Thought we were gone for long? We are always here, lurking, waiting, and pestering IDW Publishing creators until they agree to sit down and graciously talk to us about what they're doing with the Transformers! We have a really recent newcomer to the franchise, comics and Seibertron, so please extend a warm welcome to the artist behind the soon to appear Windblade mini-series: Sarah Stone!
Va'al - Sarah, it's a pleasure to be able to have a chat with you, thanks again for agreeing to do this! My first question, as has been with everyone we've interviewed, is the following: where did it all begin? What was your first encounter with our favourite Robots in Disguise?
Sarah - Hello Va'al, it is my pleasure. Thank you for inviting me!
Image by Madman Entertainment
It all began with Beast Wars for me. I was a little too young to experience G1 in all its glory, so by the time I was old enough to watch TV on my own, Beast Wars was what was on. I remember that it was absolutely incredible for me because I was obsessed with dinosaurs so it played right to my interests. I had just seen Jurassic Park so dinosaurs were my world. I wanted to be an archaeologist or draw dinosaurs for the rest of my life, so robot dinosaurs just blew my mind. Actually come to think about it, maybe this was the beginning of my love for the 'cons since I clearly preferred the Predacons.
Va'al - Another of my generation! I had no idea what Transformers really were in terms of fiction, other than the Beast Wars series. Was that your only exposure to the franchise though? Were you interested enough to track down older comics, did you spring for some of the toys?
Sarah - I never heard anything about the comics back then unfortunately, and didn't do much looking into it, though I kind of randomly remember having a Dinobot toy. He probably had lots of fun with all my other dinosaur toys (poor dude was all alone).
Transformers sort of dropped off of my radar after Beast Wars, I'm sad to say. The Michael Bay movies put them back on my radar, but I was left sort of wanting. I was considerably more interested in the robots than the human characters, so sadly even after the movie I fell off the Transformers train again. It wasn't until I discovered Transformers Prime that I fell off the deep end and rediscovered my intense love for the world again. Through the Prime fandom I ended up finding out about IDW's More Than Meets the Eye, and Robots in Disguise and well... now I'm ruined forever.
Va'al - This is getting eery now, that sounds very similar to my own experience - though I had a few more toys back then! Before we move into the comics, though... What was it in particular about the Transformers: Prime animated series that caught your eye? The stories, the artwork/animation, the characters, something else?
Sarah - Haha, that's crazy! Hmm, It was a combination of a lot of things I think. The sort of more organic designs, the darker tone, great writing, really expressive animations... it was like a quadruple combo to everything I didn't even know I wanted.
I think after watching one episode I ended up marathoning every episode I could get my hands on in a single night. The team did a fantastic job sucking me into the world and I was insatiable. I wanted more - I had to know more about these characters and their history.
Va'al - Binge-watching is apparently a good thing, under some aspects. Do we endorse it? Not necessarily. But still... So where did you head to find more? Was it the two ongoing series by Barber and Roberts and the respective artistic teams, or did you go via some other fiction first?
Sarah - Yeah, the ongoings were my next target. I had some friends that were kind enough to lend me some trades to read while I was traveling, and honestly it was becoming a little hard for me to go anywhere on the internet without bumping into awesome fan art (read: spoilers) of both series, so I knew I had to get on board fast or else I was going to get everything second-hand.
But outside the comics I started retroactively checking out the other series like Transformers: Animated and G1 just out of growing fondness for all of the characters. I'm also currently mid playthrough on Fall of Cybertron but I'm stuck because it makes me so motion sick! It's really the saddest thing.
Va'al - So you did effectively branch out as much as possible! That is impressive, even I haven't got into the games yet. Too focused on the comics. And life, I suppose. Who would you say your favourite character, present or past, in any part of the fiction, would be? And why?
Sarah - Gosh that's hard, I have so much love for so many of them. I guess I always end up having a soft spot for Starscream in almost any incarnation. I just have a thing for the really slimy, insufferable ones.
He's such a fascinating mix of horrible yet sympathetic, but always entertaining. He'll stir up trouble anywhere you inject him, and I love him for that. I really can't choose. I'm loving the IDW Robots in Disguise/Dark Cybertron one right now.
Va'al - I think a lot of fans have a soft spot for Starscream, to some extent. Voice actors notwithstanding. So now we know about you as a fan, let's find out about you as an artist! How did you start out, personally? How did you first venture into artistic endeavours?
Sarah - I've always been drawing, at least as long as I can remember holding pencils and crayons. As a kid I always drew my favorite video game characters and cartoons, before I even knew that was a thing. I grew up with so many animated movies, especially Disney movies, I dreamed of working for them and being an animator. I was fortunate and my parents were always extremely supportive and provided me with Photoshop and even a Wacom tablet at an early age.
It only took a few forays into dabbling with hand drawn and 3d animation before I realized that I am actually a terribly impatient person. Working on a few seconds of animation could take weeks, and an illustration I could finish in an evening or two, so I started slowly gravitating toward illustration as I got older.
Va'al - And if Disney was your influence and aspiration for the animation that never was, what would you say the influences are in your illustration work?
Sarah - That's a tough one, I always feel like I have a hard time pinpointing influences because I'm honestly inspired by so much. Concept art for games and movies have always found space on my shelf in art books, and there are just so many amazing illustrators putting their work up on the net, and I've had the privilege of working with many -- I'm constantly inspired. But I also love taking cues from some more classic work, like J.C. Leyendecker and my recent discovery of Richard Macdonald.
When it comes to illustrating Transformers though, some of the concept art that comes out of Jagex for Transformers Universe has really inspired me to push the rendering of metal and the different materials the bots are made of. And when it comes to the comics, I have to admit being a huge fangirl for Milne and how expressive his bots are. I can only hope to be able to bring life to them in a similar way.
Va'al - Well, I think the time has come to ask *the* question -- how did you make it to not only IDW, but your own mini-series with Mairghread Scott? Did you pitch? Were you selected?
