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John Barber on new IDW Optimus Prime Ongoing

Date: Tuesday, December 6th 2016 3:37pm CST
Categories: Comic Book News, People News, Interviews
Posted by: Dr Va'al | Credit(s): PreviewsWorld

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Lost Light is not the only new title coming out from IDW Publishing in the next weeks - as John Barber and Kei Zama join forces for the new Optimus Prime ongoing spinning out of Revolution! Previews World has an interview with ex-editor still-writer and continuity master Barber, which you can read in full here, and snippers are copied below. Optimus Prime as statesman and military leader..?

John Barber: Not to give anything away, but as Revolution starts, Optimus is in a fairly antagonistic relationship with ... well, almost everybody. He’s come to Earth and said the whole planet is going to be part of Cybertron’s Council of World, without asking if the people of Earth wanted to be in it — or if the people of Cybertron wanted them. He’s doing this because he thinks he’s out of options to protect the Earth — he’s tried fighting evil Cybertronians, tried leaving the place alone. But bringing Earth into Cybertron’s fold is the only thing he hasn’t tried.

In Revolution this comes to a head: there’s a big, dangerous thing happening with Ore-13, which is a form of Energon that’s on Earth, and it looks to G.I. Joe like Optimus is behind it, so the threat becomes immediate. This isn’t a spoiler — Optimus is not behind the problem, and in the process of resolving the complex web of Revolution, alliances are formed and new relationships are established.

So...Optimus still has the goal of bringing Earth into the cosmic community of Cybertron. But who’s with him and who’s against him have shifted a bit.

Vince Brusio: How will Optimus’ origin be relayed in this new series? Is there room for the past? Or is the present too busy to spare time for reflection?

John Barber: The first arc goes full-steam-ahead into the present, but there’s a parallel story in pre-war Cybertron, when he was still Orion Pax, before he became Optimus Prime. It’s important for this series to see why Optimus is doing what he’s doing, what’s motivating his actions. He’s not just taking over, and he’s not just being decisive out of nowhere.

There’s a particular point in his life that we haven’t seen that’s really important to how he became Optimus Prime. He has some regrets — there was a war fought between him and Megatron, and that war lasted four million years and destroyed planets — including Cybertron, and very nearly Earth. And the ultimate goal of both sides was sort of the same — both sides were against an evil and corrupt system that had taken over Cybertron.

The first arc is called “New Cybertron,” so the war — and the events that led to it — weigh on Optimus’ every action.

[...]

Because Optimus made such a bold move in annexing Earth, the story was necessarily going to focus on him — or, at the very least, he becomes the axis on which the story pivots. There’s still a big supporting cast — Soundwave, Arcee, Jazz, Victorion, many others; plus the human contingent — but the shadow of Optimus’ actions is so big they can’t help but be pulled into his gravity. We’ll be seeing Optimus through their eyes.

Kabam Mobile MMO Transformers: Forged to Fight Interview

Date: Thursday, December 1st 2016 11:21am CST
Categories: Game News, People News, Interviews
Posted by: Dr Va'al | Credit(s): Gamespot

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Via fellow Seibertronian Mindmaster, we have some new information about the Kabam studios mobile MMO featuring our favourite Cybertronians - Transformers: Forged to Fight. Gaming website Gamespot has sourced an interview with both Kabam and Hasbro, which you can view in its entirety here, and some snippets offered below. Read up on the background of the upcoming game - which seems to blend classic Transformers elements with the movieverse - and join the conversation in the Energon Pub!

Developer Kabam and toy company Hasbro today announced Transformers: Forged to Fight, a mobile game based on the well-known franchise.

Described as a "high-definition, action-fighting role-playing game with strategy elements," Forged to Fight claims to offer trademark Transformers action. You will assemble an "ultimate" team of Transformers, including Autobots and Decepticons from across almost every era of the Transformers history, and then do battle. The game is set in a colorful 3D world, and battles take place in a number of varied and unique arenas. Click through the images in the gallery below to get a closer look.

The game is set in a "strange new world where multiple realities collide," which in turn creates a "massive planetary battlefield." So, you know, Transformers stuff. Some of the features include 1v1 battles, RPG elements described as being "deep," and base-rading. Some of the playable Transformers include Optimus Prime, Bumblebee, Megatron, Starscream, and Grimlock. These characters can be leveled up through gameplay, unlocking more abilities over time.

Forged to Fight enters beta in some territories soon, and will be released widely across the world in Spring 2017. The game is in development at Kabam Vancouver, which is the studio that made Fast & Furious: Legacy and Marvel Contest of Champions.

[...]

The release teases a "unique" story that goes beyond purely good and evil--what more can you say on that front--and is this canon?

McCartney: We've worked closely with our partners at Hasbro to create the story of our game. In doing so we've ingested every classic cartoon, comic book, movie, that you can imagine. Our team has immersed ourselves in the Transformers Universe in order to understand each character’s unique personality and quirks. As the game begins Optimus Prime is returning to his home planet of Cybertron after many years of conflict on earth. During the course of his travels his ship encounters a strange anomaly in space and crash lands on a strange planet. Through the course of the game Optimus is attempting to unravel the mystery and escape the planet.

[...]

How much freedom are you afforded in the Transformers universe? It's obviously a massive, revered franchise--but I'm guessing you want to push things forward with your own unique voice, so to speak, as well.

McCartney: We work closely with our partners at Hasbro to ensure that we stay true to the franchise and lore established over the course of the last 30+ years. We also take the history of the Transformers franchise very seriously. For example, before we start work on a new character we have a bit of a classroom session for everyone working in that character. Our Transformers experts walk everyone through the history of the character and his / her personality traits. This gets everyone in the right mindset before starting work on a character. With regard to the story and character dialogue, Hasbro has been amazing. They give us the freedom to create our own vision and then feedback if something isn't true to lore, or if we're pushing something too far. For the most part this interaction has been minimal. We're excited about continuing work with Hasbro in the future and we have a lot of ideas we can't wait to collaborate on.


Transformers News: Kabam Mobile MMO Transformers: Forged to Fight Interview

Transformers News: Kabam Mobile MMO Transformers: Forged to Fight Interview

Transformers News: Kabam Mobile MMO Transformers: Forged to Fight Interview

Transformers News: Kabam Mobile MMO Transformers: Forged to Fight Interview

Transformers News: Kabam Mobile MMO Transformers: Forged to Fight Interview

Transformers News: Kabam Mobile MMO Transformers: Forged to Fight Interview

Transformers News: Kabam Mobile MMO Transformers: Forged to Fight Interview

Seibertron.com Interviews Lost Light Artist Jack Lawrence

Date: Monday, November 21st 2016 5:24am CST
Categories: Comic Book News, Site Articles, People News, Interviews
Posted by: Dr Va'al | Credit(s): Jack Lawrence, Va'al

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We return, once more, to the IDW ever-shifting stables and rosters of creatives, for another interview in the Seibertron.com folder of 'the minds behind the hands behind the robots' that we read and love and hate and hate to love and love to hate. This time round? It's an entirely new addition, for an entirely new title, riding the wave of an established story...

Transformers News: Seibertron.com Interviews Lost Light Artist Jack Lawrence


Readers, please welcome the co-artist on new title Transformers: Lost Light, the newly renamed brainchild of James Roberts and Alex Milne - Jack Lawrence!

Va'al - Jack, we are ever so grateful to have you find some time for us, with all the new workload you undoubtedly have! You are the latest victim collaborator of James Roberts after all... but, first things first: where does the Lawrence story begin? How did you first encounter Transformers?

Jack Lawrence - Right at the start. I want to say 1984 now of course, but I can't be sure whether it was end of '84 or early '85. My brother was into them first; the only ones available locally at first were the mini Autobots.



He got Bumblebee and Brawn, and not being interested in cars, I got a Skeletor to replace my broken one. Very soon after that I saw the TV show and it all snowballed from there!

Va'al - So you started from the toys, and went into the show - but it sounds like they didn't grab you immediately: do you remember what the actual turning point was for you? Was it a later toy? An episode, a comic issue, or magazine?

Jack - I remember the actual turning point exactly. It was a couple of weeks later, and we were on holiday here in the UK. My brother had Bumblebee and Brawn with him, and another kid here had Optimus Prime.

Transformers News: Seibertron.com Interviews Lost Light Artist Jack Lawrence


I was still pretty unimpressed, until I saw the leaflet that came with Prime and there were the Decepticons. I'd had no idea they existed until that point. Megatron, Soundwave and the Seekers just grabbed me and the obsession began!

Va'al - Another one for the bad boys, huh? So the toys have caught young Jack's eye - which was one was your favourite as a kid? Are there any you still kind of miss or would go back to obtain if you could?

Jack - I was 100% Decepticon until the Prime TV series. That show changed the whole thing for me and I've defected to the Autobots (even got the symbol tattooed on my leg to prove it!). As far as the toys go, Soundwave was the one I wanted the most, but didn't actually get him until I bought a second hand one when I was 13 or 14. He was SO hard to find.

