobinson: That’s good.
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BrandonHanvey: So how much research dit you do for the book? Did you go back to your old highschool yearbook for ideas?

AlexRobinson: I have my yearbook from my senior year, which I consulted a lot of hairstyles and stuff, and my wife who’s the same age has a few yearbooks

AlexRobinson: Hers were almost better since I could just look at the people objectively without the rise of bile in my throat or sorrowful regrets.

Brian Cronin: Ha

AlexRobinson: I also used some references to try and make sure the pop cultural references were at least close

BrandonHanvey: Did you use a lot of your own high school experience for the story?

AlexRobinson: I didn’t actually use too much of my own high school experiences in the book, since I spent most of my free time in high school alone drawing comics

AlexRobinson: Which would’ve been very boring and I wanted Andy’s experiences to be (I hope) more typical.
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Ben Dunn: Just wanted to drop a quick line to congratulate you on your recent success. Glad to see you doing such great work and look forward to your newest work.

AlexRobinson: Thanks, Ben!

AlexRobinson: (in case people don’t know, Ben gave me my big break when Antarctic Press published BOX OFFICE POISON as a series)


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WhiskeyTango: What’s next?

AlexRobinson: I haven’t talked about it publicly yet but I did settle on my next project.

AlexRobinson: I don’t want to go too much into it yet but it should be out in for Christmas of 2009 and will be coming out from Harper Collins.

pooky: Are you going for a longer book like BOP or Tricked, or staying shorter?

AlexRobinson: The new project is pretty short, only about 60 pages, but I would like to do a longer book next.

pooky: Kinda like Craig Thompson right now, working on the long book almost exclusively?

AlexRobinson: I’ve been thinking about doing another 500 page book but I think I would serialize it this time, maybe over five books which would then be collected…maybe have them come out as annuals

AlexRobinson: I like the idea of doing something serialized, giving people time to mull over the story and imagine what’s coming.

AlexRobinson: I don’t want people to forget me while I’m working on a big long book!

Brian Cronin: That’s always the fear with collections vs. serial work
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Mordy: I’ve got a question, Alex. You clearly use music and music culture often in your graphic novels. You’re also not alone (I notice a lot of comics, especially in Vertigo right now) that find inspiration in pop music. Why do you think music culture keeps creeping into graphic novels? Am I wrong in seeing this as a phenomenon?

AlexRobinson: Well, Mordy, I don’t think it’s unique to comics or graphic novels.

AlexRobinson: A lot of movie makers and TV shows use music as well, for various reasons

Mordy: Well, let me rephraise it then. Why do you use it?

AlexRobinson: I think I use it because I really like music, which sounds simple but that’s the only reason I can think of.

Mordy: Also, Alex – with film and television, music tends to be a soundtrack. Something audible to accompany a montage or something. You’re literally writing, often, about music culture. Lyrics – bands – groupies – etc.

AlexRobinson: Well, I really only did it with TRICKED.

Mordy: (Btw, before I forget: I loved Tricked.)

AlexRobinson: None of my other books have musicians as main characters, but music does play a big part in all the books (except LOWER REGIONS)

Brian Cronin: On sale for $3 now! :)

Mordy: So is it just because you’re a huge music fan yourself?

AlexRobinson: That’s about it.
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Brian Cronin: Are there any translations for Tricked?

AlexRobinson: TRICKED has been in Spanish, French and German
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BrandonHanvey: Your art seems to becoming slightly more cartoony. Is that a conscience choice on your part?

AlexRobinson: I think my new book sort of lent itself more to a cartoony style, since it dealt with teenagers who are naturally more cartoony

BrandonHanvey: Plus Andy’s glasses lent to the big cartoon eye effect.

AlexRobinson: Yeah, I think he got more cartoony as the book went on.

AlexRobinson: If you look at the first time you see him in the mirror he looks slightly more “realistic”

Brian Cronin: True
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BrandonHanvey: Do you tend to do rough layouts and ink in the details or have more detailed layouts?

AlexRobinson: I tend to use very rough layouts.

Brian Cronin: You posted an uninked piece of art awhile back, and wow, you really do add a lot of detail in the inking stage (at least with that piece, you did)

AlexRobinson: I’ll lay the whole page out very roughly and then add details in pencil if I think I need it or if it’s something tricky.

AlexRobinson: Since I work on one page at a time it’s kind of an ongoing process, I’ll add details to the pencils of one panel after I’ve already inked another one.