Sarah - I really believe it's because I'm the luckiest girl on the planet, it's really kind of a crazy road. Mairghread had actually messaged me once on Tumblr to tell me that she loved the human Soundwave [see above - V.] illustration I did, which, knowing that she was a writer for Prime and being a fan, was enough to just make my day. Or week. I was really happy.
It wasn't until I was tabling at a comic convention over a year later that the stars aligned and Mairghread and her husband actually bumped into my table, entirely by accident. I tried not to freak out at her too much, and they both actually invited me to help out on a project pitch that they were looking for an artist for. I very excitedly obliged and kept in touch with them over the next month or so while we worked together, and one day Mairghread gave me a call and said something like, "Hey we're kind of looking for someone to work on something Transformers related... would you like me to throw your name in the hat?"
I said yes, of course, and I submitted some work and did a test page, and I suppose they liked it enough to take a chance with me. I'm eternally grateful to Mairghread for putting me under the eyes of the powers that be, and also to all the guys at IDW for giving me this chance.
Va'al - Wow, that does sound like a really lucky set of coincidences - but from what we've seen, they are working with the skills and output which is already of a really high standard. What's the most exciting part of working for IDW, on Transformers, and for a new character?
Sarah - Aside from the obvious of just working of something I absolutely adore (I used to draw this stuff just for fun, you mean I get paid to do it now?), I think it's just such an incredible time to be involved with what IDW is doing for Transformers. The stuff that Barber, Roberts, and Mairghread are doing is just really exciting, and it is crazy to be a part of it, even in the smallest way.
Windblade is just a puzzle piece (but hopefully a really cool puzzle piece) of an awesome picture they are painting, and I'm just really humbled to be working on it. It seems like kind of a cheesy answer, but I really am stoked.
Va'al - Surely you're the one painting it, and they're setting up the canvas! Sarah, may I say personally I am really looking forward to the new mini-series, and I know quite a few our readers are too. Before we let you get back to making art, and me to hunt down another creator to question, any final words to round off your first interview for the fandom?
Sarah - And thank you too, Va'al! It was really a pleasure, thank you for having me. I just want to say thank you to everyone who's been supporting and pre-ordering the mini-series, It means the world to me and I hope I don't let you down. If anyone's interested in seeing more of my stuff, you can check me out on my blog or DeviantART, or say hello on Twitter!
We will find out more of Sarah's work as Transformers: Dawn of the Autobots - Windblade hits. If you want to make sure you get your hands on this, and the other two ongoings - check out how to preorder the issues here! Thanks again for sticking with us for another interview on Seibertron.com, keep your optics tuned in, as there is still much much more to come.
Seibertron.com friend and singer-songwriter Stan Bush's new album "The Ultimate" is available now. Check out the official press release below. Also below you can check out two videos off the album from the Official Stan Bush Youtube Channel, Unstoppable and The Touch- Power Mix.
New Stan Bush album “The Ultimate”
The Ultimate is Stan Bush’s 12th studio album and delivers his most electrifying work yet! Reuniting with “Touch” collaborator Lenny Macaluso for the powerful title anthem, The Ultimate sees Bush return with the kind of uplifting motivational rock that has become his signature. With his latest release, the veteran rocker strikes the perfect balance between his high-octane, positively-charged style and mature, emotive songcraft.
Stan Bush is best known for his song “The Touch,” made famous by Transformers: The Movie, an anthem for Transformers fans around the world, "The Touch" was released for Guitar Hero in 2009 and has been featured on NBC’s Chuck, FOX’s American Dad, Deep Silver’s Saints Row IV and in the motion picture Boogie Nights.
“The Touch was remixed by High Moon Studios in 2013 for their hit video game Transformers: Fall of Cybertron. The new “The Touch – Power Mix” is featured on the new album, and there’s a music video with footage from the game.
As this week sees the release of the beautiful Transformers: Art of Prime hardcover book from IDW Publishing, Seibertron.com was able to sneak a quick Q&A with the author and curator, Jim Sorenson himself! Jim, thanks for agreeing to do this.
Jim - You're welcome!
Va'al - First things first - how did the idea for the Art of Prime book come about?
Jim - Well, it was something that I'd been pitching for quite a while, before the show actually aired. I was living in Los Angeles at the time the Prime show had been announced, and one of the people in my extended circle of friends was Christophe Vacher (Visual Effects Art Director on the series). I knew him, and I knew he was working on Prime. I pitched the idea, he seemed interested, we went back to the studios, and nothing really happened for a while. I kept checking with IDW too, who had expressed a vague interest, and I pitched the idea several times. Then around June of this year I got an email from my editor: we're going ahead with Art of Prime!
I wanted to do a book about Prime but what made me decide it would be an art book was possibly the actual conversations with Christophe. We both realised Prime wouldn't work in the style of an AllSpark Almanac, the tone of the show is very different. So we decided the book would look at the art, at the process. IDW already had a successful product in the Art of Fall of Cybertron book, they were willing to do it again.
What I believe is one of the main points about the show is that the stories, characters, acting, they're all good - but what is really outstanding is the visuals!
Va'al – Very good point, the visual elements of the show have been acknowledged by many, and won awards all over the place! You've worked on The Ark and AllSpark Almanac previously, and you said you knew that Art of Prime would be different – how so?
Jim - Having made the decision that it was going to be an art book focused us, directed us differently. What we were working on with previous books was the story perspective, the characters, the events. With this one, we approached it from a design perspective: in some ways I wanted to get out of the way of the creators. There is very little of my voice in the first half of the book, and that was a conscious decision – I didn't want the readers to read about what I felt about the images. I wanted them to hear from the creators, what they were proud of, what their perspective on the process was. I thought it'd be a lot better to get them to speak.
In the first three sections, I let Jose Lopez (Art Director/Characters and Props) talk as much as possible, something that I didn't want to do with the Almanacs, something I possibly would've done with The Ark if we had access to the creators. As it stands, the Prime creators were more than happy to do it, and it was an extra incentive that they were able to do it in their own office, in their own time and talking about their own work. I think the interviews really help the tone of the book – it makes a big impact.
