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ROBOTMAN: "TO BE OR NOT TO BE .... A LOSER ?"

Jim Meddick (artist and writer)

Published by Linus

Clumsy, revolting, immature, rude and troublemaker, lazy and sluggish.
Liar, fearful.
In short, a worm.
These adjectives (and maybe more) can be used to describe Monty, a child who never grew up, now forty years old, who is the protagonist of the comic strip "Robotman" by Jim Meddick.
In the comic, Monty is accompanied by a small robot, a sort of puppet with studs and big-gloved hands, who is in fact the opposite of a robot. Robotman is not particularly efficient and attentive: he doesn’t take orders, but he interacts with his owner (who is in fact more of a friend than an owner), as if he was a real human being. He takes his owner anywhere, he tells him off and picks on him and sometimes he even has words of wisdom featured by a vein of sarcasm. On the other hand, Monty could not have designed a robot very different from himself: his low IQ and his instinctive narrow-mindedness and meanness could not possibly create a robot cleverer than him.
Monty’s behaviour with women is similar to what some psychology manuals have defined as a "self-defeating" loser. Monty starts absurd relationships with terrible women such as Loco (a boring lady dressed in black clothes, similar to a French existentialist) and Olga (a manly type of woman), Rhona and Suzie the mime artist. In the end, they all treat Monty as an object. However, Monty is a romantic man and continues to aspire to his dreams of a real love as an option to escape from solitude and boredom.
A number of other characters are frequently introduced into the comic with the aim of animating their weak plot: they interact with Monty and are all part of the imagery of the typical American average loser. These characters, who are beautiful TV and movie celebrities (i.e. Mel Gibson becomes involved in a "body swap" with Monty) or famous protagonists from popular science fiction series (such as Mulder, Scully, Picard and Spock) all emphasise Monty’s deficiency when coping with different situations.
Giggles is a funny character (a sort of cute mouse) which also doesn’t match with the style of the comic. He wears a bow tie and is representative of all nice (perhaps too nice) Mickey Mouse type characters, which populate the world of comics. Its way of being "nice" gives Monty/Meddick the chance to come up with the most outrageous comments. Fleshy, a very thin cat with no fur and big staring eyes, gives a powerful comic feature to the strip. The cat is the prey of a big cyber-cat called Gatterminator, and (despite being a male cat) is made pregnant by the aliens in order to create a hybrid cat-alien race (!)
All the events of the stories, from the wars against aliens, the travelling through time, to the character’s changes of personality and his experiments (which gradually increase his charm) alternate with a very domestic type of situation with women, friends or neighbours. Every situation implacably shows Monty’s ability to cause troubles without being able to get away with it.
The jokes and one-liners are really harsh, sarcastic and malicious, and the object of these comments are not just Monty but also our modern daily life, which is based more on appearance than substance, as well as on success and physical prowess. Monty is continuously trying to enter this world, which is close to him but also very far away at the same time. This world is made of healthy and handsome men who have a very busy and fulfilled life. However, Monty is constantly rejected from this world and every time this happens he has to cope with the bitter reality of being a loser, who is ugly and squalid, living in a little apartment and is equally dogged by bad luck and dandruff.
"Robot" is one of the best comics currently published by the magazine Linus. Its detailed drawings – although they are not at all nice – have little in common with the traditional comic "rounded" style. Meddick is perhaps the only cartoonist – amongst the latest artists – to produce a satire of contemporary society. He is not exactly a cynic, but his "Robotman" is naughty in a "healthy" and fair way, contrasting effectively with the "good" spirit of the light Liberty Meadows strip and that of sweet Mutts, both of them also published by Linus.

L.P.