Machines Making Mayhem And Friends: “The Intrepid Girlbot” by Diana Nock

Copyright © 2009 by Diana Nock.

“Gee,” you might be saying to yourself, “whatever could a webcomic called The Intrepid Girlbot be about?”

It’s not some catchy postmodern title scheme.  That is exactly what this webcomic by artist Diana Nock is about.

The Story: A Little Metal Girl Just Wants To Be Friends!

Girlbot is a gynoid who lives inside her own automated home, which is part of an all-robot society.  Wanting to be pretty and have friends, she goes out into the wilderness outside her home and tries to befriend the local critters.  However, her electronic touch fries most of them to death, including one poor female raccoon.  But that’s nothing a little cybernetic surgery and reanimation can’t fix!  What follows is the saga of Girlbot and Raccoon#1 becoming friends, then enemies, and then friends again, getting into mishaps involving tech malfunctions and misunderstandings among robots and woodland creatures.

The Cast: A Girlbot and Her Cyborg Raccoon

Girlbot, like every other character in this story, is mute.  Yet she has an almost Mickey Mouse-like earnest approach to her life.  She wants to be pretty and have working arms and avoid killing her would-be friends in the natural world.  She’s a blend of happy-go-lucky and childlike sorrow at setbacks, though she possesses enough intelligence to figure out most of her problems (eventually, as in the case with the raccoons).

Her new friend is Raccoon#1 (so dubbed by the author because she looks all the other raccoons in the comic and needs distinguishing).  After being accidentally fried to near-death, Girlbot revives her and turns her into a cyborg, albeit one with the appearance of a normal raccoon.  And “gifts” like laser eyes and super-animal strength.  This makes Raccoon#1 an outcast among the others when she returns and leads to her brief antagonism with Girlbot.  She is the more emotional of the protagonists, more apt to react than to instigate bad situations.

The Style: Silent AND Golden

Because there’s no dialogue in this comic, the visuals have to count for everything–and they do!  Just reading about how Diana Nock creates each strip is itself a sign of her passion and aesthetic:

I draw the comic on smooth 11″x14″ Bristol board, with colored pencil lead and brush pens, mostly. My favorite brush pens to use are the Zebra calligraphy markers and the Pentel pocket brush pen. I scan it all into Photoshop, clean it up, and color it using MultiFill & Flatten and a special limited palette.

I really like how the process works and that there’s a lot of attention to the different shades of gold and brown to give the scenes depth and dimension.  It also seems to fit thematically, too.  Just as the artist gives such attention to detail with enthusiasm, so then does Girlbot put the same focus and spirit into all her attempts to make friends and create a happy little life for herself.

Final Verdict: It’s Earnest And Enjoyable

At the risk of gushing, I really do like this comic.  I’ll admit that, like someone raised on “talkies” trying to appreciate a silent film, it can be a little confusing or frustrating when absorbing everything in silence.  But the same time, it adds character to the, um… characters.  It lets color and perspective angles show us the mood and content of the story, bit by little bit, and that’s the kind of story that we need more of in an era where blatant CGI/3-D and non-stellar acting seems sadly common.

The Intrepid Girlbot has its own website.  Barring the occasional author’s hiatus, the comic updates every Tuesday and Friday.

Bibliography: Nock, Diana.  The Intrepid Girlbot.  March 6, 2009 – Present. http://www.intrepidgirlbot.com/

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