Brian Cronin: How long did it take to draw the awesome “Andy made out of words” page, then? That must have been amazingly tricky.

AlexRobinson: It’s funny because the things people assume are tricky and the things that usually take the most time are things people barely notice.

AlexRobinson: The face made of words was actually pretty easy, and I was happy to do that page since I finished ahead of my usual pace.

Brian Cronin: What pages would you use as an instance where it looked easy but was actually hard for you to draw?

AlexRobinson: Hmmm

AlexRobinson: It’s hard to recall because it’s usually just something that’s unspectacular but personally hard for me to draw.

Brian Cronin: Fair enough

AlexRobinson: Cars, for instance, are always a tremendous pain in the ass.

Brian Cronin: Hah!

AlexRobinson: Anytime you see a full shot of a car you can be assured that it was penciled and erased many times

AlexRobinson: And stuff like that requires reference.

AlexRobinson: The big reason I did my LOWER REGIONS was that I only wanted to draw fun stuff.
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BrandonHanvey: Do you use text books for reference or more interent searches?

AlexRobinson: Mostly internet these days but I do pull out books occassionally.

pooky: Do you conscously spend time paying attention to things like proportion when you’re drawing, or is it more automatic given your experience level?

AlexRobinson: It’s usually something I pay more attention to when I’m starting a book and haven’t internalized the way the characters look yet.

AlexRobinson: By the time I get to the end of a book I can usually pretty much draw them by heart.

AlexRobinson: But in the early pages you have to pay more attention.

Brian Cronin: Do you ever adjust the early pages?

pooky: how often do you find yourself scrapping a page and redrawing it? Are you pretty good on the first pass or do you lean towards the perfectionist route?

pooky: (i’m assuming you already know what you want on the page from the writing perspective…)

AlexRobinson: I definitely would not say I’m a perfectionist. Usually the only time I’ll go back and scrap or redraw a page is if I have to change it for the story

AlexRobinson: I actually write it as a I go along, so there have been times where I’ve had to “back up” and rewrite after I drew pages.

AlexRobinson: In that case I’ll scrap them, but it doesn’t happen much.
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Brian Cronin: Does something like what Lynn Johnston is doing now ever appeal to you for Box Office Poison? Not that you would ever be able to actually DO it, but is the notion of reworking your early work an appealing one at least?

AlexRobinson: I’m really hesitant to rework already published work because you wind up being George Lucas and possibly ruining something that was already fine.

AlexRobinson: Plus, I don’t think my 39 year-old self should get to tell my 27 year-old self what to do.

AlexRobinson: That was his book, if I think I can do better I should write my own.
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BrandonHanvey: How much computer work is involved in your art process? Or are you still mostly pen and ink?

AlexRobinson: I don’t use the computer at all.

AlexRobinson: TOO COOL was the first time I even used the computer to make corrections.
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BrandonHanvey: How often did the story of TOO COOL change? Did you write the whole script before doing any art?

AlexRobinson: I never write a whole script out ahead of time, since I like to give myself a lot of room to improvise.

AlexRobinson: The story didn’t change much from what I originally envisioned, though I did wind up leaving some stuff out that I wish I’d included.

Brian Cronin: How detailed are your scripts? Do you at least have a specific end goal in mind?

BrandonHanvey: So you go with a rough outline of the story and start drawing pages?

AlexRobinson: I have a very rough outline in my head, keeping in mind what things are needed to move the story along or key scenes, and then I’ll write

AlexRobinson: and layout page one in my sketchbook.

AlexRobinson: Then I’ll draw it, and move onto writing and penciling page two

BrandonHanvey: So you have major points you need to address and do scenes that connect those points?

AlexRobinson: A lot of people have said it’s a crazy way to work since it makes editing very annoying

AlexRobinson: I have key scenes or plot elements I’ll need to connect, but usually I’m not sure how I’ll work it out until I get there.
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Brian Cronin: Do you happen to recall any of the ideas you ended up dropping from the book?

AlexRobinson: I wanted to do more stuff about high school, like what it would be like to a gay kid in the 1980s or a minority student in an mostly white school

AlexRobinson: and talk about a kid committing suicide, which seemed to happen to a lot of schools at that time

AlexRobinson: But I found that too many of the high school scenes were already Andy thinking to himself

AlexRobinson: “Wow, there’s so and so. Look, there’s that kid I knew”

AlexRobinson: I worried it was getting monotonous.

