Q:We’re halfway through MONSTROSITY. The first series that you worked on withChris Metzen and Flint Dille, AUTOCRACY, focused on Orion Pax becoming OptimusPrime. Why did the focus was shift to Megatron and what happens to him, whileshowing bits and pieces of Prime on Cybertron?
LIVIO RAMONDELLI: Itfelt like a natural progression in the story to shift things a bit more toMegatron’s story. He suffered a big defeat at the end of AUTOCRACY, and soseeing how his followers respond to that interested us. Plus, we wanted tocontrast that against Prime having a more political battle ahead of him, andshowing the hardships of leadership for a divided world.
Q:Megatron has obviously suffered prior to the series and gone through a littleredesign? How did you come to the design we see him in now?
LIVIO RAMONDELLI: Weknew that he’d repair himself with pieces he’d scavenged on Junkion, and so wedefinitely wanted him to be asymmetrical. By the end of his time on that world,he’s almost unrecognizable as Megatron… his colors have rusted and hisDecepticon logo has burned away. He really needs to find himself once again,essentially.
Q:There have been a few new characters making themselves know so far in theseries. What led to those characters coming into the series rather than others?Are any of them you just wanted to see in there?
LIVIO RAMONDELLI: Absolutely.Trypticon, Sharkticons and Quintessons were the ones I most wanted to include.I felt like they lent themselves well to the story we wanted to tell, and theyadded a more monstrous side. We knew they’d be in there from way early on. Andthen others like Dai Atlas and Bulkhead grew organically from the story, wherewe felt like we had a place for them that also felt natural.
Q:The Dynobots are going though a bit of a journey in the series. What is itabout this team that makes you want to creative something with them involvedafter all the previous material with them involved?
LIVIO RAMONDELLI: Ithink they’re a very classic part of the TF universe. Funny enough, they’re allover the place now in the various games and the TV shows, but when we firstdecided to use them they weren’t really around. And as Chris said it, MONSTROSITYis about a man becoming a monster (Megatron), and a monster becoming a man(Grimlock). I always loved that.
Q:We have the Quintessons making their first real appearance in the IDW universe,after being previously teased at the end of SPOTLIGHT: WHEELIE in 2008. Was thisa deliberate nod to the 1986 TRANSFORMERS animated movie (after the nods we sawin AUTOCRACY)?
LIVIO RAMONDELLI: Nota deliberate nod, exactly, since we use the Quintession Pentius in a verydifferent way, here. Though, of course, we drew from the movie since, visually,we felt there were some great things we could do that hadn’t been seen in [the IDWcomics] before. And we wanted to certainly tease the Quintessons without givingtoo much information about their race… certainly leaving more to be revealedabout them in future stories.
Q:Taking into account what you established in Autocracy, was there much researchthat had to be done about Megatron to see what was already established abouthim in the IDW world so you could figure him out?
LIVIO RAMONDELLI: MEGATRON:ORIGIN is a big favorite of mine, and so I knew a lot of his history prettywell. And then of course James wrote the great “Chaos Theory,” which furtheradded to it. Our take on him is meant to reflect those but also portray him asincreasingly dangerous… a truly growing threat. [Editor] John [Barber] is greatat jumping in and suggesting things or filling us in on some continuity we mayhave missed.
Q:With Dai Atlas, he has some backstory in the IDW universe, but also some gaps.When figuring out his role in this story, do you think it was the intention toshow he was more than we previously may have thought? He’s proven to be a hellof a fighter.
LIVIO RAMONDELLI: Wecertainly wanted to shed more light on him. And also, TRANSFORMERS: ROBOTS INDISGUISE #17 that I did with John [also on sale today!] will also give us bigmoments with him in the past. I think he was perfect to use in this prequelbecause we know he left Cybertron… and now we get to see the why and how of it.And there’s a sadness to seeing him and Prime trying to work things out becausewe know it doesn’t succeed. Their final moment together in Monstrosity is anemotional favorite of mine.
