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John Barber and Fico Ossio Talk IDW Revolutionaries

Transformers News: John Barber and Fico Ossio Talk IDW Revolutionaries
Date: Tuesday, January 17th 2017 5:30pm CST
Categories: Comic Book News, People News, Interviews
Posted by: Va'al | Credit(s): Comicosity

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As this week sees the first issue of the new IDW series post-Revolution, featuring Transformers characters Kup and Blackrock, plus Action Man and GI Joe - and written by continuity wizard John Barber, with art by Fico Ossio - Comicosity were able to have a chat with the two creators to promote thebook and give us a little more information. Check out some snippets below, the full piece here, and look out of our review of the issue soon!

Aaron Long: Revolution merged the Hasbro properties into a shared universe, with Revolutionaries now spinning out of the event. What will readers be seeing in this series?

John Barber: Lots of fast-paced action and big world-building. The Revolutionaries team is made up of Mayday (who’s a G.I. Joe agent), Kup and Blackrock (who are Transformers), and Action Man (who’s English). So they’re already kinda all over the place to start with, but right off the bat they have to team up with Rom and the Micronauts to fight the Oktober Guard and the new Storm Shadow. Nothing’s off the table!

So we’ll be seeing big crossovers between characters, plus we’ll be going all over the world. If you’re a fan of the Hasbro characters—from the comics or the toys or the cartoons—there will be little nods, or returns to places and ideas from all over. Remember when Cobra had a base on the moon? We do. And we’re trying to pull in things from all over the history of the characters—like, I don’t know if anybody was expecting the Sgt. Savage and his Screaming Eagles relaunch of G.I. Joe, but that stuff plays a role.

If you’re not familiar with this weird stuff, no worries—we’re introducing all these ideas, not expecting you’re an expert. But that said, we’ve done our homework.

[...]

AL: The ongoing cast consists of Action Man, Blackrock, Mayday and Kup. Can you dis-cuss how this mix of characters was decided upon to anchor the title?

JB: At the Revolution writer’s retreat, Cullen Bunn suggested that since Action Man’s comic was a limited series, he’d be without a home post-Revolution. (Action Man, not Cullen, who has a nice home). So it might be good to have A.M. looking over what everybody else was doing—like, his mandate might be to monitor everybody worldwide. And Mairghread Scott sort of riffed on that that you could do with it, suggested it could be a little like Global Frequency and have self-contained stories about this world. And I wound up getting elected to write it because I’d done Action Man and sort of knew a lot about where the universe was going. (In the comics, I mean. Certainly not in real life).

So, I thought if we made this a team with Action Man, really gave this a different feel, it’d be a good fit to add the Transformers character Blackrock, who’d just be coming out of the Titans Return story. Blackrock is a tech-CEO who discovered his memories were false and he’s a Cybertronian. He’s Cybertronian, but his alt-mode is basically a human.

I knew we’d want somebody from G.I. Joe, but I suggested we could sort of push things here and use this to develop a new character, or anyway to build up a character Andrew Griffith and I had set up in Transformers, but who’d now be in G.I. Joe. We gave Anya Jones the semi-obscure out-of-use Joe code-name of Mayday, and she’s become sort of the leader of the team—Action Man is still new to the job; Blackrock is new to this life; so Mayday has the experi-ence with aliens and military tactics.

Kup was originally going somewhere else, or so I thought, but then it turned out Kup wasn’t really going to fit into that other series, and I thought he was too good a character to lose track of, but he wasn’t really essential to what Kei Zama and I were going to do in the Optimus Prime comic… but with about a half-second’s thought, I realized Kup’s an old soldier, and the idea of getting him together with this young, mostly-inexperienced team was just the thing Revolutionaries needed.

FO: Well, when I came on board the cast was already set. And I think they picked a great set of characters. Plus it feels a lot more tightknit and relatable than Revolution. Working on a smaller cast allows us to develop these characters more, and John is writing them awesomely. For my part, I focused on working more detail into their design. I got the chance to redesign Blackrock and it´s definitely a new look for the character, closer to his cybetronian nature. And well… I got carried away and kept going with Mayday: new armor suit! We did keep her hairstyle though… Nah, in all seriousness I wanted them to look the part of a lead character. Action Man´s design was pretty awesome already.

[...]

AL: Fico, with Revolution and now Revolutionaries you’ve penciled the vast majority of Hasbro characters. Are there any particular characters or a particular group that you get the most excited to work on?

FO: Well… It´s hard not to get excited to draw Blackrock with the new design. I also enjoy drawing Mayday a lot. I really feel it´s important to have a strong female character, and I very much love paying attention to every detail on how we portray her to reinforce that. She rocks.

Action Man has the best lines, John is really bringing life to all these characters so it’s hard not to enjoy drawing all these characters.

And lastly, I´m always exited to see them pop out of the pages with Seba’s colors. He is doing a fantastic job, as always.

