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Hasbro Answers Your Questions: December 2009

Transformers News: Hasbro Answers Your Questions: December 2009
Date: Thursday, December 24th 2009 12:54am CST
Categories: Interviews, Site News, Toy News
Posted by: Seibertron | Credit(s): Hasbro

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Views: 81,235

Hasbro has answered the questions that the staff of Seibertron decided we should submit based on ALL the fantastic entries from our community. If you have questions that you would like to ask Hasbro, please post your questions in this thread.

Mold Ownership

Seibertron.com: It is no secret that Paramount has quite a bit of pull and ownership when it comes to Transformers Movie figures. Can Hasbro please elaborate on who owns the molds. For example, would it be feasible to see the upcoming Voyager Bludgeon, ROTF Brawn, Mindwipe etc figures re-released (or re-deco'd) under a non-movie related line such as Universe? Or is that not possible because Hasbro doesn't actually own the molds?

Hasbro: While we certainly appreciate your concern over who owns what, what we can say is this: Hasbro owns all of our molds and can determine what we want to do with those molds.


Collector Market

Seibertron.com: Setting aside the 2 limited G1 Reissues released recently this year, how does Hasbro plan to reach out to the adult collector market? With Alternators not planned for the near future, the homage based Classics "on hold", and no further Special Edition figures announced (didn't Overkill, Dragstrip, Megatron, and Optimus Prime sell well?), there appears to be more incentive for adult collectors to purchase reissues and other more targeted merchandise from outside import vendors and '3rd party' companies. Why has Hasbrotoyshop.com not established a collector service to provide Encore, Alternity, and Masterpiece figures in the same manner that MattyCollector is attending to their adult fan-base? Where are the previously seen 'Red Classics Mirage', and upgraded Classics Cliffjumper going to appear (theorized to be next in line as Special Edition toys)? Is there anything in the plans that caters more to the Transformer collector market, rather than just the whole of the Transformers brand market?

Hasbro: We think one of the reasons it may feel like there's not as much collector-specific products is that we are right in the middle of the "movie madness" and we haven't made any formal announcements for the Fall 2010 line and exclusives. We continue to look for opportunities to bring out the G1 re-issue characters that haven't been released as re-issues before or do them in a new, different way. We are trying to avoid releasing the same versions that were released in 2003/2004. We will continue to find these opportunities (like we did with Soundwave at Comic Con in 2009... hint hint). We will continue to bring Masterpiece toys as retailer exclusives where appropriate - there will be one in 2010. And as discussed at BotCon, we will be continuing the "Classics/Universe" toys in the back half of 2010 with a new name (it won't be called Universe 3.0, but that's the idea). In addition we also try to include fan favorites in the movie line like Bludgeon and Brawn as well as assortments like the Human Alliance assortment.


Planning Ahead

Seibertron.com: How much of a line is decided before the line is actually in distribution? For example, is it known how many waves it will consist of? What the average figure size breakdown will be (legends/scouts/etc) and which figures will be in it? Or is there a set amount of each size class of mold that you use as a guide when you go to produce/design each new line?

Hasbro: While this question gets into business related topics that we cannot discuss in this forum, we did want to give you some insight. Generally speaking, we plan out the entire line and all of the assortments well in advance, but it is also very fluid process. We view our yearly plans as "living organisms" that change and adapt over time, thus nothing is ever truly set in stone.


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So there are the answers that we received. Thank you again for participating! Stay tuned for information about upcoming Q&A sessions with Hasbro, which will be going on a temporary hiatus due to the holidays.

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Seibertron.com Q&A with Activision, makers of War For Cybertron

Transformers News: Seibertron.com Q&A with Activision, makers of War For Cybertron
Date: Friday, December 18th 2009 12:11pm CST
Categories: Game News, Interviews, Media, Site Articles
Posted by: First Gen | Credit(s): High Moon, Activision

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Views: 106,866

Along with getting to talk with HASBRO and Activision about War For Cybertron, we were also able to get a short question and answer session done by High Moon, developers of the game. Read on for more details:



Seibertron.com Q&A with Activision, makers of War For Cybertron

Question: Please reference for us what the play-style will mimic. Will it be similar to the RotF game? How does the gameplay compare to other shooter games such as Modern Warfare 2?

We are targeting not only the Transformer fan but also the hardcore gamer. Gamers can quickly discern the difference between a good game and a lousy one – it has to feel right. We have spent the entire project driving toward the right feel in every aspect of the product so when you get your thumbs on it, it is going to be a great shooter, not just a great TF game. Gears, COD and Halo are all reference games we often look at.

Question: Are there any RPG elements to the game?

No response given.

Question: Does the game use the same engine as any of the previous Transformers games?

We are using the Unreal Engine, which is the powerhouse behind Gears of War and Batman (along with scores of other great games). No other Transformer game has used the Unreal engine to my knowledge.

Question: Will there be downloadable content to enhance the game?

We are fully committed to this game and plan to support it after it ships as best we can, but we’re not ready to talk about specific details just yet.

Question: Will the story progression be linear?

There are 2 separate campaigns (Decepticon and Autobot) each is completely original and unique, and yes since the beginning we have been about telling a great story so there is a natural progression through it. Both campaigns are unlocked at the start. The Decepticon campaign takes place before the Autobot campaign (but you can play them in any order), and I like to think of it as the prequel game to the Autobot game. Both are full fledged unique stories and levels - players don’t travel through the same level ever!