Q:Given that you worked with Flint and Chris before, has the creative processbeen any smoother for you all this time around, now you know how each otherbetter?
LIVIO RAMONDELLI: We’remuch closer just as friends by this point. In AUTOCRACY, it was really theirstory and I was coming in to draw it. But they embraced me warmly, and let mereally suggest a lot of stuff… it was the most fun I’ve ever had in my career.And now with this current series, it’s only gotten better. It’s a truecollaboration and I feel very much a part of the story. Chris and Flint areawesome guys, and I’m very thankful for their generosity and friendship.
Q:What is your favorite stage of the creative process when putting the seriestogether?
LIVIO RAMONDELLI: There’sa few… I love the early stages of just chatting about any insane idea andseeing if we can connect the dots. I also love when the issues start coming outand the reader responses arrive. And then finally finishing a series is a veryrewarding moment since you know that story will live on forever and hopefullybe passed around to new readers.
Q:Would you say working in a digital format, with less page space than a regularcomic, is a plus or a minus point for both you?
LIVIO RAMONDELLI: It’sboth. Certainly, there are times it can be a minus because you want to do bigmoney shots and sometimes don’t have the space. But as a plus, it makes usreally concentrate on the screen time and make every moment count. As a result,I think the pacing in these issues feels very fulfilling… we cover a lot ofstory and readers seem to really love that.
Q:Tease us about future issues of MONSTROSITY. What would you like to say aboutthe series to anyone looking to pick it up for the first time?
LIVIO RAMONDELLI: Obviously,the revelation that Trypticon has been discovered is a huge clue for the restof the series. We wouldn’t show something like that and have it not wake up.And we’re aiming for a level of destruction with Trypticon that hasn’t beenseen before. Optimus Prime will really be put to the test, as he has beenthroughout the series. Megatron will of course return to deal with his betrayalat Scorponok’s hands… and he isn’t the merciful kind.
And for anyone who hasn’t read ityet… I’d say it’s the story of a world coming apart at the seams, showing how asociety can destroy everything they love and not even be fully aware of it.
Q:Can you see the story that you’re telling branching out even further into thewar, maybe offering up a third digital series after this one?
LIVIO RAMONDELLI: Withoutsaying too much… I think there’s a very good possibility…
TRANSFORMERS: REGENERATION ONE #91—the comic book that continues the original 1984 TRANSFORMERS series, courtesy IDW Publishing and Hasbro—launches an all-new story arc! “DESTINY” part one sets the stage, as BLUDGEON and SOUNDWAVE launch their ultimate assault against the universe, thanks to legendary writer Simon Furman—who we sat down with for a brief chat!—and artist Andrew Wildman. TRANSFORMERS: REGENERATION ONE #91 is out now at comic book stores everywhere, and for download at https://transformers.comixology.com/ or via the Comixology and iBooks apps on your computer or mobile device)!
PAGE 1: We’re on the world of Cresta Superior, with some beetle-like war machines in operation. What was your inspiration on the design of these machines? Did you have a specific look in mind or did you let artist Andrew Wildman design what he thought would work best?
SIMON FURMAN: A lot of the design of Bludgeon’s Blitz Engines comes (naturally enough) from Andrew. But of course I threw a bunch of ideas into the mix in the script too. My main requirement was that they in no way appeared humanoid. We went that route in Generation 2 (in which there’s a parallel story of Bludgeon and Matrix-infused clone troopers, one of a few G2 elements that are finding their way into the REGENERATION ONE mix… another big one of those says hi this very issue!), and I wanted these to be visually distinct and just generally big, threatening and armed to teeth.
They’re siege engines, tanks on legs basically. And Andrew took that and ran with it, creating these almost crab-like mechs that really look like they can just plough through anything (and anyone) in their way. They’re going to get a lot of action in #94-95, and to have even the slightest hope of combating them, the Autobots are going to have to wheel out a really BIG gun of their own.
PAGE 2: The machines are slaughtering the humanoid soldiers and breaking their way through into their base. Cresta Superior is a brand new world in TRANSFORMERS. Why create something new instead of using a previously established world for this scene?
