Matt Kindt asks… Why Sad Robots? He writes,
I was talking to a creator friend of mine a few years ago and he was really wanting to do a big robot story. He'd never gotten to do one. He really just wanted to draw big cool robots. We talked about maybe collaborating. I would write it and he would draw.
Time went by and I started to kick ideas around. I never really wanted to do a big robot story. It never occurred to me. They're hard to draw. Also, "big robots" and the kind of stories I tend to tell…those two things don't really go together. But that ended up being the attraction to me. How to tell a big robot story that satisfies the genre requirements of a big robot…but also becomes a story I'm interested in telling.
The project with my friend ended up never happening, as a lot of projects do. But I was stuck with this one haunting image I couldn't stop thinking about. I love the idea of this lone robot standing in the middle of the forest – with rain pouring down. That's where the impetus for the entire series of short stories came from.
Of course, these aren't "robots." They're "mechs" or futuristic fighting machines with arms and legs. Humans live and operate them from the inside. I didn't want this to be a story about A.I. or robots. I wanted it to be about humans and what it's like to live and work and fight inside these giant killing machines.
But more than that – I wanted to know what it would be like after a big war with these mech suits. I liked the idea that these killing-machines were re-purposed for peace time activities. What were once weapons of war, are now tools for exploration, safety, and even homes. Would we only use these big mechs for fighting? Why not ocean exploration? Why not construction? Or search and rescue?
I grew up watching Voltron. I've read some manga. The idea of mechs as a sub-genre and a trope is something I've loved since I was a kid. What's fun for me is to revisit these genre ideas now, as an adult, and try to tell a story with the same genre trappings but take that genre trapping and ask the question I ask when I start any story: "What would this be like – but for real?"
So, technically, these aren't sad robot stories. They're very human stories of love, loss, isolation, survivor's guilt, and family. It all just happens to take place in and around giant killing machines after the "Great Mech Wars" and a North America where the West as seceded from the Union.
Brian Hurtt, Marie Enger and Matt Kindt present The HEK Treasury, a deluxe collection of all new epic, experimental science fiction, fantasy and genre short stories. The HEK Treasury will showcase each creator as they unleash new ideas, using experimental art and storytelling techniques. If funded through Kickstarter, pledges will be delivered to backers next spring. The HEK TREASURY Kickstarter campaign is live now and runs for 30 days.