James Kochalka is, without question, one of the most unique and prolific alternative cartoonists working in America today. His comics have been published internationally by almost every alternative comics publisher; he’s recorded several music albums under the name James Kochalka Superstar; and he’s developed animated cartoons for Nickelodeon and Cartoon Hangover. He is the first official Cartoonist Laureate of the slate of Vermont, appointed in 2011. Among his best-known works are the Monkey vs Robot series, the superpowered frat house comedy SuperF*ckers, the beloved Johnny Boo and Dragon Puncher series for children, and his magnum opus, the decade-plus span of daily diary comics known as American Elf. Jame lives in Burlington, Vermont with his wife Amy, their two sons, and their cats, all of whom appear frequently in his comics. James was nice enough to stop by First Comics News to tell our readers all about Glork Patrol and the Magic Robot.
James Kochalka: Gonk is a pink, three-eyed alien kid. He’s basically just a head with little legs and feet sticking out below, so he can run around. He doesn’t need hands, he gets along just fine as he is.
Gonk’s dad, Glork, is a member of the Glork Patrol, and since Gonk helps a lot he’s pretty much a member of the Glork Patrol too. Glork Patrol are like space rangers. They patrol their area of space and keep it safe. They probably cause as much trouble as they fix, though. By accident.
1st: Who is Quackaboodle?
James: Quackaboodle is a baby space god. One day she will grow up to be the most dangerous creature in the universe. She hatched from an egg in an earlier book (Glork Patrol on the Bad Planet) and the Glork Patrol adopted her. So I guess she’s Gonk’s little sister now.
1st: Who is Glork?
James: Glork is the dad. He’s supposedly a great galactic space warrior, but he makes a lot of mistakes. He lived alone in his secret base until he adopted Gonk and then Baby Quackaboodle. The Glorkian SuperGrandma is trying to whip him into shape.
James: Glorkbot is a tiny robot version of Glork. It looks just like him and it fits in his pocket. He ordered it online, and at the beginning of the book the package arrives. The kids take it out on its very first Glork Patrol, but it’s not a toy…it’s an expensive and delicate scientific instrument. They kind of mess it up, so they take it to the Magic Robot in hopes that he can fix it.
1st: What is Superbackpack?
SuperBackpack is Glork’s best friend. He’s a sentient backpack with a laser nozzle on top. The Glorkian SuperGrandma gave Glork the SuperBackpack to keep an eye on him, and to help out. The laser nozzle is only really useful if enemies attack from above, which they do in the video game I made with PixelJam called Glorkian Warrior: The Trials of Glork.
1st: What is the Magic Robot?
James: He’s a scary giant floating robot head with magic powers. When the kids run down Glorkbot’s batteries, and they’re afraid Glork will be mad, they go to the Magic Robot for help. But he does not like little kids, and doesn’t like helping. He likes to DESTROY!
James: Oh, everybody knows the legend of The Magic Robot. People are very terrified of the giant floating robot head in space. But Glork Patrol is brave when they have to be!
1st: Glork Patrol and the Magic Robot is number three in the series, do you need to have read one and two to follow the story?
James: No, definitely not. I write them so each book can stand on its own. You can jump in anywhere and enjoy yourself.
James: Elementary school is the sweet spot. Personally, I think adults can enjoy it too, if they have a taste for the absurd. It is an absurd world we’re all living in, after all, and sometimes the only way to process all that is by reading absurdist fiction. I myself am an adult and I wrote it mainly to entertain myself. If I enjoy it, then so can you. Lighten up, pops! (Referring to a generic boring adult, not you personally, haha.