Science fiction is a popular genre for a reason. Whether its in comics, novels, or film, science-fiction has helped us see beyond the normal, beyond the ordinary of everyday life. The genre at its core has always been about testing the limits of what we know to be true. Be it historically, politically, romantically, the genre is all about pushing boundaries. And, when successful, it’s one of the most truly awe-inspiring things to come across.
But you know what is better than just thinking about the cool concepts sci-fi brings us? Seeing them. It takes a special type of mind like Asimov or Vandermeer to explain these concepts to us in just words. Somehow though, seeing them is a whole other experience. To turn something so foreign, so unique, into a concrete idea that is understandable in some form to us? That’s true talent. Today’s Lift Off artist’s work is a testament to what imagination can do in the world of science-fiction. Whether you’re dealing with space, aliens, planets, or in this case, robots.
Welcome back to Lift Off, a series we do here on Black Hole to showcase up-and-coming artists. This is a monthly series, and this is our third installment so far. Today, we’d like to welcome Domonick “Pickle” Rocket to the site. An artist that isn’t shy about their love of robots and using them in their work. Robots, for a long time in popular culture, have been at the center of some of the most famous science-fiction stories of all time. Instantly, we think of films like Terminator or Ex Machina. Novels such as iRobot or Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? Robots are used to test our morality often in these stories. Used to explore the depths of human society in ways they haven’t been before or might ever be.
Domonick credits their love of robots with the Transformers cartoon as well as the comics. And later, it was the same Transformers show that inspired Domonick to first draw, eventually creating their own comics. Their webcomic, The Bar Bots is a comic that is filled with those things we love to see in sci-fi worlds. There’s a multitude of interesting characters, a compelling mystery, and those themes of morality are explored as well. Domonick does a great job of humanizing the characters, with both writing and art, giving them a deeper dimension than just being cool looking robots.
Below, you will see two pieces done by Domonick for Lift Off today. Both feature a character, presumably wearing a robot styled mask. Well, that creativity and imagination from the comic is on full display here. That’s Domonick! Combining their online persona and the best parts of their work, we get a chance to see them at their best, in their own image. It’s such a cool concept and the juxtaposition of the two images is great.
In the first, we see Domonick, who has maybe had too much to drink. Or are they dancing? Nope, they got kidnapped by aliens and are being beamed up? Truthfully, it doesn’t matter what matters is there’s a life and an energy to this piece. The way the character is positioned gives off a vibe. Maybe it’s fun, maybe it’s chaos who knows. But that energy is matched with the bright and hazy background. Are we on a dance floor or inside of some kind of intergalactic prism? One can only wonder. Accompanied with twinkling shapes and colors, this image is a perfect combination of imagination and skill.
The second gets a little more up close and personal. We see Domonick standing, posing for us like a model. And are they---underwater? Is that their home behind them? Your imagination can start to run wild with this piece as well. The surrounding blues and purples in this piece might evoke emotions of sadness. But this piece uses the blues and the waves in a way that tells us this piece is anything but sad. Calming is a word that comes to mind. The purple eyes are filled with so much depth and life. They are welcoming, engaging. They tell a deeper story. The clothes are a cool touch too as we see Domonick sporting the Bar Bots logo, welcoming us into their world.
Enjoy the two pieces, and Domonick’s own words about their work, and using robots in their comics.
“These pieces were mostly inspired by combining my online persona with my overall aesthetic and colors I use in most of my other works, blues and purples. I used actual reference pictures of myself to draw these two! The reason I decided to draw myself for both pieces is because, what would be better to showcase what makes my style unique besides myself? I drew myself wearing the mask because I make it a point not to show my face online nowadays, and because I actually made and own the same mask in real life!
When it comes to robots in my work and why I focus on them as a motif, the real reason stems from my childhood. As a little kid, I grew up with Saturday morning cartoons. My favorite was always Transformers. Particularly Transformers: Animated (14-year-old me highly recommends it), a more cartoony iteration of the classic series that inspired me to draw in the first place. Later, I got into reading the Transformers comics and decided it was time to make my own!
My comic, The Bar Bots, focuses on a group of five robots- one of whom starts the story waking up with amnesia. The big mystery hanging over the series is why humans who have mechanical parts built into their bodies get glitched out and attack others, and what can be done to stop it. There are also issues in the city with robots being hunted down for parts to be sold at higher prices to other robots. Admin, the city security system, tries his best to protect robots and keep peace in the city, but with the creator of the robots missing it is very difficult. There are so many characters in the city to meet, each with their own story. I hope you like meeting them!
Oddly enough, I've always felt a deep connection to the idea of robots and androids and blurring the lines between what makes a robot and what makes a human. Robots can look however they want, and the idea of that also sounds very fun to me and makes the designs for my characters that much more fun to create.”
You can support the Bar Bots comic on Webtoon
Domonick is on Twitter @picklerocketguy and @picklerocketart, contact them for work or commissions.
They have a Patreon page as well, where they do daily sketches and post previews of their upcoming comic pages. Patreon.com/picklerocket