Va'al – It sounds like you were really engaged in the work around and about the book. What was your favourite part about putting together Art of Prime?
Jim - Definitely getting the chance to work so closely with the creative staff. At this point I've done quite a lot of books, from anthologies to collections, Transformers, G.I. Joe, articles for fan magazines – I find it really exciting to turn raw material into a book. But I've done it before. This time I got a chance to really jump in, go to the studios, see the creators work (they were at work on Predacons Rising at the time). Definitely the highlight of putting it all together.
A secondary pleasure was getting to see the animatics for Predacons Rising about three months before anyone else: I contacted one of the producers, as I had a fair bit of material that I couldn't find on the show at the time, so I wondered if it was for Predacons Rising and if I could get a script or something to set it in context. I'm not sure they understood what I was asking for at first, but once they got it they sent the whole thing, with my name watermarked all over it!
Va'al - Well, some people just have that type of contacts, don't they? Once you placed all the material you had, was there anything taken out, or things you didn't include?
Jim – There was a lot that we just didn't have space for, as it's already a 200-page book. I possibly still have another 20 pages that I wanted to put in, but did not need to get in. I would've liked to have extra pages for Shockwave, the Insecticons, Vehicons. Maybe spend a little bit more time on Silas and Cylas and MECH. I had an extra page for Knockout - no, Breakdown. Knockout was one of the last pages to get finalized, as we only had black and white artwork for the car mode. So I contacted Mathias Dougherty (Production Manager) for a color image, I told him 'It's Knockout, man! He'll kill me if he doesn't look his best!'; he laughed, and set off to look for the gorgeous artwork you now see in the book.
So yes, a lot more little things, but nothing that the book can't live without. I'm really quite proud of this one.
Va'al – It definitely looks comprehensive, and stunning. But do you think it'll appeal to all fans of the franchise? How would you sell it to a new reader?
Jim - Even if you're not interested in art books, the focus for this one is on process. Any Transformers fan, any fan of animation in general will find the process that goes into the creation of a cartoon extremely fascinating, I believe.
And it's very rare to have an art book like this for a TV show, you usually only get them for movies. As I said, I'm really proud of the result.
Va'al – I've been reading through it, you definitely should be. Thanks again Jim, this was a great quick chat! Any last words?
Jim - Thanks for the interest! I really hope you all enjoy the book.
Transformers: Art of Prime is out this Wednesday with IDW Publishing. You can find a preview for it here!
As we reported a short while back, Stan Bush is planning the release of his next album The Ultimate, and would be posting a new mix of his classic 'The Touch' track this weekend - the Power Mix. Wait no more, for here it is, in its new Fall of Cybertron clothes! Check it out below.
Stan Bush who is a good friend of Seibertron.com, sent us an email to let us know that his hit "The Touch" will be on tonight's new episode of "The Goldbergs" on ABC at 9 PM EST . If you have never watched "The Goldbergs", it is set in the late '80's and follows the Goldberg family.
Also, Stan Bush will be releasing "The Touch - Power Mix" video this coming Sunday December 15. This is from the Fall of Cybertron video game and the video will contain game footage. You can see the new video on the Official Stan Bush Youtube Channel in anticipation of his forthcoming studio album The Ultimate. Be sure to check out both.
With the end of the IDW Transformers: Prime - Beast Hunters comic series upon us, Seibertron.com has decided to sit down and talk to one of its creative team members, and in some ways, the face of it all: read on below for a full exclusive interview with cover, storyboard, videogame and concept artist Ken Christiansen!
Va'al - Ken, thanks for agreeing to do this. We've featured some of your work before on Seibertron.com, it's about time we got to meet the mind and man behind the artwork! Before we get into the nitty-gritty of your work with Transformers though, I need to ask: where did it all begin for you? How did you first encounter our favourite transforming robots?
KC - Well, thanks for having me! I really appreciate it when you guys post anything about my work, I've been a follower of the site for years.
The show was everything. It was the first episode which sucked me right in - I don't even remember the first figure I had, but I know it was the show that put me all in. I was 10 years old at the time of the launch, and I had slowed down on Star Wars, and was really into GI Joe toys and comics, with He-Man in the mix as well. But Transformers really took over, and knocked even the mighty Joes back a step.
Va'al - Ah, you're one of those! I admit, I like knowing that the current creators all started as fans, brings a lot more to the experience. I was going to ask which figure was your first, but you pre-empted me - so how about this: which was your favourite character or episode from the animated series?
KC - G1 Soundwave, is...and always will be...my favorite character. And he is an early toy I do remember getting, on a Christmas morning. Of course I loved his voice, and how he was Megatron's dependable commander, but the fact he had Transformers INSIDE of him really captured my imagination. And I really liked that, unlike a lot of the figures, he matched up pretty well to the box art, and animation model. I was a stickler for that kind of thing, even back then. Also, I always thought it was cool how he used Laserbeak and Ravage on the show, so they've become synonymous with any vision of Soundwave I have, I always want to try to figure out a way to include them in a figure pose, or a drawing/design I'm working on. (I figure Rumble and Frenzy can take care of themselves!)
Va'al - I think a lot of fans have a soft spot for Soundwave; he is terribly charismatic after all. You've mentioned your gateway, the toys and what it was that drew you in - but what about the artistic side? Did you read the comics as a kid, or did you start drawing based on box art and cartoons?
KC - I'll admit that I didn't really enjoy the comics, even though I still have the first 60 or so issues to this day - but yes, I did really enjoy the artwork. I loved the show and the toys, but I was always just lukewarm on the comics. That being said, I did probably draw most artistic inspiration from the comics, I remember drawing that cover corner Marvel Optimus Prime a lot. A lot. Another favorite image from those books was the reveal of Predaking, standing in a jungle. I drew that one a lot as well.
