Welcome to the latest episode of the Seibertron.com Twincast / Podcast. This episode features host Scotty P guiding cast members Counterpunch, Megatronus, Seibertron, and Tigertrack through the gauntlet of all the latest news and reveals from New York Comic Con 2015. Plus, Seibertron gets to sit down with the Hasbro Transformers brand team for a special Q&A session you won't want to miss!
As you can probably infer from the episode title, Hasbro's Titans Return line shown off at NYCC 2015 is front and center for this episode. Follow along with the site's extensive galleries of the product reveals from the event as we tackle it all in some form of order, including the individual Titan Masters themselves.
My other car is a drill tank.
We also analyze the Legends class figures, including the important questions. These include questions such as "What does Rewind turn into?" and "Are these tablets also phones?" Well, ok, at least one of those gets asked along the way as we take a look at this upcoming pocket sized fun.
Next fall, the robot romance comes home
We can't forget about the Deluxe class figures of Headmasters coming our way either. Listen in to hear about the size of these guys directly from our crew that was on the ground at NYCC, as well as our other thoughts on the strategy and direction these may tell us about the line.
Does he also do stand-up in gator mode?
The Voyagers don't get left out either. Galvatron and Sentinel Prime go under the microscope, and also give us some hints about future uses of at least one of these molds. Also in this part of the show: Counterpunch goes bummin' on gimmicks.
The head can rotate here, but later?
We can't forget Blaster either, especially with his head being a homage to our program! Well, maybe it isn't, but we still have fun taking a look at this upcoming Leader class figure. Base mode speculation is also included here, as well as something else from Counterpunch: not bummin' on gimmicks.
You can change the face, but the visor remains
Nestled within our coverage of all the new toys is a special interview with the Hasbro Transformers Brand Team! Marketing Director Ben Montano, Senior Manager of Global Brand Marketing Sarah Carroll, Franchise Creative Lead David Erwin, Product Design Manager Ed Masiello, and Product Design Manager John Warden were all gracious enough to take a few minutes during their busy convention to sit down and chat with Seibertron. Listen in as he asks about Titans Return, Prime Wars, and more.
A sincere thanks again to our friends at Hasbro for taking out some valuable time to speak with us!
The show isn't all just NYCC fall out, as there is more going on in the world of Transformers to discuss, including the first two reveals from Botcon 2016's boxed set of toys. Ravage and Tarantulas are the first looks at the Dawn of the Predacus so far. Is the cast sold on the theme by these reveals, or do we still need some more convincing? Turns out we might just be a bit weary on combiners after all. Listen in for our thoughts on these first two limbs.
But what does the red Predacon symbol mean?
There was also a new Transformers video game released last week, and some of the cast has picked it up and started to dive in to this new adventure. Tune in for our somewhat (though not entirely) spoiler-free review of Activision and Platinum Games' Transformers: Devastation. We even touch on some gameplay hints and tricks. Who knew there were game reviewers lurking on this show?
Get ready to go to Sunbow City
Bragging Rights come next, and with them, a long show gets longer. After that, Scotty refuses to let the show end by rambling on about who knows what for several minutes.
That's not a Transformer...
Hope you have fun with this one, we'll see you again very soon with our haphazard ramblings from TFcon weekend!
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Via Newsarama, covering pretty much all of the information revealed in today's NYCC 2015 IDW panel, we have an interview with current creative team on The Transformers ongoing series, as they explain what is about to happen in issue #50, and where the stories will lead after that turning point - starting with the All Hail Optimus arc.
There are some spoilers for the current series, so be warned before you continue to read some extracts below, and the full interview right here.
Optimus Prime and the Autobots have always had a peaceful relationship with the people of Earth -- but in 2016 that's going to change.
In a new arc kicking off with February's Transformers #50, Optimus Prime is annexing Earth to be a part of Cybertron's Council of Worlds. Humanity is up in arms, not to mention the Decepticons, in this arc titled "All Hail Optimus."
Announced just before IDW Publishing's New York Comic-Con Panel "IDW & Top Shelf: Best Panel Of All Time", the creators of Transformers talked with Newsarama about this shocking event, from what it means to where it goes for the Robots in Disguise and the humans like you and I.
Newsarama: John, Andrew -- what can you tell readers about Transformers #50?
John Barber: Transformers #50 is the biggest thing we’ve done. It’s called "All Hail Optimus," and Optimus Prime annexes planet Earth to become to become part of Cybertron’s Council of Worlds—he takes control of Earth to protect it from invasion. Meanwhile, Optimus has thousands of Cybertronian followers who view him as the “True Prime”—they see him as having a power above any elected office, above any “normal” being—and now Optimus is using the power they’ve handed to him. And he’s using it for good—at least as far as he sees it. Not everybody agrees with him.
It’s a powerful move on Optimus Prime’s part, and one that there’s no moving back from. The humans know the Cybertronians are there, are among them, and the people of Earth are forced to become part of a cosmic community.
Andrew and I started working together about… six years ago? And we’ve never stopped. Most of that time’s been on this Transformers series, and this storyline brings together everything we’ve started. It’s amazing to get to work on something so big, and get to collaborate with somebody for so long. It’s been a long, great trip—and it’s about to get even better!
Andrew Griffith: Yeah, what's great to me about getting to this point is that while a landmark issue like #50 is usually a climax of a story, in our case it's the start of a new storyline that also serves as natural culmination of events that have been building in both Transformers and Windblade.
