Monty (comic strip)
|Current status / schedule||Running|
|Launch date||1985, as Robotman|
|Syndicate(s)||United Feature Syndicate|
The comic strip began as Robotman in 1985. It originally depicted the exploits of a small robot who believed he was an extraterrestrial visiting Earth, living with the ordinary Milde family. In the 1990s, Robotman left the Milde family and began living with a geeky inventor named Monty.
Robotman's origin was later retconned to having been designed and built by Monty and given false memories of being an alien.
Robotman was a toy character created by United Feature Syndicate as an attempt at cross-marketing toys, videos, and other merchandise. The syndicate desired to have a comic strip featuring the character; they had asked Bill Watterson to incorporate the character into Calvin and Hobbes, but Watterson refused. The job was then passed on to Jim Meddick, who created the family setting and the other characters. As the strip progressed the design of Robotman changed considerably as Meddick's style evolved.
During contract negotiations, the syndicate approached Meddick with a request to change the name of the strip to Monty and to de-emphasize and remove the Robotman character from the strip. This was due to an ongoing difficulty in marketing the strip with the name Robotman (for a brief period, the strip was rechristened "Robotman & Monty").
Robotman was gradually phased out of the strip through a farewell storyline, and the series continued as Monty in April 2001. Robotman's farewell included a return to outer space to live with his love interest, a female robot.
As the website announces, the comic strip "spoofs suburbia, trashes tacky TV shows and offers absurdist commentary on everything from hosing down spider monkeys to the latest conspiracy theory." Monty Montahue, the brainy, bumbling bachelor who's unlucky in work and love, is the star of the strip.
Explains Meddick, "I've tried to create the comic strip equivalent of Monty Python's Flying Circus. The name 'Monty' is a nod to the influence that show had on my humor. In my cartoon just about anything can happen — this way, the ideas and characters always stay fresh."
- Monty Montahue is the protagonist and titular character. He is an odd, optimistic nerd who often comes up with strange inventions and works odd jobs. Monty was introduced to the Robotman strip in the early 1990s. In 1996, it was revealed that Monty was brainwashed of his past life as a government scientist, when he invented Robotman. Monty is typically depicted as socially awkward, having poor dress skills and has a prominent nose but no chin. He takes on various (often very nerdy) hobbies and daily occupations, regularly failing because of a mix of goofiness and excessive self-confidence.
- Fleshy is a skinny, hairless housecat resembling the Pink Panther cartoon character. Fleshy is remarkable for his being the complete opposite of feline attitudes: he is goofy, fearful, unable to catch even the most innocuous of butterflies. Fleshy is frequently shown to be entirely uninterested while in the presence of people, but once alone, he shows his intelligence to be on par with humans. He has a son, who was abducted (and then returned) by the same aliens that took Robotman.
- Moondog McHorney is the only true friend of Monty. He's a chronic beer drinker, and his house is one of the biggest centers of entropy in the world.
- Pilsner is Moondog's cynical parrot, who often seems to be smarter than his owner, but still hasn't managed to understand that the other parrot he sees in the mirror is himself.
- Gretchen is a coffee waitress whom Monty has a crush on. She, however, does not return the feelings. She's a friend and is currently single.
- Doc is a time traveler from the year 2525 who came to visit the early 21st century and wound up living with Monty. Doc has a lack of understanding of today's modern world, and believes Monty and Moondog are 'savages.' When it was time for Doc to return home, his gear broke down, trapping him in Monty's time. Recently a representative of his time-travel organization appeared, reassuring Doc that he would be returned home shortly. But when the representative attempted to return to the future, he accidentally wound up in the Paleozoic.
- EB3 is a cyborg and a friend of Doc's. Small in stature and painted white, he frets incessantly about the fact that he has a "P-word" (in his case meaning pancreas, not what you might think it means). Monty often tries to reassure about his pancreas anxiety ("I have one. Doc has one. It's nothing to be ashamed of!"). Recently, he has shown romantic interest in a vacuum cleaner.
