Comics news and feature website Graphic Policy
has posted an interview with IDW's senior editor and co-author of the upcoming Dark Cybertron event John Barber. The piece touches upon the in-pack comics/toy marketing, the crossover plans, the collaboration with Hasbro, readership gender divide and the appeal of the Transformers franchise - you can read it here
, and take a look at some snippets below!
Graphic Policy: You recently announced a cross-promotion that’ll see the first issue of IDW’s upcoming comic event Transformers: Dark Cybertron included in select Generations action figure releases from Hasbro. How did this promotion come about?
John Barber: We’ve already done a round of in-pack comics with Transformers—they’re in stores right now. The Dark Cybertron stuff will hit the toy shelves a little later. This program—getting the comics in with the toys—has been a goal of ours for a while. We really want to get comics into the hands of Transformers fans who might not be aware of the comics.
I know it’s something that IDW CEO Ted Adams has been very interested in. We’re all proud of the Transformers comics we do—and the interesting thing about Transformers is that, as popular as our comics are with Transformers fans, there are a TON of Transformers fans—more every day. Many of them just haven’t been exposed to comics—any comics—before.
So it seems ideal to get the comics in with the figures. The fans get a bonus with the toy; we get a chance to show the fans what our medium can do.
GP: From your experience do you think it’s difficult to get people who consume a brand one way to try another? For example someone who really likes a video game, is it difficult to get them to read a comic of that based in the world of that game?
JB: It depends on the property. There are some movies that are fun to watch, that the mainstream public goes and sees or plays or whatever, but don’t really encourage you to immerse yourself in the mythology the way something like Transformers, or Star Trek, or the Avengers, do.
Transformers is interesting because it’s consistently been picking up new fans for the past 30 years. Depending on your age, you might have an iteration of Transformers that’s “yours,” that you grew up with—like, I picked up issue #1 of the original comic from a 7-11. But people younger than me grew up with Beast Wars or with Armada or Animated or the movies or Prime. I think Transformers as a brand isn’t really locked into one medium in people’s minds… it’s toys, movies, cartoons, comics, video games, costumes, you name it.
That kind of thing, where there’s a big fandom of the brand, that’s where I think there’s the best opportunity to introduce someone to a different medium. Does that make sense?
Somebody might be a big video game player, and might love playing a particular game, but not have any interest past the actual gameplay. Not every game (or movie or TV show or toy) inherently draws people into the world.
Transformers demonstrably DOES pull people into its world. There’s a lot of richness and variety to the Transformers universe, relative to… well, to everything else that exists. I mean, there are other properties as rich, but I think Transformers is on a really high tier. And new fans are drawn into the world by whatever connects with them—maybe if that video game fan gets into a Transformers game, he or she gets pulled into the world, into the mythology, and wants to check out the comics, the cartoons, the books.
I think the answer to your question is that it’s really specific to what brand you’re talking about.
GP: Any hints as to what we can expect from the Transformer brand in the future?
JB: Well, hey, I just work on the comics. I don’t know any big secrets. I hear there’s a new movie coming…
In the comics, we’ve Dark Cybertron is a big story that intertwines More Than Meets the Eye and Robots in Disguise. It’s going to shake things up, and tell a big, big story—but without losing the focus on the characters that’s driven the books for the past few years. Dark Cybertron is going to shake up the status quo and lead both of these ongoings into some exciting directions. Dark Cybertron is a great place to jump on and see what the hype is about, but for longtime readers it’s going to pay off some bits that have been around for a long time.
And when Dark Cybertron ends… well, I think our plans are going to generate a lot of discussion among fans!