SIMON FURMAN: One criticism I’ve seen leveled at RG1 is that we’re very focused down on just three worlds (Cybertron, Earth and Nebulos… and there’s a reason for that, trust me, which will become apparent in the final arc), so I took the opportunity to just remind readers that there are other worlds (and other mech species) out there (again, something that will form a big plot-point in the final arc), and lay in the idea that there are vast distances and gulfs of outer space that while maybe mapped aren’t well travelled or continually on the Cybertronian radar. Remember, a lot of RG1 (initially) was about Optimus Prime having (disastrously) taken his eye off the ball, allowed his sphere of awareness to focus too much on Cybertron (to the exclusion of all else). The business with Earth (and to an extent Nebulos) is going to turn out to be quite a micro-failing compared to what’s been happening out in the wider (macro-) universe.
PAGE 3: Bludgeon and Soundwave are talking, and we’re seeing that the machines are called Blitz Engines and are Bludgeon’s creations. Tell us about where Bludgeon is coming from in his point of view and how he sees the universe. And what he believes should happen to it.
SIMON FURMAN: Bludgeon’s a complex character. He has this whole martial arts style warrior code he adheres to (more or less) that skews his conventional motivations. Bludgeon is much more concerned with his wider legacy and how he’ll be regarded (by future generations) than the here and now. So while his current goal seems straightforward (return to Cybertron and the conquest of the same), it’s much more layered. Bludgeon believes in predestination, and that if that destiny is not forthcoming he must force the issue. He sees this life as merely stepping-stone to another (greater) destiny, and that makes him incredibly dangerous. Death holds no fear for him. Maybe even attracts him?
PAGE 4: Soundwave and Bludgeon are discussing their future plans, which would appear to involve Thunderwing. Even though Soundwave and Bludgeon are Decepticons and on the same side, are they really fighting for the same common cause or pursuing two very different agendas here?
SIMON FURMAN: There’s a certain amount of crossover in Bludgeon’s and Soundwave’s motivations/goals, but there’s also a whole side to what Bludgeon wants that Soundwave isn’t privy to. Soundwave is all about keeping Megatron’s banner raised over Cybertron, even post-mortem, whereas Bludgeon wants… well, that’d be telling.
PAGE 5: Looking at the aftermath of what Scorponok was doing in the previous issues. Is everything really back to normal on Cybertron? Can these guys just go back to the way things were before events of war took their toll on the population again?
SIMON FURMAN: I think that irrevocable damage has been done by Scorponok’s gene-engineering, but it’s not insurmountable. Part of the reason I wanted to do that particular arc was to show what a tenuous hold the Autobots have on the “heroic” side of their nature, that (actually) every day is a battle to hold onto the values and moral ideals they live by. (Grimlock, for example, walks that line a little more visibly.) They’re supremely powerful beings, appointed guardians/custodians of the entire universe. How could that degree of power, responsibility and status not go to your head? So every day is a struggle to keep on the side of right and virtue, and thanks to Scorponok that struggle is a little tougher, a little more evident.
TRANSFORMERS:MONSTROSITY #6 - the digital-first comic book from IDW Publishing and Hasbro is ready for download! In the early days of the Autobot/Decepticon war, a secretbelow the ruins of Cyberton may bring deliverence… but will it end theDinobots. Chris Metzen and Flint Dille write this mind-shattering sequel to last year’s hit TRANSFORMERS: AUTOCRACY, and now we sit down with superstar artist Livio Ramondeli to talk about this 8-page, 99¢ comic - available now at https://transformers.comixology.com/ or via the Comixology and iBooks apps on your computer or mobile device!
Q: Is the way you’re working on pages for MONSTROSITY changed at all from when you did AUTOCRACY last year?
LIVIO RAMONDELLI: It’s a sort of constant evolution, but I’m not doing anything intentionally different than AUTOCRACY. I’m just trying to make the art look better and better, as well as clearer. I’m always trying new little things here and there to really pop highlights on the characters, and make the images brighter in general. Even when dealing with dark shadows.