Seibertron.com Q&A with Activision, makers of War For Cybertron
(Click on the above image to view a 3000 pixel version)

Question: Will the transforming be done with a button press or a button hold action?
Will combat damage be self healing over time or will there be an absolute health gauge?
Are both factions playable?
How will the issue of air superiority be addressed for multiplayer? (the flying mechs were vastly more powerful in RotF)


This is a very valid question, however I am going to save my response for a bit until we are ready to talk about all our multiplayer details, which I’m really excited for – stay tuned.

Question: Will there be any epic level battles (Shadow of the Collossus style or Tidal Wave from the Armada game style)?

You see the big guy in the teaser trailer (you know who I am talking about)? How does fighting vs. him sound – epic enough? And we’ll talk about more soon.

Question: What was the most important thing learned from the RotF game that will be corrected in this new game?
At what point in the "War for Cybertron" is the game starting storywise?
Will there be any bonus attacks for characters such as Powerlinking or Minicon boosts from previous eras?
Being that the game is set for all platforms, will each system carry its own version of the game ala Revenge of the Fallen or will every system feature the same campaigns?


The story follows the same major beats on all platforms, but there will be some differences on the NDS and Wii versions. High Moon is developing the Xbox 360, PS3 and PC versions.


Seibertron.com would like to thank everyone at High Moon and Activision for making this possible.

Seibertron.com talks to Hasbro and Activision about War For Cybertron

Transformers News: Seibertron.com talks to Hasbro and Activision about War For Cybertron
Date: Friday, December 18th 2009 12:10pm CST
Categories: Game News, Interviews, Media, People News, Site Articles
Posted by: Counterpunch | Credit(s): Hasbro, Activision

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Greetings Seibertron. Counterpunch here bringing word down from the mountain.

The Staff here at Seibertron.com was privileged to participate in a conference call with Aaron Archer of Hasbro and Activision regarding the upcoming War for Cybertron game that you may have seen in our recent news cycles.

We were given free reign to ask questions and pry for information on your behalf and over the course of the interview found out some interesting and intriguing information. The conversation was free-flow and just presenting the questions as they were flatly asked would not really give you the same information that this article presentation will. A lot of what was said, wasn't said and knowing what was repeated or had emphasis placed upon it is just as important as the straight answer to the question. I will do my best to provide summary of the important topics and then I will simply bullet-point any other information that did not fit easily elsewhere.

Seibertron.com talks to Hasbro and Activision about War For Cybertron

The Backstory
This is a project that has been in development since 2007. Hasbro indicated to us, that the idea is to create a more linear story and that the game as a story-telling device is a "jumping off point". Specifically, they stated that the events of the game will live longer/carry-on past the life of the game itself. The basis of the story is the Cybertron Civil War. From our conversation and our inference at what was said, it appears that they are finally telling that part (the pre-Earth, Civil War) of the Transformers mythos the way they want it to be told. The word "canon" was used several times as we discussed this and when asked if this game/story was creating a canonical back-story for G1 ... we were not told "no". Of course, over the years, it has seemed that Hasbro has been careful to never truly define certain things, the origin of Prime, origin of the Constructicons, etc. The feeling that I and others had was that the plan was to tell a Cybertronian Civil War back story ... and if it so happens to make perfect sense as the canon G1 Civil War story ... well, that's how it is. Repeatedly, we were told that the effort is to tell great stories. Specifically, we were told that "Canon is a good word ... " I'm not sure there's a G1 fan out there who wouldn't consider the Transformer's Civil War Story to be the kind of great story they've been waiting on for years.

So, what else? What other specifics can we give? The story will be set on Cybertron. The Civil War will be hot and volatile. This will be the story of the Autobots and Decepticons before they left for Earth, before they really even know of other races. The setting and visualizations of Cybertron will be new and different. The one resounding piece of information seemed to be that this game will have a significant impact on the life and direction of the franchise over the next few years.

Toys
I know you all want to know about this, but there's not much to discuss. They weren't allowed to talk about the product yet. However, things that they aren't allowed to talk about are still things that exist. So, we know that there will be corresponding toys to the story and game.

Seibertron.com talks to Hasbro and Activision about War For Cybertron
(Click on the above image to view a 3000 pixel version)

The Game
The game itself is scheduled for a 2010 release date. Judging from the time it takes other games to hit the market, my personal opinion is that we'll see it sometime in late Fall or Winter of 2010. It seems to me that a summer release would be ambitious. We were told that the game platform provides for a very sizable audience for this story. The use of games as story platforms has taken off in recent years and seems to be in line with Hasbro's expansion of the brand ideal. The focus on gameplay discussion centered around the intensity of the combat and situation on Cybertron. This was described to us as a "Gamer's Game". The presentation of the in-game story is set to have dark overtones with large scale impact. Specific information on the game such as the number of playable characters or names of individual characters was not available for release yet. Along side this information becoming public, Activision plans on releasing a significant amount of assets (rendered pictures) and press info on Wednesday. At this point, we were told that on-line multi-player aspects of the game are key and are recognized as important play elements.

Other Information of Interest
* When asked if this game/story was meant to be the filler between now and Transformers 3, the answer was a fairly strong, "no". The movie universe was described as its own separate entity, which of course we all realize. The point seemed to be, that this storytelling event via the game and the things that are to come after it are not just distractions to hold us over until the next film, but are instead the firm foundations of the next few years of the franchise.

