The official Transformers facebook page
has posted the creator commentary for IDW's Transformers: More Than Meets The Eye Ongoing #6. Writer James Roberts, artist Nick Roche, and colorist Josh Burcham share their thoughts on the first five pages. Mirrored below for those with facebook access.
PAGE 1: Fortress Maximus in a therapy session with Rung. It looks like the beating he suffered at the hands of Overlord in Last Stand of the Wreckers isn’t something he can get over easily, or quickly. There’s still a lot of darkness there.
JAMES ROBERTS: He possibly came off worse than anyone else at Garrus 9 [the prison in LASOTW], even those that died. Firstly, it was his responsibility to stop the facility falling into enemy hands, and he failed miserably, and Fort Max is someone who takes his responsibilities very seriously. G9 fell and his officers died. Secondly, he wasn’t just trounced by Overlord, he was thrown into the crowd of inmates and all-but ripped to shreds, so he suffered a monumental physical pounding. Thirdly, he ended up minus his arms and legs, hooked up to the door of the Aequitas chamber, being used by Overlord as a living lock pick. So the poor guy’s suffered physically, emotionally, psychologically… you name it.
But Maximus is the kind of Autobot who bottles all this stuff up, internalizes it; and it gets expressed in other ways. Like tearing Decepticons apart.
NICK ROCHE: Nice cinematic opening there, and interesting that it’s one of the few occasions in this issue that we leave the ship. It’s almost the only time there’s space to breathe – literally and figuratively – before story boxes us in. The title hints at the internal nature of the story, as will become evident after you buy the full issue following the mesmeric properties of these five pages.
The last panel on Page 1 was fun too; really happy I got to draw Overlord once more. This is one of those instances in the script where it’s labeled as one panel, but James then asks for four or five different action beats within one image! He’s sly, you see. But it worked out well, I think. I like these little montages, and this one especially felt like I was filling in a blank within Last Stand of the Wreckers. And people lap that stuff up. Thankfully.
JOSH BURCHAM: You are correct sir! (in his best Ed McMahon impression)… Ha ha. Nah really, I think what I’m loving most about this issue, and what we see here on this and the next couple pages, is the fact that we see what had happened to Max does in fact affect him. I love that we get to see these ’bots as more than just mindless war machines but as actual characters with feelings and emotions and problems, not unlike ourselves. It’s an interesting dichotomy for sure! We have these huge giant warring creatures, completely mechanical in nature, but who can think and feel much the same as us. I really love that we get to take some time and see/explore that aspect of these characters. I really do think that’s one of the main reasons Transformers has gone on as long as it has and has such a dedicated fanbase. It’s one of the endearing qualities of the franchise for sure! It’s almost like they’re more than meets the eye! *ba dum tsh*
PAGE 2: Fort Max thinks about what happened to him on Garrus 9. Was it always the intention to go to the events in Wreckers and explore what we didn’t see before, and was it hard to find gaps to tell more parts of that story?
JAMES ROBERTS: It was not my calculated intention, no, but it was one of those connections that seemed to make sense. And I like it when events in previous stories spark new stories – it’s the opposite of pressing a re-set button every issue. To my mind, the current TF comics universe is the first serious rival [in comics] to the hallowed Marvel continuity in terms of the amount of story material and the depth and interconnectedness of the stories themselves, and if you can create new stories by sparking off events in old stories it helps give the impression that the likes of MTMTE and RID and Autocracy all serve to push forward one epic storyline.
Was it hard to find gaps in Wreckers? Nah. You can always find gaps if you look hard enough. And certain gaps may be bigger than you realize (he says cryptically).
NICK ROCHE: More LSOTW additions here – my prime reason for working on this issue, to be honest! I got all sweaty and panicky and territorial about someone else working with James (and Josh) on what is almost a “deleted” scene from that series. It just made sense creatively to get us together for snatches such as this. It’s worrying to think James and I could probably write a whole other series exploring the atrocities that occurred within Garrus-9 before the Wreckers arrived. It wouldn’t be big or clever, but it’d be a lot of gruesome fun.
JOSH BURCHAM: Well I’m certainly glad for the opportunity to revisit the story lines in the Wreckers books! And I’m even more excited that we’ve been able to bring back the band who made it happen for this issue! It’s been great fun having to revisit old pages for references (color-wise)!
*re-united and it feeeeels so goooood!*
PAGE 3: Swerve’s bar seems to have become the main focal point for fun on the Lost Light. Presumably we’re going to have a lot more happening there as the series goes on. And what makes you want to go back there and play with the characters in that setting?