- Sedgwick Nuttingham III is a privileged child who inhabits a mansion somewhere in Monty's neighborhood. His only companion is his faithful manservant Jarvis, who does anything that Sedgwick desires, from carrying ammunition as Sedgwick hunts Fleshy, to serving as a human target for snowballs, darts etc. Sedgwick's parents are totally absent. The only other characters that Sedgwick interacts with besides Fleshy are various doctors and psychologists. Sedgwick is convinced of his innate superiority to all others.
- The Milde Family was the original supporting cast for Robotman during the 1980s. They portrayed an American middle-class family that lived in suburbia. It was made up of Robotman's best friend Oscar who was an insecure boy about 10 years old, his cynical teenage brother Gary, and their parents. When the strip shifted focus away from Robotman, they stopped appearing.
- Bruce; Robotman's evil twin. He too was phased out after Monty's debut.
- Loco Ohno was Monty's on-again/off-again girlfriend, a parody of Yoko Ono. She was cynical and artistic, very different from the optimistic and technology-minded Monty. She was a devoted feminist, often finding men being the root of evil.
- Chimpy was a talking chimpanzee. Chimpy constantly attempted to demonstrate his superiority to (or at least parity with) human intelligence and culture, but in fact he was not particularly bright. For example, he attempted to use a circular saw as a hammer.
- Dave-7, formerly known as Mr. Pi, was an alien from Rigel and served as Monty's straight man. Dave-7 lived with Monty. He was very logical and deeply involved in studying sciences such as quantum mechanics. There were occasionally ominous references to his race's plans to take over the earth. Nothing has come of them yet. The closest they ever got was to the moon. Then Chimpy got his hands on Dave-7's fleet-command-device, thinking it was a videogame, and annihilated the entire fleet.
- Giggles the Gumdrop-Eating Bear was introduced when Robotman met him in a "coping with cuteness" support group. His relentlessly cheerful personality is embraced by readers and syndicate executives who love him and his tie-in merchandise, but the other characters find him creepy and off-putting.
Several strip collections have been published:
- Robotman Takes Off: 1986 by Topper Books. (Out of print)
- Robotman: The Untold Story 1988 by Topper Books. (Out of print)
- Cyberpunktrek: With Robotman and his Evil Twin Bruce 1990 by Topper Books. (Out of print)
- Primary Crullers: A Robotman Book 1997 by Andrews McMeel Publishing. (Out of print)
- The Prehistoric Robotman 2003 by Plan 9 Publishing. (Out of print)
- Patrick Stewart, the actor who portrayed Jean-Luc Picard in Star Trek, once tried to kidnap Fleshy. It appears Stewart was his former owner. Eventually Monty manages to take Fleshy back, thanks to his abilities in race walking.
- While attempting to emulate Spider-Man, Monty was bitten by a radioactive ladybug and became Ladybugman, whose superpowers include ladybug senses (the ability to sense when and where rainbows will form, which caterpillars are aggressive, when a leprechaun is lying, and when somebody is crabby and needs a nap), a hard shell, the ability to sew, the ability to instill guilt in others, the ability to flutter through the air, and the ability to emit a malodorous fluid ("Actually... he's always had that ability" - Dave-7).
- A three-week spoof of Lord of the Rings: Monty's "Lord of the Thing".
- In March 2006, a two-week spoof of the television series Lost, where Monty found himself shipwrecked on the island. In this spoof, Monty discovers that the Others are actually the castaways from Gilligan's Island.
- Following a transporter accident, Robotman and Mr. Spock exchanged ears. This had to be rectified by the Vulcan Ear meld.
- After assuring Monty that he would be unaffected by the Y2k bug, Robotman became a Theodore Roosevelt-like character.
- "Robotman Items".
- "The World of Bill Watterson...".
- "Man and Robotman: The Jim Meddick Interview". Hogan's Interviews. MSNBC. Retrieved 2007-01-17.
- Monty at Comics.com
- Comics.com - Monty - Ladybugman
- Comics.com - Monty - "Lord of the Thing" spoof
- Meddick, Jim (w, a). Monty (March 1, 2006 – March 18, 2006), United Feature Syndicate
- Comics.com - Monty - "LOST" spoof
- Strickler, Dave. Syndicated Comic Strips and Artists, 1924-1995: The Complete Index. Cambria, California: Comics Access, 1995. ISBN 0-9700077-0-1