Friday, August 14, 2009


IDW publishing, for anyone yet to hear of the number 3 comic book publisher, has been around for ten years. I've been such a huge fan of their products for their entire run. They've introduced me to several of my (now) favorite creators. Most people have heard of 30 Days of Night (which introduced me to Steve Niles) thanks to the film they made of it which brought IDW a lot of (well deserved) mainstream attention.

Of all of the creators whose work is distributed through IDW, none has been more entertaining or influential to me than the very very talented Ashley Wood. For anyone who has known me, especially in my days running the shop, I've been talking about Wood's work since I first discovered Hellspawn (a Spawn spinoff from Image in the late 90's). I was also collecting his comic with Joe Casey "Automatic Kafka" at about this time. His style is diverse and his range simultaneously inspiring and downright dizzying. He's gone on to illustrate several projects at IDW including the Metal Gear Solid adaptations (so far "Solid" and "Sons of Liberty"), countless covers and eventually his own titles. Among those titles is one of the most unique works in modern comics, though calling it a comic is somewhat misleading.

World War Robot is the tale of a great war going on between the religious zealot populated planet Earth and the atheist inhabited planet Mars. In between those two planets sits Earth's Moon, upon which a brilliant inventor and scientist, Darwin Rothchild, creates military tech which he sells indiscriminately to both sides. This tech happens to be several different classes, shapes and sizes of robot. These robots are given a variety of names to help their human troop allies see them in a more anthropomorphic light. Brambles, Berties, Harolds, Large Martins, Squares (and more) all help the war effort in any way in which they're programed.

The brilliance of World War Robot comes not only in its stunning, oil painted visuals by Wood, but the words that accompany his images written by his wife, T.P. Louise. Louise writes all manner of correspondence to and from soldiers, citizens, scientists, mechanics, mercenaries and even a pseudo hooker. Each one of these entries is presented in prose form amongst pages of imagery from the WWR universe. Each entry is written as a slice of life glimpse of the war from a wide variety of perspectives. Within those entries, snippets of the overall big picture are delivered to the reader. Each entry is a stand alone piece unto itself, but certain characters are referenced throughout including Rothchild, NOM (one of the baddest sons of bitches ever to do... whatever it is he's always up to) and obviously, the robots.

Its not all battle and in fact, the battle imagery is very much balanced with moments of piece. Definitely a perfect example of how much waiting around there is in any war. Some of the robots are given specific names by their handlers and one or two even have possible personalities (from their handler's perspective). One of my favorite entries in either volume comes in volume 2 where it is implied that a Bramble unit might enjoy the sunset (or at least his handler seems to think so). I won't bring up my thoughts on where the series is going and just what exactly Rothchild might be planning in selling so much hardware to two opposing enemies because doing so might ruin a very fun and original experience.

Finding World War Robot is its own problem. Volume 1 is technically out of print but can be found through various online retailers and occasionally a used copy will show up on Amazon (though not for very long usually). Volume 2 however has just come out this summer and is available both through Amazon, the IDW Publishing site and through your local comic vendor.

They will also no doubt be getting a huge reprint to coincide with the release of the Jerry Bruckheimer produced World War Robot film (only just recently announced).

There are apparently alternate covers as well, though I've only seen (and own) the covers labled "B"

Volume 1:

Volume 1B:
vol 1b

Volume 2:
vol 2a

Volume 2B:
vol 2b

I cannot stress enough how much you should read this or any of Ashley Wood's work. You will not find anything else like it, I promise you that. He has lots of art books in addition to his comics that contain countless paintings, sketches and doodles. You can even purchase originals though his rep (whose site I will put in here as soon as I can find it again).

Other Ashley Wood work you should get your mitts on (all from IDW):
Complete Zombies vs Robots vs Amazons
Popbot (vol 1-7 are in a complete edition, vol 8 is the only vol past the Complete Ed)
Tank Girl: The Gifting (with some other very talented people)
Metal Gear Solid
Metal Gear Solid: Sons of Liberty

Related Links:
Ashley Wood's blog
Three A toys blog (Wood's toy company who will blow your mind)
Three A Toys Forum (to discuss how your mind is blown and talk/meet other fans and a lot of very talented artists)
Ashley Wood's gallery site

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