And I also see it as a bit of a landmark in my time working with John. So hard to believe we and colorist Josh Perez have made it to #50 as the core creative team along with Livio, Casey, Brendan, Guido, Sara and all of the other contributors to the series. Quite a feat in today's comics industry. And the same can be said of Transformers.
Nrama: Who's on Optimus' side in all this?
Barber: The team of Autobots on Earth—at least the ones who’ve survived to #50—are all with him, plus a new character named Aileron—she comes from Caminus and is amazing to be around this world of Primes and of grand cosmic events. Victorion—the new female Combiner we introduced this summer will be playing a big role. Is she on his side? That’s a complex answer. Sunstreaker will play a role, and so will the ancient Alpha Trion.
But his biggest supporters are the Colonists who’ve arrived on Cybertron, who’ve lived their whole lives thinking Primes were a myth—and now here they are standing on the same ground as one. And many are willing to do whatever he says—which isn’t something Optimus Prime has been comfortable with in the past.
Griffith: It's always nice to be able to draw familiar favorites like Optimus Prime, Sideswipe and Arcee. But it's even better sometimes to get to work with new characters to our book like Sunstreaker and Victorion. I know Josh and myself are particularly excited to get to help establish new characters like Aerlion, Victorion and the Torchbearers. I'm really happy that our cast can consist of childhood favorites like Optimus Prime while also embracing the newest and most diverse of characters to join the continuity.
Now the important question is: We have Sunstreaker coming up. What about Bob?
Nrama: John, I noticed Jonathan Hickman is listed as doing a cover. Can you talk about Hickman's involvement in the title and at IDW?
Barber: I’ve known Jonathan Hickman since he started writing comics, and he’s great—I love his writing, but I also love his drawing and his design sense. I talked to him at Comic-Con International: San Diego last summer, and he’d been doing some variant covers, and I asked if he’d do one for Transformers, and he said yes!
That’s all there really is to it, but years ago, I did make him listen to my Transformers plans in a bar. He’s probably blocked that memory out.
Griffith: Jonathan Hickman's doing a cover for our book? How rad is that? Can't wait to see it!
Via Comic Book Resources, we have a fairly lengthy interview with the creative team behind Transformers: Windblade, in particular issue #5: Mairghread Scott and Corin Howell! The two touched upon the general direction of the series post-Combiner Wars, the introduction of multiple characters from several branches of the robot franchise, their thoughts on their favourite characters so far and much more, including some concepts for Moonracer and Knock-Out. Check out some snippets below, and head here for the full interview!
CBR News spoke with Scott and Howell about what's next for "Transformers: Windblade," what it means for their title character to learn that Prime may not be the 100% altruistic hero she once believed him to be, and why giant, battling robots provide the perfect allegory to explore themes like politics, war, gender and more.
Starscream has been handling this all magnificently, maneuvering everything into place. Has it been fun to get to have him outpace the others and show off his political agility?
Scott: Starscream is one of my favorite characters and I've had a great time revealing just how cunning he is. He also has a big advantage because everyone else in the book wears their heart on their sleeve. Windblade wants to save Caminus. Optimus wants to save Cybertron. And Starscream just wants to do whatever's best for Starscream. That makes him a lot more flexible than our other characters, and he uses that flexibility to its fullest extent. When Starscream sent Swindle and Menasor to Caminus, I saw a lot of people exclaiming that this would be Starscream's last mistake, and by the end of "Combiner Wars" he'd be ousted from power. I think underestimating Starscream is a lot of people's biggest mistake.
Scott: So at the end of "Combiner Wars," Caminus and Cybertron are now connected via SpaceBridge, and the Cybertronians have learned of at least four other colonies. Windblade's new mission is to make first contact with these worlds and somehow convince them to ally with Cybertron's new Council of Worlds, but each colony will have its own unique challenges she'll have to deal with. We're also kicking open a lot of doors to continuities that haven't been explored much in IDW. We're including a whole lot of new Transformers, many of which fans will know from other iterations of the brand throughout the years.
The Transformers comics seem to handle sci-fi as allegory more capably than anyone else is able to right now. What is it about the Universe which makes them so suitable to introduce themes of politics, war, gender and the like?
Howell: I think it's because when you get to see huge talking robots fighting, you can be sneaky with some bigger themes like political disputes and rivalries or the cause and costs of war. Everyone reads it to have fun, but they come away with a little bit more than that -- or at least that's the hope, anyway.
Scott: When you are dealing with alien robots, you have just enough distance between you and the subject that you can explore difficult ideas and themes much more comfortably. "Transformers" as a brand has always dealt with war, battle fatigue, prejudice and factionalism. And while our main goal is to tell a really great story, it's always my hope that we're giving people the chance to explore the rationale, emotions and beliefs of people they wouldn't get the chance to do in real life.
Was it a conscious choice to pick characters from so many different versions of the franchise and unite them here?
Scott: My goal for introducing more diversity to the brand has always been about opening as many doors as possible. I never want a writer to think "I can't introduce Character X because they have no place in this universe." So Caminus got the ball rolling on introducing female Transformers, but now all these other colonies will have female Transformers, too. My next thought was how can we push this further and introduce more bots. I realized that we had a lot of G1 and G2 bots but what if you grew up with "Beast Wars" or "Animated" or any of the later generations of Transformers? I wanted something for those viewers, too. These colonies have allowed me to open even more doors and create a whole universe of possibilities for future stories and future characters. I want any fan no matter their age or what iteration of the brand they grew up with to be able to see their favorite Transformer fitting in to the story.
