SDCC '13 | Peter and Bobby Timony talk 'Detectobot'

With multiple new Monkeybrain Comics titles launching today to mark the digital publisher's second year, expect Detectobot, the new series by brothers Peter Timony and Bobby Timony (Zuda's Night Owls), to receive a lot of attention for one word in particular: free. That's right, the Timony brothers and Monkeybrain are offering the prologue to the new series  for free on comiXology, beginning today.

As part of ROBOT 6's coverage of today's Monkeybrain announcements, we spoke with the Timony brothers about the development of the their world's greatest detective, who happens to be a robot, and why they wanted to offer the prologue for free. They also shared some preview pages from Detectobot.

Tim O’Shea: Beyond the natural "Yippie!" response, please describe your reactions when you found out the prologue to Detectobot was going to be available for free on comiXology. Or was that actually your decision to make to a great extent?

Peter Timony: We requested it, and the fine folks at Monkeybrain agreed. We wanted to do a freebie to entice new readers. It’s a lesson we learned from all of our years selling crack.

Is the series set in the present day, or in the future?

Peter: It is set in present day, but with highly advanced technology, thanks to one reclusive mad scientist.

Bobby Timony: Present day, alternate reality, I’d say. It’s a reality very much like the one we live in, but one in which the tech is a little more advanced and a little more fantastic.

In terms of the design for Detectobot, am I mistaken in sensing some steampunk influence?

Bobby: Yeah, sort of. The design is inspired in part by the Clockwork Man of Oz, who I guess you could consider the original steampunk character. The copper plating, large round goggle eyes and the Bowler and bowtie definitely add to the steampunkiness. I should note that Detectobot doesn’t run on steam. He probably has a little cold-fusion reactor in there somewhere.

Is it too early to discuss the supporting cast, or would you prefer to let readers discover the cast as they are introduced?

Peter: Telling you about some of the people you meet might be a bit spoilery, but the girl at the end of the preview is Abbie Dolan, who becomes Detectobot’s partner. She is like Detectobot’s Watson, and his guide to humanity.

Bobby: There will be many suspects to meet along the way.

The reader is first introduced to Detectobot from his point of view, when he is activated. What made you two decide to approach the opening in that manner?

Peter: It seemed like a good place to start! I wanted to thrust the reader into the story with exactly the same information that Detectobot has when he is activated, so we can learn what he learns as he is learning it.

I characterize Detectobot as a "he" (and you detail that he wears a stylish hat and tie because he "is a gentleman," but I wonder does something like Detectobot worry about such things as gender, given that he is 'bot?

Peter: Detectobot takes it for granted that he is a gentleman, because that is the way he was programmed. It is an interesting question. The answer to it might be a little spoilery.

Bobby: Detectobot takes a lot of things for granted based on his programming. Part of the characters journey involves learning to think outside his given parameters and a fair amount of self discovery.

Bobby, you are West Coast-based, while Peter is based on the East Coast, folks collaborate all the time, but I think it is somewhat unique to have brothers that collaborate in a bi-coastal fashion. Have you ever collaborated on comics while living in the same city?

Peter: When Bobby and I did the Night Owls for Zuda (also available on comiXology!) he was living in Brooklyn and I was in New Jersey. We would try to get together to brainstorm, but most of our collaboration has been online … unless you count the comics we made as children!

Bobby: I only moved to the West Coast a couple of months ago. Actually we were in the same room when we came up with the idea for Detectobot.

Thanks to things like Skype or Facetime we can still collaborate as if we were in the same room. Living in the future is fun.

Speaking of collaboration, Detectobot has a lot of cool technology including legs and feet that merge to form a wheel, as well as eyes that film in 3D and ears that record stereo surround-sound. Did one of you concoct all his equipment or did the two of you brainstorm on it?

Bobby: A little of both. We started throwing around ideas for tech that Detectobot would need in order to solve crimes, and I was sketching out some character designs at the same time. Originally he just had a wheel, but I thought it’d be fun if he could break the wheel apart for two feet. After all, you never know when a detective might need to use the stairs.

Bobby, how did you win a No-Prize and Peter did you ever try to get a No-Prize?

Peter: I never won a No-Prize, which sounds like a double-negative, and I try to stay positive.

Bobby: My No-Prize was awarded by Stan Lee in the '90s. He was running a question/answer feature in his Stan’s Soabox column at the time and if he answered one of your questions, you got a No-Prize. He answered my question, which was printed in all the Marvel books for that month. Stan signed the envelope my No-Prize came in last year at San Diego Comic-Con.

Do you have enough of the story stockpiled in advance that you will be able to do a consistent release every month, or will it have a more relaxed publishing schedule, along the lines of Bandette?

Bobby: The story is sufficiently stockpiled. If it's late, that’s because of me. We’ll be doing 12-page updates for a buck, hopefully every month. Twelve pages a month doesn’t seem that hard, but I do get busy. Having said that, I’ll do my best to keep up!

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