The box art images were another inspiration; I didn't have a massive collection by any means, but I did collect the trading cards, so even if I didn't have the toy and/or filecard, I did have nearly every character image from the cards. We had a project in the 4th or 5th Grade, where we wrote a story, and bound it into a book. Mine, of course, was about Autobots fighting Decepticons, carried into battle by the rocket of Omega Supreme. I designed characters back then too, usually military type vehicles, or cars that friends and family drove. I still have that little book, but I'm sure all those other drawings are long gone.
Va'al - That's some great, early KC art there. Must be worth a fortune by now! So if the comics didn't get to you as much back then, what brought you to their world later on? But I suppose, before we get to that, my question is: How did you start working for the franchise in general?
KC - I had been working freelance for about a year after leaving Disney Interactive, and I had just wrapped a series of projects for Activision in late 2005. One of the producers I had been working with asked "Hey, are you into Transformers at all?" I had heard, as did many other fans, that it was being shopped around as a movie, but I didn't know was finally happening, and Activision wanted to go after the franchise. The projects I had just finished were to lock down the Dreamworks games license for the next five or so movies, showing game play, etc. and this was going to be the same thing. Lots of storyboards and game play examples. But it just kept going and going, and it turned into character designs, and in-game production art - I was around for a lot of it, from the very beginning to helping out with marketing images.
The Transformers were a huge part of my childhood, and though I hadn't really followed the franchise overall since then, I did already have the 20th Anniversary MP Optimus Prime, and the Alternator Grimlock Mustang proudly displayed in my studio. Getting the chance to work on the franchise as a professional, really kind of blew my mind. And midway through the production, Hasbro said they were going to make some figures out of my designs... I kind of freaked out.
Va'al - That must be quite the phonecall/email! I've spotted some of the designs that made it into figures on your website - do you have any particular favourites? Which part of working with the new, movieverse, Transformers aesthetics did you enjoy the most?
KC - I was pretty honored that Hasbro/Paramount used the red car drone (AKA Swindle) in the press kits for the film. Of the drones, I think Payload (Armored Truck) and Long Arm (Tow Truck) are my favorites. Long Arm was originally to be an homage to Hoist, colored green and yellow, but was later changed to be the tow truck paint job from the film. I was glad to see the mold reused as a Hoist figure. All of those designs were done based on rough concepts I had seen at the production offices in early 2006. Not until late summer, a bit after I had wrapped on the drone characters, did I start to see marketing images and final movie models start showing up, and that's when I was tasked to do the Shockwave designs. So, that's why he's a little more in line with the film aesthetic - he's not a generic, energon created drone, he was meant to be a Cybertronian, and look more like the movie bots.
While I agreed with the design philosophy from the first movie, I thought that the bots should have shown a little more alt mode elements, so you can really see the connection between forms. With Shockwave I tried to bring it back a little bit to that, with clear iconic character details, and visible alt mode elements. And that's the design philosophy I took into my next Transformers project, the Revenge of the Fallen game.
Va'al - Those are good designs! And that Shockwave looks intriguing, but it looks like DotM Skyhammer took his mode later down the line. How did you find working with videogames, compared to the work you're currently doing on comic covers? And how did that transition happen?
KC - Maybe. To me, the transformation logic is totally different., around the canopy and fuselage. But I did work a bit on the alt mode of the Skyhammer toy, and was given direction to use a Russian Hind for inspiration, but I didn't work on the robot mode. I did three copter drawings, and when the toy came out, it looked like the designers used elements of all three.
I'm not a gamer, but when I'm into a game I like, I kind of get obsessed with it. I thought Luxoflux did a fantastic job with the gameplay of the Revenge game - especially given the short production time, notorious with movie tie-in games - and was really excited to see how they would build on the engine. Sadly, none of that was meant to be. It was the first time I felt that someone captured the essence of a Transformer, being both things at once. I know some people had issues with holding down the trigger, but I much preferred that, to the 'sit and wait to transform' style of other games. My entire career to that point was in the game industry. But after doing the games for so long, I was looking to expand out a little, I wanted to see if I could work directly with IDW and Hasbro.
I took the designs of Megatron, Optimus, and Starscream, from the DLC content of the Revenge game, and did full illustrations of them in comic cover format. I included Bumblebee, Jazz, and Soundwave designs, and pitched myself to Andy Schmidt at IDW, and for a meet up with Aaron Archer at BotCon 2009.
For IDW, Andy had me do the cover to the much-loved, revered, and indisputably go-to source of information, the Transformers: Continuum. Yikes, that one was a bit of a mess, I guess. I never kept up on the IDW relationship, maybe both sides needed that sting to heal a little. And I just got too busy following that meeting with Aaron to come back to the books. Years later, I met John Barber at BotCon 2012, and that's how I got involved with the Rage of the Dinobots and Beast Hunters covers.
Va'al - Ah, the IDW Aligned comics! As an artist who had worked on the movieverse and videogame aesthetics - though WfC and FoC are also part of the new continuity - how did you find adjusting to the sleeker, more rounded style of the two series? And how much were you involved in the series themselves?
KC - Well, doing a wide range of shape styles for what was then called 'tv show' was that first assignment I had from Archer at Hasbro, in 2009, as they were putting the studio together, and hiring the actual production team. I would call myself a concept artist before anything else, so something like coming up with new character designs/versions is what I like to do best. And then about a year later, I worked on some product ideas for the Prime line. At that point, I was working with final character design models from the production's art department. And, every once and awhile I would do some product development, or I was asked to do some character ideas for HasLabs to use as conversation starters for meetings with the show runners. So before the comics, I had a lot of experience working with the shows' aesthetic. I never was a part of the production of the actual show, with Hasbro Studios, but through Hasbro, Inc., I got to play in that universe a bit.
The Cybertron games, on the other hand, I had no experience with the art style. So that was the learning curve for me. I was asked to 'update' the FoC dinobots into a Prime style, with a heavy lean on the FoC style...visually meaning they didn't 'evolve' as much as Team Prime, for example. So I just eliminated some minor details from the FoC versions, and did a 'wrap metal' pass, in the Prime style, at the main form elements of the bots. John Barber OK'd the sketch of Grimlock I did as an example, and I was off and running.