Hello again, fans of Transformers from Seibertron and beyond! We continue our journey in the world behind the scenes of everyone's (we assume) favourite transforming robots by having a good chat with one of the latest entries at IDW - the new artist on the ongoing Windblade series, whose work we have started to see in Windblade #3 (out on 10th June, sneak peek here): Corin Howell! Check it out below, as we look at her development as a fan and an artist.
Va'al - Corin, it is an extreme pleasure to have you talk to us here at Seibertron.com - it's always great news to hear we have some fresh talent brought into the franchise! And we do hope we'll make you feel welcomed, of course. But maybe we should get to know you a little more first, too: How did it all begin for you? When did Transformers enter your life?
Corin - It's incredibly awesome to talk with you guys! Seibertron.com was one of the first sites I visited when I was starting out in my wee early stages of TF Fandom, so it's really exciting!
It really started when I was kid in the 90s, I grew up around a lot of boy cousins when I was young so I was exposed to Transformers early on (along side TMNT, ThunderCats, G. I. Joe, Batman, comics in general, etc). I think I really got into it when Beast Wars came out and I was a huge fan of Cheetor and Primal. By the time TF Armada came around, I had started drawing all these robots.
Va'al - We're delighted to hear that! More Seibertronians, even if lurkers, making into the professional lands of Transformers is always a big boost. Were you into any of the toys as well, either before the arrival of Beast Wars, of after that stage? Or was it mostly the fiction, on screen and on the page?
Corin - It was actually all of the above! I didn’t get into the toys till I was a little older, so after Beast Wars ( high school methinks, those Master Pieces caught my eye), but before that it was the fiction, the comics, TV shows -- visual media was the primary thing that fueled the need to draw giant transforming robots.
Va'al - What was it about the visuals that appealed to you, do you think? I mean, you've mentioned Beast Wars but also previous iterations of the franchise, and the aesthetics can be really quite different at times - what drew (hah!) you in?
Corin - I’m a sucker for details. I like drawing landscapes: interiors, exteriors, cars, motorcycles, etc. What fascinated me as I got older (because as a kid it was just “Giant talking robots!”) is the amount of details that go into each character -- like how did they transform, how it fit their personality, which part goes WHERE -- it was all really interesting to me. There was one thing I did like adding in, and that was making them more expressive -- after Beast Wars, I dont remember a series that included a lot of expressiveness in their facial features. At least until TF Animated came around.
Va'al - There was also a blight of 'constipated grimace' expression with the toys.. especially during Beast Wars! So was it mainly the screen media that you were interested in, or were the comics on your radar too?
Corin - It was mainly the screen media that got me interested first. However, when Armada came around I started reading the comics, especially when Alex Milne's work started popping up. Armada comic series was great, never really read Energon, and I was a huge sucker for the “Stormbringer “ series. But no Transformers series really drove me to really start pushing my Transformers drawings more then when Milne did “Megatron Origin”.
Megatron being one my favorite characters ( you can thank David Kaye and his Beast Wars Megatron for that ), the story was amazing (thank you Eric Holmes) but the art was what really caught my eye. The attention to detail, the fact that they look like they can TRANSFORM on the page was incredibly awesome and looking at my work, I knew I needed to get better to reach that caliber of work. Of course my style really took its shape when I started college, but I still look at Milne’s work whenever I draw Transformers.
Va'al - Milne has had a significant impact on fan artists, that is indisputable. What other influences, Transformers-related or not, would you say you have in your style of drawing in general? Anyone else creep in from the sidelines?
Corin - There’s actually a few that have had a major impact on the development of my style. One of the top being Glen Keane -- I grew up with all of the movies he worked on with Disney, and I've always admired his ability to really pull the characters personality out in their expressions. So when I finally acquired “The Art of Tangled”, I was able to study the way he draws expressions more and put them in my work.
Another artist is Sean Murphy - his inks and the way he draws vehicles and cities have always been something I've admired. I had the wonderful opportunity to be one of his students last year when he hosted an apprenticeship in Portland, ME. Getting that chance to finally understand how to draw and ink vehicles and landscapes using his techniques really helped me on a new approach in developing my style.
Other artists include Becky Cloonan (By Chance or Providence, Demo) , Klaus Janson (Batman: Legends of the Dark Knight), Juanjo Guarnido (Blacksad), and the list just goes on and on. But these artist really influenced me on my work.
Va'al - Those are some serious names right there, and great models to work with/from! At this point, I believe, the question is: how did the transition happen? When did you go from student artist to professional? IDW isn't your first gig, is it?
Corin - No it isn't actually. My first project was actually right out of college back in 2013. The SCAD sequential department hosts a “Mini Comics Expo” after every Editors Day and I decided to table since it was my last quarter. It worked out because I met my editor from VIZ Media who right after the expo, put me on a short “Ben 10” Halloween comic. I worked well with cartoons, so after that they put me on the “40th Anniversary of Hello Kitty” anthology (which was nominated for an Eisner!) and then I worked on a few projects with "Bravest Warriors" with VIZ, doing a Seek-and-Find page and then a “Choose Your Own Adventure” book.