But it was the characters and their personalities that kept me hooked rather than the toys themselves. Back during G1, I inevitably tended to be disappointed when I got a new toy. They never seemed to live up to their box art or the Bio card. Powermaster Optimus Prime really stands out for that; the illustration of him on the back of the packaging made him look just absolutely incredible and I was so excited to get him for my birthday. Of course, we all know he's kind of a brick, and kid me was hugely disappointed with his two points of articulation!



So there aren't really any toys I want to go back and get. I tend to look ahead rather than to the past. I absolutely love what Hasbro are doing with the toys now. I'm on the lookout for Weirdwolf, sorry, Wolfwire, at the moment, and I do want a really good Ratchet. He's one of my favourites, but the only version I have is the Prime toy. None of the others have really done it for me. I'm hoping Hasbro will do a nice, chunky one soon.

Va'al - That's fascinating, I can see some of my own thoughts about toys in there, too! If the toys could leave you a little disappointed, then, when did the art and fiction love start? Was it all with the G1 cartoon back in the day, or did something later really stoke the fire (before we reach Prime, as you just said)?

Jack - It was always the bio cards that fired my imagination and kept my love for them going. The mottos alone often gave such incredible insights to these complicated characters. I loved the show, but it was hard to catch over here, so I had all the videos they released and watched them over and over. The Movie still stands as one of my favourite films; I just love it.

I got the Marvel UK comic every week from about issue 23 I think, until it ended. It kept my interest because it was Transformers, but again, it never really lived up to the seeds that were planted in those bio cards. It actually wasn't until the entire Prime universe that it finally clicked into what it had always been in my head. The two video games and the TV series are absolutely perfect as far as I'm concerned.

Transformers News: Seibertron.com Interviews Lost Light Artist Jack Lawrence


As a matter of fact, Transformers did lose me in 2009 after Revenge of the Fallen. I did not enjoy the film, and the toys for that and the main line left me cold. The whole landscape of Transformers seemed to lack any of what I originally fell in love with. Not long after that decision, I started to see previews of Prime and a little fire reignited in me. Again, it was tough to catch over here, so as soon as the complete season DVD was released, I grabbed a copy and fell in love again.

Then, a couple of years later, MTMTE came out and was the book I'd always wanted to read, and the book I always knew James was capable of. It very quickly became my favourite comic; I actually stopped buying comics except that one because what was the point? It had everything I needed!

Va'al - So this is talking about the aesthetics and appeal that Transformers had and has on you - what about the interest in actually creating material (art, fiction, anything else), rather than just consuming it? When did that start?

Jack - Well, before I owned any of the toys, I was drawing them based on the photos in that first leaflet. I knew seriously that I wanted to be a comic artist from about the age of 12; Up until then it hadn't occurred to me that it was a job that I could aim for. At that point, it seemed only right that Transformers be one of the comics properties I was aiming to work on.

I got involved with TMUK, the UK-based fan club, in 1995 and started contributing to fanzines. I illustrated "Atonement", a Christmas Optimus Prime story written by James Roberts in 1997, and it's also how I met and became friends with Nick Roche all those years ago.

Transformers News: Seibertron.com Interviews Lost Light Artist Jack Lawrence


I've been working as a pro creator since 2003, mainly on UK books. The pay is good, and I sort of fell into a comfortable, but unsatisfying rut. Once IDW got the TF license, I planned on getting some samples together, but work was plentiful and I just couldn't find the time. I worked on Skylanders with them last year and loved every second of it. I knew then that I had to at least try for Transformers. So towards the end of last year, I decided to gamble; stop taking jobs on, work through what I had, then put something together to show IDW. The gamble paid off and, though I can't quite believe it, I'm working on my favourite comic book!

Va'al - For someone working in the robot field for so long, that's actually the first time I've heard that version of the story! We've established that you've been following the fiction for really quite some time - but why become part of its creative team? What really drew you towards making Transformers comics?

Jack - I enjoy drawing them and I have a burning need to create, so I've never really analysed why I want to work on Transformers; I just do. I can tell you I was hesitant to go for it for a long time for two reasons. Firstly, I was nervous that working on something I love would somehow taint it and I was NOT prepared to lose my love for them, and secondly, I wasn't confident that I could do them justice. I started to find, for some reason, that I was getting Transformers commission requests at conventions and as that became more common I realised that not only was it increasing my love for them, I was making people happy with what I was doing. People keep telling me I'm overly critical of my own work and that was obviously what I'd been doing.

Transformers News: Seibertron.com Interviews Lost Light Artist Jack Lawrence


The real turning point came when I'd become frustrated and dissatisfied with the stuff I was working on because it all seemed to lack emotional depth. I'm an emotional person, and respond to highly emotive storylines, passionate characters. James has brought a level of that to MTMTE that I rarely see in other comics and I just thought, "That. That's what I want." I'm honestly enjoying my job now more than I have at any time over the last 13 years.

Va'al - That's heartening to hear, as the More Than Meets The Eye fandom has been very vocal in both its appreciation and criticisms of the series! How does it feel to join the ranks alongside Alex Milne? Do the two of you cross paths at all?

Jack - So far, Alex and I haven't really crossed paths at all, other than some brief greetings on Twitter. I've been a fan of his work since the Dreamwave days though, and just love his MTMTE work. Love it.

I'm most excited to be playing in the same sandbox as James and Nick though; we've all known one another for so long, created stuff together as fans. I've rabidly consumed everything they've done at IDW and now the three of us have just been invited to a signing together in Manchester this December. It's really exciting.

Va'al - Yes! You're all TMUK alumni too, right? How are you finding working with James Roberts' scripts, now that you get to not only read them, but materialise them? Do you have any input in the creative process?

Jack - Before I got the script to issue 1, I had people warning me about the length of James's scripts and I had to really hold back from saying, "Look, I've worked in comics since 2003. I've worked to countless scripts; long, short, good, bad. Sometimes terrible! MTMTE, to me, has been the best comic on the shelves since day 1, bar none. Maybe, just MAYBE, part of that can be attributed to James's scripts?"

Transformers News: Seibertron.com Interviews Lost Light Artist Jack Lawrence


Nevertheless, I was prepared to settle in for a day and wade through a potentially unwieldy script. That's not the case at all. What I sat down to was 45 minutes of pure entertainment that I couldn't wait to get drawing and I told him as much as soon as I'd finished. And again, working on Lost Light is the most fun I've had in my career to date.

As for input in the creative process, I'm not interested in co-scripting with him; I am a writer, but in this I want to leave James to do what he does. The stuff I'm most interested in exploring creatively is body language and character work. In that I'm given tons of creative freedom.

Va'al - That last part is also very good to hear, but now I'm curious: how do you approach those elements? Do you use references (toys or models or other), do you do rough layouts and drafts, do you jot it all down and go back to it? And, I suppose relatedly, are you a digital or paper kind of artist when it comes to comics pages?

Jack - Usually, when I'm working on a toy line-based property, I buy all the toys and have them constantly at hand for reference. That's how I did it when I was working on Skylanders. But with Lost Light, the character designs are too far removed from the toys, so you can't really do that. I used Alex's designs as reference, kind of finding my own voice in them while keeping continuity with what came before in MTMTE. We'll find out if I was successful in December!

Transformers News: Seibertron.com Interviews Lost Light Artist Jack Lawrence


In terms of the process, I do thumbnail layouts which I scan and print out in blue line, then pencil over them. Then I scan the pencils and print those out in blue line and ink them. And yeah, always paper and ink! I love the physical relationship between artist and materials too much to ever go fully digital.

Va'al - That sounds like a very long, and careful process, actually - must come in handy for shows and events where paper sketching is only option available though. I'm curious about your work though: in building your own voice, do you look at any other artistic influence, in robot-designs or anything else in the comics or art world at large?

Jack - My influences for Transformers come mainly from the old box art, back during G1. But it's more an ingrained sort of thing, rather than constantly using it as reference now. As for my comics style, I'm pretty much set in my ways at this point. Besides, deadlines tend to necessitate a "get up and get on with it" attitude!

Transformers News: Seibertron.com Interviews Lost Light Artist Jack Lawrence
Autobots Assemble!


There are a few artists who have inspired or influenced me over the years; Ed McGuinness, Humberto Ramos, Ryan Ottley, Sean Galloway to name a few contemporary guys. John Romita Jr was THE guy who made me want to be a comic artist, so I have a deep love of clear, uncomplicated storytelling from him. I think, in some ways, my comic style is quite old-fashioned in terms of layout, etc. I like things to be clear. I did get a very simple piece of visual advice from Didier Crisse, ooh, about 10 years ago that I won't bore you with, but that echoes in my mind and I use every single day.

Va'al - I won't pry, but you have definitely piqued my curiosity even further... and I do think this is a good note to end on, actually! Is there anything you want to add to what we've discussed so far, any last words before we see your work in the comics next month?

Jack - No, I think we’ve covered just about everything. I don’t do blogs and stuff, but if you could add my Twitter account, that’d be great!

Va'al - In that case.. thank you for your time, Jack, and we'll see you soon aboard the Lost Light!

You can find Jack on Twitter, and can meet him and James Roberts at the Lost Light #1 signing in London, in December - more details on that event here.

We Have Achieved Something: An Interview!