* Hasbro is co-developing the story alongside Activision. Creative control seems to be something that they are paying close attention to. Statements such as "We're really looking to leverage what's happened before" and "This era in Transformers is full of opportunity" show that the development teams on both sides are really looking into the things that long time fans have been after in regards to the story elements. We were told that "Anything that's taken place on Cybertron has been mostly in comics" and that they were eager to explore this new venue.

* The story and the game are not movie based.

* Character identity appears to be a recognized issue. If you've seen the pictures for Optimus Prime in the game, you will automatically recognize him. For core characters, the design teams are taking visual cues from those characters across the continuum of Transformers History. After all, most of the G1 gang did not have the most flattering Cybertronian modes when you think back on it.

* When asked if any of the design work borrowed from Transtech (because elements of the new Prime model do reference it ...) we were flatly told that Transtech hasn't been discussed in the office in 10 years (we know that's an exaggeration, but the point remains the same). I could hear the dreams of some of you shattering right there and then.

* Hasbro paid some genuine complements to High Moon in regards to the character designs.

* An emphasis on bringing some very obscure characters into focus for this story was highlighted to us. While no one was specifically named, we were told that they were referring to characters that hardcore, long-time fans would be interested in seeing.

Thanks for reading. I will be around to take questions on any of this, to clear it up, or to speculate along side you. I'm sure Seibertron, First Gen, and Mkall will also be happy to add their input into the discussion.

Thanks go out to Hasbro as well as Activision for making this possible and for reaching out to the community. It is greatly appreciated.

Nick Roche / James Roberts Q&A - Last Stand of the Wreckers

Transformers News: Nick Roche / James Roberts Q&A - Last Stand of the Wreckers
Date: Wednesday, December 2nd 2009 6:01pm CST
Categories: Comic Book News, Interviews
Posted by: Blurrz | Credit(s): Steve of OneShallStand.com

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Views: 21,316

OneShallStand, a Transformers website that focuses on comics, have interviewed the main duo behind the Last Stand of the Wreckers series - Nick Roche and James Roberts. The two are asked a series of intriguing questions, and there's also some unseen preview art to boot. You can check out an excerpt below...

No job is too big and no mission too dangerous for the Wreckers! The Autobots' elite commando unit are the bots Prime turns to when the going gets really tough, and they've been kicking ass ever since their explosive debut in the 1986 Marvel classic Target 2006. Some 24 years on the team is all set to Wreck n' Rule again, as they undertake their most suicidal mission to date - breaking into the Garrus 9 space prison!

At the helm for this hugely anticipated five-comic series is the much respected Nick Roche and James Roberts, in their first professional collaboration. Both are proud that their story, which launches in January 2010 from IDW publishing, will be the first Transformers #1 of the new decade... and what a ride it promises to be. Not all your favourite characters will make it back from this one - you've been warned! OneShallStand.com finds out what Nick and James have in store... (contains teasers not spoilers).



..while the rest of the interview can be seen here.

Stay tuned to Seibertron.com, your Ultimate Transformers Resource!

Seibertron.com Interviews IDW's Transformers Lead Editor Andy Schmidt

Transformers News: Seibertron.com Interviews IDW's Transformers Lead Editor Andy Schmidt
Date: Tuesday, November 24th 2009 8:05am CST
Categories: Comic Book News, Company News, Interviews, People News, Site Articles
Posted by: First Gen | Credit(s): Andy Schmidt, IDW Publishing, HASBRO

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Views: 113,945

Hello Seibertronians, First Gen here with another great Q & A for your reading pleasure. This newest installment features the lead Editor of the Transformers storyline for IDW Publishing, Andy Schmidt. Andy, I'd like to thank you again for taking the time to talk to Seibertron.com about Transformers Ongoing. It’s really great to see how well you've presented yourself and IDW to the fandom leading up to the release of Transformers Ongoing #1.


Andy Schmidt: I appreciate that, Steve. It's nice of you to read all that and I hope the fans realize I'm genuinely a big fan of TRANSFORMERS and that while I don't agree with everything they say, we are all at least listening and always trying to improve our game.


First Gen: My first question to you is this: With the monster success that Transformers has been at the Box Office the last couple years, the ridiculous amount of fans that have been drawn back into "Transformermania" and hardcore fans who never left sucking up everything and anything Transformers, how does it feel to be taking on such a huge property with IDW Publishing?


A.S.: Well, to be fair, I'm only a part of a larger team that includes several people at IDW like Denton Tipton who has been working on TRANSFORMERS longer than I have and Chris Ryall, our editor-in-chief. But more importantly, the many creators who have contributed to IDW's wide-ranging projects with TRANSFORMERS and the creators currently work on them. Also, let's not forget that Hasbro is an integral part of the team too. I just seem to be the guy doing the most public interviews. So, since I'm surrounded by so many people whose hard work makes me look good, I feel pretty darn awesome about being involved with TRANSFORMERS right now!


FG: Indeed, I've enjoyed many of the works produced by Chris and the crew at IDW Publishing immensely. Some of the works that were produced, like Transformers Stormbringer and the -Tion series really "raised the bar" on how to tell the story of our beloved Robots in Disguise. Knowing the groundwork that has been laid prior to your arrival and the cult like following some of the writers and artists have, does it ever get intimidating to you?