I was still in the starting phase, but I also wanted to branch out and try new things. Then that same year, around September I think I applied for the Murphy Apprenticeship, then the next thing I knew I was working on “Cafe Racer” with the other students (Clay McCormick, Tana Ford, Jorge Coelho, Stephen Green, and Joe Dellagatta).
I guess the transition happened right after I got out of the Apprenticeship. I wanted to work more on establishing myself in different areas of comics, so I started making plans for con season. I went to Heroes Con 2014, I tabled and met with one of my first contacts with ONI Press, then came SDCC 2014 -- that's where I met John and Mairghread thanks to Marcelo Matere who introduced me (and also where I geeked out without realizing that these guys were editors/writers and possibly showed that I was biggest nerd in the universe). I basically made it my goal to meet with as many people as I could so I can establish myself, and after that long summer of traveling I was getting contracts.
Va'al - And now you're here, to the big robots! How did you actually get to the Windblade series position, after your meeting with Scott and Barber? Did you pitch something in your geek-out, or were you asked to step in?
Corin - And here I am! I actually didn't get the call till earlier this year (I think it was late Jan or Feb). I think my geek out session had something to do with it, I can't help but be a fangirl sometimes. But John knew I was a major TF fan, so when I got that email to do a test page I was like “SERIOUSLY??” and proceeded to bounce with glee. I was practically giddy when I learned that I got the part too because it's like “CHILDHOOD DREAM ACHIEVED”.
Va'al - I can only imagine the feeling coming from a call like that. If you are able to discern, at this stage, what is your favorite part of working with Mairghread Scott on Transformers: Windblade? How does it compare so far to other projects?
Corin - Mairghread is a lot of fun to work with, especially since she’s so open to the artist’s suggestions. We especially work well with grasping the character’s expression at specific moments. I also love how she’s specific on character personalities -- like when we were talking about the project, she went into detail about how characters acted and their body language, hand gestures. How Chromia as Windblade’s bodyguard, she stands tall and presents herself as a powerful individual, for example.
Compared to other projects? I’m not sure to be honest, I have fun with all of my projects because it gives me a chance to try new things!
Va'al - That sounds like the Mairghread we've come to know! And do you colour your own art, or are you joined by someone else on the series? Is Tom Long returning on lettering too?
Corin - We have Thomas Teyowisonte Deer on coloring for the Windblade issues I’m working on. I don't usually do my own colors for pages because I’m more of an inker, only with single illustrations will I color. I’m not sure who's lettering this round but we’ll find out!
Va'al - We sure will, and we're quite intrigued about the Combiner Wars aftermath already! Are there any highlights so far that you actually tell us about the series, anything you're particularly excited about yourself?
Corin - New worlds and new characters! I know it's been hinted at Velocitron in the June and July listings, so I’m excited to draw some awesome racing scenes! There’s more characters coming, but unfortunately I can't spoil too much.
Not appearing in Windblade, alas..
Va'al - That's a tease and a half, especially after all the work we're currently seeing in Combiner Wars and seeded all the way back in Windblade (volume 1) #4! But I'm sure all good things will come to those of us who can patient just a little longer..
Corin, it has been a pleasure talking to you, and thank you for taking some time out for us - any last things you'd like to mention, or plug?
I also have a book with DC Comics coming out called “Bat-Mite”, so if you’re interested you should check it out!
That is all from the Seibertron.com and IDW backstages for this time, readers. Make sure to pick up Windblade #3 for an appetiser, and Windblade #4 when it hits later this month, to see Corin's art in action, and let us know if you'd like more of this type of feature in the comments!
Comics and entertainment website Comic Book Resources were able to have a lengthy chat with producer and head writer for the current animated TV series Transformers: Robots in Disguise, Adam Beechen. They touched upon the presence of Grimlock, the placing of the series in terms of the wider Transformers universe, the cast, Optimus Prime and more - read the whole piece here, and some selected passages below!
The producer and head writer for Cartoon Network’s “Robots in Disguise,” Beechen shared with SPINOFF how he’s working to open up Transformers to a younger audience while building on the stories that have come before. He also explained what it’s like to tap “Batman Beyond’s” Will Friedel as the voice of Bumblebee, teased the show’s long-term mysteries about the fate of Optimus Prime, and more.
Spinoff Online: Over the past few years, Hasbro has kept the continuity from all their various “Transformers” franchises unified in one way or another between TV and video games and comics. This show is a step forward in that idea since it takes the premise past the “Autobots and Decepticons crash-landed on Earth.” What’s it like to be writing what is the forefront of the canon in some respect?
Adam Beechen: I think that I had the benefit coming in of never having worked on the Transformers franchise before. I didn’t write for “Prime.” And so I wasn’t as emotionally tied to all of the continuity elements that a lot of the people who had worked on that show had been. And it’s great that they are because they’re a wonderful resource for me to find out background info I need. But my main goal coming into this series was, “Let’s make this a show for Bumblebee. Let’s give him the exposure he hasn’t really had in a brand new way.” And as part of that, we get to introduce a bunch of new characters for a new generation of viewers that they can get attached to. It’s still part of the larger Transformers universe, but you don’t have to know 30 years of history to enjoy them, appreciate them and just have fun.