AlexRobinson: And of course, someone wrote to me saying they enjoyed the book but wish I had shown some minorities.

AlexRobinson: But yeah, I try to keep the writing very loose.

AlexRobinson: With this new story I’m doing I’m actually adapting an existing story so it will be an interesting challenge.

Brian Cronin: A novel?

AlexRobinson: A short story.

AlexRobinson: They’re doing a series of books adapting Christmas stories and I’m doing one.

Brian Cronin: Oh, that sounds like a cool concept for a series.
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BrandonHanvey: Is your process changing since you are working with a whole story?

AlexRobinson: I’m going about it–adapting the story–in a very different way since the plot already exists and I know I have to get it in at 60 pages.

AlexRobinson: Usually I have a lot more freedom in terms of page count.

AlexRobinson: Also, I’m adding some bits and adapting it but since it’s not really my story I’m okay with them changing it, something I normally resist with my previous books.
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pooky: where do you see your career in 10 years? do you want to keep doing comics? Is there another area that you’d like to get into?

AlexRobinson: I can’t think of anything I’d like to do, or anything i could do, other than comics so I don’t foresee any changes in that.

AlexRobinson: It’s always a balancing act, between working and living a life

AlexRobinson: I thought by this point in my life I’d have finished a lot more books so it’s scary and depressing to think I’ll go to my grave only having done at most ten books.

AlexRobinson: I thought I’d be Kurt Vonnegut with a whole shelf to myself.

pooky: Quality trumps quantity in my book!

AlexRobinson: Thanks! But it’s frustrating when you see other people who work much faster than you do, cranking out books.
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BrandonHanvey: Do you do any freelance illustration in-between comics?

AlexRobinson: I’ve done some illustration but not very much.

AlexRobinson: I don’t have the stomach for shopping my stuff around and getting rejected, and I think most real illustrators can draw better than I can.
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Brian Cronin: What’s the weirdest commission request you’ve had?

AlexRobinson: I’ve had a few blatantly pornographic requests, which I have done.

AlexRobinson: They were amusingly/disturbingly specific

pooky: How does someone request that stuff without being red-faced? i think i’d die of shame…

AlexRobinson: He asked for my characters in various sexual sitiuations, but I drew the line when he asked me if I would draw other characters like Gwen Stacy and Peter Parker

AlexRobinson: I felt like I could convince myself it wasn’t as bad if I was drawing my own characters.

AlexRobinson: It was over e-mail.

AlexRobinson: The only time anyone’s requested nudity in person was in Europe.

pooky: Ah – anonymity makes things much easier (kinda like this chat!)
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BrandonHanvey: What is you character design process like?

AlexRobinson: I’ll usually come up with the personality first and build on that.

BrandonHanvey: Do you uses certain head/body shapes for certain personalities.

AlexRobinson: It’s not really that mechanical, where funny characters have round heads, nerds have triangles, or whatever.

Brian Cronin: Nerds just naturally have triangle heads

AlexRobinson: Obviously some things convey personality, like big eyes suggest innocence, etc, but I try to mix it up.

giftedstats: Has anyone ever copied your characters and changed the designs? i.e. bodyshape, color scheme, logo’s etc?

AlexRobinson: If they have they’ve done a good job because I’ve never noticed!

giftedstats: Haha.

AlexRobinson: Sometimes people have “swiped” the question page idea from BOX OFFICE POISON but that’s okay with me since I sort of adapted it from Dan Clowes anyway.

BenL: I loved the question pages in Box Office Poison!
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Brian Cronin: Does doing superhero work at Marvel or DC ever have appeal to you?

AlexRobinson: It does appeal to me but I’ve never been good at pitching ideas or working in a more formal editorial structure.

AlexRobinson: I would love for Marvel to say “you have carte blanche on this title for a year. Have fun!” but that would never happen.

AlexRobinson: If this adapting a Christmas story thing is a positive experience maybe I’ll rethink working for a mainstream publisher.

BrandonHanvey: Any specific title you would like to have “carte blanche” with?

AlexRobinson: I’d be fine taking some obscure character and rebooting them or whatever, like Jack Kirby did with JIMMY OLSEN

AlexRobinson: “Give me your poorest selling book.”
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Brian Cronin: Speaking of music, what do you typically listen to while you draw?

Brian Cronin: Do you actually pick specifc style of music, or just whatever you hapepn to have on?

AlexRobinson: Lately I’ve actually mostly been listening to podcasts rather than music, though I will listen to music podcasts like Coverville or All Songs Considered.