I had nothing to do with what was inside the books; in most cases, I don't think any of the scripts were even completely written at the time I needed to have the cover done, about three months in advance. I'm sure an overview and series arc were long completed though. Barber, then Carlos Guzman, would give me their idea on what was going on in the book, and what they'd like to see on the cover. I'd do some sketches and we'd go from there. I met Mairghread Scott for the first time at BotCon 2013, and we chatted about what was coming up in #7, we pulled Carlos into the conversation, and I did a sketch of it right there at my table. For number 8, Carlos and I chatted at SDCC, and he told me what he was looking for, and Mike Johnson, through email, pretty much said what he'd like to see on the cover. I did those last sketches for Carlos to approve, and that wrapped the series when I turned in the final.
It was a lot of fun to do those covers. I loved the Fall of Cybertron game, so it was a real treat to get to draw those characters, and get reconnected with IDW.
Va'al - I always enjoy hearing stories of how creators come to join the IDW team, they never seem to be the same! So you were working on the comics covers, but still had quite a bit of involvement in other aspects of the Transformers universe. I've seen some designs for characters that never made it on the show, too. What were you doing between the comics? How were you being kept busy?
KC - Relatively, I'm a newbie to comics, with only 13 IDW covers to date. Concept art is my main source of income, since graduating from art school in 1997. Happily, now at least half my workload comes from Hasbro, covering many different brands. Mainly in that first year, it started off with early re-imaginings of core Transformers characters, mixed with some work on Dark of the Moon ideas, and then going back to work on designs for the 13 Primes, and filling out the brand bible, which had used a lot of that earlier character design work, done by myself and other great artists.
After that, HasLabs expanded into a lot of other brands and concepts, that kept me really busy, MASK, Inhumanoids, Micronauts, to name a few. Some of those ideas were teased in that NYCC giveaway comic, Unit:E, if you remember it. And as other designers move to other brands within Hasbro, I've been able to 'travel' with them, and do lot of work on stuff like Star Wars, etc. Always though, I try to stay connected to the big bots, with doing some Hasbro Inc. commissioned work, movie/tv show stuff or product design for example, or licensed work with IDW, and other publishers.
Va'al - So what you're telling us is.. you're everywhere! And we know that some of your art features in the upcoming Covenant of Primus - the result of all the concept work for the Aligned continuity - due early December. Anything you can tell us about that?
KC - Now everyone finally can see it! After years of working with Hasbro off and on, I've only been able to release a grand total of 8 Transformers images. Including Prima, of the 13, which was published previously in the Transformers: Vault. I'm so excited to see the rest of the designs coming out, along with some new art I was asked to contribute, alongside some other great Transformers artists.
Binder of Revelation - Art by Emiliano Santalucia
After working six or so months with Hasbro, they booked me to do four of the 13 Primes. By then I had a pretty good feel of what Aaron Archer was looking for from me, and I had gotten pretty tight with Eric Siebenaler who acted as my art director on previous projects. I was also then introduced to Rik Alvarez, who had sent me a giant document to work from, that he was putting together. A compiled history from the comics and games, and new stuff he had written - basically the bones of the Aligned Continuity. So, under those guys, I went to work. 4 became 6, then 8, then Eric asked if I wanted to do all 13. Of course! But then Takara chimed in, and they wanted to do some images, and they took over the designs of Micronus and Alpha Trion. So I ended up doing 11...and a second version of one of them.
I had never really heard much about it since then, other than Aaron and Rik teased some images at a couple of BotCons, but I really thought they would remain in the vault, the Brand Bible. Last November, I got an email from Tyler Freidenrich from Becker&Mayer, asking if I could do some illustrations for what would be the Covenant. I jumped at the chance, and got to contribute 7 illustrations, a new character design for Unicron, and the cover. And that's about all I can tell you about it. I know what I did, but I've only seen the same trailer for it as everyone else. I was asked to upload every Hasbro image I did related to the Aligned Continuity, beyond just the Primes, but I don't what, if anything more, was included in the book.
So, I'm just as excited as any other fan to see what's in there!
Va'al - I can assure you, a lot of us are really, really excited for this book. I'm not sure what else could hype it up more.. do you have any ideas?
KC - That's great to hear! Hmm...how about a contest for a free copy of the book? On my Facebook page, the Art of Ken Christiansen, I'll be running a 'Like Drive' contest. Participants enter their names into a drawing by making a comment in the page's Cover Photo comments section, saying they shared the page to at least five people. That Cover Photo, (containing all the contest info) signaling the beginning of the contest, will be posted on Monday, November 25th, at 9 AM PST, and ending Sunday, December 8th at midnight PST.
Monday, December 9th, (the day before the book is released) I'll draw the winning name, and announce it by 9 AM PST. That winner will receive a free copy of the Covenant of Primus... AND, I'll insert a custom black and white rendered portrait, of any character of their choosing.
Va'al - Hear that, readers? Head over to Ken's page for a chance to win what looks to be an amazing piece of Transformers lore. Ken, thanks again for agreeing to do this interview with us, we're looking forward to more of your amazing work soon! Any last words?
KC - Thank you - I can't tell you how much I appreciate it!
I do have a couple more things to add. I also put together a new website, kenchristiansen.com, which replaces to old site, badflip.com. Finally I have galleries collecting all the Transformers (and more!) work that I've done, in one easy to find place, rather than have to search through months and years of blog posts on the old Bad Flip Blog. I will keep that blog online, but it will go inactive. The new site has a blog built in, so that's how I'll continue, along with the Facebook page, to make announcements, and post new artwork. And once it's ready, there will also be a online store, to purchase original art, make commission inquiries, and get leftover convention prints and sketchbooks. It's coming very soon, but right now the only way to get that stuff is through the Art of Ken Christiansen on Facebook, or contact me at email@example.com.
