The Vault Redux: A Boy And His Robot
[Originally Posted on September 8th, 2008]
One of thing things I talked about in the Experiment was the fact that I gave up on cartooning around age 20 when I realized that I had virtually no chance at ever getting picked up by a cartoon newspaper syndicate. At the time (2000 or so) I believed this was the only way to be a full time cartoonist. Penny Arcade and PVP were still new and web cartooning wasn’t even really a… thing yet. Resigned to my defeat I gave up and not only stopped cartooning, but stopped drawing alltogether. That was a mistake I contine to regret seeing as how I missed out on nearly 8 years of potential artistic improvement. When I picked up drawing again to start HE in 2007, I wasn’t really any better of an artist that I was in 2000. In some ways I was worse because I was so out of practice.
Anyway, BEFORE I gave up on cartooning I wanted to develop a strip to submit to syndicates. You could sum the concept up as “Calvin and Hobbes minus the tiger, plus a robot.” I sure there are plenty of comics that started out as “Calvin and Hobbes, but with a (insert animal or object).” I can think of a few that still are. I started doing sketches (many of which you can see below) and coming up with a basic story. The idea was to create a syndication submission and send it off to ALL the syndicates (there were basically 2). It was during this process that the math started to kill my enthusiasm (1000′s of cartoonist submitting to 2′s of syndicates = nothing % chance of success).
The other problem I was having was the story. It was all good and well to draw a boy and a robot having adventures, but WHY did the boy have a robot? Was his dad an inventer? Was the robot an alien? Was he a secret or out in the open? These questions are one of the main reasons HE has no story line or character development. If I want to draw a robot banging a unicorn, I can. You can ask why, but in the realm of HE I don’t have to answer. Okay, back on track. The scenarios were as follows:
- Alien robot crash lands in back yard, boy and robot have adventures, boy keeps robot a secret
- Alien robot is exchange student from alien robot planet, goes to school with boy, is his little brother
- Boy is exchange student on alien robot planet, robots don’t understand that he needs food and warmth and clothing, etc, etc (luckily Futurama did basically every possible iteration of this concept in 5 or 6 episodes. Namely the one where Fry is in the robot mental ward and the one where Fry and Leela go to the all robot planet… and all the ones with Bender)
I shelved the idea before I ever decided which one it was. Here are my initial sketches of the boy and the robot. Later I’ll post some with full color and alternate robot and boy designs.