JAMES ROBERTS: I love Swerve’s bar! You need a place where the crew of the Lost Light can just hang out and socialize. You can match up different combinations of characters, and they can talk and laugh and argue and fight. As in real life, an environment like that can provide the backdrop for everything from a practical joke to a brawl to a death threat – or just be the place where our heroes relax. As the series progresses, different sets of characters will have adventures away from the Lost Light, and I like the idea that they always eventually end up in Swerve’s bar, recounting what happened.
Alex Milne did an amazing job designing the bar (seriously, he designed it like a film set). Nick did the impossible and made a supremely complicated group scene work, and Josh surpassed himself by infusing the whole sequence with a warm pub glow.
NICK ROCHE: This was a tricky scene for me, as I have never been in a bar, apart from the one I was born in. But as the boy Roberts sez, Dutch Rubs and Tweaked Noses to Alex for so succinctly designing the environment. It really helped in choreographing a scene in which so many characters talk across one another. In addition, I haveta say that Tailgate and Swerve are as much fun to draw for me as they seem to be for James to write. I’m just really pleased with the proportions and shape on those characters and will happily return for an issue just starring them in an adventure where they get jobs as ice-cream salesmen.
I also need to congratulate James on picking a cast with so few actual facial features and then cooking up such amazing sparky and sparkling dialogue for them! Luckily, Rung’s eyebrows take up a lot of the slack in the Emotional Display Department in this book.
JOSH BURCHAM: Why, thank you James! Credit has to go to Swerve, though, since he’s installed that dynamic lighting system. The mood lighting can go from night-club to cozy pub in the flash of an optic! Keeps a colorist, like me, on his toes!
PAGE 4: Tailgate is clearly (not) having fun learning the Autobot code with Ultra Magnus while we learn a little more about Rewind and Chromedone. Can we assume that the entire back story for these central characters is fully worked out and ready to be told at some point?
JAMES ROBERTS: You certainly can. I’m conscious that it’s a big cast and that each character needs his chance to shine. I think virtually all of the main cast have secrets, and we’ll be finding out more about them as the series progresses – sometimes the information will be delivered piecemeal; other times you might get a big hit of important backstory. Chromedome and Rewind come under the spotlight in issues 9 to 12, and there’s some big, big Magnus stuff coming up.
With issue 6, however, I deliberately went for an ensemble vibe – it has an end of season feel about it, where lots of people have cameos. Pretty much everyone we’ve met in the previous six issues crops up in this story – not just the core cast, but the likes of Trailbreaker and Pipes and First Aid. And there are lots of callbacks to events, some big, some tiny, that happened in the first five issues.
NICK ROCHE: Seven panels, including two flashbacks, and a skipload of dialogue? You don’t get this value for money every day, darlings. It’s wonderful to see in these recessionary times an effort made to give more content to the discerning reader. But will MTMTE keep you warm at night or feed you? You can definitely use it for swaddling on a park bench, and staples hold massive nutritional value, so yes. But it’s also great that this series (and it’s fair to say, Robots in Disguise) are happy to eschew the once-trendy decompressed method of storytelling. And scenes like this really help sell to the uninitiated that, to the creative teams, the Transformers are characters first and shape-changing toy robots second; this bar chat exists for good reason, and the pay-off will be well worth you sticking around for.
JOSH BURCHAM: Foreshadowing!!! *dun dun dunnnn*
I guess one fun little tid-bit I could add is that for that last panel there; I had a lot of fun color-homaging the Transformers: Animated show, whenever they showed bits of Cybertron. (Love that show!)
PAGE 5: Magnus finally finds out about the bar and Fort Max “mingles”. The impression here is that things are about to get a little more complicated.
JAMES ROBERTS: Lots of things come to a head this issue, yeah, and Magnus finding the bar is one of them. With Trailbreaker, I wanted to get away from this idea that he’s “Mr. Forcefield” – something I’ve absolutely contributed to, because in Chaos and in MTMTE issue 3, that’s what he did: generate force fields. I like that he has self-esteem issues, and I think he’s the type that, when his inhibitions slip, has quite a few issues he needs to work through. He’s going to keep cropping up; his story’s not over.
NICK ROCHE: What I tried to do here was have Magnus literally be the party pooper, insomuch that you don’t get one clear look at his face. He’s not a character to be identified with in this instance, so keeping him obscured and in shadow distances him from the fun, carefree atmosphere in the bar. He’s a spectre at the feast; a boogieman that hates to boogie. Also, I like to think that he has, secreted away in various body cavities, different-sized restraining devices and handcuffs for the disparate Transformer shapes that exist on board the Lost Light. And that he polishes them every night before bed.
JOSH BURCHAM: Well I, for one, and certainly glad to see Trailbreaker get more page-time! (Even if he is a bit off his rocker here!) Trailbreaker was always a favorite of mine from G1. Kind of an unsung hero who never really got his due (unless he had to, like ya said, throw a forcefield around). Again, it’s fun and interesting to explore that emotional side of these characters!