John Barber Interview on Upcoming IDW Transformers: Optimus Prime Ongoing Series

Transformers News: John Barber Interview on Upcoming IDW Transformers: Optimus Prime Ongoing Series
Date: Thursday, September 15th 2016 9:01pm CDT
Categories: Comic Book News, People News, Interviews
Posted by: D-Maximus_Prime | Credit(s): Previews World

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Preview World has provided us with an interview today for the upcoming Transformers: Optimus Prime ongoing series. The interview features John Barber, who will be writing the series and is the current author the Transformers ongoing, set to have its concluding issue later this month prior to the Revolution crossover. You can check out the full interview by clicking the link above, and we have mirrored some of the interview below for you to read. The series will be beginning in November.

Optimus Prime As Both Statesman & Soldier

PREVIEWSworld: What reverberations from Revolution will carry over into the events of Optimus Prime #1 (SEP160404)?

John Barber: Not to give anything away, but as Revolution starts, Optimus is in a fairly antagonistic relationship with ... well, almost everybody. He’s come to Earth and said the whole planet is going to be part of Cybertron’s Council of World, without asking if the people of Earth wanted to be in it — or if the people of Cybertron wanted them. He’s doing this because he thinks he’s out of options to protect the Earth — he’s tried fighting evil Cybertronians, tried leaving the place alone. But bringing Earth into Cybertron’s fold is the only thing he hasn’t tried.

.....

PREVIEWSworld: Describe your working relationship with artist Kei Zama. How have you two got along during production? How does the chemistry work, and why is Kei the best person for this book?

John Barber: I’ve known of Kei for a while — she’s friends with Andrew Griffith, who drew the Transformers series. I’d been working with him for years, and he — understandably — wanted to take a break from Transformers and work on some other characters for a little while. So I knew there was going to be a change.

Transformers News: John Barber Interview on Upcoming IDW Transformers: Optimus Prime Ongoing Series

Exclusive: IDW’s John Barber talks Revolution, Action Man, Transformers, Michael Bay and more

Transformers News: Exclusive: IDW’s John Barber talks Revolution, Action Man, Transformers, Michael Bay and more
Date: Wednesday, June 22nd 2016 1:19pm CDT
Categories: Comic Book News, People News, Interviews
Posted by: D-Maximus_Prime | Credit(s): Flickeringmyth.com

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When it comes down to the Revolution and how everything is going to work, John Barber is the man to call. "Mr. continuity" will be one of the spearheads for the upcoming Revolution comics, and Luke Owen got the chance to interview Barber on the upcoming comics. You can find the original source HERE.

Today sees the release of IDW’s Action Man #1, which kickstarts a Hasbro expanded universe that brings together several of their other properties including The Transformers, G.I. Joe, Micronauts, M.A.S.K and more. Sadly, My Little Pony is not part of it. To celebrate the comic’s release, we caught up with the man who is spearheading this series – John Barber.

Barber is a man who has been hailed as ‘The God of Continuity’, and has previously worked with Marvel before jumping to IDW and writing for Transformers – both the Michael Bay movie tie-ins and IDW’s on-going series. But now he’s moving into a slightly less known territory of Action Man. So, why use him over more established characters?

“Well, it goes without saying that Action Man is the biggest character in the Hasbro stable,” Barber jokes. “No, I love Action Man, but I kid. [He’s] got a great set of fans, don’t get me wrong, but this comic is really about introducing the character to readers while honoring his history. The lead-up to Revolution is part of the DNA of the book Paulo Villanelli and John-Paul Bove put together. We’re not going to hit you over the head with it on page one, but Action Man is really the first book we’ve launched post-plans about the shared universe—I guess Rom #0 was the first, but Action Man was in that book in preview form, anyway. And Action Man absolutely plays a key role in Revolution—in fact he’s the first character you see in Revolution #1—but we’ll start to see these characters interacting in most of the comics leading up to Revolution (I say “most” as Micronauts is in another universe and More Than Meets the Eye is in deep space so we’re not cramming anything in that isn’t organic to the story).”

Is it going to be difficult to bring in characters from G.I. Joe, Transformers, etc?

“In a way, even though you don’t have to be reading Transformers,” he claims. “Revolution grows from the events in the Transformers comic Andrew Griffith and I do. Optimus Prime has declared Earth is under his protection, whether it wants to be or not. And for a lot of people, “not” is the answer. So when something starts going wrong with Ore-13—a substance Transformers can convert to energon, their food—signs point to the Transformers.”

[......]

IDW is no stranger to the world of crossovers, having brought Green Lantern to the world of Star Trek and countless team-ups between Transformers and G.I. Joe. There have also been connecting comics like Infestation, which tied together their on-going comics for Ghostbusters and Transformers but never saw the characters interact.

“IDW’s done really cool, really fun stories where they put together some great characters, like Star Trek/Green Lantern. And Tom Scioli (and slightly me, but Tom deserves all the credit) did absolutely amazing stuff on Transformers ss. G.I. Joe,” Barber says. “Then there have been line-wide stories like Infestation and Conspiracy where there’s a central spine and tie-in comics from different series, but the characters from one series don’t necessarily interact with each other—just with the central spine. I love those stories, but they’re very self-contained – that’s got advantages, of course. Transformers vs. G.I. Joe wouldn’t have the personality or impact it had if ten comics tied into it. But I think with the right project, it’s really great to have an event with big consequences in the comics crossing over.”

[.....]

Barber has been hailed by fans as ‘The God of Continuity’, which makes him the perfect man to take on something like Revolution – as it not only brings together these characters but does so without compromising the stories already told. Is ‘The God of Continuity’ a fitting moniker?

“I don’t know about that,” he says laughing. “When I came on to Transformers, I sort of approached it as an archeologist. I dug in and read everything and took notes and thought about things and tried to see what resonated and what I could build on. I think I got too into the woods with that in places, but it created the worldview I have on some of the characters. Like, I looked at how Soundwave or Prowl were handled, and they were both written really differently by different writers over the years, and I thought through—what would make somebody be like that? What if they really did act all those different ways, what’s their deal? And that led to—I hope—richer characters.”

[.....]

But the real question is: who would win in a fight between Bay’s Optimus Prime and IDW’s Optimus Prime…?

“The Bay Prime is more vicious, but I think Optimus in the Transformers comic is more tactical in his thinking at this point, and he’s not exactly a pushover,” he says. “I think the comic book one wins.”

When Revolution was announced earlier this month, there was a large vocal outrage from fans who felt that this ‘cash in’ was going to ruin the stories they’d liked in G.I. Joe: Real American Hero and Transformers: More Than Meets The Eye. IDW editor Chris Ryall spent a long time on Twitter answering fan queries and concerns, and told them all to trust the process.

“I used to edit Wolverine. I’m used to the internet reaction being negative,” Barber jokes.

But one has to wonder, did that level of negativity have some effect on the plans for Revolution?

“Nope. The plan is the plan and the plan is awesome,” Barber emphatically states. “I mean, there’s pressure, of course – Cullen and Fico and editor David Hedgecock and colorist Sebastian Cheng and I all feel a lot of pressure to not let people down, and to do justice to the characters, and to build a strong foundation to this world. Telling a story has it’s own pressure! A nice pressure, I’m not complaining – it’s great! But I don’t feel any additional pressure based on anybody’s initial reactions.”

[.....]

“Transformers is going to change – the grand, over-arcing story I’ve been telling is still totally in place, now with cooler pieces making Earth a richer, more interesting place,” Barber says. “But the actual title will have a couple big changes.”


Declassifying IDW and Hasbro's Comics Merge: Revolution - With John Barber, Cullen Bunn, Fico Ossio

Transformers News: Declassifying IDW and Hasbro's Comics Merge: Revolution - With John Barber, Cullen Bunn, Fico Ossio
Date: Thursday, June 2nd 2016 11:38am CDT
Categories: Comic Book News, People News, Interviews
Posted by: Dr Va'al | Credit(s): CBBR

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Views: 22,466

We have yet more information on the upcoming Hasbro and IDW Publishing co-effort in creating a shared universe for several of their licensed properties, in the REVOLUTION event this September. Via ComicBookResources, we get an interview with writers John Barber and Cullen Bunn, and artist Fico Ossio, touching upon some of the major points of interest about the crossover. We also get a first look at some of the main and variant covers for the titles, with art by Tradd Moore, John Byrne, Adam Riches, Guido Guidi, Ken Christiansen, and James Biggie!

CBR spoke with the creators involved in the five-issue unifying series, not only to find out how it came about, but also to learn what -- if any -- relationship it has to the film side of things, as well as what it is that will bring these various groups together.

CBR News: John, you've been involved on the editorial side of things for these books for a while. How did you feel about bringing the universes together?

John Barber: I'd always thought if I could go back in time, I'd make sure the IDW G.I. Joe comics took place in the same universe as the Transformers comics.

[...]

How did the decision to combine the contents of those boxes come about?

Barber: One day, the IDW editors were brainstorming ideas, and this notion of doing a crossover came about -- but I'm never totally sold on big crossovers that don't impact the subsequent status quo. Like, it's fun to cross over two properties and see how they interact, but I mean, if you're getting a lot of characters together, it has to have some impact on the world. Meanwhile, I think what Tom Scioli -- and me, a little -- did on the "Transformers vs. G.I. Joe" comic was great, really fun stuff. But that story was ending; Tom and I had it all planned to wrap up.

