You won't believe the things we can do now, as Seibertron.com has been fidgeting behind the scenes to bring you more exclusive content from the creators of one of the longest running brands of fiction about giant transforming robots out there. You all bring so much to the community and fandom... can we do any less for you?
You may be asking what we're playing at, with these odd turns of phrase, but the more perspicacious among you may have noted the pattern. We planted the seeds a long time ago, Seibertronians, it is now time to reap the whirlwind: please welcome to our interview series... Simon Furman!
Va'al - Simon, thank you so much for taking the time to talk to us, we really appreciate it! As you probably know, you're considered one of the cornerstones for the fictional world of the Transformers - but how did it all start for you? What does Simon Furman: Origins look like?
Simon Furman - Lots of lucky breaks and neat coincidences, not that much actual talent (at that stage). After a bit of aimless I-don’t-know-what-to-do-with-my-life I lucked into a journalist job at IPC Magazines, in their competitions department (writing editorial copy and judging etc). That in turn put me squarely in the sphere of IPC’s comics group, which included 2000 AD, Battle, Eagle, and many others. In time, I was head-hunted to join the team on Scream! A new ‘horror’ comic for kids in the style of 2000 AD. I became assistant editor to Ian Rimmer, who was the editor.
Sadly short-lived, Scream gave me my first comics scriptwriting gigs, on Library of Death, Terror of the Cats and The Dracula File. But, even more invaluably, it put in contact with Ian, who became a friend as well as just an editor, and when Ian subsequently moved to Marvel UK to edit Captain Britain Monthly he (first) put me in touch with Sheila Cranna (editor of TF:UK at the time), who was looking for writers to continue the UK-originated comic strip begun by Steve Parkhouse (Man of Iron), and (second) put me forward for the position of assistant editor on CBM. The rest, as they say, is history.
Va'al - A history we have more or less come to know, true, but fascinating nonetheless! Were you interested in the Transformers brand and franchise at all, even in its fledgling state at the time, or was this literally just another job that grew into what it eventually became?
Simon - Completely unaware of Transformers. I was 23 in 1984, and – as a rule – not watching a whole lot of Saturday am cartoons. I was a big comics (mostly Marvel) reader at the time (having been so in my youth and come back to it with a vengeance), and might well have seen the ads for the original TF mini-series in other Marvel titles, but largely the advent of Transformers passed me by. So I crash-coursed – VHS tapes of the cartoon, tech specs, toys and the Marvel comic series itself, then was kind of let loose. Then, as now, I focused on character(s) first and foremost, and kind of opted for a big name (Starscream), a smaller one (Brawn) and a middle one (Ravage) and threw them together. The Enemy Within was the result.
But even then, I had no thoughts of this being other than a one or two-off gig, and certainly never thought TF would last as long as it did, or be as big as it was. It was just work, and I was pleased to have it. I'd kind of thought Scream might be the end, so I was delighted to doing more script work… on anything… and be working Marvel (albeit Marvel UK). Unknown (to me) toy title it might be, but but this was Marvel… MARVEL!
Va'al - Marvel indeed, and old school Marvel at that! Was there a specific moment where you clicked, and realised you were in for the long haul - both work-wise and concerning personal commitment and investment? Or did it just all keep growing, slowly creeping up to what we know it to be?
Simon - It was definitely cumulative. I was never meant to be ‘the’ Transformers writer, but rather one of many. But after Crisis of Command (by which time I was assistant editor on Transformers UK, under Ian Rimmer) my familiarity with the brand and the general ease with which Ian and I could shoot ideas back and forth meant it was all round easier just to use me on a regular basis. Especially when it came to Target: 2006 and the Animated Movie, and tying our comic story in with that and the launch in the UK of Galvatron & Ultra Magnus, ‘the new leaders’, as toys.
That saga was formed in-house, and tailored to fit our editorial (and advertorial) needs – the UK comic was cross-promoted with the UK TV advertising for the toys, so it was a big deal for us and we needed to get it right. As it happened, the movie (undeservedly) kind of bombed in cinemas and our story soared to new heights. But if there was a specific moment, and I’m not sure there was, that was it.
Va'al - If Target: 2006 and the Movie were your turning point - after a fashion - what would you say to the various turning points for the Cybertronians that you created? You were there for the end of Bast Wars, for the various Dreamwave series, for the new beginning with IDW, after all...
Simon - I suppose the next biggest event was my taking over on the US comic (as of #56), after a strangely casual lunch with Bob Budiansky in a restaurant in Covent Garden. Bob handed the reins over to me on a visit to London, qualifying it slightly by saying the book had maybe four or five issues left in it before the powers-that-be cancelled it (in those days sales of under 100,000 qualified you for the unkindest cut). But it was my door-opener for Marvel US and I was delighted to have it. I didn’t exactly set out to prove Bob wrong, but it felt like there was nothing to lose if I just threw everything but kitchen sink at it, including a lot of the characters and mythos I’d introduced into a UK comic. I’m still hugely proud that we got twenty-five issues out of it, and that some of those issues remain people’s firm favourites.
