How to take over the world of digital comics from your iPad with Little Robots creator Raheem Nelson
We love stories of self publishing digital comics here at Pipedream Comics, and we also love seeing what brilliant artwork talented artists can produce on their iPads. What’s even better though is finding out about a comic that’s written, produced and published on an iPad – which brings us to Little Robots by Raheem Nelson. A weekly web series published online every Sunday it features the antics of a group of robots, led by main character Addo and features satirical digs at pop culture and the modern world. But what’s even better the artwork is all produced digitally on an iPad. You can see the latest adventures of Addo and co at Raheem’s site and check out more of his work here, but in the meantime we got in touch with him to find just how he goes about creating his robotic adventures.Tell us a bit about what inspired you to create Little Robots? How do you come up with ideas for your characters and which artists and writers have inspired you?
RN: Little Robots has a lot of different influences. I grew up reading Marvel Comics and Archie’s Sonic the Hedgehog. In high school I got into manga and anime. Little Robots started as a quick Webcomic I would do to relieve stress after work or do a send up of something I read online. The robots are usually based on a friend, a family member or even a celebrity. I try to create different characters to suit each moment in time the strip represents. I created the first robot (Addo) after looking at an issue of The Ultimates 2. Fullmetal Alchemist and Aaron McGruder’s Boondocks have definitely influenced my sense of humor. As for artists, Bryan Hitch, Alex Ross, Norman Rockwell, Susan Murtaugh, Kyle Lambert, and Jorge Colombo have been huge inspirations. My favorite writers are Brian Michael Bendis, Alan Moore, and Mark Millar.
Do you produce a lot of the artwork on your iPad? What is the appeal of doing it this way and which apps do you use? Have you used other digital painting apps and what are their various pros and cons as far as you’re concerned?
RN: Adobe Photoshop 7 was my entry point to digital art. I mainly used it for coloring my hand drawn comic books in High School. You could say Photoshop lead the way for my iPad Art. For the past two years I’ve been working exclusively on my iPad 1 (and now my new 3rd gen.) I mainly use Sketchbook Pro, Brushes, ArtRage, and Procreate for my work. What I love about creating iPad art is convenience, and having all of your tools in one place. Cutting down on multitasking and just burying myself in the piece was tricky at first but I’ve gotten the hang of it. The only cons I’ve noticed so far are just when the iPad runs out of memory (Art apps eat up a lot of that.) and crashes. If you don’t save frequently you can lose a lot of work.
You’ve released your first collection of Little Robots how have you found the process of putting that together and which self-publishing models did you explore? Am I right in thinking you tried Apple’s iBooks platform?
RN: Little Robots Volume One is available now through lulu.com as a paperback. There’s a kid friendly version and a version suitable for teens and adults. I’m an assistant teacher so I didn’t want to exclude a younger potential audience. As for iBooks I’m currently setting that up. I want to give the print version some breathing room before I launch the iBooks version. I talked to iPhone/iPad Artist Jorge Colombo about publishing models at the MOMA. He mentioned Blurb but recommended Lulu for me. I had planned on going with Lulu but the second opinion helped a lot. They haven’t disappointed. I’ll continue publishing Little Robots Volumes as long as I’m inspired. I want to create a franchise.
Are you a big fan of reading comics on your iPad and which titles do you rate and enjoy the most?
RN: I love reading comics on my iPad. It really helps me keep the apartment cleaner to say the least. I already have tons of comics stacked in boxes I’ve only read a handful of times. With my iPad I can just have them stored and I don’t have to pick and choose which ones I want to take with me to read. I’m really into Ultimate Comics Spiderman, Ultimate Comics The Ultimates, Ultimate X-Men, Winter Soldier and Sonic the Hedgehog.
What are your future plans for Little Robots and do you have any plans on how you’ll start to make the most of the new iPad’s retina screen?
RN:I have big plans for Little Robots. Recently I announced the winners for a contest and giveaway. The grand prize was a custom Little Robots “Addo” Mighty Mugg. Thankfully Hasbro sells blank Mighty Muggs figures so I customized one. I’ll be selling small orders of the Little Robots figures throughetsy.com shortly. There’s also Little Robots apparel available at cafepress.com/sungoddeluxe. I’ll continue to distribute free Little Robots content through my blog to tide everyone over until volume two. Each installment will be a mix of paid and free content. I’ve been using the retina display on my new iPad to work in high res for Sketchbook Pro. The latest strips look more crisp and colorful. Finally I might just dabble in some animation. I would love to turn Little Robots into a web series.