Then I remembered something Andrew Griffith, who draws "Transformers," suggested one time: the IDW G.I. Joe comics could fit in between big Transformers comics events. At the time, it wasn't anything we were really serious about, but now -- I started thinking about that. Did that actually kind of make sense?

[...]

This effort seems to reflect a similar plan for Hasbro's big screen adaptations. Do you have any communication with the people working on the films?

Barber: Hasbro Studios is very aware of what we're doing, and there's some back and forth sharing of information and ideas. I don't think there's been any big thing where we've seen things one way and they've seen things other ways. We've been remarkably in sync, I think it's fair to say. There've been some characters that have specifically come from the studio here and there -- some of these brands have been dormant for a while, and there are new angles they have on characters that they've shared with us, like Phenolo-Phi in "Micronauts." They have some amazingly talented people working in that writer's room -- like, seriously extraordinary people who have done amazing film, comics and television. The few I know personally are great human beings, too.

The funny thing with this was, it wasn't like a mandate came down and said, "Do this." Totally the opposite. IDW Editor-in-Chief Chris Ryall and I flew out to Hasbro headquarters in Rhode Island to try to convince them to do this, because we really wanted to have this universe exist. And it turned out we were all on the same page. It was great, the people running the brands at Hasbro were all very into this and really supportive, and offered great ideas and angles on what we could do.

[...]

Fico, how is it for you bringing all these different characters who come from various backgrounds and realities together into one cohesive look?

Ossio: It sort of built up from my first take on G.I. Joe. David and John asked me to work on a cover/pinup of the characters and gave me license to give them an "upgrade."

I didn't want to really stray too far from the original cartoon, which I watched as a kid and loved. I had a bunch of G.I. Joe toy,s as well, so I wanted to just take those uniforms and give them more of a body armor look. Especially considering these guys were about to clash against 10-foot-tall robots. I could't grasp the concept of keeping them in regular army outfits or spandex -- sorry Snake Eyes. I think it works, because they still look true to their original design, but with a modern and updated look. Then, I took the new design of Action Man and applied the same as I did on G.I. Joe.

Next was Transformers. A lot of artists had worked on Transformers, and I found most of the designs Andrew Griffith had done were great. I respect his designs and pushed to make them more complex, with new, flexible parts and more of an organic look, which I thought would bring them closer to the combined universe. I also wanted to bring some of the elements from the movies. Except for Optimus. I couldn't help myself, and with him I pushed as far as the guys would let me.

[...]

As "Revolution" kicks off, what kind of threat or event is it that's big enough to bring all these different groups together? And what was the design process like developing that individual or force?

Story continues below

Barber: The background is, Optimus Prime has publicly declared Earth to be under his protection and part of Cybertron's Council of Worlds. This isn't Dark Optimus; he's doing good things -- at least from his point of view -- but the people of Earth are naturally going to be concerned about this turn of events.

Now, one of the reasons Earth has been important to the Transformers is this substance called Ore-13. This has a long history in the Transformers comics, but the short version is it can be converted to Energon, which is the Transformers' fuel source. That means the Earth is one of the few places in the galaxy where Transformers can live -- it has a food source, basically. But Ore-13 has always had other properties -- an ability to supercharge Cybertronians, for one.

Something starts happening to Ore-13 around the world, making it unstable, and all signs point to Optimus Prime, who has no idea why this is happening. That sets the stage for "Revolution."

[...]

How will your own ongoings look different after the events of "Revolution?"

Barber: Lots of the Transformers comic I write will be different, including the title. But at the same time, it's building the same story I started writing five years ago. You don't need to know all that stuff, but if you do, rest assured this is all part of the big story we've been telling. It's an unexpected benefit -- I mean, 2011 John had no inkling that Rom or Scarlett or Acroyear or Windblade or Action Man would be there, but this all fits into the tale Andrew Griffith and I set out to tell.

But coming out of "Revolution," there are some big changes. Lots of stuff is going to happen between now and November, when "Revolution" ends.


Transformers News: Declassifying IDW and Hasbro's Comics Merge: Revolution - With John Barber, Cullen Bunn, Fico Ossio

Transformers News: Declassifying IDW and Hasbro's Comics Merge: Revolution - With John Barber, Cullen Bunn, Fico Ossio

Transformers News: Declassifying IDW and Hasbro's Comics Merge: Revolution - With John Barber, Cullen Bunn, Fico Ossio

Transformers News: Declassifying IDW and Hasbro's Comics Merge: Revolution - With John Barber, Cullen Bunn, Fico Ossio

Transformers News: Declassifying IDW and Hasbro's Comics Merge: Revolution - With John Barber, Cullen Bunn, Fico Ossio

Transformers News: Declassifying IDW and Hasbro's Comics Merge: Revolution - With John Barber, Cullen Bunn, Fico Ossio

Seibertron.com Interviews IDW Artist Alex Milne

Transformers News: Seibertron.com Interviews IDW Artist Alex Milne
Date: Wednesday, May 18th 2016 8:37am CDT
Categories: Comic Book News, Site Articles, People News, Interviews
Posted by: Dr Va'al | Credit(s): Alex Milne, Va'al

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Views: 28,370

Greetings Seibertronian beings, and welcome to another thrilling and enthralling visitation of the talent behind the IDW Publishing Transformers production, as we're till slim on the ground in terms of new comics this month! In the past, we have spoken to a lot of artists, some colourists, some inkers, some pencillers, but we have an all rounder coming up for this instalment - all the way from the Great White North.

Making his mark a very long time ago in the current Transformers mythos, he's become a fan-favourite, he is responsible for many tears, many crowd shots, many pairings and ships for the fandom; he is the hands behind death, love, stars and returns. Ladies and gentlebots: Alex Milne!

Transformers News: Seibertron.com Interviews IDW Artist Alex Milne


Va'al - Alex, thank you so much for giving us some of your time! You've practically become a staple in the Transformers fiction, and the first big name that many new readers encounter, visually, but we're curious to find out where it all started for you, before we reach today. So my first question is: When did young Alex get into Transformers, what is your origin story - as a fan?

Alex Milne - I think it's the same as a lot of people in the fandom: I grew up with the original G1 cartoon and the toys. I remember getting Optimus Prime as a child and playing with him on the piano we had. My older brother got the 3 Decepticon jets which I thought were cooler looking at the time, but maybe that was only because my brother got them and not me. I lived in a townhouse complex growing up, and myself and the other kids would play outside with what toys we had and had little battles. Sometimes it was fun just setting up the bases and laying out all the character you' d have on your team.



I grew up with the show, I saw the 86 movie as a child, I had the comics. I think it's a pretty standard tale of most fans. I fell out of it when there was nothing on TV to keep watching, you know, the stupid young teen days when toys aren't cool to play with and everyone was trying their best to be cool and act tough. Thankfully that didn't last long and I got back into Transformers with Beast Wars and continued from there. I had a friend who worked at a comic book store who knew someone who had lived in Japan and had some recordings of the Headmasters series - he asked the guy to make a copy of them for me and I got to watch some of that. Didn't understand what they were saying, but that didn't matter to me: it was Transformers and I loved it.

Va'al - That does sound like your average story, indeed! I'm curious, though: during the 'falling out'/'too cool for toys' phase, did you get rid of all your Transformers stuff, or was it just hidden in a box somewhere? And I mean everything, from toys to comics to actual interest in the franchise.

Alex - I sold off a lot of my toys that I grew up with in a garage sale or yard sale to be more to the point, since we didn't have a garage. Most of the TF toys were broken by this point anyways and some were lost or I had traded with a friend for G.I. Joe figures. During this time I guess my interests were shifting more to comic collecting and into buying models.

Transformers News: Seibertron.com Interviews IDW Artist Alex Milne


I know I bumped up my collecting of Star Trek merchandise, trying to get hold of more show accurate props and costumes. By this time, also, there were a few anime shows airing on TV and some of the fan magazines showing up which caught my interest, so I started to find out if there were models for these sorts of things. I eventually found a few and that started me collecting Gundam model kits and that hasn't stop. Even now I have a large collection of them and continue to buy them. So I guess I never got into that "too cool for toys" phase. I just shifted my interests around to something else other than Transformers. In the end it didn't matter though, since that interest was probably just taking a long walk around back to the Transformers and gave me time to get excited about it again.

Va'al - We'll be coming back to anime and Gundam in particular later, but before we get there... if you were to choose something particularly significant from the Transformers at the time - a character, a toy, a storyline, a series, a comic issue, a writer/artist - is there anything that has stuck with you since? Or was it all very changing after all, before returning in full?

Alex - There are 2 things that have stuck with me and will probably always stick with me. The first is the 86 movie and more specifically the fight between Optimus and Megatron. This is the first time that we see characters we love and admire fighting and dying. There are actual consequences to their battles and that no, not everything is going to be fine at the end of this movie, a lot of characters aren't coming back from this. That has always stuck with me.

Transformers News: Seibertron.com Interviews IDW Artist Alex Milne


The second would be in Beast Wars when Dinobot dies. It's probably the only episode that gave me the same emotional impact as the 86 movie did. I guess the second one is a foot in foot out type deal. I was back, but not fully into Transformers again until really the 3rd season of Beast Wars when I actually started buying the toys again. So I think it counts for what you asked.