Writers Bob Budiansky and Bryce Malek on Creating the Transformers

Transformers News: Writers Bob Budiansky and Bryce Malek on Creating the Transformers
Date: Tuesday, January 17th 2017 3:42am CST
Categories: Cartoon News, Comic Book News, People News, Interviews
Posted by: Va'al | Credit(s): The Guardian

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After last month's appearance in UK news outlet The Guardian of the Transformers comics, in their current IDW incarnation ('Kiss me Chromedome' if you missed it), we have another article and interview - with comics writer Bob Budiansky and animated series writer Bryce Malek!

While a lot of the material is most likely not new - board admin Burn, who notified us, remembers seeing most of it previously - the fact that the Transformers are in mainstream news coverage once more is worth celebrating enough, especially as we lead into a Paramount movie year and this has little to with it at all, being about the origins of the franchise's fiction. Check out some snippets below, and the whole piece here!

Bob Budiansky [...]

A lot of the names came from my own experiences of pop culture. Ratchet, a medical robot, was inspired by Nurse Ratched from the film One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. Ironhide came from the old TV show Ironside. I was trying to humanise them, give them relatable qualities, such as “this guy likes jazz”. People ask how I came up with so many personalities in a weekend, but at Marvel we were creating new characters every day. That was the job.

One name I’m proud of is Megatron. Back in 1983, the threat of nuclear war felt very real – and destructive force was talked about in megatons. At first, Hasbro rejected it for sounding too scary. Gently I said to them: “Well, he’s the main bad guy. He’s supposed to be scary.” Luckily, they changed their minds.

Bryce Malek [...]

Some writers pitched really inappropriate stuff for a kids’ show, such as the Transformers meeting space prostitutes. Oddly enough, no one ever provided us with any of the toys – we worked from photocopies of designs. I actually went out and bought a few but I never got Optimus Prime. He was too popular. You could never find one.

Harry Orenstein Interview on Life, Music and Bringing the Transformers to the US

Transformers News: Harry Orenstein Interview on Life, Music and Bringing the Transformers to the US
Date: Saturday, December 24th 2016 1:40pm CST
Categories: People News, Interviews
Posted by: Va'al | Credit(s): Newsweek

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In a recent issue of Newsweek, the magazine featured an interview with Harry Orenstein - a Holocaust survivor and a the man practically single-handedly responsible for bringing the Transformers to the US way back when. Check out the whole piece in the magazine here, or read some relevant snippets from the interview below!

Orenstein is now 93, and his wife, Carolyn Sue (Susie), is 72, but he is too busy having fun to sink placidly into his dotage. Three days a week, from 3 p.m. to 11 p.m., he hosts a high-stakes game of five-card stud in his Manhattan apartment with his poker buddies. “He calls ’em friends,” Susie says, grinning. “They’re sharks!”

Ken Oakes, Orenstein’s longtime driver, brings him a glass of water and a few cough drops. “I’ve been driving Henry for 24 years, since I retired from my regular job as a manager for Sears,” he says. “I managed the toy department there. When the Transformers came out, we used to talk about it.” That’s because Orenstein was the man who saw the potential for Transformers in America. They made him a very rich man. Again.

“Transformers, more than meets the eye!” Orenstein croons.

“He sings all the time,” Susie says. “He sings himself to sleep!”

[...]

Henry turned the small toy car over in his hands, gauging the weight of it. He’d spotted the thing in a showroom at the New York Toy Fair, on a shelf off to the side, so far away from the main display he assumed it had been discarded. He gently flipped the front doors open and nudged the backseat, and poof: The car transformed into a plane. He thought, This is the best idea I’ve seen in many years!

“He went into a trance,” recalls Susie, who was with him that day. “I didn’t know what he was talking about!”

It was the early 1980s; Topper had filed for bankruptcy in 1972 after the bank called back their loan (Susie calls it “the blemish on his career”), but Henry had remained in the business, pitching ideas to large toy companies. He always had an eye for the overlooked, so when he saw that car turn into a plane, he got the feeling he’d had many times before. “Ideas don’t come in little pieces. It’s in; it’s out. It’s there, or it’s not. It’s like a sparkle,” he says. “I was just an inventor. You needed a big company to do what I thought should be done: making real transformations from complex things to other complex things.”

That tiny car was manufactured by a Japanese toy company named Takara. “I knew the president,” Orenstein says. “I went to him and said, ‘I think this could be a great thing, building a bridge between Japanese ingenuity and American marketing.’” He then went to Hasbro, the toy giant behind G.I. Joe and My Little Pony, and became a matchmaker, pitching his vision for a line of transforming toys that went far beyond cars turning into planes. “Very definitely, Henry was the bridge in this one transaction with Takara,” says Alan Hassenfeld, former chairman and CEO of Hasbro. “Henry basically had a sense that Transformers was going to be something that would be transformational for the toy industry.… To be able to take a car and, with a little bit of dexterity, change it into another toy, that was something magical.”

“It was Henry who really saw the magic, the potential, that was inside all these different brands that Takara was presenting,” says Tom Warner, Senior Vice President of the Transformers franchise. “There’s a lot of toys out there, but it takes a very special individual to look at something, identify it, and say it will be a big hit in the U.S. ”

[...]

Henry didn’t style Bumblebee or create Optimus Prime’s backstory—teams of writers, designers and artists at Hasbro developed the ubiquitous Transformers we know today—but he was there first, the one who saw the promise. “Henry was absolutely the catalyst that made this happen,” Hassenfeld says.

