Fun Fact: At the time of writing this post I have about 800 copies of Automata and will give you one for free if we ever meet at a convention or something.
Just a little bit of background on this one: Automata is the first comic I ever finished and it took me about 2 months from start to completion. The brain removal sequence was based on a dream I had. Incidentally, the dream version was a lot more steam-punk, maybe even Dr. Seuss esque, complete with power drills, gears and propellers for some reason. I chose not to draw fanciful machinery because I wanted the satire to be as straight-faced as possible.
In that spirit, Kurt Vonnegut was my inspiration — during high school I read nearly every Vonnegut book because I fell in love with his casual (and funny) disdain for the human race. I thought that a Vonnegut styled narrator would be a perfect accompaniment to my creepy dream sequence. Ultimately, I’m happy with my finished product, but I still dislike narration in comics. Scott McCloud talks a lot about this so I’ll defer to his thoughts on the subject. For now, I’ll just say that I’m of the opinion that narration in comics is generally a crutch used to compensate for weak visual communication. But, can you imagine Automata without any narration? I needed my sarcastic narration to keep it from turning into a nightmare and to spoon feed the satirical message!
The funny thing is, a lot of readers don’t seem to pick up on the sarcasm. Out of what I’ve written so far, I tend to receive the most compliments on this comic, but I still wonder why some readers can’t connect with the cynical, snarky narrator. Then again, I suppose he isn’t as charismatic as Vonnegut.
Check this out: Early 2017, I’m releasing a spinoff of this story in several upcoming issues of STIMULUS. It’s going to have a less traditional format, with sections that resemble a text book. It will basically be a “history of the future,” and I will describe various dystopias using vignettes, info graphics, and the same tongue-in-cheek narration from Automata.
I’m excited — you should be too!