A.S.: Short answer: Yes. Long answer: You have no idea! Yes. Yes. And yes. It's extremely intimidating. It's funny, when I was coming on board at IDW, I told Chris I didn't want to edit TRANSFORMERS because I was such a big fan that I was afraid I wouldn't have enough distance from my inner fan to do the franchise justice, to really be a leader with the creative teams. I really liked G.I. JOE when I was a kid, too, but I LOVED TRANSFORMERS. So, it is extremely intimidating and, honestly, I've had a much harder time getting my head around how to do TRANSFORMERS comics. But fortunately, there are some great people at Hasbro that have been very encouraging and the creators have really stepped up so I feel like it's all starting to come together finally. But yeah, intimidating is an understatement.


FG: Great. Let me go ahead and make your job a little harder *wink*. Transformers Continuum has been out for a little over a week, helping refresh the memories of Transformers comic fans and giving those newcomers a solid foundation to start on, and Transformers Ongoing #1 is currently flying off newsstands. USA Today posts a feature stating "Optimus Prime Quits", quite possibly the most capturing statement in Transformers HISTORY! It’s issue one and you make die hard "geewunners", like myself, relive the pain of an unexpected death ala the 1986 animated movie, and we find out that Spike Witwicky is the enemy! What is going through your head right now? Is it a state of euphoria; are you scared out of your mind? What does the lead editor of the Transformers brand think when a much anticipated story arc hits the scene in a major way?


A.S.: Well, any time you are shooting for a jumping on point (and that's really what this is, not a reboot as some people have called it), there's a lot of angst. One of the things that's been troubling to me as a fan and now professionally, was how little coverage TRANSFORMERS comics had been getting the last couple of years. There was a big splash when IDW started with them, and then again when ALL HAIL MEGATRON started, but not much since then. So, with this issue, it was really important to us (IDW and Hasbro) that we get the word out in a big way--hence the push with USA Today and the CBR spoiler article. I wanted people to HAVE to notice what we were doing. The fact that we had to do a spoiler on IRONHIDE's death was unfortunate, but it really got a lot of people talking, wondering if it was real, if it was just a stunt to grab attention, or if it actually served a purpose in the greater story. The point is, it got people talking in a way that they hadn't been recently. So, to get back to your question, sometimes these jumping on issues work, and sometimes they don't. It's too early to tell for sure, but if what I saw yesterday (the day #1 came out) is any indication, it looks like we've got some readers coming back. The first issue sold out at Diamond (the comic’s distributor) yesterday, so it seems that the demand for the book is there. Now we see if folks hang on. Yeah, I'm nervous, but I'm always nervous about a starting point like this. I mean, we've got long-term plans and if this doesn’t pan out as we had hoped, all of that planning gets thrown out, which would be a huge bummer for us because we’re really excited about this story. But, again, it looks like a hit right now which is exceptionally rewarding. Aside from all that nervousness, my primary emotion is excitement. I think we're finally moving in the right direction (or, at least, a good direction. I don't mean to imply it's the only direction that would be good). I look forward to the reaction of the fans.


FG: Well, I can tell you from a personal standpoint, that in order for me to read a comic it has to grab my interest. And if you're anywhere near being a Transformers fan, thinking that Optimus Prime resigned as leader of the Autobots should have you all over that comic. Also, I'm glad that you clarified that this is a jump and not a reboot, I think it’s important for the fans and readers to know that Ongoing isn't going to leave you lost in the sauce over past IDW issues.


Now let me ask you THE question: based on discussions been held on the forums here at Seibertron.com, it seems that fans are thinking of this as a reboot purely based on the change in art style for the Transformers. I know you've read the responses and that some of us either love it, hate it or still can't decide. What influenced the change to the representation of our comic book heroes?


A.S.: I'm glad you asked THE question. I'll address a couple of things that I've seen on the boards and whatnot. First, there was no decision to make the G1 guys look more like movie universe characters. If I thought the movie books would out sell G1, I'd just make more movie books. Isn't that the simple solution if that were the case? And honestly, while I can appreciate the argument, I don't see the new character art as reflecting movie styling. They're all in their original color schemes and retain the key elements that make them identifiable; this is a new, updated style for this contemporary series. I think the art is amazing and I've been really happy to see that a lot of posts on the boards now that the issue has come out have shown that people are starting to dig it. Not everyone, mind you, but it looks like some of the jets are cooling a bit. We'll see. The thing to keep in mind is that Don is still figuring them out too. He's testing here and there.


Interesting point about why folks think it's a reboot. The characters aren't redesigned. What I mean is that we're not asking anyone else to follow Don's take on the characters. Hasbro and IDW have decided to allow for artistic interpretation of the characters. Don's is probably the most extreme I've seen so far, but Chee's version look a lot like the original toy designs, Guido's and Casey's look more similar to the original cartoon, and Nick's look closer to the more recent Animated show here and there. So, there's room, as far as I'm concerned, for artist license with how they look.


If you feel that they can't change how they look, hey, that's cool. Then for you, just realize they have a lot of control over how they look, and they can change form and modify between issues--problem solved!


So, to get to the heart of your question, the influence was actually Don himself. When I called him months ago he asked what version I wanted and I told him I wanted the coolest version ever. So, he asked if he could do something different. He'd drawn all the different version already and wanted to try something a little different. I told him as long as the characters were recognizable, I'd back him up. And Hasbro went for it. They're pretty keen on the idea of the different interpretations.



FG: Thank you again for the clarification on that. Don Figueroa has always managed to take Transformers designs to new heights, never seeming to be satisfied with the status quo, and if I can use the War Within series as being a testament, I'm sure we'll see some subtle changes to the Autobots and Decepticons as the story progresses. With that in mind, and with the different artist having creative freedom, to a point, with the Ongoing series, are you more focused on developing the story at this point, or would you say that the art and story are neck and neck for you in continuing the newest story arc?


