The Robots of Love – Writer’s Commentary

Get your copy of “The Robots of Love” out, because it’s time for you and me to go through it page by page.  Like a DVD commentary, this will be the first in a series of “Writer’s Commentaries” that I’m going to post for the comics I commissioned.  You can also read a little more about the behind-the-scenes aspects of my comics in this post here.

I finished lettering “The Robots of Love” on the last day of the year in 2008.  I finished uploading the last page about 45 minutes before the start of 2009.  So it’s been just over five years now, and I still love this comic.  I only wish I had made it longer.

What is also quite amusing to me is that some time after I posted the completed comic, it was downloaded and translated into Portuguese.  That version is called “As Robôs do Amor”, and I was able to find the first 11 pages and the cover.  You can download them here.  If anyone wants to translate this comic or any of my others into another language, by the way, I would love to see that happen.  Contact me in the comments if you can help with that.

Page 00

This is the cover, and it started some things that I would repeat with every cover of every comic I’ve done since.  The credits appear in the bottom-left, of course, but above that is a field containing two bar codes and a string of binary code.  These actually say something.  The barcodes are single words and the binary code is a number, though I’ve long since forgotten what they are.  If anyone has a barcode scanner and a scientific calculator handy, you can decipher them for yourself.

I also parody the seal of the Comics Code Authority.  I approve.  And like most of the covers for my comics, this was made after all of the pages had been drawn, inked and lettered.

I did have the idea sketched out in my head early on though.  The cover depicts one of thousands of identical Erica robots operated by Robot Control.  This is the only one that Vida will meet, though.  She’s walking through the Robot Lab, past some other beautiful robot ladies who don’t actually feature in the story.  Erica is walking to go get her facemask, which has just been repaired and recalibrated.  After that, she will make her way upstairs where we will see her again on Page 03.

Page 01

Here we see Vida, the human.  And contrary to the usual Fembot Central plot twist, Vida actually is a human.

Page 02

As obvious confirmation that Vida is human and Nadine is not: Vida is overwhelmed by the “sleeping gas” sprayed at her while Nadine is unaffected.  Nadine drives the van far out of town to Robot Control Station 804.

Page 03

Erica and Nadine have been standing still and unmoving for many hours while Vida has been passed out.  As soon as she comes-to, Erica goes into her pre-programmed speech.

Page 04

Nadine performs her awkward but extremely effective seduction tactic on Vida.  Since Robot Control knows that Vida loves female robots more than anything, it risks revealing so blatantly that two of its agents are robots to Vida.  Normally, only the series 558 robots are permitted to interact with humans.

Page 05

None of the girls on this page know it, but it will be impossible for the robots to learn how to “love”.  But Vida will keep on teaching.

Page 06

When I first lettered this page, there seemed to be something missing.  So I put a little “thought bubble” full of binary code above Nadine’s head.  I liked the effect so much, I used it in many more comics that followed.

Page 07

I tried to use different fonts to signify different voices.  The more “computer looking” font that Nadine talks with is meant to show that she has a robotic monotone voice.  The shape of the speech bubbles are also meant to convey this.  Mostly, a rectangular speech bubble is used when the character is speaking in an emotionless way.  Sometimes I had to use the rectangular shape because I didn’t have room, though.

Page 08

My favourite part of this whole page is the way Erica just stands at attention throughout the whole thing.

Page 09

Here I tried to convey through Erica that Robot Control doesn’t understand what love is, which is why they have decided they need Vida’s help anyway.

Page 10

In the first panel, Erica repeats the word “Processing…”.  This means that things would have gone much differently for Vida had she said no to the offer.  Erica is actually communicating with the Main Computer in the Robot Lab and getting new instructions sent to her.  It’s good for Vida (and us) that she said yes.

Page 11

The “door scanner” has a female monotone voice, of course, and after Nadine has typed in an access code, it scans into Nadine’s eyes to confirm that she is one of Robot Control’s agents.  Only then does it open the door.

And of course, every woman inside those booths is a robot.

Page 12

One of my favourite pages in this comic, for obvious reasons.  Both Maria and Laurie were supposed to be naked, but they ended up not being naked.  That’s okay with me, as Maria does look hot in that lingerie.

Page 13

I originally wanted to include more scenes with Maria, and some extended scenes between Vida and Laurie, but I couldn’t afford that many pages at the time.

Also, I love the look on Vida’s face as she watches what Laurie is doing with Nadine.  Laurie is downloading data from Nadine to see how she’s been functioning lately.

Page 14

Erica’s purpose in activating Sharla is to show Vida how to do it.  Robot Control wants Vida to explore and interact with as many of its fembots as she can.

Page 15

More demonstration, courtesy of Sharla.  The location of the recharge port was drawn to high up Sharla’s back at first, which is why her hands are reaching above where it actually is in one panel.

Page 16

Like all Robot Control girls, Sharla removes her facemask to apply makeup.  When she’s done, she puts it back on.  I got the idea from this image.  Vida likes it too.

Page 17

Sharla shows herself to be helpful with Vida’s human desires, while Erica stands at attention and waits again.

Page 18

When Robot Control hacked into Vida’s computer, they not only discovered she lusted after female robots, but they also determined just what kind of woman she would consider to be “the ultimate woman”.

Page 19

Turns out the ultimate woman for Vida is based on Sara from NiteFlirt, who has an excellent robotic monotone voice, by the way.

Page 20

Her eye colour is wrong in this comic actually.  Sara’s eyes are a lovely bright blue.  But I still really like the way the comic version of her turned out.

Page 21

Another goof is that Sara was supposed to be already dressed in black lingerie when she was on the table.  Instead, she was drawn naked for two pages, and I got them when they had already been inked.  So I agreed to have Sara dress in lingerie in this page.  And that panel in the top-right is one of my favourite in this comic.

Page 22

You might notice that my comics leave a lot of sex and kissing sounds to the imagination.  I’ve seen other comics that would have had something like “SCHHHLLLORP!!!” plastered all over that cunnilingus scene in gaudy yellow letters.  I think the work of the artist and the colourist stands on its own in these scenes.

Page 23

I’m not as good at conveying or writing-out malfunction scenes as other artists and writers at Fembot Central, but I think I did a pretty good job with this malfunction.  Looping speech malfunctions are my favourite malfunction artifact, and they also happen to be one of the easiest to depict in a comic.  I also like the way the “glowing LED” behind Sara’s eye looks.  That was added by me when I did the lettering, as were all the LEDs visible in open panels and when facemasks are removed.

Page 24

The malfunction continues, even though Sara has attempted to reset her systems.  She has interpreted Vida’s command to “keep going” in a “do not stop” kind of way.  There was actually a very long break in time between when this page and Page 23 were drawn.

Page 25

This page too had a goof.  Sara was at first drawn with her facemask on.  It was a shame to have to change it, because the expression drawn on her face was very blank, and it looked quite lovely.  You can see the first version here.  The “faceoff” look was photoshopped onto this page from Page 24, and it turned out pretty good.  Note how the LEDs become dark once she’s been deactivated.

I’ve always wanted to continue this comic.  The story line would be easy to extend.  Vida would see Sara get put onto a table and opened up for repair.  Vida would then play around with Erica, and find out that she’s been programmed for sex too.  Vida would also play with Maria and Laurie, and explore the Robot Lab a little more and activate some more fembots, if only just to watch them play with each other.

But there’s another comic that would get a continuation first.  I’ll talk about that one later.  I don’t have money to afford such things right now anyway, so it’s just daydreaming at this point.