And the show then can serve as a bridge tonally between “Rescue Bots” and “Transformers Prime.” The kids aging out of “Rescue Bots” can jump onto “Robots in Disguise” and still feel at home. But at the same time, they have a little bit more serious adventures with a little bit higher stakes. And then they can ease into all the giant continuity that the series have put together.
Is it liberating as a showrunner when you work with a company like Hasbro and you have a guaranteed order for a long run on the series?
It doesn’t so much change your approach, but you know how many episodes you have, so you pace out the story you’re telling accordingly. Typically what happens in a situation like this is that at the start of the season you sit down with the brand team and find out what their plans are in terms of the upcoming seasons – as in calendar seasons – for what toys they’re releasing when and what kind of story elements they’d like to see in the upcoming episodes. You have that meeting and plan out episodes according to that, but doing so in a way that tells the best possible stories. You’re not just cramming toys in there. You want to tell a cool story and help with what they’re doing as well. And it just runs from there.
It’s pretty rare that a brand will come back to you in the middle of your season and say, “By the way, we’ve come up with a new figure that will be on the shelves of the toy stores tomorrow. Get it into the next episode!” There’s not any time for things like that. So after that initial meeting, you’re well aware of what you want to do over the course of the season and how to make everyone happy. From there, you’re free to tell the coolest stories you can.
And what about the comics side of all this? Frequently, there will be a kid-friendly comic version that ties into the show in a way that fleshes out what we see on screen. Is that the case for July’s series from IDW?
We’re very aware of what’s happening with the comics, and we love what IDW has done with this world. That factors into our thinking, and we’ve had the good fortune of having one of the key comic book writers – Mairghread Scott, who you may or may not be familiar with – work with us. Mairghread was the script coordinator on our series, and she graduated quickly to being one of the key writers on the show. She is a living repository of all things Transformers, and so she knows what’s gone on across every single medium the characters have ever appeared in. As we were working, she’d say, “The comics have already been there. You may want to do something different with an episode.” Or she may say to the comic editors, “The show did this thing, so it would be kind of cool if you tied it in this way.” I can’t say for sure how all the comics will reflect the series, but we’re definitely aware of each other as we go forward
Via a notification from fellow Seibertronian robotmel, we have an interview conducted by IDW senior editor John Barber, also writer for The Transformers, with Georgia Ball, the new writer for the new series Transformers: Robots in Disguise! Check out some highlights below, and read the full piece here.
JB: What was your entry into the world of Transformers—as a fan, I mean? Do you have a favorite version of Transformers from over the years?
GB: I was parked in front of every episode of Transformers G1 in the 1980s but I couldn’t convince my mother to buy me any of the toys. She was a huge toy collector and had no problem showering me with Star Wars figures but Transformers just didn’t speak to her. After tons of pathetic begging she bought me one: Topspin, a Jumpstarter who sort-of-kind-of popped onto his feet when you pulled him backwards.
GB: I missed out when the movie was in theaters due to the same lack of parental interest—I saw it years later on TV and turned it off when Starscream died, because without Starscream around I just didn’t see the point. I returned to Transformers with Transformers: Prime, then jumped into the comics and bought my own toys, although my daughter’s plan to “share” the Bumblebee I got for my birthday isn’t working out in my favor. Now if only someone would take nine boxes of Star Wars figures off my hands.
JB: This new TRANSFORMERS ROBOTS IN DISGUISE comic is based on the all-new hit tv series airing on Cartoon Network. But this comic isn’t an adaptation—it’s all-new stories set in that world, but with… well, without giving anything away, some old friends you’re only going to see in the comic, right?
GB: The stories tie into the continuity the show shares with Transformers Prime and what happens in the cartoon will have consequences in the comic. But the comic will also feature new villains and explore different themes. There will be squabbles and there will be punching, but the first arc weaves in an element of mystery and betrayal. Bumblebee has to put the pieces together and he may not get them in the right order. I like resolving subplots in one or two issues within the context of a longer ongoing story, I’m not a fan of ending an issue without getting somewhere.
JB: What do you think of TRANSFORMERS ROBOTS IN DISGUISE artist Priscilla Tramontano’s work? Have you two had a chance to collaborate much yet?
GB: This will be my first time working with Priscilla, who I was familiar with mainly for her color work in the comics. I love the somewhat organic feel she brings to the characters that lets them act out their emotions, she’s the perfect choice.
JB: Any other messages for Transformers fans out there?
GB: Transformers Robots in Disguise is accessible to new readers and is all about action and fun. Plus Autobots punching weird Decepticons in the face.
With the current flurry of screenings across the US of the 1986 Transformers movie, and the unfortunate news of the passing of actor Leonard Nimoy, it's unsurprising that we hear more from the people involved in its creation, from a cast, crew and other perspectives! Entertainment website Topless Robot has posted a list of ten major points to come out of the Q&A session during the event in LA (which you can also watch for yourself via the embedded clip below!), ranging from Flint Dille, voice director Wally Burr and voice actors Neil Ross and Michael Bell. Check out some of it below, and the full piece here!
TR: Did your writing process change when you began scripting the movie as opposed to the TV show?
Flint Dille: Well, it did from the point of view that we knew this was going to be a very big movie. Of course, the purpose of the movie was not only to have something in theaters, but also to introduce next year's product line. Which meant that we had to first kill off the old product line to make way for the new toys.
TR: So Optimus Prime had to die?
