Robots December 18 2013

Rick Leddy of Rick's Robots designed our first t-shirt. I asked Rick to talk about robots and his art. Here is what he said:

How did I get started as an artist?

It started when I was a kid. I don't exactly know why, but I was extremely attracted to cartooning. What really sealed it was an incident that will always stick with me: when I was about 7- or 8-years-old I bought a comic book at the local market with my own money. It was some god awful bloody comic book that was wildly inappropriate for a kid my age, but you have to remember that these were in the days when I could buy cigarettes for my parents if they gave me a note to take down to the store.

Anyway, I brought it home and my mother flipped out. She literally took the comic book away from me, ripped it to shreds, threw it in the toilet and ceremoniously flushed it down as I sat there aghast. She then told me that if I was going to read something, it better be something educational and not THAT garbage. 

That pretty much sealed it. I knew that something that could upset adults so thoroughly was something I wanted to do.

Luckily, my mother wasn't opposed to me DRAWING comics, so she bought me rolls of cheap shelf paper that I could roll out and draw on to my heart's content. 

My first obsession was the comic strip Peanuts. I started collecting the books and really studying Charles Schultz (to this day I still have that collection of books I bought as a kid. Well over a hundred vintage original Peanuts books). I was also pretty obsessed with BC, which was drawn by Johnny Hart. (Ironically, I was later mentored by Brant Parker, who had also mentored Johnny Hart and later co-authored the Wizard of Id with him). 

Anyway, I've been working in the art field ever since. I was a political cartoonist in high school and college, I have authored my own comic strips and worked as a magazine art director for many years.

Why do I do art? This probably says it better than my Melville-esque ruminations about myself:

Why Robots?

I've always been a huge science fiction fan. I love reading science fiction and I love science fiction television shows and movies. Lost in Space, Star Trek and its iterations, Battle Star Galactica (new and old) and Star Wars have always kind of captured the zeitgeist that is me.

In the 90s, for some odd reason, I got nostalgic for my childhood and started collecting vintage tin toy robots and space toys from the 50s, 60s and 70s.

Ironically, I never had any of those kinds of toys growing up. My family simply didn't have the money for such nonsense, but I always wanted them. 

Collecting  tin toy robots and space toys is kind of a natural progression for me. First off, it satisfies the whole I'm-geting-older-and-am-going-to-die wave of nostalgia that sometimes overwhelms me. Secondly, the tin toy robots and space toys are just  graphically cool, which feeds into my whole retro aesthetic.

Seriously, many of of these pieces are flat-out works of art — especially the ones made by the Japanese during the Golden Age of robots and space toys.

Thirdly, it kind of fed into the whole collecting thing that I'm prone to anyway. Anyway, you can see my collection and a history of robots and space toys at ricksrobots.com

From there, it just made infinite sense for me to start drawing robots. But, then of course, being a cartoonist I couldn't just leave well alone, and I had to draw kind of twisted robot scenarios. The t-shirt that retroscifi.com is carrying is just one of a series of robot graphics I created from a robot abducting boxes of macaroni and cheese to the graphic of Jesus being lifted up to the heavens by an alien craft (for which I am most likely going to hell). 

I guess I'm still that little kid who watched his mom flush his comic book down the toilet — I looking to elicit some kind of reaction with my art.