There you have it, readers - we hope you enjoyed our voyage into the Christiansen world! Join the competition today, follow Ken's work and keep your eyes tuned for more exclusive content, coming soon, to Seibertron.com.
Transformers fan-favourite writer James Roberts has been tweeting small teases for the upcoming 'finale' of the MTMTE Remain in Light story-arc, which will take place in issue #21 out today! He's calling this slow trickle of snippets #CountdownTo21.
Check them all out below, and take a look at our preview and review for this issue - don't forget to pick up your copy today!
James Roberts wrote:(21) The last part of 'Remain In Light' is accompanied by a new four page short story. #CountdownTo21
Hello you lovely folks! Here at Seibertron.com we've decided to go find some of the best names in the Transformers comics industry, to bring you some fresh information about the people behind the scenes. IDW have been nice enough to provide us with contact information for their legion of creators, and our first volunteer is none other than Andrew Griffith! Read the whole interview below.
Va'al - It's an honour for me to actually interview my first professional comics artist for a website, and who should it be if not Andrew Griffith, one of the minds (and hands) behind the highly popular current IDW ongoing Transformers: Robots in Disguise. Andrew, thank you for this opportunity and for your time! Before we get to what you do, let's find out more about you: How did you first get into Transformers?
Andrew - Well, I've been into Transformers for about as as long as anyone could be. I still remember my older brother coming home from school one day talking about this new toy everyone at his school was excited about. He was able to talk our parents into going to the nearest mall, and when we arrived it seemed like an entire row of the department store's toy section was displaying these cars, planes and machines that transformed into crazy looking robots. What more could an eight year old boy ask for? My parents were generous enough to buy my brother Prowl and to buy me what I found out later was a miscolored (red) Bumblebee.
By that point I had already been into comics a bit, and I remember soon after that we stopped at a bookstore that sold comic books, where I picked up G.I. Joe #24 and my brother decided on the very first issue of Transformers. I'd sneak into his room when he wasn't home and read that thing every chance I got. It just felt so alien and foreign too me, it really blew me away. (IDW Editor and RID scribe) John Barber and I have talked about that a number of times, how we had very similar impressions from reading Transformers #1 as a kid. (And man, that Bill Sienkiewicz cover is still one of my favorite Transformers images ever, just for the sheer epicness and alien-ness of how the Transformers are depicted.)
Soon after I discovered the toys and the comics, the cartoon show debuted in an after-school time slot on one of the few channels we had at the time, and from then on I was hooked.
Va'al - Schools seem to be the catalyst for a lot of fans' discovery of the brand! And as for most people, it looks like it was toys-comics-cartoons for you too. I can sense a tendency towards the artistic side of things more than anything though - were comics the highlight of your first years as a fan, or did you prefer other aspects more?
Andrew - Wow, hard for me to say what the highlight was now that I think about it. I was into the toys for most of the run. After the US line ended I had no idea they were still going in Europe as G1.5 or whatever they call it. Then G2 came out, and I think I got Jazz but that was it.
As far as the comics go, I had gotten a few of the early issues, but then my Aunt and Uncle got me a two year subscription for my birthday and that really cemented the US comics as part of my youth. At some point after they brought Optimus Prime back I stopped reading, just got into different things. But I came back about ten issues or so before it ended when Simon and Andrew were doing it, which was funny because neither I or anyone I knew in the States were aware that extra comics had been being made in the UK.
And the show? Yeah, getting up early before school to see it or coming home to find it on was anyways a treat.
Va'al - I have memories of getting up stupidly early to watch Transformers, but that was Beast Wars. Different generations (and different countries, too)! So your comics passion dwindled and was then relit by the Wildfur combination on the Marvel run - is that also when you found your own artistic streak?
Andrew - Well I wouldn't say my interest in comics dwindled. I just found myself reading different comics more often. My very first comic I ever purchased was Secret Wars 8, where Spider-Man first got his black costume. And after that I was always into Marvel stuff, including Transformers and Joe. I also read DC to a lesser extent. So whenever I wasn't picking up Transformers issues, I was still reading comics pretty regularly.
And I was drawing them. I first realized I could draw better than the average kid around Kindergarten. Most kids were drawing stick figures and I was realizing people had actual thickness and dimension to their forms. I'd always take an art class when I had the option, and spent a lot of free time drawing at home. I was always drawing comics of my own, and even made a submission or two to Marvel in high school. Looking back I can see why I was rejected. My stuff had potential, but I didn't know the first thing about putting together a good submission or knowing what to show.
But I was aware of my artistic interest pretty early on.
Va'al - I think I'm still one of those people who draws stick figures, unfortunately. But my idea is that the world needs artists and fans, and the two don't always need to overlap! So you were rejected with your early attempts to Marvel - when did the breakthrough arrive? What was your first, official, published work? How long until you became a regular creator?
Andrew - Well, I kind of gave up the idea for a bit of being a comic book artist after that. I cycled through areas of focus in school, including English Literature and writing, drama, and music but ended up back with art. I did a lot of fine art and really got into painting, took a good number of painting and figure drawing classes but ended up concentrating in Graphic Design so I could get a job.
And I did design for quite a while. Eventually I got married and had a pretty good life living in California, making a good living at a startup in San Francisco and pursuing a Master's at an art school there. Yet, I found I wasn't content doing design and instead I was yearning to draw comics again.
When news of the live-action Transformers movie came out, it reignited my passion in the franchise. I started reading the Mosaics and before I knew it I was taking part in that project; drawing, coloring or even writing some.
Josh and Shaun, who ran the Mosaics ended up in charge of a contest on the IDW forums designed to find IDW's "next cover artist." I took part in the contest and did much better than I ever expected. I didn't win, but I did pretty well and got some attention from some people at IDW. That same contest helped launch the careers of now-regular names in Transformers comics like Casey Coller and Joana Lafuente.
After that contest, I did a "cover" for the pitch Josh and Shaun did that turned into Spotlight: Jazz.