FD: Exactly. We just didn't realize that it was going to bother anybody! :laughs: But I'd argue that had we not killed him, we wouldn't be talking about Transformers right now. Still, we didn't know the can of worms that we were opening when we wrote those scenes.
Topless Robot: The film world recently lost Leonard Nimoy, who voiced Galvatron in the Transformers animated feature. Can you talk about what he was like to work with?
Wally Burr: Very professional. Business-like. He came in and was ready to work. I asked him if I could give him the profile of what the show was about, to help get him up to speed. And he said "Go ahead." So I did. And when I finished with the full explanation, he said, "Okay, get your director and let's do this." :laughs: He didn't realize that I was the director! He must have thought I was a production assistant or somebody hired by the studio to hold his hand until he was ready to be used.
TR: What about Orson Welles? He came with quite a reputation, I imagine.
WB: With Mister Welles, I was intimidated in advance. Because if you've ever heard any of the outtake reels on him, he could be pretty tough. And he had a right to be! He could look at any script and say, instantly, I know what you need here. The problem was, he didn't want to be directed. But somebody had to coordinate the session, and that's what a voice director does. We coordinator of the cast. Otherwise, they'd overlap each other. The voice director keeps the characters straight, and so on. So I thought I was going to have a lot of problems with Mister Welles. And I did. At one point he was rather slow in his delivery, so I gently said "Mister Welles, this is sounding great. I'm wondering if I can ask you to pick up the tempo just a little bit." And he said, in that voice of his, "I'm reading this as rapidly as I possibly can. And furthermore, I'll do the slating from now on." Well, the voice director usually slates from the recording booth.
Topless Robot: You both voiced a number of different characters throughout the Transformers film. Did you have any particular favorites to play?
Neil Ross: Yes, I think so. My favorite was called Springer. He could turn into a helicopter at will, and he was just a good, fun, solid hero-type to play. He also didn't involve any throat ripping.
TR: Throat ripping?
NR: :speaks in a painfully scratchy voice: "That's when some of the characters sound like this!"
Courtesy of entertainment website ComicBookResources.com, we have another interview with some of the creators behind the upcoming IDW Publishing Transformers: Combiner Wars event, crossing over current ongoing The Transformers and returning series Windblade. Read some snippets from the full piece - found here - below, in which John Barber and Mairghread Scott touch upon some of what is to come in terms of stories and themes, including some preview art for from Sarah Stone and Livio Ramondelli!
CBR News: This is the first big "Transformers" crossover since last year's "Dark Cybertron" epic. While we understand the basic gist of the crossover, what more can you tell us about "Combiner Wars?" Who, exactly is combining? Who is warring?
Mairghread Scott: "Combiner Wars" starts when Starscream (a rather evil guy and ruler of Cybertron) gains the ability to make a Combiner (a super-powerful giant) and seems poised to build a new Cybertronian empire.
Let that sink in.
Because when we talk about empire in "Transformers," we're not talking a few countries in Europe. We're speaking of whole planets who might be about to bow to the power of one man. Combiners are the ultimate weapons of Transformers, and Starscream can now make as many as he wants.
So you have two very different wars happening at the same time. Windblade and Optimus Prime are fighting a war for influence (Can they get people to see the danger Starscream poses?), while others take a much more literal war with every weapon they have.
John Barber: Meanwhile, on Earth, Prowl is sitting at the head of the up-to-now only really properly-functioning Combiner -- the other attempts have basically failed outright or driven the component people mad -- and he's not keen on Optimus Prime's leadership of the Autobots, or Starscream's ruling of Cybertron.
To put it in a real world setting: It's six issues (one "Opening Salvo" and five actual parts, just like most of the Combiners have) that starts in "Transformers" #39, goes to the new "Transformers: Windblade" #1, back to "Transformers" #40 and alternated until it's done. Mairghread and I are writing it, and the art is by the amazing Sarah Stone and Livio Ramondelli, alternating issues
Diversity is a big issue in comics -- and everywhere, really -- and something that I know is important to both of you, but how exactly do you promote diversity through stories about giant sexless, raceless robots?
Scott: The term "sexless" is debatable in my view. I want to be clear: There are Transformers who are inherently male and inherently female. That doesn't mean the same thing as it does in humans, but Transformers that call themselves "she" aren't doing it because they like the 'sh' sound. They are female, and we're going to meet a lot more of them.
The term "raceless" is also misleading. Transformers have a long history of racial tension against cassettes, animalistic transformers, headmasters, etc. They are just as noble as humans and we're pushing the envelope to make them at least as diverse as we are. So what can you expect in terms of Transformers in the future? More! More body types, more races, more LGBTQ, more religions and creeds and classes. More conflict about all of the above. Working with robots doesn't stop us from exploring diversity. It offers us the chance to push the boundaries of diversity in a lot of interesting, allegorical ways.
Barber: Yeah, what Mairghread said there. One of the things that non-"Transformers" fans might not realize is how wide-ranging and inclusive the "Transformers" fanbase is. I mean, it's self-evident if you're part of the "Transformers" world, but "Transformers" readers, "Transformers" fans encompass the entire spectrum of people. And it's important to have the characters in the comic be reflective of that.
It's sometimes a complex line to walk, between the out-and-out science-fiction-ness of the "Transformers" universe and its relationship with the real world, but it's important.
