Starting ten years ago, Robbie and Bobby by Jason Poland tells the story of a boy and the robot that’s his best friend/roommate. What started as a comic strip in a college paper has turned into a decade long story of best friends. With a larger cast and years of stories behind them, Robbie and Bobby continue to have adventures. With the tenth anniversary less than two weeks ago, it seemed the perfect time to have an interview with creator Jason Poland about his long-running comic.
Leo Johnson: To start with, what is it that you do when you’re not making webcomics?
Jason Poland: When I’m not working on comics, my other roles are Husbandman, Catkeeper, and Officesquatter. I definitely prefer the first two roles.
LJ: Pretend we’ve never heard of Robbie and Bobby. What’s your elevator pitch?
JP: Robbie and Bobby is a webcomic about the indestructible friendship of a robot and his boy.
LJ: Robbie and Bobby are a robot and the young boy that he takes care of. What made them a great team to tell the story around?
JP: A seven foot tall robot and a prepubescent humanoid have a lot to teach each other! Most of the earlier strips revolved around Bobby’s human frailty and Robbie’s unyielding durability, but they’ve been rubbing off on each other ever since they met.
LJ: You’ve been doing Robbie and Bobby for ten years. What about the strip and the characters has made it such a long lasting one?
JP: There are very few constraints in Robbie and Bobby’s world. Bobby doesn’t go to school, and Robbie is his only guardian, who also plays the dual role of roommate and best friend. They have a lot of freedom, but they still get into situations that test their friendship just like any other pair of besties. In this way, I get a lot of reward out of checking in on them day to day, and I hope that readers do, too.
LJ: What made you initially decide to do a webcomic?
JP: I started drawing Robbie and Bobby for my college paper, The Daily Cougar at the University of Houston. After I graduated, I tried a lot of different jobs, met a lot of people, moved around a bit, and finally decided that if I wasn’t at least drawing a comic while doing all this life stuff, I might miss the point of it all! The web is the best outlet now for comics right now, and thankfully, there are some nice cartoonists to talk to on there.
LJ: Describe the process of creating the comic a bit. What does it take to get an idea from your brain on to the page?
JP: I storyboard very loosely with lots of scribbles and tiny thumbnails and arrows to keep some semblance of order. It’s very messy. I’m also very bad at throwing out ideas. With enough revision, almost every idea makes it to the comic stage. It helps to walk away for a bit. Sometimes a good idea will occur to me while I’m doing something completely unrelated, and then I have to text it to myself. Sometimes these can be as indecipherable as my sketches: “Bag on head parted new way. Wears in out. Sits on curb.” ??? Your guess is as good as mine.
LJ: What’s been your favorite strip/page to create so far?
JP: The Flying Castle story arc was really enjoyable for me to work on. It was a diversion from my typical gag-a-day format, and I got to draw a lot of things I don’t usually include in my strips.
LJ: What’s been your biggest surprise or discovery since you started the comic?
JP: My biggest surprise while drawing Robbie and Bobby is how important it’s become to me. I started it as something fun, and it became a habit overnight. But after college I stopped drawing for a while, and my mood suffered. I had a decent job and good friends, but I felt aimless. Drawing Robbie and Bobby, or at least, drawing comics, is something I will always be doing. For your health!
LJ: What do you see in the future for the comic?
My plans for the future of my comic are to keep at it, and to keep publishing books. The longer I draw comics, the more cartoonists I befriend, and the better my comics get! Friends make everything better. All the while, I’ve been setting small goals for myself. For example, I’m currently paying all my home utilities with comic money!
LJ: Where else can you be found on the vastness of the internet?