Va'al - Those are some cheery memories you keep there! It does go some way to explain some MTMTE moments, though... It seems so far that the toys were not as important as the fiction (but please correct me if I'm wrong) to you: is that what brought you closer to the visual side of things? When did young Alex start drawing, what was the spark?

Alex - For me, toys are toys. Yes I enjoyed them and I was upset when I couldn't get the ones I wanted as a child, but I enjoyed the ones I did get and was sad when I broke one or lost a part of one ( the head from Apeface stands out ). However I enjoyed the cartoon more since that's where you saw the characters come to life and you got to know their personalities and how they sounded. So I guess it's safe to assume that that toys were second to the fiction for me. It makes sense since I left collecting or having interest when there was nothing on TV for a while, and then came back when there was.




I did have the comics, but even they stopped for a while. I was never able to get issue 80 of the original Marvel US run when I growing up. The last issue for me was 79. I had a lot of gaps in the issues I had, I know I didn't have 78, and at the comic stores I shopped it was hard to find all of them. It was also hard when you only got 4 dollars for an allowance and you had to really choose what you were going to pick up. I know I liked buying Cobra figures at the time because they looked the coolest so my allowance just covered a figure. When I did get to the comic shop, there was a lot to choose from, but I remember seeing issue 79 on the shelf for new comics and I picked it up. It's one of the issues I remember the most from when I was a kid because it had Fort Max fighting Galvatron in it. I remember how brutal the fight was, it was just great and the last page that tempted you for issue 80. Yep, I wanted that issue but never found it.

Transformers News: Seibertron.com Interviews IDW Artist Alex Milne


As for when I started drawing... well, as my mom would like to remind me and embarrass me when people are around, it would have been when I was very young and she needed a way to stop me taking crayons and, as I like to think of it now, improving the walls of our home. So she gave me some colouring books to scribble in. I remember one of them was a Transformers colouring book. Then after that I would start to try and draw things I saw in colouring books, that would move to trying to what I saw in comic books and so on. I think that's a basic way for kids to get into drawing or art. You want to recreate what you see in front of you.

I remember one year, one of the big department stores in my area had a Transformers colouring contest going on and the grand prize was a Sixshot. I remember trying my best to keep the pencil crayon I was using in the lines and not make a mess of it. I handed it in and then there was nothing for a long time. I guess I didn't win and then my mom got a call and she told me I had won. As you can imagine I was super excited about it, and it's a fond memory I have of my younger years with art. I guess it's when I found something I enjoyed to do more than playing with toys: drawing and colouring. I know that when I was in Grade 7 that I wanted to draw comics, and that lasted all the way to the present day. There have been other things that I thought about doing as well, but comics has always been there.

Transformers News: Seibertron.com Interviews IDW Artist Alex Milne


Va'al - It sounds like you had a penchant for battles, teases, brutality, things that look cool, and the artist in you woke up! How long was it until you actively got into making sequential art? Did you ever self-publish or write your own stories too, before going professional?

Alex - Well I did a few comics for myself back when I was in Grade 8. One I used as a school project that I had to read in front of the class. I did not enjoy doing that since I don't really like getting up in front of a large group of people. To this day I still don't but I've gotten use to it and it comes with the job. Oh well, maybe I should have tried harder with public speaking! Making those comics wasn't anything special, and they were pretty crap. You know, your generic super hero type comics that you found in the early 90s. I still have them, and I will show them to no one, but it's interesting to see what I drew like when I was 13 and compare it to something when I was 18 and then 21 and so on. I did self publish a small comic when I was in my last year of high school. It was very low budget, I used a photocopier at my mom's school (she was a teacher then) to print in black and white double sided, so it looked like a real comic. Then I went to a mall print shop to have the colour cover I had done printed and I stapled all the pages together and poof, I had a comic that I sold in high school for 2 bucks. What amazed me more was there were people at the school that actually bought it off of me. That was pretty cool and I felt like all my hard work was appreciated.

The comic was about 2 of my friends at the time who were in 3 of my classes. I made them superheroes, but they argued a lot between each other about random everyday crap that normal people argue about. Just they would do it in the middle of battling robots that were trying to take over a city. I also used 2 more of my friends as the bad guys in the comic, and I think I added myself in there as a cop for 2 panels at the end of the book asking what happened and how were we going to clean up the mess. If I remember correctly the comic had a superhero/robot/Frankenstein vibe to it. Wow, I really wish I still had a copy of it. It's a fun memory from high school when there weren't many. I did try to make a second issue where I was going to make it longer and actually try to write a good story, but that didn't happen due to exams and a part time job. I did more little one page comics when I was in college, but nothing I published.

Transformers News: Seibertron.com Interviews IDW Artist Alex Milne

Dreamwave Transformers: Energon #32 interior art


For my final year in college, I had to do a 1 month work placement which I ended up doing at Dreamwave Productions who had the Transformers license at the time. They had me do alt-modes for some of the characters in the Armada profile books and then one day when I was waiting for work to be assigned to me, I was doodling some Transformers and that got attention from the production manager who asked if I wanted to draw some robots, which I did. That lasted even after my work placement was done and then I was asked to do the final page for issue 3 of the profile book which was a page of sequential art and the rest is a long story that I'm sure lots of people know. :P

Va'al - We have indeed come to know your story behind the giant spreads and populated panels in Transformers comics, that is true! Your style has undoubtedly become one of the staples for readers and emulating fan artists, but how did you develop it? There are some influences of other mecha fiction/visuals - we mentioned your penchant for Gundam already - but it is very much your personal take on robots... care to talk about that?

Alex - I see this will be another long answer, lol. How I draw today has developed over my whole time working in comics. It's still something that is developing, and with every issue I work on I'm trying something new in a way trying to expand the visual language I use. I don't think I'll ever stop developing or changing how I work, I think as an artist you never stop learning, you're always growing and turning your talents in new directions to keep things interesting for yourself. I look back at what I've done and I can see all the changes I've made to how I work and the new ways I've decided to do things. Most times when I have someone at a convention come up to me and tell me how much they liked something I've done from a while ago I'm like oh, really? All I see are the mistakes and how I could do things now, and that goes for about everything I work on. At the time I work on it, I'm mostly happy with what I've done, but wait a while and it's lost its appeal for me and I'm just like, I could have done this, or this would have been visually better. I'm pretty stubborn and will work at something until I decide that I can't make it work and get sick of it, but it's something I have to work out for myself. So if people out there don't like what I'm doing or something I've changed, well it's something I have to work out myself to see if it's doesn't work and if I happy with the results from it. The best thing I've taken from working in the industry for the time I have is that you can't please everyone, so don't try to. Make sure you're happy with what you've done at the time and don't worry about the rest.

Transformers News: Seibertron.com Interviews IDW Artist Alex Milne


Like you mentioned I like Gundam, and I'll use influences from them in my work. I see how they do mecha and they have a lot of the mechanics worked out for a giant robot that has great range of motion. So I try and take some of those elements and add them into my work, like in the way the shoulders work or the other joints. I know that when Don Figueroa was working on TFs that I really enjoyed the way he did stuff (even when fans didn't) and he was another artist who inspired me. There are so many artist out there that I look at how they do things and I want to try that with my own work at times. I know that I love the work of Syd Mead, and I've always enjoyed his look of the future and the technical style of his work. I try to add some of that flare into my own work with the backgrounds I do.

A more recent large influence for me has been Sean Gordon Murphy. I really enjoy his work and the use of light and dark he uses. I look at his ink work and I would really like to do something like that for a Transformers book, but I know that most TF fans wouldn't like it as much since it would be too much of a departure from what they are used to, so I have to do little things here and there. His work however has given me a greater appreciation for traditional style inking and I'm trying to use more then just a tech pen when I ink. A tech pen gives you a lot of control, but it can be very stale looking, but there are a lot of straight lines on a TF so its what's comfortable to get that across. Another favourite artist and influence is Otomo Katsuhiro. I love the work he has done and have many art books by him where I just sit and try and digest all the line work he puts into a piece. His work is inspiring and dream shattering all at the same time. It inspires me to push myself to do as much as I can with my work, but shatters me in knowing I don't think I will ever get that good. However... one needs their dreams to go on, right?

Transformers News: Seibertron.com Interviews IDW Artist Alex Milne
Galvatron meets Gundam


One other out of all the artist that inspire me is Sarah Stone. I love the work she does and how she breaks down simple shapes of colour to make up a background. It has a very cinematic feel to it, and the rich colours that she uses are tasty for lack of a better word. I look at her work and it makes me want to get better at colouring on the computer so I can attempt to do something like that. I'd probably only do it once, since doing all the art for a book is a lot of work and with what I draw in an issue would probably eat up so much time for me to colour it myself. :P Oh well, a goal to set for future.

Va'al - Those are some seriously impressive references and influences, and going behind your process put a new perspective on all of your work! With the constant changes, how do you feel when your visuals are used a reference, either as fan art emulation or even toy designs? Is there anything physical/plastic you'd particularly like to see come out of your art?