Q: It’s clear you sure like playing with light and colors on your pages. Was this something you taught yourself or something you learned at school?
LIVIO RAMONDELLI: Definitely both. I studied color in school, but I spend more time thinking about it now. I’m always looking for new ways to balance out the colors and play with light. It’s tricky with TRANSFORMERS because they’re so bright, and you’re always fighting pages looking like clashing colors. Sometimes it works better than others.
Q: How much leeway does the script give you — do you follow what’s on the script page, or do what you feel is best to make it work?
LIVIO RAMONDELLI: The scripts always call for specific shots, but the page layouts (and the size of the panels) is my call. Also Chris and Flint are great at letting me change things when I feel like something might work better. I’m always looking to make each shot important, and so I’ll sometimes cut out panels that I feel we can cover in a line of dialogue and that gives us the space for more money shots. For example, in MONSTROSITY #5 we initially saw a couple panels of Scorponok and Blitzwing about to blast the door open to the refinery. But I suggested that we just show the door exploding, which gave us a cool reveal, more space, and didn’t cost us anything since your mind fills in what came before.
Q: In this issue, we hear about a sixth member of the Dynobots team — Skar. Was it a surprise to see this new character appear and how much did you enjoy the process of designing this previously unseen team member?
LIVIO RAMONDELLI: It was tricky, because you’re adding something to a classic group of characters and trying to make it feel natural, which is always hard. At first I actually designed Skar to look closer to Swoop (since Swoop tends to stand out differently from the other Dinobots, and it made sense to me that another would look like him). But it was Chris’s desire to really see Skar as Grimlock’s close friend as well as resemble him a bit physically. Like he could have been as strong as Grimlock, and tragically didn’t make it. So he ended up being a bit of a cross between Grimlock and Swoop — his head has some Swoop elements to it. I wasn’t surprised by the reveal as I knew from the beginning of the story Skar would appear. It was just a question of hopefully making it natural.
TRANSFORMERS SPOTLIGHT: HOIST rises to the top of this week’s new comic book releases, courtesy IDW Publishing and Hasbro! Written by TRANSFORMERS: MORE THAN MEETS THE EYE scribe James Roberts—and set firmly in that series’ timeline—and drawn by rising TRANSFORMERS superstar Agustin Padilla (TRANSFORMERS PRIME: RAGE OF THE DINOBOTS and TF:MTMTE #16), this one-shot comic book story delves into the personality of one of the longest-running TRANSFORMERS characters. We sat down with writer James Roberts to talk about the issue—available today at comic book stores everywhere, and at https://transformers.comixology.com/ or via the Comixology and iBooks apps on your computer or mobile device!
PAGE 1: What was it that stood out about Hoist as a character that would allow you to tell this story about him and all that he is?
JAMES ROBERTS: Truthfully? What stood out for me, going back and re-reading previous stories that he’s been in (and there aren’t many, and I’m afraid I didn’t seek out the G1 TV episodes), is that nothing much stands out! He’s the archetypal “background ’bot”–competent, pleasant, hardworking, straightforward. But that’s not a bad thing when you’re settling down to write a SPOTLIGHT about someone. It gives you more of a canvas. Having said that, I sort of made his vanilla-ness a plot point in itself. I deliberately put him with three characters (excluding Bob [the Insecticon] for a moment–sorry, Bob) who are larger-than-life, and let the story play out from there. If I’ve done by job properly, Hoist will be a more fully-rounded character by Page 22.
PAGE 2: How was the collaborative process for you with artist Agustin Padilla? Was there a lot of give and take on how the pages turned out?
JAMES ROBERTS: This was the first time I’d worked with Agustin (we collaborated again on MTMTE #16), and while he and I would communicate very little (English is his second language and he works with—I don’t know what the word would be? An intermediary?—who passes his pages back and forth.
Anyway, Agustin would submit the rough page breakdowns and then respond to any feedback, and in the art itself he’d make choices that improve on how I saw things play out in my head. I love what he’s done—the art has a real Geoff Senior vibe about it—all those heavy blacks, all those close ups, all that weight—so I was a happy little scribbler.
