Spotlight on: RoboCop: Citizens Arrest

RoboCop: Citizens Arrest

You Can’t Crowdsource Justice

It’s been decades since the RoboCop program first began. Corporations have taken over the schools and the government—and law enforcement is the biggest private contract of all. Traditional police forces no longer exist as all citizens are encouraged—and rewarded—to spy on their neighbors. There is only one authority on the streets: RoboCop.

Writer Brian Wood and artist Jorge Coelho talk about what influenced their take on RoboCop.

How has RoboCop influenced you?

Brian Wood: There was a lot of build-up and anticipation for me with the original film, because I had a very strict mother who wouldn’t let me see it, but all my friends at school would talk about it.  When I was finally able to sneak away to watch it, it really lived up to the anticipation! It was violent and funny and awesome, and as I got older I was able to understand the social commentary and appreciate how rich and clever it was.

Jorge Coelho: The original RoboCop was maybe the first film to show me sheer corruption and merciless human nature, I saw it around ten years old and so it was very impactful…

RoboCop: Citizens Arrest puts the power that was originally reserved solely for Alex Murphy into the hands of everyday people. Do you feel like this is a reflection of our world today?

Wood: I feel like between events like Ferguson, the militarization of police, and the trend towards privatization, it’s incredibly relevant.  I mean, it was relevant in the 1980’s…now, it’s uncomfortably close.

Coelho: Not the same power, but power in itself. The same power that made ordinary Russian folks accuse their neighbors, sending them to gulags, like here in Portugal during Salazar’s dictatorship to Tarrafal, and in so many totalitarian regimes. Feeding some of the darkest human traits like envy and cowardice, but amplified to a great degree by digital technology.

What was it like bringing the character of RoboCop into modern times?

Wood: The key is always to find a way to make it personal—if I make it personal to me, if I find a way to make it matter to me and important to me, the writing will be stronger and will be communicated to the reader. They’ll feel that same connection, and find their own way to connect.

Coelho: A challenge, because he belongs to my personal mythos and Brian’s story is one of the best I’ve worked on. It’s visually demanding and I’m not shying away. It touches both emotional and creative levels so it’s kind of a big deal…

Why do you think RoboCop still resonates with fans, even after 30 years?

Wood: Visually, the design of the guy is compelling, but to go deeper, we all hold some fascination for the idea of vigilantism… I mean, obviously he’s a cop, but the way he seeks out and takes down the corrupt powers that be…don’t we all wish we could do that?  And the idea of humanity vs. the machine, it’s all just great drama.

Coelho: Because it’s a good story well executed. It must echo truth to some degree.

We’re introduced to some new app-based robots in this series. What was it like designing these new characters?

Coelho: Early on, it was very difficult for me to draw technology but with experience and practice I believe I’ve gotten better doing it and now I love it! Learning from Sean Murphy at his apprenticeship also helped, a lot.

Wood: This new OCP is slick and clean and user-friendly, and the idea of war machines, of civilian suppression as if designed by Apple or Google…I couldn’t wait to see what that looked like.

What do you hope fans take away from reading this series?

Wood: This series is dense and detailed and complex, and I just hope that readers can find the thing inside it that resonates with them and that matters to them, just like I did.

Coelho: That they feel satisfied, knowing the character they love is respected and that their time and money is well spent. Simply that they have fun.

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