Barbra Dillon, Fanboy Comics Managing Editor: While Fanboy Comics’ readers will know your work on the comic book series The Thirty Six, you are currently working on a new project called Father Robot. What can you tell us about the premise of this new story, and will it be an ongoing series or a standalone issue or graphic novel?
Kristopher White: Father Robot is a graphic novel in five parts (at least currently!). It’s about the world’s first self-aware mech. The key is, this robot believes itself to be the father of the little girl it was sent to rescue. Hence the name Father Robot.
It’s set in a world where men fight wars via mech units they control remotely a la Avatar. So, up to this point, there’s no such thing as a self-aware robot. All of that changes when our hero, a young father named Reggie, is forced to abandon the city where his wife and child are taking refuge during the opening salvos of a larger war. He goes AWOL to rescue them and is immediately yanked out of the control pod, essentially killing his mech. That’s when the miraculous happens. The robot comes back to life on its own – achieving self-awareness. The catch is that Father Robot (as the little girl will call him) believes he is still piloted remotely by Reggie.
And, that’s where things really get interesting. While Father Robot tries to get the little girl to safety, the military forces our flesh-and-blood father, Reggie, to help track him down for their own purposes.
BD: What inspired you to tell this story that is so deeply rooted in the sci-fi genre?
KW: The fun of the story for me is the dual identity of the father and Father Robot. What makes us real? Does the girl believe Father Robot to be her real dad? And, what happens when she finds out that it’s not him? That father-daughter dynamic is really what drew me to this idea, and not just because I have two young daughters myself. Okay, that was a large part of it. But, that’s what’s great about sci-fi. Underneath this cool robot exterior, you can really tell a story that’s essentially a meditation on what it means to be a father, or a daughter . . . Or a robot. (Just kidding.)
BD: Indie artist Sam Garland will be rounding out your creative team for Father Robot. What attracted you to Garland’s artwork, and how would you describe the creative process of working together for this project?
KW: Sam and I met at the Alternative Press Expo in San Francisco. It was literally one of those chance meetings where I was walking by his table and stopped in my tracks. I just instantly loved his art. We got to talking about art and ideas and, of course, his love of robots. The idea for Father Robot came pretty quickly out of that. I think I had the pitch ready for him by the time I finished driving back to Los Angeles the next day. From there, we were off and running.
BD: Will Father Robot be appropriate for readers of all ages, and would you recommend the book for both casual and hard-core sci-fi fans?
KW: I try to make my books appropriate for almost all ages. Because of the action, though, I’d say it’s most appropriate for ages thirteen on up. On the surface, it’s a really cool robot story with action and things blowing up. Anchoring that though, I hope, is a really strong character story that everyone will identify with on some level. I want people to care about our little girl, and about Father Robot, and what’s going to happen when the two of them meet the flesh-and-blood dad, Reggie. Personally, I don’t think I’d react too kindly to a robot running around pretending to be me. At the very least, I’d probably be jealous.
BD: Given that you will be attending this weekend’s WonderCon Anaheim, I hear that you will have a special treat for fans who stop by your booth in the Small Press area. What will you have in store for convention goers?
KW: We have ten signed copies of an exclusive poster that Sam Garland did for the convention. It really is a killer piece of art, and the fact that we only ten? I’m tempted to hold one back for myself, honestly. I just got them in the mail from Sam; he printed them on Bristol board, and they look amazing. Each one is autographed by Sam and myself, as well as individually numbered. This exact print will only be available at WonderCon.
BD: Are there any additional projects on which you are currently working?
KW: There are a couple of other projects that I have in the hopper that I wish I could share, but they’re not quite there yet. The biggest thing on the horizon right now is volume two of The Thirty Six. I just finished the outline for it and turned it into my friends over at Golden Apple Comics. We’ve been collaborating with their team for a while now and are excited about where things are going.
BD: What is the most important piece of advice that you can offer to comic book fans of all ages who aspire to create their own comic books?
KW: The best piece of advice I’ve been given is this: Writers write. Directors direct. Actors act. In other words, do what you love. For writers, it’s easy. Just keep penning scripts and coming up with ideas. Eventually, you’ll have something that sings. And, from there, that’s when the fun begins. The other piece of advice I have? Go to conventions. Meet people. Because once you have an idea (or if you’re an artist: Once your work is consistently awesome), you’re going to need teammates to get your dream off the ground.
BD: On that same note, which creators have inspired your work?
KW: That’s a tough question, because I feel like everything I see or read influences my work. That said, sometimes you read something that is so amazing and simple it just knocks your socks off. And, those works are inspiring because you get a glimpse, even for a second, of what it looks like when you get it right. On video, House of Cards just recently did that. The entire series is intoxicating and engaging. For comics, Jonathan Hickman’s The Red Wing is still reverberating in my skull. I love time-travel works, and his ranks right up there. (Of course, Primer and 12 Monkeys would be two other works I hold in high acclaim for that category.) Anyway, those are just a few pieces that come to mind today. Ask me again tomorrow.
BD: Lastly, what would you like to tell our readers who want to learn more about Father Robot and your other projects?
KW: Visit me on the interwebs! I usually share too much on Twitter, post too much to Facebook, and divulge just enough on the websites for both of my projects.
And, of course, our fabulous artist and co-creator Sam Garland can also be found on the internets: samgarlandillustrations.wordpress.com