And the first three pages of this SPOTLIGHT are uncharted territory for me: pages without dialog. But Agustin makes them look so beautiful and kinetic and alive (that shot of Hoist in midair on Page 1!)… it’s enough to make me wonder why I don’t go for the silent treatment more often.
Special mention, also, to Joana Lafuente’s scrumptious color work. Together, Agustin and Joana create pages that invite close scrutiny and then slap you in the face—in a good way.
PAGE 3: This issue is set between issues of TRANSFORMERS: MORE THAN MEET THE EYE. Is it hard to find a gap for the story to slot seamlessly into?
JAMES ROBERTS: So far, there are two big gaps in MTMTE where you can squeeze any number of “lost” stories: the gap between issues #5 and #6, which is where the Hoist and Trailcutter SPOTLIGHTS take place, and the gap between issues #12 and #13. So for any fanfic writers out there: go fill those gaps! I didn’t deliberately create those gaps, incidentally, but I’m glad they exist.
PAGE 4: Swerve and Sunstreaker are revealed inside of Hoist’s craft. Sunstreaker hasn’t had a lot of page time in MTMTE—why bring him along for this trip with Swerve and Hoist?
JAMES ROBERTS: I think you’ve answered your own question! The fact that Sunstreaker doesn’t get much page time was a big reason for making him one of the crew. And I know that he has a lot of fans out there, and people had been clamoring to see more of him, and Bob, so I thought that doing this would people happy. Same with Perceptor, to be honest. I almost put Hound in there too, but it would have been too crowded. I do want to write a little off-shoot story featuring the likes of Hound, Huffer, Gears and so on—all the classic G1 characters that we only see in the background of MTMTE. Maybe one day.
PAGE 5: This comic is going to be included with a toy—do you feel a sense or pride this could be someone’s introduction to Transformers through your work? What would the boy inside you say?
JAMES ROBERTS: The fact that this will be someone’s first TF comic—and maybe their first introduction to any TF continuity—was a little daunting. I wanted to write something that would appeal to the uninitiated and to regular readers. I didn’t want the former to feel left out or the latter to feel they were reading something that didn’t complement the style of story they’re used to.
Of course, my most fervent wish is that a boy or girl buys Hoist, reads the comic, and dives headlong into the IDW books, old and new. Hoist as an entry point into Everything Else. I like that!
We are in the middle of Monstrosity. For those unfamilar with the story what's the basic premise of it?
Monstrosity deals with a few parallel stories running and eventually colliding into one another. Most centrally, you have Optimus Prime attempting to unify a very divided world. You have Megatron being betrayed and marooned on a dangerous world and seeking to reclaim his throne. You have the Dinobots on the run, attempting to leave the planet under mysterious reasons. And lastly, you have the self proclaimed Decepticon leader Scorponok proving to be a very dangerous and unpredictable threat to all the other factions.
How far into the series are you? Do you know how it ends?
I'd prefer not to say how far I'm at exactly, except to say I'm on the last 4 issues of it. And yep, I've known how it ended since before we even started it. Flint, Chris and I plotted it all out in pretty good detail when Autocracy finished.
You are involved with an upcoming RiD issue involving Shockwave. Do you enjoy drawing him?
Yeah, Shockwave is one of my absolute favorites to draw. And RID 17 has Shockwave on essentially every single page (in one form or another!), so it's been a real blast.
This May, writer James Roberts presents two "Transformers" stories from IDW Publishing, "Transformers Spotlight: Hoist" drawn by Agustin Padilla and "Transformers: More than Meets the Eye" #17, kicking off the "Remain in Light" storyline drawn by Alex Milne. Earlier this month "Transformers Spotlight: Trailcutter" was released with art by Matt Frank.
Roberts has been busy carving out his own corner of IDW's Transformers Universe after orchestrating the popular "Death of Optimus Prime" storyline with co-writer John Barber. After that story's success, Roberts launched the popular ongoing series "Transformers: More than Meets the Eye" alongside Barber's own "Transformers: Robots in Disguise."