Hi! Remember us? We left the interviews with comics creators lagging for a while, as life decided to settle itself, 2014 swept in and we're now ready for Combiner Wars hitting shelves in both paper, plastic and pixel format. But alongside that, we've also seen the return of one of IDW's original Transformers characters, Drift, in the hands of its originator - Shane McCarthy. Read on below for a spotlight on the Australian author of AHM!
Va'al - Shane, it is a pleasure to talk to you for a bit, thank you for agreeing to do this! As we've done for the other creators we've interviewed, I'd like to start from the beginning - from your beginning: how did Transformers enter your life, do you remember your first interaction with the franchise?
Shane McCarthy - I absolutely do. Like most kids I was crazy about cartoons and around that time I was all about He-Man. Saturday morning was where it was at and I would get up super early to watch them all. One morning, when He-Man had finished, on comes this cartoon I'd never heard of. It opened with Cybertron in flames and I was immediately hooked. After that it was a mad dash to the toy store. The first one I ever bought was the double pack of the cassettes... Frenzy and Laserbeak I think.
Va'al - And was that also a gateway moment into collecting the toys, or were you able to keep the plastic addiction at bay (or forced to, by external factors)? Did you, or do you still, have the one that got away, or at least a very elusive toy that was really hard to get?
Shane - Well I'd already started my He-Man collection so buying toys was already a habit. What I could afford mind you; my parents would buy me some big things for Christmas (Castle Grayskull) but I had to buy the figures myself. So picking up Transformers was a natural progression.
As for the one that got away. I was crazy about Prime and Soundwave as a kid and got both of those. There's two I never got that I really wanted as a kid. Ravage, because he looked so damn cool and I never saw him again beyond when I had to make that first choice in the store. And Megatron. Although I wouldn't be after Megs these days, the actual toy doesn't look at all that hot to me.
Va'al - Starting to sense a purple pattern here, I must admit. Would you say that Ravage (or any of the other three) still holds a spot in your collector's heart? Did you continue collecting beyond your childhood and teenage years, with new iterations of the same characters?
Shane - I'd say it's really just Ravage these days; I think the concept and the design are really cool. I think I've still got Frenzy around here somewhere, I lost Laserbeak's head though.
I didn't keep collecting, no. My love of the toys spilled over into books and comics. The next time I bought a Transformer was after Beast Wars came out. Like a lot of people I dismissed Beast Wars as some sort of heretical assault on the old classics. When a friend explained how the old cartoons and Beast Wars lined up and then handed me Transmetal Optimus Primal, I was hooked again. That was a seriously cool toy.
Va'al - That often still happens with some fans, good to hear we won you over to the beast side eventually! So as you ventured from screen media and toys into comics, what were your first impressions, what caught your attention in particular?
Shane - You mean comics in general? Conan, haha. My sister bought me one at a flea market to shut me up. It had Gil Kane on art and it was glorious. From there it was into Batman and Superman then down the road the X-Men.
As far as Transformers though I started picking up the magazine format comics, the ones from the UK that Simon Furman was writing. I absolutely loved them. I remember the first story I came in on, I can't remember the issue number though. But basically Prime and Outback were battered and fighting to survive against some sort of ape creatures I think. Classic stuff.
Va'al - That sounds very much like issue #100, Distant Thunder! As an established comics reader, how long did it take from that point to entering the industry as a creator? How was that process for you?
Shane - That's the one! Man, you're good. Alan Davis on cover art too, wow.
How long did it take? Well the link says that comic came out in 1987. My first publication was Batman for DC Comics in...2005 I think so, 18 years. Yikes.
The process was an interesting one. I never even thought of becoming a writer until I was around twenty odd years old. It had never occurred to me. Once the idea struck (or was actually suggested to me) everything clicked in a way nothing ever had before. After that it was a lot of work, effort and training before I broke in with DC.
Va'al - But you did make it in the end, and you've worked on multiple characters and properties since! What I'm wondering, though, is how the IDW gig started - did they ask you to take over from Furman, or did you pitch material to them?
Shane - I was approached by Chris Ryall to take over from Simon. He'd been doing great stuff but they were wanting to move in a different direction and asked me what I would do if I took over. With the understanding that it was supposed to be a new direction, one they hoped would also appeal to a wider audience, I pitched All Hail Megatron.
Va'al - And Drift was one of the new, original appearances in the series, before he became his own full-on character, correct? We've seen the pitch for him in the recent IDW Complete Drift volume, actually - how did it feel to introduce an entirely new character to the franchise?
Shane - It was fun. I was already having a hell of a lot of fun working on AHM and it was never on my mind to bring in anything new. However when I was working on the book the idea for Drift popped into my head and I thought, why not? I've said it before but the initial pitch was me just firing off a "what if" email to Chris. He liked the idea but said Hasbro would never go for it. Turns out they loved it. Right away they mentioned the possibility of a figure which was brilliant. Apparently some people didn't believe the figure was true when Chris announced it. I still find that hilarious.
Va'al - He was also not the only lasting outcome of the AHM series, as we're still feeling some of the aftermath of those events in the current ongoings and mini-series (such as the beef between Devastator and Spike, which Costa took a step further, and Barber is currently retreading in The Transformers). How does it feel, as the plotter behind it all?
Shane - It's nice to know it's all still going forward. I don't read the books (unless I'm writing for them) but I would hope that some things have been kept and other things have changed. Like any comic book, when a new creative team comes on they need to leave their stamp. It's important everything isn't thrown out but it has to be something new otherwise what's the point?