Alex - it's all very enjoyable to see people taking an interest in the work I do and using something I created in a piece of art or in a toy form. As for fan art it's all very nice and I'm glad people enjoy it enough to try and re-draw a character model of mine. I think the only thing that bugs me, and this has popped up a couple times recently is when fans ask me how to draw in the MTMTE style. There is no MTMTE style. There is the way I draw and my own style of art, but that's not beholden to just MTMTE. I would draw that way if I did work on any of the other Transformer titles. It's just the style I've developed for myself. So it's a bit upsetting to have people ask about drawing in this style thinking this the the key to drawing MTMTE when it's really just my way of drawing and no one asks any of the other artist that help out on the book to draw like me. I guess I've been drawing the book so long that people just associate my style of art with MTMTE. It's a good and bad thing IMO.

It is nice to see fans drawing the characters in the book, but it's hard to see if it's due to the art or the characterization? Do people like them because of the way I've drawn them or is it because of they way they act and speak in the book? It's a bit easier if it's just a background character that has no dialog and I can do what I want in the background with them. Then it's more because of the art then the story. A bit harder when you have a main character, because then you add James [Roberts] into the mix and I think it's the story and the characterization that they really like and the visuals don't mean as much. I guess it's just nice either way to have people interested in what James and I work on, and I think it's safe to say we're both thankful for that. :)

Transformers News: Seibertron.com Interviews IDW Artist Alex Milne


Now when having something I drew get a toy, well that's pretty awesome. To me it doesn't matter if it's a Hasbro official toy or a 3rd party product, I just like seeing something I've drawn turned into a toy. Official toys are nice since it shows me that Hasbro also likes the work I do enough to have some of the design elements I've done for the comic in the toys they make. I know I was super happy to see Skids and Trailbreaker with elements of the comic designs in the toys. I'm also super happy to see 3rd party toys try and make more comic accurate versions of the characters, like Tailgate and Swerve with their comic accurate alt modes and the DJD that are being produced. If there were more toys based on designs I've done, I'd like to see Thunderclash, Firestar and her crew that I've designed. Possibly Deathsaurus. There are a few too many to list!

Va'al - It must be such a good feeling indeed to hold your designs in hand - here's to more! Before we bring this interview to a close, I have another people-shaped question: you're an artist, and you've named several artists, but you've also brought in your partner in crime on MTMTE James Roberts. What's it like working with him on the series, how much control and input do you have? And, of course, how different is it working with different writers?

Alex - This is the time when James fears what I will say. :p Well I've been working with James for what, about 5 years now? It feels like more, but I'm sure we started working together back in 2011 on the Chaos Theory 2 issues (Trasformers: Ongoing issues 22 and 23). At this point in my career I had already worked with 7-8 different writes on different books so I like to think at this point I'm pretty flexible to work with anyone. I know I was excited to work with James since he had worked on LSOTW with Nick Roche and I enjoyed that, so I was interested to see what he was going to do on his own. I have to say that the scripts were very detailed, maybe a little overboard at times? I could tell that this would be great if it was something like a movie or TV show, but it was going to be hard to fit it all in a single page or single panel. However that didn't stop me from trying my best to try and get it all in there. I think after working so long together James can write less in the panel descriptions and just give me the important information that needs to be shown and I can handle the rest now.
I can say that most of the time we work smoothly together on the series, however there might be times that we bump heads and have very different ways of wanting to do things. I think this is natural with anyone one who is a creative person. It can be frustrating at times, but it's nothing that can't be worked out most of the time.

Transformers News: Seibertron.com Interviews IDW Artist Alex Milne
Alex 'The Machine' Milne and James 'JRo' Roberts


I'm not sure how much input I have when it comes to the series. I have some ideas that I will talk with James about and he seems to like some of them, but then later he writes something totally different that makes sure that those idea can't happen, so that irks me a bit. I'd like to feel like there is more collaboration between the 2 of us, but for right now it's he's the writer and I'm the artist. This is fine for now, but like just about every artist, we all have a need to grow and do more than what people merely think we can do, and I'm ready to do more.

However, I don't want to be all negative: at the end of the day I do enjoy working with James. We seems to work well together even if we have different ways of doing and seeing things. I think this is proven by when I see people talk about the issues and they talk about something going on in the backgrounds and attribute it to James and setting something up and it was just something I did to have fun in the background with a couple characters. I guess we think alike at times, so that's neat when people can't tell if it was scripted or not.

I know one thing. I'm always excited to work on a new issue and see what James has come up with. There have been times with other writers that I've kind of gotten bored near the end of the project, but that hasn't happened with MTMTE. I'm always excited to work on it and I try to push myself to do better with each issue and I think James does also, even if others can't see what he's doing yet. So I guess you're stuck with us for a while longer. Hopefully.

Transformers News: Seibertron.com Interviews IDW Artist Alex Milne
Skids in MTMTE #21


Working with different writers is just about finding a balance between your person vision for the project and what the writers vision is. It takes a bit of time to get comfortable working with someone and to start to know what they want and how to handle things that will make them happy. You do want to try and make the writer happy since you are illustrating their story, yet you also have to be happy working on the project. If the two are out of balance, then you will end up with a mess and things not working out. I can't really say that I have had a bad time working with any writer. Most are pretty easy to work with and they all have interesting takes on ideas and characters. As a comics artist it's your job to find that common middle ground that you can share and work together. It's tough at the beginning, but given time it works out and you end up having fun and hopefully creating something fans will enjoy.

Va'al - I can assure you, fans very much enjoy your work, be it on MTMTE or in the art you produce outside of the series! One last thing, if you're up for it - quick question round!

V - Paper or digital?
A - Paper
V - Colours or grayscale?
A - Colours
V - Cygate or Chromewind?
A - Chromewind
V - Nautica or Ratchet?
A - Nautica
V - Overlord or Tarn?
A - Tarn

Va'al - Controversial? Potential spoilers? We'll see.

Alex, this has been an absolute pleasure, and I cannot thank you enough for taking the time to go through it! Any last things you want to let the readers know?

Alex - Thanks for wanting to talk with me and letting me ramble on.

I would just like to take this opportunity to thank all the fans who like and have supported the work I do. It does mean a lot, and hopefully I will continue to do work you enjoy. For those who don't like what I do, sorry, I can't please everyone but I'm sure there is someone who does do work you can enjoy.
I'd also like to thank the colourists I've worked with over the years. I'm sure I haven't made their lives easy with the lines I give them to colour. Thanks for all your hard work Joana, Josh Burcham and Josh Perez and the rest :)

Now it's time to get back to ruining people's lives with MTMTE. :P

---

That was quite the ride, and quite the read, I'm sure! If you've made it this far, make sure to keep an eye on Alex's guest appearances at a number of conventions this season, and you can follow his work as it happens by taking a look at his Tumblr page, deviantArt, Twitter and Instagram accounts - and of course, by reading Transformers: More Than Meets the Eye every month!

Catch you later, Pokéballers.

#Botcon 2016 Japanese G1 Continuity Talk with Hayato Sakamoto

Transformers News: #Botcon 2016 Japanese G1 Continuity Talk with Hayato Sakamoto
Date: Tuesday, April 26th 2016 9:59pm CDT
Categories: Event News, Interviews
Posted by: william-james88 | Credit(s): Sabrblade

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Views: 22,311

One of our fellow Seibertronian Superstars, Sabrblade was at Botcon 2016 and spoke to Japanese Transformers artist/writer Hayato Sakamoto. He wrote for us a transcript of this fascinating discussion which might even elude to some upcoming Unite Warriors releases. The full transcript is below with an introduction of the context by Sabrblade:

Sabrblade wrote:On the last day of BotCon 2016, I attended the Sunday morning panel that was hosted by Japanese Transformers artist/writer Hayato Sakamoto, writer/translator Andrew “Hydra” Hall, and writer/translator Ken Rose. At this panel, Sakamoto talked about his working as an artist for IDW’s Transformers: More Than Meets the Eye comic series, as well as his working as both a writer and an artist for the TakaraTomy’s Transformers: Unite Warriors and Transformers: Legends pack-in fiction. (For those interested, you can watch a full YouTube video recording of the panel HERE).

After the panel ended, I approached the three as they were exiting the room (heading back to Sakamoto-san’s booth in the Artist Alley room) to ask Sakamoto-san some questions about his Japanese G1 works. Having an affinity for continuity and lore, Sakamoto-san was quite enthusiastic to discuss these topics with me. I joined the three on their walk back to the Artist Alley, introducing myself to Andrew Hall who recognized my screenname. Once we got to Sakamoto-san’s booth, Ken Rose graciously acted as a translation middleman between the two of us.

Most of my questions originated from what was said during the panel about the continuity placements of Unite Warriors Offshoot and Legends, which then springboarded into a wider discussion of the Japanese G1 cartoon continuity as a whole. Here is a rundown of the things we discussed and the answers I was able to get (note that Sakamoto-san’s attention eventually became divided between myself and other fans who were wanting him to sign and/or draw something for them, so some of the answers I got were less clear than others):

* As said during the panel, Unite Warriors Offshoot and the specific Legends manga chapters that have G1 Megatron, Ultra Magnus, and Springer come into the Legends Universe all take place after G2. But more specifically, they all take place after the two e-HOBBY manga that came with Masterpiece MP-1B Convoy Black Ver. And Masterpiece MP-3G Starscream Ghost Ver.