AlexRobinson: I’ll also put in movies.

AlexRobinson: But mostly podcasts lately.

Brian Cronin: That’s interesting – you don’t find yourself distracted by getting involved in them?

Brian Cronin: Music strikes me as something you could almost tune out

AlexRobinson: I don’t listen to anything while I write but I think drawing uses a different part of the brain.

Brian Cronin: It makes sense, I guess, that you listen to podcasts instead of music, as Dan Savage tells me listening to music is over as podcasts are the future

AlexRobinson: That’s funny because Dan Savage is in my regular rotation.

AlexRobinson: His podcast, that is.
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BrandonHanvey: I’ve not found any yet, but do any BOP characters make a cameo in TOO COOL?

AlexRobinson: As for cameos, the only one that springs to mind is Mr. Valentine, the principal, who is Sherman’s boss sometime later.

AlexRobinson: That was one of the inconsistencies someone pointed out.

BenL: Maybe he wasn’t a very good principal?

BrandonHanvey: Well I did see that Velma was in one panel, but she is more of an easter egg.

AlexRobinson: I put her everywhere, my beautiful, beautiful Velma.

Brian Cronin: Is there going to be a Crisis on Infinite BOP Earths?

Brian Cronin: To explain the inconsistencies?

AlexRobinson: Terry Laban once addressed this with his own work and said it was like the same actors playing diffferent parts.

AlexRobinson: You’re like “That’s the guy who played the principal in BOX OFFICE POISON!”

AlexRobinson: Caprice is the other one I’m always getting yelled at about.

AlexRobinson: Since at the end of BOP she talks about a future which clearly doesn’t happen in TRICKED.

AlexRobinson: I need an assistant editor to manage this stuff.
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Brian Cronin: Speaking of Laban, everyone, be sure to check out Alex’s site for this realy cool feature he’s been doing where various artists draw Alex’s characters

Brian Cronin: Laban recently did one

Brian Cronin: Laban is amazing

AlexRobinson: Actually, I only recentely posted it–he actually did it in 2000!

Brian Cronin: Hah

AlexRobinson: I had a bunch of pin-ups that originaly ran in the BOX OFFICE POISON floppies.

BenL: Laban’s ‘The Unseen Hand’ from Vertigo is great.

AlexRobinson: I haven’t read it.

BenL: Well, if you can find it, it’ll be in the quarter bin, which is a crime.

AlexRobinson: No.

Brian Cronin: That’s the downside of serial comics, as I don’t believe Unseen Hand was ever collected
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AlexRobinson: I count on people I know to clue me in to what mainstream comics are good.

AlexRobinson: Any other suggestions?

Brian Cronin: Skyscrapers of the Midwest is awesome, Alex!

Brian Cronin: From AdHouse

AlexRobinson: I loved SKYSCRAPERS.

Brian Cronin: My girlfriend and I spoke with him at MOCCA, and he was talking about the same collected vs. serial thing you mentioned before

Brian Cronin: As he was considering going into graphic novels like you

AlexRobinson: It’s kind of like TV shows on DVD

Brian Cronin: Yeah, but, obviously, you fear being forgotten

Brian Cronin: You just hope you’re too cool to be forgotten

Brian Cronin: Yes, I had to do that awful pun

Brian Cronin: Couldn’t stop myself

AlexRobinson: The turnover in comics can be high, which is good and bad.
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BrandonHanvey: Did you do any research on hypnosis for TOO COOL?

AlexRobinson: Personally I’m skeptical about hypnosis but I do any research since it’s just kind of a magical gimmick in the book.

BrandonHanvey: What gave you the idea to use hypnosis?

AlexRobinson: As for the hypnosis, I just needed some way of getting him back to high school that didn’t involve a time machine or anything to science fictiony.

AlexRobinson: I also wanted to keep it open for people to decide whether it “really” happened or if it was all in his head.
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BenL: Alex, not sure if you’ll know, but I’m curious as to why ‘Too Cool’ was released a week earlier in Australia than the States? I’m not complaining – was a pleasant surprise, it just usally goes the other way.

AlexRobinson: I had no idea it was released early there!

AlexRobinson: The only thing I can think of is that they were printed in China, so they didn’t have to go as far?

BenL: That’s the best I could figure.

AlexRobinson: I know we had to have them Fedexed over here in time for the release at MoCCA.

