Exclusive Interview: “Glork Patrol And The Magic Robot” Writer / Artist James Kochalka
All good things must come to an end, they say. Even when you don’t want them to. In my new email interview with iconic comic book writer and artist James Kochalka, he talks about the third — and possibly last — adventure for the Glork Patrol, Glork Patrol And The Magic Robot (hardcover, Kindle).
We previously did a deep dive on Glork Patrol in the interview about Glork Patrol Takes A Bath, so let’s jump right in. Who is Glorkbot, and what adventure do they go on with the rest of the Glork Patrol in Glork Patrol And The Magic Robot?
Glorkbot is a little pocket-sized robot replica of the Glorkian Warrior. He ordered it online, and the book begins with the package being delivered to the Glork Patrol outpost where our heroes are based. The Glork Patrol kids, Gonk and Baby Quackaboodle, take Glorkbot on its first Glork Patrol while the grownups, Glorkian Warrior and Super Backpack, stay home. On their adventure they meet the Magic Robot…for reasons. No spoilers.
Where did you get the idea for Glork Patrol And The Magic Robot? What inspired this new adventure?
The Magic Robot character already appeared as a giant floating head in The Glorkian Warrior Delivers A Pizza and also the video game Glorkian Warrior: The Trials Of Glork. The floating head was partly inspired by The Wizard Of Oz and also the monster in the video game Sinistar. I might’ve had some other floating heads in mind too…the Cheshire Cat from Alice in Wonderland, and I think there are some others too. Anyhow, later in my sketchbook I doodled some new versions of the character, where the Magic Robot has a body and those new doodles made me want to draw a new book.
In regards to Glorkbot looking like Sinistar, did you have that game in mind when you were first designing him, or did you come up with the design and then notice the similarity?
He doesn’t really look like Sinistar at all, other than that he’s a giant floating head. The design is quite different. The Wizard Of Oz was a giant floating head too, and he doesn’t look like that either. He looks most of all like the robots I draw in the Monkey Vs. Robot books, but he looks different than those, too. He looks more like other robots I’ve drawn than he looks like anything else, but it’s still its own individual design. He looks a little tiny bit like Bender from Futurama, but I’m pretty sure Bender’s design was partly inspired by the robot on my Monkey Vs. Robot album cover anyway… I remember Matt Groening buying the CD from me at Comic-Con back in the ’90s. It’s all good…that’s how culture works…ideas bounce back and forth from artist to artist.
Now, Glork Patrol And The Magic Robot is the third Glork Patrol book, though they’re tangentially connected to the Glorkian Warrior books: The Glorkian Warrior Delivers A Pizza, The Glorkian Warrior Eats Adventure Pie, and The Glorkian Warrior And The Mustache Of Destiny. Are you already working on a fourth Glork Patrol story, or does Robot end the trilogy?
I have no current plans for more Glork Patrol books, but I haven’t made a decision to end the series either. I could draw more Glork Patrol forever, I’m pretty sure. But I have lots of other ideas too, so I might want to work on a few other new stories with new characters before I return to Glork Patrol.
For instance, I’m putting the finishing touches on a new graphic novel called Jimmy’s Elbow, about a boy who has an elbow. That will be published by Top Shelf, but I don’t think they’ve announced it or chosen a release date yet. I’ve been serializing it on my Patreon over the past year. I just have to post the last few installments, draw the covers and basically, it’ll be complete.
Speaking of other books, you have a second one coming out this year: Johnny Boo Is Bored! Bored! Bored! Who is Johnny Boo, and why is he bored, bored, bored? Cuz I could recommend some comic books that might entertain him…
Johnny Boo is the best little ghost in the world. It’s Top Shelf and IDW’s longest running series, in fact; Johnny Boo is Bored! Bored! Bored! is the 14th book in the series.
Basically, Johnny Boo might be too awesome…he’s done so many awesome things that there’s hardly anything left to do. The book is about being overstimulated and bored at the same time. It’s not a boring book at all though, it’s really really funny.
Do you think writing and drawing different kinds of comics is helpful, creatively? Like, did Johnny Boo Is Bored! Bored! Bored! benefit from you writing Glork Patrol And The Magic Robot, and vice versa?
Creativity begets creativity. One idea always leads to another. I can barely keep up with it all. I have to leave great ideas behind in the dust all the time because I’m always moving forward. In fact, I’m bored with great ideas. My new focus is bad ideas. I find bad ideas to offer me the most creative freedom. There’s nothing to lose, so anything goes.
Do you think people who enjoy Glork Patrol And The Magic Robot will like Johnny Boo Is Bored! Bored! Bored! as well, and vice versa?
Of course you will like both. They are similarly silly. Both have energetic and fun stories and characters. Both are designed to fill the reader with joy.
So, is there anything else you think people need to know about Glork Patrol And The Magic Robot?
I imagine this book will be mostly read by kids, but I would encourage adults to read it, too. Have a little fun. I’m an adult and wrote the thing, so I should know. Adults can better appreciate the absurdity of the book because they’ve lived in the world long enough to recognize that it’s the only proper way to make sense of an absurd world. And our reality in 2023 is most certainly absurd.
Finally, if someone enjoys Glork Patrol And The Magic Robot, they’ll probably read the other Glork Patrol books, if they haven’t already, and then read all of your other books. But once they’ve done that, what adventurous comic book of someone else’s would you suggest they read?
One of the best robot adventure books I can think of is The Wild Robot by Peter Brown. It’s an infinitely re-readable modern classic, so you should get that one. Another great one is Ozma Of Oz by L. Frank Baum, which features a robot named Tik-Tok. Also, I have re-read The Runaway Robot by Lester Del Rey many times and I highly recommend it. It’s probably long out of print, but you can find used copies very easily online. Those three are all kids books but are well written enough to be enjoyed by adults as well.
For grown-ups I recommend the novel Klara And The Sun by Kazuo Ishiguro, another great robot book.