Around that time I started getting emails from IDW editors, and Denton Tipton hired me to do covers for IDW's "Best of UK" reprint series. I started on those covers, my very first being for City of Fear #1. While City of Fear may have been my first commissioned work, technically the cover for Spotlight: Jazz that I had done before City of Fear was my first pro work as it ended up being used as a cover for the book when it came out some months later.
After I got started on the covers, I ended up being brought in to help with inking duties on Defiance, the prequel book for Revenge of the Fallen.
After Defiance and the Best of UK ended, I was fortunate enough to get work from companies like Hasbro and Shout! Factory. I was blown away to get to work on DVD covers for the reissue of the G1 cartoon series that came out around 2009, including the art for the "Matrix of Leadership" box set.
That kind of work kept me busy for a bit, but I spent a long time after Defiance ended checking my email often hoping for some kind of work from IDW.
After some time passed, I sent in some newer samples to IDW and established contact with Andy Schmidt now that he was editor. It was good that I did so because almost immediately they brought me in to help ink Last Stand of the Wreckers, another proud point in my career. Getting to work on one of the best received Transformers comics ever is definitely something I'm proud of.
They must have been happy with my efforts because my next assignment for IDW was getting to work on Foundation with John Barber.
Va'al - The live-action films were definitely a pivotal moment in the life of the franchise, whatever opinion people have about them. So you've been inker, cover, DVD and box artist before getting into your own inside art. How does it feel to work with the others as part of the same creative team? How much do you all influence each other, between colourists, pencillers, inkers, writers and editors? Is it any different from when you started in those same roles?
Andrew - Yeah, when I say the movies reignited my passion, I'm talking about around 2006, early 2007 when news was coming out about a movie getting made.
Well, being an inker can be an interesting experience, because it can be an entirely different thing depending on who you are inking. Nick Roche was a joy to ink, his pencils on Wreckers were very tight and I somehow felt like I was able to be expressive while still staying true to his style. And he was very communicative during the process. He really seemed to be happy with what I did.
The challenge of doing the box art was the difficulty in capturing the feel of the 80s cartoon art without making it look ridiculous. And what I mean by that is if you take a single freeze frame of the animation it usually looks very poorly drawn with very simple designs, yet when you see them in progression you can overlook some of those flaws. By the time I got to the Headmasters, Victory and Masterforce covers I think I had developed a style that worked pretty well to handle that problem.
Now that I work as the penciller and inker, or sometimes with an inker, it really ends up as a collaborative experience with John and Josh. John is very generous about hearing my input on his stories, and even takes my ideas and runs with them when they work or can improve what he's doing. He's been great to work with, and he knows when to tell me if there are specific details he need shown, or when to step back and say "just do what works." And Josh is probably my next closest collaborator. I feel like we've really gotten to know how each other's style better and better as we've gone along on RID. And when we have an inker like Brian Shearer on it seems like he fits right in, and everyone has a good sense of humor and you never know who's going to make a joke in an email at just the right time to take the stress away a little while we're trying to make a deadline. Usually it's Carlos. (The editor.)
Va'al - It's good to hear about the mutual appreciation you each have for each other, also with the editors. The results are always more than pleasing, and knowing that you all have fun making an issue makes it even more enjoyable! Robots in Disguise, the series you are currently working on, has reached a big turning point, with the new event - Dark Cybertron - about to really begin: do you have any teasers you're allowed to talk about? Or about the future of the series?
Andrew - Well, I think I should probably hold off on any tidbits for Dark Cybertron until IDW has a chance to make some reveals at BotCon in a few weeks.
I'm working on it right now though, and one thing I can definitely say is that Shockwave is definitely a main player in the story. And personally, I think fans who have been following the IDW continuity for a while now will be very pleasantly surprised with what James and John are cooking up.
Va'al - Ah, not spoiling anything, are you. Our readers should stay tuned for the Seibertron.com BotCon coverage, if they cannot make it to the event itself (like myself, sadly). Speaking of conventions, you've just been added to the IDW VIP BotCon tour, and you'll be attending Auto Assembly in the UK -- how does it feel to be a guest at such a big event, where people are turning up especially to see you?
Andrew - I was recently at Wizard World Philadelphia as a guest and as part of Artist Alley, and I had more than one person come up and tell me that they came to the show just because I would be there. That's a very flattering and humbling thing to hear, and I am very conscious of the fact that these fans pay good money to come to these events in order to see myself and others. So I'm quite happy to sign books, or put a little extra effort into a commission or sketch.
Without the fans, we wouldn't have the opportunity to do this kind of work. Which is another reason I try to not take criticisms too personally. People are paying hard-earned money to read the books and pay for convention and VIP tour tickets, so they have every right to be critical if they feel the content isn't as good as it could or should be.
BotCon and Auto Assembly are two of the events I'm looking most forward to this summer. Always nice to meet and interact with other Transformers fans and to get to spend time with the other creators, just too many good people to list here that I'm looking forward to seeing. The VIP Tour looks to be a once in a lifetime chance for any Transformers comics fan who is coming out to it.
Va'al - Auto Assembly is something I'm really excited about too! The VIP tour sounds amazing, but it's in completely the wrong country for me at the moment. And I'm glad you pointed out the criticism issue - as a comics reviewer, I was a little nervous about talking to you. For no reason though, as this has been a really nice chat! Andrew, before we leave, one more question: you are now one of the people that fans go see at conventions, but are there any fandoms you are still a part of from this side of the fence? How deep does your inner geek go?
Andrew - Well my inner geek spreads pretty wide. I'm a big fan of a lot of geeky things when I think about it. I still collect comics. I love plenty of geeky movies. From Star Wars, to Star Trek, to Superhero movies, I enjoy them all. I geek out over scientific discoveries, or reading Stephen Hawking, or noticing a "Nikola Tesla died here" plaque on the New Yorker building in NYC. I'm even kind of a fanboy to things like Shakespeare and Renaissance artists. I love Woody Allen movies. I was (and still am to some degree) a huge music geek and always loved finding a great new record shop or radio station.