Roberts spoke with CBR News about his upcoming "Transformers" titles, dishing details on what goes down in "Spotlight: Hoist" and "Trailcutter," as well as expanding on the "Remain in Light" story and the next "Transformers" event, "Dark Cybertron."
"Spotlight: Trailcutter" is basically "Transformers" meets "Home Alone." Trailcutter is part of the crew of the Lost Light, an Autobot starship looking for the legendary Knights of Cybertron.[...]
It's a sitcom in space. [...] "Spotlight: Hoist" is more of a bottle episode.
John Barber said it very well: "The 'Transformers' comics are about people. Metal people, sure -- and metal people whose problems frequently involve the fate of the world being at stake -- but they're relatable people with real emotions acting like people act."
My plans for "More Than Meets The Eye" stretch far into the future. Coming later this year is the first proper crossover event since John and I started writing the two ongoings. It's huge, involving hundreds of characters and -- like the end of the war -- it marks another turning point in the Transformers Universe.[...]
One last thing: things are coming full circle as John and I are collaborating -- I'm talking plot and script -- on the next huge "Transformers" event: "Dark Cybertron." It all kicks off in the autumn, with the countdown starting in May.
TRANSFORMERS: ROBOTS IN DISGUISE #16 hits the stands today, courtesy of IDW Publishing and Hasbro! This is it—the climax of the first big ROBOTS IN DISGUISE story. The fate of Cybertron’s leadership is decided, as Bumblebee and the Autobots battle Megatron’s forces in the city of Iacon. Artist Andrew Griffith—along with inker Brian Shearer and colorist Josh Perez—pulled out all the stops on this one; and we sat down with writer John Barber to talk about this monumental issue. TF:RID #16 is available at comic book stores everywhere and at https://transformers.comixology.com/ or via the Comixology and iBooks apps on your computer or mobile device!
PAGE 1- The might against Megatron continues with Bumblebee and his team. Considering the different factions trying to live together on their home world, was there ever a right or wrong in the decisions he took? Or was it simply that he wasn’t strong enough to hold them all together?
JOHN BARBER: That’s a good question. Bumblebee was trying to do what was right, and here—battling Megatron—it’s clear what needs to get done. But would Megatron have had support, would the Decepticon masses have followed him, had it not been for Bumblebee’s policies? He locked them up, he put in the Identification/Deterrence chips, and even once those were gone, he still clearly didn’t welcome them with open arms. I mean, Bumblebee had reason to be angry at the Decepticons, and reasons to not trust them. So maybe he never had a chance.
There isn’t really a clear-cut answer, as to whether Bee was right or wrong, and that’s one of the big themes of the series. I hope the readers will argue about it.
Was Bumblebee too weak? That’s how he sees himself, and how some of the others see him. Maybe he was just in the wrong place at the wrong time, though. Could anybody have accomplished what he set out to do? Again—I don’t mean to evade the question, it’s that the question is the main thing about the series. I don’t want to cop out on anything, but the question is more interesting to me. And hey, if I had the actual answer, I should be ruling the world myself.
PAGE 2- Megatron, Devastator and the other Decepticons pile on the pressure. You think right now Starscream is regretting the things that he has done prior to this issue, and not done what might have previously done before?
JOHN BARBER: Starscream thought he was playing everything correctly for a while—up to issue 11—then he had a crisis of… well, not “conscious,” as this issue will demonstrate… but a crisis of faith in himself. I’m sure that, in his head, he’s running through every action he’s ever taken, but I don’t think he has Bumblebee’s capacity for self-reflection. He’s more likely to see any failure as a failure of circumstance, not of himself. But this was a big fall—he was about to gain control of the city, and then Megatron showed up and ruined everything, so it’s a crushing blow.
Anyway—he definitely doesn’t have Bee’s capacity for beating himself up over his decisions.Actually, his ego probably protects him a little here (like Prowl’s does).
