Under the Influence: RGBots and Dinosaur Comics

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One of my all-time favorite webcomics has been and will always be Ryan North’s Dinosaur Comics. I would argue that Dinosaur Comics is perhaps a perfect webcomic; at this point, there are well over 1000 strips, it features dinosaurs who are well written, hilarious characters, and it is consistently charming and witty.

… and this is accomplished entirely with the same six panels, comic after comic, joke after joke.

Get used to seeing these dinosaur sprites over and over and over…

… and it just works, so damn well. Every time. I’ve never encountered a Dinosaur Comics strip I didn’t enjoy.

Same notes, different tune

So, Dinosaur Comics is a favorite of mine, and I have always been envious of what Ryan was able to accomplish with it. I’ve always wanted a comic that I don’t have to stress out over art. I generally need to draw all my work myself, on top of writing everything. It’s only been in the last couple of years that I have been able to hire some assistance when it comes to inking, but for the most part, that’s not a frequent thing. Doing one webcomic by oneself is hugely tough.

When I was younger I did dabble with sprite comics. No, I do not still have those. But I always was intrigued by the idea of limited art with maximum return. I also considered myself to be an aspiring stand-up with no real desire to actually go on stage. I had a ton of jokes sort of floating around with no project.

Thus came RGBots.

So, RGBots was born of my interest in Dinosaur Comics and my desire to step out of the bounds of heavy storytelling of Cosmic Dash. The idea was to have something utilizing a bunch of premade art, and in my discussions with my friends Deft and Monica, I arrived at simple little robots. I had my friend Monica do some basic art assets and gave it a try, and it sort of worked.

Monica’s first stab at the robots. I’d later take over doing the papercraft look of today.

Things change, but Dinosaur Comics remain timeless

Originally, the plan was for RGBots to be an entire team effort. It began with the same six panels, but unlike Dinosaur Comics, the panels could be re-ordered and duplicated, providing just a little bit of flexibility. This isn’t a retrospective on RGBots, so I’ll skip ahead and just point out that as it stands now, RGBots has a library of about 20+ panels. I also maintain all art assets as separate PNGs so that I can swap positions, flip and customize extra panels when needed.

It’s basically like using those old Colorforms I played with as a kid. I credit my friend Ambrose for kind of nudging me in that direction. I also tend to do most of the writing by myself now, as other collaborators have drifted off and have their own projects.

Additionally, the comic is now also a vertically-oriented, mobile-friendly format and only consists of 4 panels. It used to be 3 to 6 panels, but webcomics are, at their heart, iterative. Things change and RGBots has done the same.

What hasn’t changed, though, is how much of an influence Dinosaur Comics has been on giving me an outlet for quicker comics. I still put a ton of time and energy into Cosmic Dash, but RGBots brings me a lot of joy because I can just put them together so damn quick.