* As the Legends manga chapter that has Springer go to the Legends Universe takes place in the 2030s, with Operation Combination and United EX set in the year 2035, that era of Legends (and I think Unite Warriors Offshoot as well) takes place in the late 2030s.

* Unite Warriors Offshoot takes place even after the post-G2/post-e-HOBBY era of Legends. However, Sakamoto-san does not yet know how long or short after Legends that UWO takes place, as Legends currently has Metroplex in the Legends Universe while UWO has him in the main JG1 universe, so Sakamoto does not yet know when Metroplex gets out of the Legends Universe and goes back to the JG1 universe. But he does at least know that UWO does come after Legends.

* Unlike the rest of the Unite Warriors fiction released so far, the Grand Galvatron comic does not take place in the same post-G2/post-e-HOBBY era as UWO. Though the comic does say that it takes place ten years after Galvatron’s death in 2011 (2021), Sakamoto further revealed that it takes place after the Masterforce cartoon.

* As stated at the panel, one of the things Sakamoto set out to do with the Legends manga was to show Ultra Magnus’s rebirth into his G2 Laser Ultra Magnus body. However, in the Legends manga that showed Ultra Magnus’s rebirth, Ultra Magnus is shown waking up from inside his coffin in his Legends toy body instead. When asked if Ultra Magnus was reborn in his G2 Laser Ultra Magnus body or his Legends toy body, Sakamoto said it was the former, and explained that manga chapter as being more of a retelling of Magnus’s rebirth than a literal depiction. He also explained that Ultra Magnus can change his physical form back and forth between his G2 Laser body and his Legends body by the power of the Reconfiguration Matrix. This explains how Magnus was able to appear in his G2 Laser body during the post-G2 e-HOBBY manga and then as his Legends body later on in the Legends manga.

* Reiterating something he said at the panel, when Alpha Trion sacrificed the last of his energy to recharge the Matrix in episode 3 of The Headmasters, he didn’t merely recharge the Matrix, he became the Matrix. A new Matrix, at that. And this Matrix being a new one is why Rodimus Prime (or rather, his animation model) looked different in The Headmasters compared to how he looked in season 3 of the G1 cartoon. And in the Legends manga, when Alpha Trion put himself into Ultra Magnus’s chest, Ultra Magnus came back to life by having the new Matrix (Alpha Trion) put into him.

* As he referred to the Grand Scourge comic to present the continuity placements of UWO and Legends during the panel, I asked him if the Grand Scourge comic is supposed to be a part of the main JG1 cartoon continuity or not, as the comic itself is rather vague on its own continuity, seemingly on purpose. Sakamoto’s answer is that he’s presently not sure if it is or not since he’s not the one writing it. As I type this answer, I suspect that Sakamoto is open to the possibility of the comic being on its own outside of the JG1 continuity, and is just taking precautions with the placements of UWO and Legends to allow the Grand Scourge comic to be slotted into the main timeline should the opportunity arise at a later date. But for right now, its placement in the main timeline (should it ever be included) remains undetermined.

* As stated at the panel, Sakamoto is among those responsible for creating the big JG1 timeline from 2007. He confirmed that he played a role in adding Car Robots to the timeline. His reasons given for including it were that RobotMasters Wrecker Hook is an amnesiac Car Robots Wrecker Hook (I did not get to ask if this was the official consensus or just his own personal consensus), Brave Maximus came back to Earth after Car Robots (and apparently so too did God Magnus, from what I was told, but didn’t get anything further about that), and that when the e-HOBBY G1 GoBots came to the Transformers universe, their technology was used to create the Spychangers.

* At the end of the Car Robots cartoon, Brave Maximus had taken all of the Destrongers back to Cybertron to stand trial before Vector Sigma. Since the characters of that cartoon were said to have come from the future, I asked if Brave Maximus took them back to the Cybertron of the cartoon’s present time or the Cybertron of future that the characters all came from. Sakamoto said it was the future.

* In the Legends manga that features Car Robots Black Convoy (RiD Scourge), he has his own Energon Matrix, as a means of explaining the molded-in Matrix on the toy. Sakamoto explains that Black Convoy was able to get an Energon Matrix of his own because the United EX fiction had the Energon Matrix technology being developed in the year 2035. And since Black Convoy had been taken back to Cybertron in the future, he was able to get his Energon Matrix during a point when Energon Matrix technology existed.

* When asked to tell more about how Black Convoy got his Energon Matrix, Sakamoto said that he’s waiting for a Unite Warriors Baldigus release before saying any more about that. I didn’t get to ask if he meant that there is a Unite Warriors Baldigus coming, or if he’s just wanting there to be one.

* Sakamoto told me an in-fiction reason for why Car Robots Ai and the human Ai Kuruma looks alike. Car Robots Ai's appearance is based on a scan made of Ai Kuruma.

* I asked Sakamoto if he could tell me what exactly a Spark Engine was, as it was only mentioned once in the Car Robots anime but never told what it was. Unfortunately, this question didn't get to be answered. I don't fully recall why it wasn't answered, but I think it was either due to the answer being tied with the Black Convoy question that he was waiting on a UW Baldigus release in order to answer, or was due to Sakamoto's attention becoming divided between my questions and other fans coming to his booth to ask for his autograph/artwork.

* When asked what future era the Car Robots characters hail from, Sakamoto said that it’s currently fuzzy on what era they came from. When I mentioned that some fans like to think that they come from the same era as the Beast Wars II and Beast Wars Neo cast, he said that that idea pretty much aligns with his own ideas (of note is that a small book of his original artwork that he had for sale at his booth contained a page of artwork that featured Big Convoy and JRX together on Cybertron, but it wasn’t official art, just one of his many personal art pieces).

* Sakamoto also asked me if I work on the TFWiki, and I said yeah. Sakamoto told me a few things that he’d like to see on the Wiki. Specifically, he’d like to see more images overall of artwork, especially more images of full-body character artwork. I told him that, while I do contribute to the Wiki, I’m not a member of its administrative staff, and that the Wiki does have some policies regarding what images it uses and such, but which are reasonable.


I think that’s everything we got to discuss before the convention ended. If I remember any more, I’ll add more to it.

James Roberts Interview with TMW Magazine

Transformers News: James Roberts Interview with TMW Magazine
Date: Thursday, April 14th 2016 8:54am CDT
Categories: Comic Book News, People News, Interviews
Posted by: Dr Va'al | Credit(s): TMW

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Fellow Seibertronian AdamPrime, also the editor for Toy Meets World magazine, has shared with us an interview they conducted on the publication with IDW Transformers writer James Roberts - which you can read in full below! Topics included range from writing techniques, to world-building, a relationship with Hasbro and IDW, and the possibility of a Rung toy (never, apparently). Check it out, and let us - and TMW - know what you think in the Energon Pub.



AdamPrime wrote:Hi guys and gals,

I'm the editor of Toy Meets World magazine. Recently we had the great honor of chatting with IDW writer supremo James Roberts. He's a proper gent, so I thought I'd treat you all to the full interview.

TMW issue #1 is undergoing a 'trial launch' right now, and is available at selected retailers in the south west. We're listening to feedback, and will tweak the mag slightly for the proper nationwide rollout in a few weeks' time. If anyone would like an issue, and there is plenty to read about (such as interviews with Simon Furman, Stan Bush and My Little Pony's Nicole Oliver; reviews of all the coolest toys and books; and tonnes of retro fun with TF, He-Man, Sega, Power Rangers and much more!) then please contact me and I can send one out in the post.

Anyway, on the the interview:

When did you decide that you wanted to be a writer? Was it always going to be in comics, or was that something you pursued later in your career?

I’ve always wanted to write fiction for a living, but not comics necessarily. And that’s strange, I guess, because as a child I read comics to the exclusion of pretty much all else: Whizzer & Chips and Buster, then Marvel UK titles (including Transformers, of course), then 2000AD and what little Marvel US and DC stuff found its way to the Channel Islands. I was a member of an unofficial Transformers fan club – a group of pen pals, really – and even then, for most of the time at least, I contributed prose fiction rather than comic scripts. In my late teens I discovered authors like John Updike, Martin Amis, Graham Greene, George Orwell and Julian Barnes.



It's fair to say that the best TF writing has come from the Brits; previously, Simon Furman was considered the godfather of Transformers - were those big shoes to step into? Did he officially pass the torch?

Oh, I dunno – Nick Roche, John Barber and Mairghread Scott all write a mean TF story, and none of them are British. But thank you anyway! I was and am a huge Simon Furman fan – I’d hold him up alongside my more traditional literary heroes as being a formative influence – and I have him to thank for being a Transformers fan. More than the toys, more than the cartoon, more than the Marvel US material… if it wasn’t for Simon’s work on the British TF comic, we wouldn’t be having this conversation. I got his autograph back in 1991, just after #75 of the American Transformers comic came out; he signed the comic for me. I got him to sign it again 10 years later, when I was promoting an unofficial TF novel I’d written; and 10 years after that, in 2011, I had him sign it a third time – and by then I was writing TF stories professionally, and he asked me (tongue in cheek, but still…) to sign something for him.


