Continuing our exclusive series of conversations with the creators of the Glasgow League of Writers and their resurrection of classic D C Thomson characters in brand new adventures featuring some of the great names from the history of British Comics, the past weeks have discussed the return of Invisible, Johnny Jett and theScarlet Star, and this week writer Gordon Robertson, director of the 9th Art Award, and robot loving artist Cuttlefish tell us all about the joys of creating giant robots which smash things up as they resurrect the “remorseless tin demolition machine” which is the Smasher. Each strip appears in Comic Review, the digital version of Comic Heroes, the magazine dedicated to the world of comic books, and the Smasher will also appear in the next print edition of Comic Heroes.
GC – Introduce yourselves.
Cuttlefish – I’m a small press comic artist living in the north east of England. I’ve contributed to a number of works including ArseCancer, Dead Roots and Newcastle Science Comic as well as single panel gags for magazines. I hide my true identity and speak very little.
Gordon Robertson – I’m the founder and former chair of the Glasgow League of Writers, director of the 9th Art Award which made its debut at the Edinburgh International Book Festival 2013, and the director of Graphic Scotland. I also lay claim to being the Comics Editor at Geek Chocolate, but that may well be an honorary position, since Michael does virtually all of the work!
Cuttlefish and I are the creators of ArseCancer, a webcomic about our experiences with cancer, and we also launched Comics Versus Cancer at last years Thought Bubble Festival. In amongst all of that I try to write a bit as well.
GC – What made you choose the Smasher as your character?
C – My passions are robots and destruction, and Smasher allowed me to combine both in full colour over several pages.
GR – He’s a big red robot who smashes things – why wouldn’t you choose him? I remember Smashy well from my childhood and have harboured ambitions to write it for a long time. It was this deep seated desire that fed the idea for the GLoW/D C Thomson reboot. Appropriate that a character that destroys things should spark the creation of something new.
I knew that Cuttlefish has a thing for drawing robots, particularly giant ones. I sent him an email, “saw this and thought of you.” His reply was simple and straightforward: “Yes. He’s mine.”
GC – Tell us about the Smasher.
C – Smasher is a giant red robot that comes back from the dead to destroy various parts of Scotland. He’s got no real brain and just obeys the commands of the evil duo who control it. He is a remorseless tin demolition machine.
GR – Cuttlefish sums him up perfectly – “the remorseless tin demolition machine,” a description I really love and will be stealing and claiming as my own. With a name like the Smasher, he was only going to do one thing – his destiny was mapped out from the very beginning.
GC – What changes did you feel you had to make to the character for a modern audience and why?
C – The original Smasher looked like a central heating boiler which isn’t as terrifying now as it was in the seventies. I made it sleeker, more sinister and more dynamic.
GR – From a writing perspective and to truly capture the essence of his character, I felt we had to look deep into the Smasher’s psyche and ask ourselves – what motivates him, what drives him, just what is his story?
After, literally, seconds of agonising over it I came up with the changes needed – none! Some things are timeless. He smashes things. ‘Nuff said.
GC – Were there any specific comic influences you brought to your reboot of the characters?
C – Everything drawn by Mick McMahon.
GR – Stan Lee’s Doctor Doom and Doctor Octopus – those mad, doomed megalomaniacs. Debbie Doom shares more than just a name with them.
GC – What other projects are you working on?
C – I’m producing the artwork for a comic written by Luke Halsall which should be out later this year, depending on how quickly I can draw.
GR –Comics Versus Cancer will return at Glasgow Comic Con and the 9th Art Award will soon announce for 2014. Other than that I can’t say as I have a pathological fear of hubris.
GC – Can we expect to see more of the Smasher soon?