My nephew, Casey, began calling me Uncle Robot when he was barely able to talk. But because he could barely talk at the time, he couldn’t explain why. And now that he talks pretty well, he doesn’t remember doing it in the first place. So it’s still a mystery.
And that’s how I came to be Uncle Robot.
At some point in there, I made a t-shirt for Casey’s Christmas present with a robot face on it that said,”Uncle Robot Loves Me.” My girlfriend at the time thought it was cute, so I made her one that said,”Uncle Robot Thinks I’m Hot.”
Then I made one for myself. It was gonna say,”I Am Uncle Robot,” but, you know how if you repeat the word “frog” like fifty times in a row, it stops sounding like a word at all and starts just sounding like some weird sound you’re making with your mouth? Well, something in the “I Am Uncle Robot” design made the words “I Am” not look like words but instead look like nonsensy gibberish. So, after I messed with it for a while, I gave up and switched it to say,”Uncle Robot and Company,” which looked pretty good except it seemed to imply that I had, would have or should have some sort of company.
Sometimes creation isn’t linear. This thing started out with a logo and the logical question of “what should this represent?”
I let that just hang in the air for a while.
For a while I was having fun just branding with no product or service to offer, which, in and of itself, felt giddily perverse. For a while I thought I’d have a go at a company that promoted itself fervently but did nothing. That’s just the kind of sense of humor I have sometimes. This also seemed to fit in with the errant philosophical derailment I was reveling in, having recently given up on whatever semblance of a career I had and left Los Angeles, resolving that I would do absolutely nothing productive with my life.
And I tried. I really did. I wasted several years. And I enjoyed them. I spent my late thirties living like a teenager and I loved it. I stayed up late and slept in. I hung out with my friends. I ate, drank and smoked whatever I wanted. And I didn’t think about the future. And I’d be doing that still, but I have this nagging artistic monkey riding on my back, and if I ignore him for too long he starts to throw his shit.
So when my friend, Neil, politely enquired as to why I didn’t get off my ass and do something, at about the same time as my own inner turmoil from willfully ignoring my calling began to reach a crescendo, it occurred to me that Uncle Robot might serve as an Umbrella for some self-directed entertainment work. The idea of doing an adventure strip had been knocking around in my head for some years and so, with one thing and another, “Vorto the Pirate” was born.
But the intention is, and has always been, more expansive than a single comic strip. I’ll need more than that if I’m going to waste people’s time the way I want to. So, even as I struggle to find enough hours in the week to write and draw Vorto, I am making plans to expand into other areas, including serialized novels and short stories, games, radio programing, downloadable podcasts and partnerships with other artists. The goal is to bring to you, in Uncle Robot Presents, a grass roots alternative entertainment network, specializing in the kind of creator driven work that struggles to find a home in more commercial entertainment outlets.
Martin Pope has been an actor, a writer, a theatrical director, a top-forty d.j, and a comedian. He has written plays (most notably the first theatrical adaptation of “The Maltese Falcon” ever staged, which he also directed), movies (none of which ever made it past post- production), TV (for Andre 3000’s Cartoon Network vehicle “Class of 3000”), prose (“An Apparition in the Form of Christmas Morning”) and poetry (you don’t want to know).
He has been a singer/songwriter and frontman for several rock and roll bands (including “Buzz Dino and the Voodoo” and “The Incontinentals”) and he has worked every possible restaurant job except for parking cars and being the chef.
His comic strip,”Vorto the Pirate,” has been read in 118 countries.