AlexRobinson: (that was the comics festival it debuted at)
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Brian Cronin: Did you have fun at MOCCA?

AlexRobinson: I think that was the most pleasant American comics experience I had, since I got to make the first sale ever.

AlexRobinson: And it’s always nerve wracking having a new book out so it was a relief when it did well.

Brian Cronin: What is the closest american comics experience to the European experience?

Brian Cronin: MOCCA?

AlexRobinson: MoCCA.

AlexRobinson: Oh wait, I misunderstood.

AlexRobinson: I think probably SPX

AlexRobinson: But you can’t really compare, since comics are very big over there.

AlexRobinson: Imagine San Diego but only about comics instead of video games and movies.

Brian Cronin: Right.
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BrandonHanvey: Which idea came first the idea of traveling “back in time” or the smoking addiction?

AlexRobinson: First I came up with the idea about his dad, although it all came together almost at the same time.

BenL: How involved were you in designing the packaging for Too Cool?

AlexRobinson: Top Shelf hired Matt Kindt to work with me on some ideas.

AlexRobinson: I wanted to do a yearbook idea and Matt came up with the cigarette idea, which was much better.

BenL: It’s a beautiful looking book, even before you open it up!

AlexRobinson: Other than me drawing Andy, Matt gets total credit for that.

BenL: I bet it was a good day when the design work came in.

AlexRobinson: It was a big relief and I was very excited.
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Brian Cronin: Do you worry about the pop culture references in Too Cool when it gets translated? That it might be too American-specific?

AlexRobinson: I don’t worry about the pop cultural stuff in TOO COOL since I couldn’t think of a way to do it without them.

AlexRobinson: And BOX OFFICE POISON has done well when translated and that actually has a lot more of that stuff.

Brian Cronin: Will this one have a reference guide like BOP did in Spain?

AlexRobinson: If it will they haven’t told me about including a guide to the references.

AlexRobinson: I didn’t know they were going to do that with BOP, so who knows.
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BrandonHanvey: I remember in the last CBR chat that you siad you switch drawing material between BOp and Tricked have you changed any methods or materials with TOO COOl and current work?

AlexRobinson: Every since TRICKED I’ve used the same drawing materials, the Japanese brush pens and microns.

AlexRobinson: I do draw smaller than I did, in the interest of moving things along.

BrandonHanvey: By smaller, do you mean in size of paper?

AlexRobinson: Yeah, I used to draw 10×15 but I think I’m down to something like 9×12

AlexRobinson: When I look at my old pages they seem gigantic!

BrandonHanvey: Has the size change altered your style in any way in terms of line weight?

AlexRobinson: I haven’t really noticed any difference with the art, though I think it might’ve been printed a bit too small in TOO COOL

AlexRobinson: Not that a mistake was made, just that I think it would look better maybe 5% bigger

BrandonHanvey: Smaller outside margins or a bigger book size?

AlexRobinson: I think some of the finer lines got a little too thin when it was printed.

AlexRobinson: Maybe it’s just me.

BenL: We need an ‘Absolute Too Cool’ Edition, with gigantic art! It could be a carton of smokes.
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Brian Cronin: Are there any other “easter eggs in TOO COOL?

AlexRobinson: I’m always slipping in stuff in the backgrounds of my books that I forget about so I’m sure there’s some stuff in there that will amuse people.

AlexRobinson: One thing no one has commented on is the fact that Andy’s wife is actually the widow of Nick from TRICKED.

Brian Cronin: Oh wow, I did not get that at all
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Brian Cronin: How great has Top Shelf been to work with?

AlexRobinson: Generally it’s pretty good.

AlexRobinson: They give me a very long leash which I’m happy for.

AlexRobinson: They usually don’t see the book until it’s more or less done.

AlexRobinson: And they’ve done a great job getting the books into bookstores, which was a goal of mine

BrandonHanvey: Do they give you back notes on things they think need changing like the “did/dad”

BenL: Yeah, was the disclaimer at the back a joke, or did they really put the pressure on for that?

AlexRobinson: The dad/did thing is noteworthy only because it’s the only time we really came to loggerheads.

AlexRobinson: Chris Staros will give me notes on things that aren’t clear or ways he thinks the story can be improved and sometimes that’s proved very helpful but I’m not obligated to change anything

BrandonHanvey: Have any of Chris’ notes ever cause you to change a scene that you had to go back and draw it over again?

AlexRobinson: There have been some changes to all the books.

