Earth Notes: Radbot "Origin Myth" Comic Strip

Intro - Is it a bird, is it a plane? No, it is a radiator robot with AI! #webcomic

Cartoon time!

A tech startup and a robotic thermostatic radiator valve (TRV) with AI (machine learning) and IoT trying to save the world: what's not to like?

(And superhero capes, and coffee!)

Confused? You will be!

Tune in to find out how fares Radbot's dalliance with a startup, funding, marketing, crowdsourcing, and (some) setbacks over eight episodes in this story arc!


Back Story

The serious story behind this Radbot comic storyline was OpenTRV's flirtation with crowdfunding in late 2016 to help us complete R&D on a new CE-stamped Radbot product version, and to be able to make a big enough batch to be commercially viable. (There tend to be significant price breaks around the thousands to tens of thousands, without which the final cost per unit is too high.)

I thought that readers of The Register might like to join us for the ride, before we knew what the outcome would be, but most commentards (as "el Reg" calls them) didn't understand, or thought it was all a pre-planned marketing confection, or were just their normal truculent and dismissive selves. IT people, aren't we lovely?

Anyway, what actually happened was ... no, come join us again while we through the joys of marketing and fundraising and pre-post-launch fear and ennui, or is that a hangover? ...

The Making Of ...

I'd never commissioned (or made) a cartoon series before, though I read more Web comics ... ahem ... I mean serialised graphic novels ... than may be wise to admit.

So via UpWork we 'interviewed' quite a few potential cartoonists, attempting to be humane with them while avoiding any shysters tempted to submit samples of others' work to land the gig, for example.

We worked our way through a lot of graphics samples and ideaa in a few rounds, and I had most of the OpenTRV team pitch in to select a favourite. And, no, I didn't get my way, but I'm very happy with the choice we made. Who knew that this stuff could be fun, before getting back to the code face?

In the end we recruited the lovely Oz who was a pleasure to work with, and whose humour and leet drawing skilz you see here. He, me, and another OpenTRVer gathered over Skype from the UK, US and often a third country if I remember correctly, to shape the episodes and plotlines, with some frantic rework when our real-world plans (which we were trying to keep the comic vaguely in sync with) were doing their own thing...

Also a little bit of excitement and a change of image size/format while we got used to the mechanism that el Reg used to display the cartoon images!

There is just a possibility that the main characters may be modelled on the OpenTRV management team, and maybe one of my favourite cartoon characters, but I'm afraid that you're going to have to work out who's who!

Thank you Oz and Victor (and the rest of the OpenTRV team too)!

~580 words.