What is why, at this point in the story, even if it doesn’t look like it, he is actively looking for any opportunity amidst all the action.
PAGE 3- Arcee and Sideswipe do their best to carry on the fight back. With Arcee, was the plan always to make her as ambiguous as possible until she was forced into making a decision on where she truly stood?
JOHN BARBER: Yeah—Issue 18 is where we actually get into her head, and see how she thinks. She just approaches things from a way that other Cybertronians don’t. Her worldview is skewed by all the events in her life—I mean, everybody’s is; it’s just that her event are just a little more unusual.
So, yeah, she was definitely keeping quiet about what she knew, who she would side with, all that—until she had an opportunity to strike most effectively. Which, I don’t think exactly worked out—she definitely didn’t want out-of-control Prowl-Devastator running around, so it’s not like she actually succeeded in her plan. But things could have been worse.
Nevertheless, from my perspective, she’d have been better off going to Bumblebee in issue 4. But she didn’t think he’d trust her, and Bee definitely didn’t act like he was looking to trust Prowl’s secret warrior. So she didn’t think that was a legitimate possibility. And now, hey, look what all that mistrust has sown.
PAGE 4- Ironhide and the Dinobots pile in to provide reinforcements? Considering what is happening to his friends, do you think Ironhide is certain that the visions of the future he saw are going to come true, despite the devastation around him? They seem to have been driving his recent actions.
JOHN BARBER: Ironhide has come to realize that, even if he believes what he saw, there are multiple ways of looking at “fate.” He can just sit back and let the future happen, or he can take an active role. And if he takes an active role, he has to be himself. Beyond that—well, there’s more to come.
PAGE 5- Ironhide literally tries to knock some sense into Prowl/ Devastator’s head, and Bumblebee can see the tide of battle turning. This issue marks the end of the current arc in the series. In the grand scheme of things to come, how important are the issues we’ll find within these pages?
JOHN BARBER: Very. I mean, this issue is the close of the first big RID story arc. The story of Bumblebee versus Starscream versus Metalhawk struggling for control of Iacon comes to a close this issue. And however it works out, any one of them (or none of them) “winning” control of the city will change the face of Cybertron. There’s a lot going on in this issue, a lot of stories coming to a close, and it all matters a lot.
But it’s not the end of the series, and there are still going to be big, pointed questions looming. Where’s Shockwave? Why did what happened to the Aerialbots happen—and what’s the status of them now? Not to give anything away, but how does Starscream justify his actions? What’s up with Ironhide’s vision of the future? What does Jhiaxus want with Gorlam Prime? Lots and lots of other questions…
Not everything ends here—we’re back with another issue in a few weeks—but all that comes will be built on what we’ve done here. And there will be impacts felt in our sister series, TRANSFORMERS: MORE THAN MEETS THE EYE, too. But I can’t talk about that without spoiling anything. I can say, that events from MTMTE spill into RID next issue… but if you’ve followed what MTMTE revealed about Shockwave, I don’t think that will be a surprise. Anyway—this comic, RID #16, will have repercussions in the comics—and maybe beyond—for some time to come.
But I do want to thank all the readers who’ve read this series—and read MORE THAN MEETS THE EYE, and all the other Transformers comics, too—from the beginning, or who’ve come in during the run, or who are just joining us. Thanks for being there, hope you’ve enjoyed the ride so far, and it just gets better from here on out.
TRANSFORMERS SPOTLIGHT: TRAILCUTTER breaks into comic book stores and digital platforms,thanks to IDW Publishing and Hasbro! Written by TRANSFORMERS: MORE THAN MEETS THE EYE scribe James Roberts—and set firmly in that series’ timeline—SPOTLIGHT:TRAILCUTTER delves into the world of an oft-overlooked TRANSFORMERS character… and lays the groundwork for this fall's big TRANSFORMERS event. We sat down with artist Matt Frank to talk about the issue—available today at comic book stores everywhere, and at https://transformers.comixology.com/ or via the Comixology and iBooks apps on your computer or mobile device!
Q: Hi Matt. How was everything for you in 2012?
