There’s Life in Dead Robot

deadrobotI’m minding my own business at ComicCon, when this big, bald, bushy bearded guy, covered in tattoos  from Austin, Texas collared me. He tells me that I have to buy Dead Robot. I’m thinking maybe he killed the robot and I’m next. So, I buy the comic.

Right move. McLain McGuire is the editor and genius behind CCP comics which, according to Wizard World, is “a collective of writers and artists creating comic books in the Austin, Texas area. McLain is the creator of the comics Dead Robot, Station 39, and Clean Up. McLain is in his seventh year of lettering comic books and also works as a graphic designer… Away from the comic world, McLain can be found in the music studios recording his seventh career album for the progressive rock band Taken By Others. Out of all of this, McLain finds his most fulfilling moments in hustling for the boys and girls of CCP Comics.” http://wizardworld.com/mclainmcguire.html

McLain came up with the idea of CCP Comics while running a comic book store in Austin. Besides the usual run of fanboys, budding writers and artists would come in looking for help. He then decided to create a group to match writers and artists, and at the same time promote local talent. The idea was so popular that he had to step away from the comic store. The result, Comics Creators Publishers (CCP)  now has over 36 creators. CCP provides these guys and gals with “the right tools, knowledge and experience to do what they what to do without having to pay major bucks for it.” CCP is there to “help them follow that dream.”

Seeking to preach the CCP gospel to the benighted Northerners, McLain and the CCP gang set up shop at New York’s ComicCon, which is where he waylaid me.

While trying to hustle me out of my lunch money, McLain told me that not only is Dead Robot a good read, but won’t be what the reader expects.

Dead Robot opens with the world’s robots being destroyed. After a robot mounted a successful murder defense of not guilty by reason of insanity a bloody uprising against the machines occurred. The robots lost, and ended up being dumped into the sun.

Fifty years later, a farmer’s son finds the last robot buried in the fields. He secretly helps the robot repair itself. Ok, at this point, I’m thinking ET or Short Circuit. Unreasoning prejudice destroyed the machines, and now through the simple honesty and loyalty of a young boy, humanity will be redeemed.

Did I mention that McLain is a big Texan dude who plays for a band? Oh, yeah there’s a twist. And then the damned comic ends on a cliffhanger!

McLain is credited as the creator and Rob Bass is the writer. Rob does a good job telling the story right up to the bait and switch. It was nicely done. He beautifully set up the expectations of an ET/Short Circuit rip off, that when the shift happened it was completely unexpected.

Tim Chupka does the pencils and inks. At first glance he reminded me of Dave Cockrum. While Chupka has a good idea for set up and composition, sometimes the proportions are a little off, rendering a character or item awkward seeming. He has potential and with time, I think he will be a serious talent.

I love the concept of CCP and a big hat’s off to McLain for doing this tremendous service to the writers’ and artists’ community. Dead Robot is an example of some good storytelling out there which wouldn’t have been told but for the independent comic publishers. Looking for the best comics? Like a good micro-brew, sometimes these smaller indie labels can provide some big surprises.

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