Va'al - And that, in a way, brings us to the present day, with you returning to Drift after his presence in James Roberts' writing in More Than Meets the Eye. How does it feel to write the book now, compared to any of the three you were working on back then?
Shane - I have to say it was a mix of weird and fun. James' take on Drift was different to mine and I needed to keep that in mind as I did the mini series. I'd read through Drift's "James" appearances and got a feel for who he was there. After that I needed to think about where I wanted to take him and what I wanted to say with the character taking into account what he meant to me when I created him and what he means to me now after he'd gone through so much since AHM.
It kind of felt like seeing a really great friend after they'd been overseas for a while. They're still your good mate but they've got a whole bunch of new hobbies and an accent.
Va'al - Was the inclusion of Ratchet as grumpy but sensible counterpart to him in Empire of Stone something that you built from the MTMTE relationship between the two, then, or entirely your initiative?
Shane - No that was absolutely from MTMTE. I loved the odd couple vibe I was getting from them and knew I needed someone to come calling from the Autobots. It was nice having it be Ratchet, someone who once hated Drift (or was at least seriously annoyed by him). Plus I knew it would make for some fun buddy cop moments.
Va'al - They do have some really good interactions, yes! And what about the other characters showing up, such as Gigatron and super obscure ones like Hellbat and the Micromasters? Are they something you have a connection to, or was it more of an editorial call?
Shane - No those were all my choices. When it comes to finding new, interesting characters that haven't been overused it can get tough so I decided to go to an expert. I went to Twitter and asked a Transformer fan, Sprite, for advice on some underused characters. I knew the kinds of characters I was looking for and she made some great suggestions of who hadn't been used in the IDW universe yet. I had a look through that list and chose the ones I liked the most. Gigatron, Hellbat and Grit all came from that list so, thanks, Sprite.
Va'al - Fans really making an impact, then, on all accounts! Some great artists are also showing up at IDW from the fan base, but you've gone with the established team of Guido Guidi, Stephen Baskerville and JP Bove. How are you finding working with them? What do you feel their art brings to the story?
Shane - They're a fantastic team to work with. It's fantastic to be working with Guido again; I absolutely adore his artwork. After having worked together for a year on AHM it was great to get back into those familiar roles again. And JP, what a champ. Fantastic work and a great guy. I had the pleasure of signing with JP when I was at a UK con, the guy's a riot. Stephen is a new one to me but, like the others, I love what he brought to the book. Everyone is excited to be working together and we're all doing our best to put out a book that we love and hope the readers will love too.
Va'al - It is receiving its fair share of praise so far - but with only one issue left to the series, do you have any other plans in mind for Drift or the Transformers universe in general? Anything we should be looking forward to?
Shane - Not currently no. I'm really glad John [Barber] dropped me a line asking me to do this, it was a blast, but currently this looks like it's it for Transformers. Not to say something won't pop up down the line, IDW is over the moon at how well Drift is being received so you never know.
Va'al - That's a low - though hopeful - tone to be ending this chat upon, however - is there anything you'd like to say to the fans and readers out there before we bid our goodbyes?
Shane - Just a huge thank you. Thank you for reading and thank you for writing in. It's great to know people have enjoyed AHM and Drift.
Va'al - And thank you, Shane, for taking the time to talk to us for this interview - it was great to find out more about your journey as a fan and a creator. Best of luck for future endeavours, and we'll be on the lookout for Drift #4 later this month!
You can find out more about Shane McCarthy's multiple creative lives at his website, SMAcTalk, and on Twitter. IDW Transformers: Drift - Empire of Stone is regularly reviewed on Seibertron.com - join the discussion here!
You can also read Shane's thoughts on Age of Extinction Drift here - and find out more about the latest incarnation of the character in animated series Robots in Disguise here and here.
Comics and geek culture website The Mary Sue was also able to have a chat with IDW writer Mairghread Scott about the upcoming Windblade return with the beginning of Transformers: Combiner Wars - and we've copied a couple of snippets below! Read the full story here, and take a look at some preview art of the Mistress of Flame, a leader of Caminus, by Sarah Stone, too.
TMS: Combiner Wars seems like it might offer more of a chance to examine the Metrotitan Caminus and the culture of his planet, being the only Transformers society (in the IDW continuity) to have developed gender. Or is that the kind of thing that might be left until after the event dust settles?
MS: Combiner Wars is going to be our first real introduction to the planet Caminus (where Windblade is from) and the ‘Bots that live on it. It’s also our first time meeting transformers who are completely unlike the ones from Cybertron. Camiens are proud, devout and desperately in need of help and we see how that affects their dealings with Autobots, Decepticons and Starscream himself.
In fact, we have an exclusive sneak peek at of one of the most important members of Camian society, the Mistress of Flame. The Mistress of Flame is the leader of the only faith on Caminus, The Way of Flame, which worships a female Prime said to be the mother of all Camiens. But fire can be as dangerous as it is helpful and the faith of Caminus burns hotter than any Cybertronian realizes.
TMS: And finally: Is Windblade combining with anyone in the series? Are we looking at a potential metrotitan combiner (several bots transforming into a single larger bot)?
MS: Now that would be telling. But there will be a brand new combiner in our series. Who it is and how it gets made are things you’ll just have to read to find out.
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