A.S.: Well, to be honest, I don't really separate the two. You have a story that the writer and artist tell together. I think they need to be in synch with one another and that may mean changing styles a bit for both players in that equation. Don's an organic artist and he's always changing things and evolving which is cool. And, Mike is getting more and more comfortable with each script. He really starts playing to his strengths in the second arc. That's where I think it will really start clicking for readers who are on the fence. And you know, that's just a natural progression. There's a lot to get comfortable with in the TRANSFORMERS universe. Getting the characters down pat, the situation, dealing with the fact that they are giant robots, keeping the alternate modes relevant, all that stuff is a lot to get wrap your mind around at one time. I've seen this on all the books I've worked on from Avengers to Fantastic Four to X-Men, writers and artists both need sometimes three or six or even more issues to finally get really comfortable.



I went off on a tangent there, but yeah, I don't really separate the two. It's all about the story for me.


FG: I'm glad that you compared Transformers Ongoing to other works such as the Fantastic Four or the Avengers. In an exclusive interview we did with Mike Costa, he also fielded some questions regarding the story and how he was writing them. He likened it to such storylines as Marvel's Amazing Spiderman in which Brian Bendis is considered the lead writer and other writers, who use the Spiderman character in other titles such as the New Avengers, may cause some confusion within the overall continuity of Spiderman's story. For the sake of the casual fan that may not know this, we know that most scripts for story arcs are done months in advance and this can create issues with writers staying on track, therefore creating "plotholes" that later need to be filled it. How do you plan to minimize the continuity gaps with Transformers Ongoing? Will Mike be the exclusive writer or are there plans to create an "Ongoing Team"?


A.S.: Mike's the guy for now at least. He seems really into it and has big, big plans. Hasbro is really happy that we're going to new places with it, so that's really great to have their support. In order to minimize plot holes, I've got all the writers initially in contact with each other. But let me be honest, we ran into several problems in our initial arcs with the three books. This happens when they're being built simultaneously. Currently, there are nine story arcs for the G1 TRANSFORMERS being written at the same time. They're planned out, but sometimes you get into a script and you realize you need a certain character but, wait, we actually need him over here, or whatever happens. And one huge problem for me is crowd scenes. I like to give the creators freedom to put their favorites in the crowd scenes but then in the case of this first story arc, that caused a problem too. The good news is, 9 times out of 10, Denton and I are catching them, or the artists or writers are catching them. It's much easier to see it as a reader than as it's being created, but the best way to minimize it is by having everyone working on the universe in touch with one another. That way we can all stay on the same page, at least.


But yes, Mike's book is THE book, as it were. If you're only reading one, this is the one to read. But I think most fans will want to read the others. And that's another way that some fans feel we're inconsistent--different books have different tones and are intended for different parts of the TRANSFORMERS audience. LAST STAND OF THE WRECKERS, for example, is intended for the core die-hard fans. Obscure characters, weird off-world setting, that's for the die-hards specifically. But it has a different tone, and I think that sometimes because we make series or one-shots that are so different in tone and intended audience that there are perceived mistakes, that aren't really there. It's a bit concept--TRANSFORMERS--with lots of room for all kinds of stories. But yeah, definitely trying to keep it all down to a minimum in terms of continuity gaffs.


Sorry, rambling again! This is just one of those hot-button topics so I'm trying to explain fully. And this is an explanation, not an excuse. Although a big challenge, we're doing everything we can to make sure there aren't problems within the continuity . I'm impressed, looking at the continuity from the editor's side at how few gaffs there are currently given the number of creators, concurrent titles that have been published and the switching over of editorial, what, four or five times in nearly four years? Yes, there are glitches, but not as many as I would expect given how many comics have been published with such a large number of people involved along the way. Of course, I'm going to get publicly flogged for saying that... but it's true.



FG: I tell you Andy, I know Transformers fans, and if you keep up these short, beat around the bush answers, they're gonna eat you alive *wink*.


Well, news has officially broke that Transformers Ongoing #1's first printing has SOLD OUT! Congratulations. I'm gonna wrap this up with a BIG thank you for taking the time to talk to Seibertron.com and give us the inside scoop. We really appreciate it and wish you and the rest of the IDW Publishing Team all the success possible. If there's anything you want to say to the fans, feel free to use this as your forum.


A.S.: Thanks, Steve and the Seibertron.com crew for the opportunity to speak with you and with the fans. It's much appreciated. I never know what to say directly to the fans, but I'd guess I'd say this. The current creators and editors are all fans too. We have different favorite incarnations of the TRANSFORMERS and different favorite characters and different stories from Simon and Shane's runs (as well as others) on the IDW books. So we'll be getting to a lot of things that you like and we are all working doubly-hard to keep it all straight. You may not love everything we do in the coming months and years, but it won't be because we don't care or we don't respect the material. The flip side of this is that we're all very hopeful that you will enjoy the various books and takes on the characters and that you'll grow to love the books with us. We're committed to making TRANSFORMERS comics great, and we're sure we'll get there given the time and your support.


Thanks for supporting us, the future looks bright for all of us.


Thanks again, guys.



Andy


Seibertron.com would like to that Andy Schmidt, Mike Costa, Chris Ryall, all the fine folks at IDW Publishing and the HASBRO Transformers Team for making this interview possible.


Keep your optics locked right here at Seibertron.com, your Ultimate Transformers Resource.