Simon’s my TF dad, really. There was no “official” passing of the torch – I’m not sure how that would even work…! – but he did give me a copy of the script to the last Marvel US issue with a lovely note that essentially invited me to carry on what he started.


When you're writing a script, how do you keep to the page count for each issue? Do you supply the script that you feel is complete, and the artist squeezes it in to 20 pages?

No, it’s more complicated – and time-consuming – than that. It’s my job to break each issue down not only into pages, but panels. I have to work out the pacing and structure of each issue, how the story unfolds, how many panels I’ll need to do a scene justice. It’s a case of ‘Page 1, Panel 1’, then a description, for the artist, of what needs to go in the panel, and then the dialog that will go inside that panel. MTMTE is a dense comic – both in terms of plot and dialog – and a huge amount of my time is spent working out how best to tell the story over 20 pages. It’s all planned down to the last detail.


Your stories are characterised by an incredible amount of world-building and backstory. You have also introduced concepts relating to Transformer anatomy and beliefs such as Rossum's trinity, the Guiding Hand and so on. Does Hasbro or IDW ever try and reign you in? Or are you allowed to add as much depth as you like to the characters and universe?

I’m encouraged to world-build – it’s almost part of the job description. IDW, Hasbro and readers (I hope) want to see the Transformers Universe expanded and enriched. I’d only be reined in – and it hasn’t really happened yet, touch wood – if I wanted to introduce a concept that was fundamentally at odds with what Hasbro felt Transformers was about, or if my editor thought, frankly, that it was a rubbish idea, or if anyone responsible for singing off my scripts feel that what I wanted to do was too… well, I was going to say “adult”, but that’s not what I mean. MTMTE has always operated on an adult level in terms of not talking down to its audience, and in terms of exploring mature themes.


MTMTE has an intriguing stance on politics, governments and social injustice. It makes for fascinating reading. Have you ever considered a place in Parliament?

I’m a political nerd and I do have strongly held beliefs about how society should be organized and how we could bring about a better quality of life for everybody. Maybe one day I’ll take the plunge and put my money where my mouth is.


MTMTE threw out the concepts of 'goodies' and 'baddies'. The Autobots and Decepticons are revealed to just be people - whether it's Rodimus' crew, the Scavengers or Deathsaurus - under the badge they're all basically the same. We're dreading the day when the war starts again - will the peace (and MTMTE as a comic) last?

You’re giving me too much credit. The decision to end the Autobot/Decepticon war was made by IDW’s editorial team back in 2010, and John Barber and I had a year in which to prepare two ongoings – John’s Robots in Disguise (now simply titled The Transformers) and MTMTE – which would explore postwar life in more detail. Neither John nor I knew how long the peace (and that’s a relative concept; there’s still lots of conflict in the Transformers Universe) would last. We didn’t know whether fans would demand a return to war, or whether we’d find it difficult to set stories in peacetime for too long. But here we are, in Year Five of each of the ongoings, and the war is still officially over.

It’s true that putting the war to bed has opened up a huge number of new storytelling avenues, most of them predicated on the idea that, once (overt) hostilities cease, and the red and purple badges are put to one side, you’re forced to see each Autobot and Decepticon as a Cybertronian – as a character defined by something other than who they used to take orders from. As I say, it’s opened up lots of new story possibilities. All that said, if the war started again – and it well might – that would mean MTMTE had to end. It would just create some interesting new tensions…


Have you petitioned Hasbro for a toy of Rung? We can imagine the packaging now - "Tranforms from ROBOT to ORNAMENT and back again!"

Ha! I’ve never petitioned Hasbro for anything. They do their thing and, from time to time, I learn that, for example, there’s to be a Minimus Ambus figure, or that another of the Lost Light crew – Brainstorm, Whirl, Chromedome, whoever – is being re-released as a toy. I would LOVE Rung to have a toy, but I damaged the chances of that ever happening when I decided, early on, that he should turn into something which happened to have a very limited play value. You see the sacrifices I make for the greater storytelling good?


With MTMTE, you've taken a few obscure characters, and a few prominent characters, and really made them your own. Characters such as Rewind, Whirl and Ultra Magnus will never be the same. Did you set out to do this from the beginning? Did you think to yourself "Now's the time for Brainstorm to shine!!"

Kind of, I guess. I deliberately selected lesser-known G1 characters, but characters I was fond of, to accompany the Big Four (Rodimus, Magnus, Ratchet and Drift) that were at the center of MTMTE Season 1. Autobots like Tailgate, Skids, Swerve, Brainstorm, Chromedome and Rewind were attractive to me principally because they hadn’t been explored in the past. They were recognizable (to more dedicated TF fans, admittedly), but they were almost blank canvasses. I knew that MTMTE – certainly in the early days – was all about secrets and hidden histories, and I couldn’t tell those type of stories with A List characters who had appeared in IDW comics for the last few years, or with characters who had very well-established personalities. I’m immensely proud of the fact that, through MTMTE, these D-listers have become well-loved and well-recognised characters in their own right.


This may sound silly, but do you take voices into consideration when writing a character? Most people would claim to "hear" the voices in their head when they read. Do you ever give it much thought?

It’s not a silly question and I do give it some thought, mainly because so many readers ask me “Who do you think X sounds like?” And I have to give a very dull – but truthful – response and say, “S/he has a British accent and sounds a bit like me.” I have an imagination deficit in this regard, because I really don’t ‘hear’ their literal voices. I do, of course, know their voices in terms of their character – what they would and wouldn’t do, what they’d say, how they’d say it, the rhythms of their speech and so on, but I don’t, say, write a line for Nautica and hear a certain actress’s voice. But I know that many fans DO, and that’s great!


Do you think that MTMTE, with its tales of space-faring derring do, has a wider appeal than regular Transformer comics? If something like Star Trek can have such universal appeal, there must be hope for Transformers. Could we see a TV version of MTMTE in the future, and would you want to be a part of it? Conversely, do you think its nature makes it LESS appealing to some Transformer fans?

MTMTE is an easy sell in terms of concept: a group of misfit Transformers head off into space in search of their mythical ancestors. It’s a traditional quest story and, as you say, very much in the Star Trek tradition. That might give it a better chance with the casual reader – the non-Transformers fan - than other Transformers comics, but I don’t know. Casual comic readers whose Transformers knowledge is informed by growing up in the 80s – people who think Transformers should be about Autobots versus Decepticons on Earth – may prefer something more in keeping with their childhood memories. I don’t know. I think many people have a preconceived idea of what Transformers is about and sometimes that dissuades them from giving IDW’s titles a chance; and unsurprisingly I wish more people would put such notions aside and pick up MTMTE or John’s Transformers, because they’d be pleasantly surprised.


Can I see MTMTE transferring to TV? I don’t know if I can see it happening, but I’d like it to. MTMTE almost reads as a TV show adapted for comics, with most of the stories being structured as if they were a 45-minute episode. And each story arc – the MTMTE fandom even calls them “seasons” – lasts about 22 issues.

If MTMTE ever transferred to the small screen I would love to be part of it. Even if I ended up hanging about making tea for the animators and actors.


TMW thanks Mr. Roberts very much for his time.

Transformers News: James Roberts Interview with TMW Magazine
Transformers News: James Roberts Interview with TMW Magazine

John Barber Talks More IDW The Transformers #50

Date: Friday, February 26th 2016 1:45pm CST
Categories: Comic Book News, People News, Interviews
Posted by: Dr Va'al | Credit(s): Newsarama

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With an issue as big as The Transformers #50, from IDW and review on Seibertron.com here, we were bound to get more than one interview with John Barber, the writer of the ongoing and editor of everything else Transformers at the publisher - the following is found on Newsarama, and contains some spoilers from the issue, so keep going only once you've read the issue!

[...] One of the things with Optimus Prime is that he’s a good guy. Like, a really good, powerful, guy. So over the years, he'd sort of had doubt introduced to him in the IDW comic books, where he was a little more hesitating in his actions. As I was writing him, I started to realize he was maybe going down that direction again, and it seemed to me—as a character, from his point of view—he’d want to avoid that.

But at the same time, one of the looming questions has been “what does it mean to be Prime?” Starscream’s ruling Cybertron; Megatron’s an Autobot... Some people see him as a war leader, others see him as a messianic figure... Some ’bots are loyally on his side and will follow him anywhere, and others—old friends—start to doubt him.

[...]

Nrama: As the battle and the main story ended, the issue kicked into another gear with that dream sequence from Optimus. What can you say about that? Is it a premonition? Will some (or all) of it come true?

Barber: Some of Optimus's dream is literally true. Some is symbolic. Some is what he fears. Maybe some is leading him to what he needs to know. And a big part of it recalls an ancient prophesy from the days of the original Primes. Is it Optimus projecting himself onto this old tale? Or is it the prophecy asserting itself onto its object?

[...]

But what really comes next is all of the pieces of this series coming together. The politics of Cybertron, the ancient history of Earth and Cybertron, the relationship with Earth and its giant metal visitors. Optimus Prime, Starscream, Prowl, Arcee, Victorion—all those characters come together. Plus ghost-Bumblebee. Or hallucination-Bumblebee, whatever Starscream is seeing. Even poor dead Bumblebee has a role to play!

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179 total news articles in this section, 10 per page.

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