Hasbro, working with Takara, created the Transformers in 1984, and since then those multifaceted robots have become one of the most successful action figure brands in history, touching all outposts of popular culture, from comic books and a popular theme song to numerous TV series, imitators (GoBots, anyone?) and a blockbuster movie franchise. In 2007, the first Transformers movie made over $700 million worldwide. Three more films followed. Hasbro says the Transformers franchise has brought in more than $10 billion since 2004.

Interview with John Barber and Kei Zama on IDW Optimus Prime Series

Transformers News: Interview with John Barber and Kei Zama on IDW Optimus Prime Series
Date: Tuesday, December 13th 2016 1:53pm CST
Categories: Comic Book News, Interviews
Posted by: Va'al | Credit(s): Comicosity

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From comics and entertainment site Comicosity, we have another interview with creators John Barber and Kei Zama about their upcoming (i.e. tomorrow) first book together: Optimus Prime #1! Part of the post-Revolution phase in the IDWverse, Reconstruction, you can find out more about the book below and here, check out the full preview here, and read our review once the book is released.

AL: Based on the cover I can assume Optimus won’t be alone in this series. Can you discuss who will be working with and/or against him in the series?

JB: There’s a big supporting cast. He’s still got a team on Earth—Soundwave is at his side, and we really see what’s going on psychologically betweem them in issue 3. Optimus blackmailed Soundwave to join him back before Revolution, but Soundwave has essentially come over to Optimus’ side pretty completely. How strong the bond is, how deep the trust between Autobot and Decepticon can be, is a big question. There’s a flashback story going on through the first six issues that goes back to Pre-War Cybertron, and we see how Soundwave and Optimus (then called Orion Pax) first met… and how deep the trust and mistrust goes.

Arcee is on Optimus’ side, but she’s a little wary of what he’s doing. She’s been around a long time, and she’s seen a lot of stuff happen, and is worried about Optimus overstepping the boundaries of right and wrong; but she’s really struggling to see if there is a real boundary between those things.

Pyra Magna, who leads the team that combines into Victorion, is becoming more hostile toward Optimus—and really, with good reason. She’s a strong believer in the Primes, and in the meaning of the Matrix of Leadership, which Optimus holds but doesn’t believe is a holy object. Pyra thinks she should have the Matrix, and is disturbed by Optimus’ attitude toward it.

Plus we’ve got some other favorites, Aileron (who’s a new character we introduced in the Transformers series and who had a key role in Revolution), Jetfire, Sky Lynx, Jazz. And a new G.I. Joe team featuring some surprising characters will be on-scene in the first story. Plus, Thundercracker and his dog Buster are still out there somewhere.

One of the big new additions, though, are the Colonist Soldiers—these are Transformers from Cybertron’s colony worlds who are fiercely loyal to Optimus Prime, who see him as a True Prime, a sort of space messiah figure. They’ll follow him anywhere… and Pyra Magna, in particular, is disturbed by that.

[..]

AL: Kei, you’re working with one of the most recognizable characters in pop culture with Optimus Prime. From a design perspective, can you discuss what elements of Prime’s look you are tweaking to make the design your own?

Kei Zama: I’m so honored to be able to draw him. At the same time, I’m feeling pressure to draw a character that’s everyone’s hero.

I’m always trying to draw him to look “heavy.”

In actuality he has big heavy metal body but on top of that he has struggled from pre-war to the current era and is now carrying the future of the Earth and universe—I don’t express him emotionally so much, but try to give just a glimpse of his hidden emotions and aggression.

And I try to draw him as a warrior. Not just with Optimus Prime, though—I usually add many scratches, bullet wounds, and rust on everyone’s body.

AL: Can you discuss the process of giving each Transformer a visual personality? Is it a challenge at times to infuse them with emotion considering facial limitations or vehicle modes, etc.?

KZ: I always think it’s difficult to express their emotions on their face, because head-parts or helmets often cover their features. Then I’m trying to express by gesture and lights/shadows/shadings, not only facial expressions.

I don’t think about alt-modes deeply. Instead of alt-mode, I try to add various personality on the robot mode. In Japan, a lot of robot characters are often drawn handsome or cool. I feel that’s boring, so I try to draw their appearance in various ways. For example, the colonists that entered in Optimus Prime #1 each have an individualistic design. There’s a cute boy, bad looking guy, tough girl, etc. Especially Gimlet, who’s my favorite!

John Barber on new IDW Optimus Prime Ongoing

Transformers News: 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: Va'al | Credit(s): Previews World

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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.


Transformers News: John Barber on new IDW Optimus Prime Ongoing

Kabam Mobile MMO Transformers: Forged to Fight Interview

Date: Thursday, December 1st 2016 11:21am CST
Categories: Game News, People News, Interviews
Posted by: 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: 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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Views: 20,729

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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Views: 14,667

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: Va'al | Credit(s): CBBR

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Views: 23,036

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

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Transformers Podcast: Twincast / Podcast #164 - Getaway Was Right
Twincast / Podcast #164:
"Getaway Was Right"
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