Exclusive Seibertron.com Interview With Mike Costa

Transformers News: Exclusive Seibertron.com Interview With Mike Costa
Date: Sunday, November 15th 2009 9:03pm CST
Categories: Comic Book News, Company News, Interviews, People News, Site Articles
Posted by: Tigertrack | Credit(s): Mike Costa, IDW Publishing

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Mike Costa, writer of the new Transformers on going series set to debut this week is answering a few of the questions posed by Seibertron.com staffers i_amtrunks, Darth Bombshell, and tigertracks 24. Mike also contributed to the recently completed IDW title, G.I. Joe: Cobra, a book that surprised many fans with its seriousness, and more mature handling of this particular portion of the joe-verse.



Mr. Costa is living the dream that so many folks in our community would love to get to do...get paid to be creative with Transformers and have your work officially effect the Transformers mythos, effectively carving out your own little niche in our beloved franchise.

Speaking of your own little niche, Mr. Costa, here are some questions relating to your work with the upcoming Transformers ongoing series...

-- What direction are the Costa written Tf stories going to take? Will we be heading back to a universal scope of war ala what Furman was working up to, or will we be getting an Earth-centric style story? Will the ongoing feature one large, over-arching plot with several ongoing subplots set up along the way?

All great questions. I'll try to give them great answers.

Here's the thing - Shane literally blew up the world in his last storyline. That is a really, really tough act to follow. I mean, I can't really blow up the world again. So rather than try to top that with spectacle - I guess I'd have to blow up the galaxy or something - I'm going to start small again, and then gradually expand the canvas. That's not to say that there won't be big events - there will be. They'll just be big character-events at first. No less status-quo changing, but we're staying Earth-centric in the beginning. You're going to find out why Earth is such an important place for the Transformers - and it's probably not the reason you think it is.

We'll definitely be building to events that, currently, are pretty far-off in the future. But the template I'm trying to follow is the one set by Bill Willingham in his Vertigo book FABLES. What that book does so well is juggle big storylines with smaller one, two or three-issue vingettes in between. With a cast as vast as Transformers, I feel like that's the best way to give as many characters the opportunity to shine as possible. But every issue will build on the next, even if it doesn't seem to at first. There's no guarantee how long I'll be on the book, of course (so... please, tell everyone to buy it and write glowing reviews online!) but hopefully I'll get to do all the things I have planned. That'll take quite a while.



-- Will the series be easy to get into for those who may have only become fans due to the live action movies?

I hope so. But the fact is, it's not a total reboot, like GI Joe was. These are still the same characters in the same continuity we've been seeing at IDW, so obviously there are many differences from the movie. I think we've struck a good balance though, between honoring previous continuity and being new-reader friendly. It would be great if fans of the movie jumped on. I think they'd really like what they'd see.


-- How much work have you had to do to correct errors of AHM, or has the CODA done this job for you?



AHM was planned quite a while before we consolidated our ideas for this new ongoing, so rather than start monkeying with Shane's story and forcing him to change his ending to better dovetail into our series, we created the CODA series to tie up the loose ends that the ongoing wouldn't have time to get to in the first few issues, and to work as a bridge between the two series'. Obviously all the issues are out now, so you guys can tell us how successful we've been in doing that.



We all have certain characters we want to see, but overall, we really know we want good characterization of whomever is in the story. The next set of questions revolve mainly around characters in your new series.

-- Will there be any lesser known personal favorite characters that you plan to bring to the fore in the ongoing series? Will you be able to use more of the obscure generation one characters, or even characters that were previously known only to the Japanese G1 universe (such as Victory Saber, Overlord, or Dai Atlas)? Are we following the same characters as were used in AHM? Will the cast start out small and then expand? Will the cast focus on a small group of characters or will we be moving all over the place and get to see different perspectives from different groups of characters?

The cast will definitely have it's core characters whom the major storylines follow, but we will break away from them occasionally to focus on other characters in the universe. Also, the core cast will definitely be evolving, expanding and contracting. It's not going to be "Optimus Prime and the Same Five Other Autobots" every month, but you'll definitely be able to tell who the important characters are by the end of the first arc.

Most of those "core" characters will come as no surprise to Transformers fans, but I'm definitely throwing some curve-balls in there as well. One of the major characters of my run will be someone I've had my eye on for quite a while. Shane in particular gave him some really interesting development in AHM. His inclusion in my cast will be the logical extension of what happened to him there.


As for the Japanese characters. Hm. Not a bad idea...



-- Can you please kill Drift ASAP? (Note this is a question submitted that not everyone agrees with.) Along these lines, will we see any more new IDW and creator originated characters in the near future, or will you be pulling from only currently existing Generation One Transformers?

I have no plans to kill Drift. But... I have no plans to use him right away either. So, everybody wins. Also, I can't speak for Zander or Nick, who are both doing auxiliary books, my intention is to exclusively use currently existing G1 Transformers. Of course I'll be creating supporting cast members, but the core cast will be recognizable faces for the time being.


-- What kind of Starscream are we going to get in the series, the Starscream of Infiltration, the Starscream of late AHM, or AHM #13 Starscream? They all were a bit different, there seemed to be no consistancy, or it was not explained well enough why he suddenly changes.

