Robot Fanaticism! J. Torres and Mike Norton talk 'Jason & the Argobots'

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Robots are cool.

At least, that's the perception one gets by taking the current pulse of the comic industry. "Transformers #1" was a big success when it hit the stands a few months back and continues to find itself at the top of the Diamond Top 300 list. In addition, the Image and Devil's Due relaunch of "Micronauts" later this year finds fan anticipation for that series is very high. So with big robot excitement around every corner now seems like the perfect time for Oni Press' "Jason and the Argobots."

Coming August 7th from Oni Press is the first issue of J. Torres & Mike Norton's four-issue series "Jason & the Argobots." This all-ages series tells a story that's part of every child's fantasy; the hope of one day having your very own giant robot.

"It actually all began with a telephone conversation with Joe Nozemack," series writer and creator J. Torres told CBR News when asked about the genesis of this project. "I can't recall how the conversation began, but we somehow ended up professing our love of giant robot cartoons and lamenting the lack of giant robot comics being made in North America. I believe he actually challenged me to come up with something he'd personally like to read, and a few weeks later I was showing him a treatment for 'Argobots.'"

Fans of Torres' "Alison Dare" and "Sidekicks" should find the themes explored in "Jason & the Argobots" familiar.

"I seem to be covering a lot of the same ground over and over in my recent work: the difficulties of growing up, the importance of family and the desire for excitement or something "bigger and better" in life. Maybe Argobots will finally purge me of those demons. Or maybe I need therapy," explained Torres.

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Torres cites amongst the many influences for "Argobots" are Japanese anime like "Giant Robo," "Mazinger Z" and "Neo Getter Robo." But don't expect "Jason & the Argobots" to only appeal to big robot fans.

"There's definitely going to be some cross-over appeal. Meaning, there are certainly grown men out there (i.e. people like me and Nozemack) who will enjoy this. And as with most of the stuff I write, it's kid-friendly too. Of course, the hope is to reach as wide an audience as possible, including robot fans of all ages, and comic book readers who like coming of age action/adventure stories."

Torres turned to artist Mike Norton to provide the visuals on the project. Norton had a long run on the Slave Labor Graphics title "The Waiting Place."

"Mike's probably the most reliable, most professional, most easy-going artist I've worked with to date," said Torres. "He really hit this one out of the park. People who know his previous work on 'The Waiting Place' will be amazed at how his style has evolved for this project.

"I actually wanted someone with more of a manga/anime sensibility, but [Oni Press Editor] James Lucas Jones asked him to try out and when his samples came in, I knew we had our guy. It's been great working with Mike, he helped me develop/remold my original vision to make 'Argobots' what it is today, and I've also come to consider him a friend."

In addition to "Jason & the Argobots," Mike Norton has his hands full over-seeing the design work on all the "G.I. Joe" and "Micronauts" material coming out of Devil's Due for Image Comics, but don't expect Norton's contributions to "G.I. Joe Battle Files" to look anything like his work on "Argobots."

"The Joe stuff, since it is a handbook style book, is much more clinical," artist Mike Norton told CBR News. "I'm much more just a draftsman on that. It's a kick to work on something that I have fond memories of from childhood.

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"'Argobots' is much more of a personal thing though. I'm much more personally tied to the work on 'Argobots.' I guess when you have a hand in developing the characters, the attachment is going to be more, obviously.

"What I like about Torres is that he's always thinking of the big picture," continued Norton. "Little details here and there that don't seem like much, but play a big overall part. It's just fun to read the scripts for that. Extremely funny, too!"

If you like what you read in "Jason & the Argobots" this August, Torres has plenty more work for you to sample in the coming months.

"Well, before 'Argobots' comes out in August, Oni is releasing a collection of the 'Sidekicks' miniseries from last year as well as an all-new one shot (illustrated by the one and only Takeshi Miyazawa). Then later this year they're putting out a new miniseries by me and the super talented Scott Chantler called 'Girl Pop,' the story of a fictitious 60s girl group. Around the same time, I believe some stuff I'm doing for Marvel right now should be out as well. I'm not sure how much I can disclose at this point, but I think it's safe to say that the stories involve the X-Men. If not... oops!"

"Jason & the Argobots #1" has a $2.95 cover price and hits store shelves August 7th.

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