Robots vs. Princesses. The title alone had me interested, and that was before I found out that series creator Todd Mathy was a fellow educator and fan of professional wrestling. With the series’ debut from Dynamite coming on August 1st, I jumped into the ring with Mathy to see what makes him and his YA fantasy series tick.
Brian: Where did the concept for RvP come from? Did your students inspire you in any way?
Todd: My students definitely inspired me. I wanted to write a comic that would be appropriate but didn’t talk down to them because kids have a sophistication of their own.
The concept for RvP came to me in a first grade classroom. When the class finished their work the teacher left coloring pages for the kids. Robots for boys, princesses for the girls. It hit me. I couldn’t get the idea out of my head. I started thinking about who the robots are, who the princesses are, why are they fighting. I went home and started writing notes. Next thing I knew I had a story.
Brian: Can you talk a bit about your collaboration with Nicolas Chapuis on the book? Did his art give you any new perspectives on your characters or story?
Todd: Nic’s art inspires me. He’s found a happy medium between classic “Disney” and robot anime that makes two very different genres look like they are part of the same world. That’s difficult to do. When I write, I think about how he’d make things look then let him do his thing. My scripts can be detailed at times but I view them as road maps. I want my artist to know exactly what I see in my head, so they know what I’m going for. But, if Nic has a different vision, I go with how he sees it. After all, he’s the one drawing it.
Brian: Walk me through the process of going from a successful first issue Kickstarter to being published by Dynamite. Is there a plan for a mini or on-going series?
Todd: Dynamite approached me before the Kickstarter. I had met Rich Johnston (editor of Bleeding Cool) at MoCCA (Museum of Comic and Cartoon Art) and told him about my idea and he did an article about it. Dynamite contacted me and we agreed that Kickstarter would be the best approach to getting the book made. The series is four issues. I originally was going to try to fund the whole series but the amount we’d need to raise was too much for someone trying to break in, so I decided if I could fund the first issue and have a strong one, I could find a way to finish the series.
Brian: How did your self-professed love for professional wrestling affect the story? Will readers recognize any of their favorite grapplers in the Robots move sets?
Todd: Professional wrestling definitely had an influence but not in the Robots’ or Princesses’ move sets. The influence was in how I built the story, specifically building “heat.” Like a great wrestling angle, I had to develop unique personalities that readers can relate to for my protagonists then get my antagonists over by making them a threat. Jim Cornette said it best (and I’m paraphrasing) in a “Kayfabe Commentaries” DVD where he rebooked the WCW invasion of WWE: “What would happen in H.G. Wells’ War of the Worlds if the Martians landed and out popped Marvin the Martian with his cosmic ray gun. Are we shaking? Get your invaders over.” And that applies to all forms of fiction because heroes are only as strong as the obstacles they have to overcome.
Brian: As a fellow teacher, I know there is often a difficult line between teaching life and personal work like this. Have you found there to be any conflict or did your students freak out knowing their teacher will have his own comic book?
Todd: That’s a hard line to walk. You want your students to know you’re doing this but you don’t want to look your trying to sell them something. I let my students know I write when I feel the time is right, specifically when we start writing our own stories. Actually, I’ve found my co-workers let them know before me. Here’s a cool story. I produced an ashcan* and bumped into a co-worker from the school where I’d conceived the book. I gave him a stack of the ashcan for the school. When I visited, my students told me that they’d read it and wanted to know what happened next, then asked: “are you famous?” I told them not yet and that if I am they are VIPs.
Robots vs Princesses is available on August 1, 2018 from Dynamite Entertainment.
* “Ashcans” are comics printed for promotional purposes only. Originally this term was applied to comics printed solely for copyright purposes that went straight from the printer into the trash, or, the ashcan.