Every writer is going to have his or her own interpenetration of a character, and now you've seen mine of Starscream. I can tell you guys he's my favorite character, and that's why I was very excited to make him the star of my first-ever Transformers story in CODA #1. (Clever readers with an eye for pretentious writer-gags might even have noticed that I made sure his name was the first word written on the first page.) I'll agree there are some differences in how the character has been portrayed, but in a hugely collaborative medium like comics, those core character attributes are all you really need for a character. Brian Bendis doesn't write exactly the same Spider-Man as Stan Lee, or Gerry Conway, or David Michelinie. But he'll always be smart, guilt-ridden, wise-cracking and heroic. And Starscream's core attributes are always the same - he's ambitious, treacherous, manipulative and often cowardly. Anything after that is just an artifact of the medium.


And now Mike, we would like to know a bit more about you, and your feelings about the titles you have been involved with. Answer as honestly as you want (or at least as honestly as you feel you can to these questions).

-- Who is your personal favorite TF artist of all time? And what is your favorite previous TF story arc (from any series, comic or show)?

Guys... that first question isn't fair. I'm going to be working with a lot of great artists on this title (and I have already in CODA) and I can't make that call. I will, however, say that working with Don on my first stroyline is like getting Spider-Man and having John Romita draw it. And the man does not disappoint. When I saw the art he turned in for the first issue, my mind was blown. I'd really never seen anything like it on a book I've written. I couldn't be more thrilled about it.

As for my favorite Transformers storyline... that's hard. Recently, I really did like AHM a lot. It had a lot of really great, fan-pleasing bring-the-house down moments. From the older, original marvel run, it's probably issue #13, written by the legendary Bob Budiansky, where Megatron temporarily loses his memory and is found by a criminal who uses him on a crime spree. That was over 20 years ago but the story - and the cover image - have stayed with me even though I was probably 7 when I first read it.

And from the original cartoon - not counting the movie, which is actually the first movie I ever saw in theaters - it was probably The Return of Optimus Prime. That Hate Plague really scared me as a kid.





-- What's your personal opinion on the Transformers stories IDW has written thus far? Good, fair, poor, lame... How do they stack up to what has been done in the past by previous companies Marvel, and Dreamwave?

Here's the thing: There are two legends in the Transformers comic book canon. One is Bob Budiansky. The other is Simon Furman. For the past five years, Furman has basically been the driving force behind IDW's Transformers universe (not counting Shane's AHM of course.) I think anything he did for us here is pretty equal to what he did for Marvel back in the day.


--- If given the opportunity to write for the Movie-verse, would you take it? What kind of story would you like to do?

At the risk of bouncing myself out of later work opportunities, I'm going to be honest and say that, though I actually do think some of the ideas underpinning the Movie-verse are good ones, I much prefer the continuity I'm in. More characters to play with, really. And I like our Spike better than Sam (sorry Shia!)


--- Having written a GI Joe tale (GI Joe: Cobra), which franchise can you say you enjoy writing more?

This is a lame answer, but I enjoy them both in different ways. COBRA is a really dark espionage tale that I get a certain kind of evil satisfaction from. Writing about the bad guys is not only fun, but cathartic. They do stuff the good guys would never do, and finding motivations for chaos and mahem is a really rewarding challenge. But Transformers was always my first love, and the satisfaction I get from that is on a totally different level.

Back when I was in college, Wizard broke the news that Dreamwave had gotten the license for Transformers after Marvel lost it. I sat down at my job at the college library, and over two days I typed up a full pitch for a new ongoing Transformers series, planned up until about issue 60. It was the first comic book proposal I'd ever written. Of course, I never heard anything back about it. Obviously they already had their plans made before the announcement, even if I wasn't some totally unknown 19-year-old punk.


But to think that now, less than ten years alter I am actually writing a Transformers ongoing, starting at issue 1... well, that couldn't be more of a dream-come-true type situation.


--- GI JOE: Cobra was a very gritty, mature tale. Can we expect Transformers to start heading into a similar direction? In other words, you aren’t going to pull any punches with these robots, right. Humans will get squished, Robots will get atomized and not return, etc.

Humans will be getting squished and robots definitely get atomized, but this is not going to turn into a dark, gritty book like COBRA. COBRA is a very specific tone for a very specific book - if I was given the chance to write the G.I. JOE ongoing, I wouldn't use COBRA's tone there either. That tone works in that franchise specifically because we're only looking at a small corner of it, and the main book exists to give it context. Now I'm handling the flagship of Transformers, and my job is to keep that ship steady so creators like Zander, Chee, and Nick Roche can party below decks if they want.

I'm very lucky to have spent the last year watching how Chuck Dixon handles those kind of flagship responsibilities on G.I. JOE, and I have learned a lot from him - specifically how generous he is to creators like me, who handle the smaller books. I hope I can do as good a job as he does of both writing the main book, and staying involved with the smaller ones.




--- Should the next Transformers cartoon have a similar style to the very popular G.I.Joe Resolute cartoon that saw airtime recently?

As long as they don't make me look bad by being better than the comic, they can do whatever they want.

(But seriously, I think it would be great if they aimed at a slightly younger audience than Resolute did. I discovered the Transformers cartoon at age 6. It would be nice to have something that could be enjoyed for people that age again, now that the previous series is over.)


--- Can you comment on your feeling of the use of humans in Transformers storylines? At times, the stories seemed to forget that we buy Transformers because they are books about huge sentient robots that have the same faults, and strengths that humans do, not to see how humans react to said robots upon interaction.

It's a difficult line to walk. Sure, the hard-core fans want to see robot action, but for your average reader, they're going to pick up the book and say "who cares about all these robots? I have no idea what's going on." In my opinion, having human characters is a way of grounding the story in a familiar world, and having an instantly relatable character.