AlexRobinson: There are about five or six pages in the BOP TP which were different from the floppies.

AlexRobinson: With TRICKED I redid some pages.

Brian Cronin: Nick from Tricked was originally an Orangutan

AlexRobinson: Every other page had Nick giving someone the finger and Staros thought it was a bit much.
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Brian Cronin: Since you commit so much time to a project, how much pressure do you feel in picking a good idea for a book? How long do you usually take to settle on an idea?

AlexRobinson: Each book is really different when it comes to finding the idea.

AlexRobinson: TOO COOL came very quickly, TRICKED was a struggle with a lot of false starts.

Brian Cronin: With Tricked, were you worried about matching BOP?

Brian Cronin: I can only imagine how daunting that must be

AlexRobinson: That was a factor.
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BenL: Was BOP planned to head towards the ending it did, or did it change as it went along? (I only recently read it collected, so I’m not sure if it took months or years to ome out)

AlexRobinson: BOX OFFICE POISON was originally published over four years.

AlexRobinson: Once I came up with the plot of BOP, which starts around page 60 I pretty much knew how it was going to end, at least the broad strokes.

BenL: But you still left some room to play?

AlexRobinson: But I gave myself a lot of room to play around, and do stuff that wasn’t essential to the plot like the landlady or the ice skating.

BenL: Well, I really loved the ice skating scenes, so I’m glad they got in there.

AlexRobinson: Me, too.
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BenL: Do you feel that’s important on a longer project? Not to plan it exactly all out?

AlexRobinson: Well, I think it helps to keep me interested.

AlexRobinson: If I knew everything that was going to happen I think I would get bored.

AlexRobinson: But everyone works differently, your mileage may vary
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pooky: Just wanted to say that I enjoy your work and hope you keep doing it for a long time. A whole shelf of Alex Robinson would be quite welcome!

AlexRobinson: Thanks!

AlexRobinson: You can always buy multiple copies.

Brian Cronin: Variant covers

pooky: that’s the cheater way to fill it up

BenL: Bagged trading cards?

Brian Cronin: Arthur Suydam cover of Nick as a zombie

AlexRobinson: All good ideas!

AlexRobinson: I want to release my commentary tracks for all the books.

AlexRobinson: The annotated BOX OFFI CE POISON
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Brian Cronin: Which character gets the most commission requests?

AlexRobinson: Jane

AlexRobinson: Jane and Stephen as a couple is a popular one.

AlexRobinson: “My girlfirend and I loved the book. Can you draw Jane and Stephen…”

BenL: They remind me so much of two of my house mates

Brian Cronin: Darnit, you answered too quickly

Brian Cronin: I wanted to guess Jane :)

AlexRobinson: Sorry!

Brian Cronin: Darn your efficiency, Robinson!

AlexRobinson: Time is money!

Brian Cronin: You even remembered to make the o in MoCCA small

AlexRobinson: Well, my wife helped run the show so it’s ingrained.

Brian Cronin: How could anyone think “dad” was a typo with your efficiency?

AlexRobinson: Believe me, if you saw the uncorrected version, you’d know.

AlexRobinson: I’m incapabel of writing a word ballon without some mistake

BrandonHanvey: Is your wife an unoffical editor of your work?

AlexRobinson: She reads everything I do and will point out things that don’t make sense but she knows I’m too sensitive to accept much criticism.

Brian Cronin: That was a timely typo!

pooky: if “incapabel” wasn’t intentional it was still funny

AlexRobinson: Speaking of the lovely Kristen, I’m afriad our time is up.

BrandonHanvey: Thanks for taking time for the chat, Alex.

Brian Cronin: Thanks a lot, Alex.

AlexRobinson: It’s been my pleasure.

AlexRobinson: Night, everyone!

Be sure to check out Alex’s website here (www.comicbookalex.com), for lots of great comic-related goodness!

6 Comments

Good stuff, thanks for posting it!

Thanks for posting this Brian! Much appreciated. Great insight into his work processes.

FunkyGreenJerusalem

September 8, 2008 at 10:10 pm

Brian, did the chat start earlier than planned, or did I somehow get international time wrong by half an hour?

The latter, I’m afraid.

FunkyGreenJerusalem

September 8, 2008 at 10:42 pm

How did I get off by half an hour?
A full hour, sure… but half?

That’s both odd and embarrassing.

[…] Brian Cronin presents the transcript of an online chat with Too Cool to Be Forgotten author Alex […]

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