A few years ago when I did those DVD covers, I did a signing at San Diego Comic Con with Gregg Berger (who I don't have to tell any TF fans was the voice of Grimlock) and Earl Kress (writer of G1 episode B.O.T. and creator of Pinky and the Brain, and sadly no longer with us) as Leonard Nimoy was doing a signing a booth down from us. That's the kind of thing I can geek out over, especially as Greg Berger is plenty willing to do the Grimlock voice on request.
Va'al - There you have it: you never really stop being a fan. Andrew, thank you again for sitting down 'with' me and bearing through all the questions and time you've dedicated to our readers. It has been a pleasure! Any last words for the Seibertron.com community (and the rest of the Transformers fandom)?
Andrew - Boy... just keep reading! Keep enjoying and keep supporting the brand. Keep coming out to the conventions and saying hello. If you're coming to Botcon at the end of the month I'll be at the show. I won't be doing Artist Alley, but I'll be doing the IDW VIP Tour as well as the IDW panel. I'll probably do some appearances at the IDW booth too. And then about a month later I'll be at Auto Assembly the whole weekend, and will probably have some things to announce for that in the future.
Looking forward to seeing anyone who comes out!
And thanks for having me for an interview. I'd come back anytime.
For a look at more of Andrew's work, visit his deviantART page, follow him on Twitter or say hi to him in person at BotCon or Auto Assembly! And keep your peripherals tuned to Seibertron.com for our next interview, just in time for BotCon, too!
The official Transformers facebook page has posted the Creator Commentary for Transformers Prime: Beast Hunters #1. Series co-writer Mairghread Scott gives us her thoughts on the first four pages, which we've mirrored below for those without facebook access.
PAGE 1: After the events from Rage of the Dinobots, was it easy to start an all new ongoing like this and run with it?
MAIRGHREAD SCOTT: Mike and I had always hoped for an ongoing to come out of Rage; the world is so rich it seemed a shame not to explore it. Of course, there is a significant time jump from the mini-series to Beast Hunters so that we can (eventually) bring in the cast of the TV show. That made picking out exactly when and where to start a bit of a challenge, but this has been a really fun story to write over all.
PAGE 2: How scarred are the Dinobots from their experience in ROTD? Has the current situation on Cybertron forced them to change much and adapt?
MAIRGHREAD SCOTT: I wouldn’t say the Dinobots are so much “scared” from their time in ROTD as liberated by it. They have a chance to build a life on their terms at the end of Rage. Issue 1 is about what their new roles are in society and how they’re coping. Of course, there are always challenges to face, but I think the Dinobots are definitely moving forward rather than falling back.
PAGE 3: Considering his position now, is Grimlock the one facing the greatest of challenges from everyone else on the planet? Even though most are struggling to survive more than he is?
MAIRGHREAD SCOTT: Grimlock is dealing with the hardest part of being a leader: that not everything is in your control. Since he’s a ’Bot striving for control as much a possible in his personal life (Remember his problems with his Dino-mode in Rage?), any problem he can’t immediately solve is really difficult for him to cope with. And since he runs the last real city on Cybertron, there’s a lot he’s not going to be able to solve.
PAGE 4: Are you finding the challenge of writing an ongoing series as opposed to a mini-series more vigorous or demanding than what you may have initially believed?
MAIRGHREAD SCOTT: On the contrary, I am first and foremost a long-format writer. I’m always looking to explore every nook and cranny of continuity. Although I love the cleanliness of a single arc mini-series, it’s the month-by-month floppies that let me really dig in to all of Cybertron’s forgotten corners.
Comic author extraordinaire Simon Furman has updated his blog with his usual commentary on the upcoming ReGeneration One issue, which should be coming out this week. Take a read below, and check out the preview and our review!
This is it. The beginning of the end. The pieces are all now in play and Transformers: Regeneration One #91 kicks off the climactic confrontation(s) that will, like dominos falling, culminate with the shocking, searing uber-battle that is issue #100. In the meantime, #91 goes on sale this week, Wednesday May 15th (officially anyway… it was released to digital buyers a week early… or on time… and we knuckle-dragging print ‘n’ paper folk are behind a week… I don’t know. Anyway…), and as usual I present my delve into the darker recesses of the brain that produced it (ie. mine) with the pure and simple aim to tantalise and torment. BUT, should you prefer to read #91 with wide, agog, clear-of-potential-spoilers eyes, then abort now. Okay, so the first chunk of “Destiny”, our third RG1 arc, kicks off a certain amount of aftermath from the shocking events of Scorponok’s dark reign, as you’d expect, and a certain amount of rumbles of the gathering storm that will rock Cybertron and the Cybertronians to their very core (and yes, I mean that quite literally). Just about everyone is now either on Cybertron or en route to Cybertron, with a wide and complex set of festering motives. There’s Bludgeon and his nomadic group of Decepticons, armed with a WarWorld and a whole heap of Matrix-powered clone war machines, coming back to even several raw and burning scores, and Galvatron (displaced from an alternate future), determined to have what he most desires, and was denied in his own timeline — total domination of Cybertron (and in his way a certain ‘Cybertron’s Greatest Warrior’). And meanwhile, Hot Rod (acting C-in-C on Cybertron in Optimus Prime’s absence) has concerns more close to home on his mind, and a restless populace about to let him know exactly what they feel about his current scheme to reunify them with their distant (and feral) ancestors. It’s an incendiary situation about to combust in spectacular fashion, especially as one key player (so far not on the board) ramps up his involvement. Phew… and if you think you know where all this is going, think again. We’re about to toss in a huge and entirely unexpected curve-ball mid-arc, which will throw a bunch more stuff into the cauldron that is RG1 (and shatter a fair few pairs of trousers in the process). News of that soon! In the meantime, RG1 #91 hits stores in a mere two days, and you can view the official IDW preview here. Trust me, we are at the top of a really big rollercoaster, and the plunge downhill starts now…
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