Did you know that our society is riddled with bozobots?
It’s not too hard to imagine that our Congress is full of bozobots, is it? It would explain a lot!
But what the heck are bozobots, anyway?
“Invasion of the Bozobots” is the 4th item and second full story in “Multiverse Comics & Stories,” my new comic about which I’m constantly nattering. I self-published the story, which is 16 pages, back in 2010. I purchased 300 copies and sold them at book fairs; an book-signing event at Big Blue Marble, an independent book store in Mt. Airy; and at PCA, where I was working. My goal was to sell the 300 comics at cost, so I’d break even, and I did! It was great fun but I always wanted to get a wider distribution. It remains to be seen if that will happen, but when I envisioned a large full-color comic collection, I knew I wanted the bozobots to be part of it.
The bozobot story was a breakthrough for me. I had been doodling various goofy-looking robots for years (like the black-and-white doodles in this post). They would just ooze right out of the pen. I began to think of cobbling some doodles together in a non-linear story. I wouldn’t worry about plot or developing characters. There would just be a bunch of weird robots from one panel to the next. Why couldn’t comics be stream-of-consciousness? One approach I took was to look at some old comics by Jack “King” Kirby (1917-1994), one of the most legendary and admired forces in comics, both visually and as an idea generator and storyteller. Kirby is famous for action-driven superhero comics that practically explode off the page.
I used some Kirby panels as points of departure to inspire bozobot drawings. When I started to put the pictures together, a story formed almost in spite of myself. At the same time I was studying Buddhism, involved in a year-long program at the Barre Center for Buddhist Studies called the “Integrated Study & Practice Program.”
A basic tenet of Buddhism is that we tend to be driven by our pleasure-seeking behavior. Our evolutionary inheritance has a lot to do with it. You might say we are “programmed for clinging to pleasure and avoiding the unpleasant.” It’s entirely natural. We share this “program” with every other creature on the planet, but we do have the potential to step back and look at what’s driving us and free ourselves from the “automatic” part. It’s not about avoiding pleasure, it’s about waking up to a larger perspective and not being compulsive about our drives.
So my interest in Buddhism leaked into the bozobot story. It was a natural fit. My teachers even reproduced a couple of the “Invasion of the Bozobots” pages in the Winter edition of “Insight Journal,” published by BCBS.
The story line is still not entirely linear, though, and the characters change in nearly every panel. Because of this I didn’t feel like I had to be consistent with the color and I was freer in my approach to color than I’ve ever been in cartooning. My wife, Cameron, a wonderful artist and painter, is a big influence on me as well. Sometimes she’ll color hers and my black and white line drawings for friends and relations and she has a liberated and joyful attitude towards color that is contagious.
For me it was a joyful and educational experiment!
For the new comic, I did revise the bozobot story slightly, partly to fit it in to the narrative flow of the comic, but also to change a bit of dialog that I thought would make it just a tad more cogent.
I probably don’t need to explain this, but I will. In the world of the bozobots, everyone sees themselves and others as “normal” human beings. But the reader has the advantage here. The reader sees that in fact, all these presumed humans are bozobots, humans so in thrall to their conditioning that they can’t see their robotic, programmed natures. Only Ting-Ting (a nod to the famous “Tin Tin” character of another of the all-time great comic book cartoonist, Hergé, the Belgian artist whose real name was Georges Remi.
So watch out! Once you start to really peer deeply into the people around you (most likely including me and thee), you might start seeing our “bozobot nature!
Besides the comiXology digital edition, you can now also find the bozobots, and the rest of “Multiverse Comics and Stories” in print at Amazon!
For a free taste of the comic, download a .pdf of first 7 pages: Prologue – SORT