MATTFRANK: 2012 was a pretty incredible year. No continental shifts or exploding suns, so we’re ahead of the game! I’ve been lucky to have a near-constant flow of work with TRANSFORMERS and other projects.
Q: Tell us a bit about yourself. How you got into drawing, were you a comic book fan, who has influenced you in your career.
MATTFRANK: As a kid, drawing seemed to be a natural result of the sort of stuff I was a fan of. Dinosaurs and monsters and robots and all kinds of goodness. I just wanted to recreate the stuff that gave me so much excitement.I’m definitely a pretty big comic fan, although my interests are kind of all over the place (though many still chart a course through the same thematicelements). I’m a big fan of guys like William Stout, Art Adams, Ricardo Delgado (Age of Reptiles!), Dan Brereton, and more recently I’ve discovered the glory of books like Blacksad and Scott Pilgrim. Of course, I’ve always loved the TRANSFORMERS comics, be they G2, Dreamwave or IDW!
Q: Were you a fan of Transformers right from the very beginning?
MATTFRANK: Depends on what “very beginning” is...I’m a ’90s kid, so I wasn’t there for the G1 boom. Eventually I got a hold of TRANSFORMERS: THE ULTIMATE GUIDE by Simon Furman, and that definitely opened up a few more doors!
Q: Having done work on MARS ATTACKS THE TRANSFORMERS recently, how did it feel to come back and work with James Roberts in the MORE THAN MEETS THE EYE world on SPOTLIGHT:TRAILCUTTER?
MATTFRANK: Ironically, I made the TRAILCUTTER comic several months BEFORE the crossover! So it actually provided a nice warm-up for when I had to tackle MARS ATTACKS THE TRANSFORMERS in an even SHORTER time frame! But I'm a big fan of James’s work, and it was a real thrill to compliment our respective comedic styles for this book.
Q: Did you have to do much research and catch up with events/characters designs before drawing SPOTLIGHT:TAILCUTTER?
MATT FRANK: My existing issues of MTMTE were scattered around my studio and workspace, each opened to a particular page that proved useful, especially for Trailcutter’s relatively short exposure up to this point. Beyond that, I was pretty familiar with the lore... although I actually got to DESIGN Killmaster, which was wonderful.
Q: Spotlight Tailcutter is part ofthe recent wave of SPOTLIGHTs. How’d you feel knowing that this comic is going to be packaged with a toy, and could be someone’s first ever TRANSFORMERS, or any, comic book?
MATTFRANK: One of the first TRANSFORMERS projects I ever tackled was the pack-in comic, “The Rise of Safeguard,” sold alongside Jetfire and Jetstorm from TRANSFORMERS: ANIMATED. So the feeling is a familiar one!
Q: What advice would you give to someone if they were drawing TRANSFORMERS for the first time?
MATTFRANK: It would definitely be to find your own style... or at least put your unique stamp on the characters you draw. There are so many amazing TRANSFORMERS artists out there, try and make yourself stand out!
Q: What tools of the trade do you use whendrawing the characters? Do you do lots of research before hand?
MATTFRANK: Besides good ol’ pens and paper, I have a ton of reference material, which I cannot stress enough. THE COMPLETE ARK is a godsend (or a [Transformers writer and letterer Chris] Mowry-send!) and I have quite a few of the IDW trades. Beyond that there’s definitely the internet. My own TF collection is somewhat limited (gotta make room for all my Godzilla toys, after all), but they’ll provide good reference in a pinch!
Q: Autobot or Decepticon? Who gets your allegiance?
MATTFRANK: “Me Grimlock no Autobot... Me DINOBOT.” (rips off Con’s arm).
Q: As we head deeper into 2013, whatare your aims for this coming year? Any burning ambitions you would like toturn into reality?
MATTFRANK: I’ve got a few other very exciting TRANSFORMERS projects coming down the pipe. I’m also doing even more Godzilla stuff... and then perhaps a little creator-owned goodness? Maybe something original to spice things up? Stay tuned, kids!
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