That's why the Transformers movies make sure they have a major plot line involving Sam Witwicky trying to get with the hottest girl on Earth - because that's a lot more relatable to audiences than an interstellar war between talking cars. Whether you think those subplots are brilliant or terrible, I can guarantee you those movies would not have been as successful worldwide if they didn't have a kid, his car, and his girlfriend along with Optimus and Megatron.




That said, my stories are definitely going to err on the side of more robots rather than more humans. But humans are definitely major characters, on par with the Autobots, and we will definitely be seeing some stories through their eyes. Just not as many.


--- Simon Furman started this whole IDW Transformers generation of comics and wrote many beloved issues for Marvel, Marvel UK, and Dreamwave as well. How do you feel about what Simon has written in the past for Transformers? Do you think he really deserves all the credit that he gets for what people expect in a Transformers story? Do you love Grimlock as much as Simon does? Any pressure trying to follow up this force in the world of TF lore?

I have not met a die-hard fan that doesn't credit Simon as having written some classic storyline that established these characters in comics for them. He is a living legend, and he really did set a template for how to write Transformers comics, the way that Chris Claremont defined X-Men comics for a generation. The pressure to follow that is huge, certainly. I really hope I don't blow it.


--- Who is your favorite Autobot? ...Favorite Decepticon? Do your favorites change when you have to consider writing them in stories? For example, HASBRO may tell you, you can’t write your favorite bot that way, so you strategically decide not to include him/her in the comic book.

My favorite Autobot is Blurr, and I make sure I gave him at least one scene in the first storyarc. My favorite Decepticon, as I mentioned above, is Starscream, all the way. And though Starscream and most of the other big Decepticons are going to be benched for a little while, they will be back in a big way.

But this is the way the story is working out. I don't want to shoehorn in tons of scenes with Blurr or Starscream just because I like them. I don't even think about it, really. When they're needed, they'll show up. And luckily, Hasbro has not questioned this at all. So far, they're happy with what I've been doing, and have been very supportive and helpful.


--- Who are your favorite GI Joe and Cobra characters?

To write, it's Tomax, Xamot and Hawk. As a fan, it's Flint. Back in the old cartoons, I was always wondering why he wasn't kicking Duke's butt.


--- ‘Rise of Cobra’, or ‘Transformers Revenge of the Fallen’, which movie is better?

You guys are just intent on getting me in some kind of trouble. The honest answer is, I have not yet seen GI JOE, so I can't say. But a friend of mine just got it (and REVENGE OF THE FALLEN) for me on Blu Ray, so definitely own both.


--- GI JOE and Transformers crossover, are you interested in writing/planning one especially now that IDW has both licenses?

If the right idea struck me, I’m definitely interested. But even though (or maybe because) I write for both sets of characters, their universes feel totally different to me. It would be like crossing Mickey Mouse over into the JLA. I'm not a good enough writer to make that work. We definitely have people out there who are though, so I suppose it is always a possibility.



--- Sienna Miller, Rachel Nichols, or Megan Fox?

I never kiss and tell. I'm a gentleman of the old school



--- Does gender exist in Transformers? Can you share where you stand on the whole fembot issue?

Gender definitely does exist. And where I stand on the fembot issue is this: A Cybertronian robot should have the right to marry anyone he or she desires, provided that they are consensual beings.


--- Who would be your ultimate Transformers comic book production crew? Artist, Writer (I would assume you would write it), inks, etc.? What might this ultimate story be about? Who would be featured?

Other than the book I'm working on (duh)... I'm going to say that the ultimate Transformers comic book would be anything that Nick Roche is working on. I first met him at BotCon this year, and I have learned so much from him, not just about who these characters are, but how to tell stories with them. I'm going to go out on a limb and say that there is no writer/artist double-threat working right now who knows and cares as much about Transformers as Nick. I will follow that guy anywhere. I am really, really lucky to have him as support on this book.


And finally, what can you tell us about Supreme Convoy that members of our community should know about him? He talks about you guys ‘geeking out’ together, what exactly does this involve?

I've known Supreme Convoy for probably two years now. He's a cool guy and part of the very cool circle of the writer/comic book fan friends I've made since moving out here to the Los Angeles. As for what our "geeking out" entails... once again, a gentleman never tells.





Seibertron.com would like to say thank you to Mike Costa for answering our questions about the new Transformers ongoing series, and our questions about Transformers comics in general.

Be sure to check out Mike’s work in the new Transformers ongoing series, starting this November!!!

*TF Ongoing is set to be released this Wednesday, you can pick yours up at your local shop. Not sure if you want to or not, check out First Gen's review here, or the 8 page preview here.

Seibertron.com for all of your Transformers news and resource needs.

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With Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen Blu-ray and DVD discs flying off the shelves this week, Michael Bay's live action Transformers movie franchise shows absolutely no signs of slowing down. Of course, it won't be long at all before the attention shifts off of ROTF and further onto Transformers 3.

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The accolades that Michael Bell has achieved in his lifetime are astounding. His voice has been in Video Games, TV Commercials, and pretty much anything that requires a voice actor. For those who don't know why he's so popular with the Transformers fandom, Bell was the voice for many Generation One characters, including Sideswipe, Swoop and Prowl. The RealmCast took the time to interview the revered voice actor, and the topics that they discuss include the work that Bell has done in the past, as well as what he plans to do in the future. You can check the interview via audio here. A gallery of the interview session will be uploaded soon, so remember to check back at the RealmCast if you're interested.

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