Then I guess it was being invited to Botcon in 1997, which introduced me not only to Beast Wars but the wonderful Bob Forward and Larry DiTillio (script editors on the show), who it turned out liked my G2 stuff well enough to have considered binding some of the ideas therein with their concept for the Vok. Anyway, that in turn, via some twists and turns, led to Nemesis pt2, my first animation work (and solidly took my career in that direction). Then, I guess you’d have to count Dreamwave and The War Within as the next big turning point. My first real shot at doing the pre-history of the Transformers, and – whatever the ...niggles of how badly Dreamwave ended – the era that really rebooted the franchise as a whole for the 21st century, cueing up IDW’s tenure and maybe even making the live action movies a solid proposition.
But possibly the biggest, for me, is starting up the whole IDW-verse up (with IDW EiC Chris Ryall), my first ‘from scratch’ bit of Transformers storytelling, a continuity that ten years later continues apace (and shows no sign of flagging), outstripping Marvel — certainly in terms of volume. If there’s a pinnacle, it’s that.
Va'al - You did initiate the Infiltration protocol, didn't you - and it kind of escalated from there. If you'll allow me a fairly specific question at this point: what did you make of, and how did you (do you) feel about what has happened to the stories you started once they were out of your control? All Hail Megatron springs to mind, in this case, for example.
Simon - I can completely see all the rationale for All Hail Megatron, to create that kind of jumping on point after five or so years of story, but I think (initially at least) it was a misstep to ‘throw the baby out with the bathwater’ when readers had invested so heavily in the –ations, Stormbringer, Spotlights et al.
But the latter half of AHM and the Codas did their level best to rectify that, and now what you have are all these initial threads still being picked up and expanded upon/taken in bold new directions, by the likes of James Roberts and John Barber (to great effect). So overall I think the IDW-verse is in great shape these days, and in very safe hands, but AHM could have been a bit of a disaster.
Va'al - We are indeed still seeing elements of AHM show up, even in the upcoming Revolution event! I could ask you your thoughts on that, but would rather retread another path briefly: ReGeneration One. How did you feel it went, are you satisfied with closing off the story, and would you go back to that universe again?
Simon - I’m really pleased with RG1. We accomplished everything we set out to do, I feel, in a way that was both faithful to the original 80 issues and yet not knowingly retro in look or feel (while still drawing on 30 years’ worth of TF lore and disparate universes along the way), and so could stand alongside other modern comic books. It pulled together a massive amount of threads and had a proper, no-nonsense (no sequels) ending. We set out to finish that continuity/story and we did so (I have no wish to do more in that universe - it really is, “over, finished.”).
What kind of amuses me is some of the instant/knee-jerk feedback we had from people who just said, “no, that’s not how it would have happened/should be,” or words to that effect. I’m sorry, but that’s the way it is – the creative and editorial team say so. You don’t have to like it, but those are the decisions we made and the paths taken (it’s not storytelling by committee). Can you imagine back in 1991, someone writing into the US or UK comic and saying – I’m sorry, I completely disagree with that ending – change it?
Va'al - I'm sure there were fans who would've done that, though, they just didn't get printed in the backmatter! Having more or less concluded all of your stories, in one way or another, I'm curious though: a lot of your early work fleshed out characters without affecting the main story necessarily (I'm thinking Marvel UK here); now that all is done, is there anything you'd like to revisit in a similar fashion? And I mean that in any of the fiction you have or have not worked with.
Simon - While I was glad to do RG1, I’m more for looking forwards. I’d always do more Death’s Head, that’s a given, but largely my focus is elsewhere now, on stuff I have a proper vested interest in. Apart from Matt Hatter Chronicles, the animated TV show I write and show-run for, I’m involved with a trio of creator-owned projects: The Chimeran (the brainchild of Paul Goodenough, Gary Kurtz and Richard Bazley), Spirit of The Pharaoh (Terry Jervis) and mine and Geoff Senior’s To The Death. That trio of projects is where my focus is right now, as well as writing movie scripts with co-writer Mark Salisbury. I have such a nice variety of projects (for different media) on the bubble right now, and I’m enjoying myself enormously. Add to that the Transformers: Earth Wars (game) for Space Ape, Marvel Fact-Files, and a few things I can’t talk about yet – and every day is a new treat and challenge.
And To The Death is especially exciting, as I get to work with longtime friend and collaborator Geoff Senior (his first substantial body of comics work for nearly 20 years), who is just one of the most exciting artists out there. I love writing for him, because I know he just wants to cut loose with that amazing kinetic full bore style of his, and my scripts do their level best to give him exactly what he wants. And just to make it even more interesting than regular comics, I’m writing the episodes as loose screenplays, which Geoff is turning into these meaty batches of full colour (landscape format/widescreen) frames, like a movie shooting board (he’s mostly in advertising these days, so this approach really suited him). Then, like the old Marvel plot-style approach to script, I go back in and reformat and readdress the dialogue, adding or subtracting as best suits the frames. Some I just leave well alone, because the art totally speaks for itself.
Va'al - You are definitely busy, I'll give you that - makes me appreciate even more you talking to us! I have two questions coming out of that last point, though: first, your experience is varied, but has had a lot of robots in it; is the approach to writing organics (humans, even) different, do you find yourself having to find a different gear, or does one inform and influence the other?
Simon - I’ve never treated the Transformers as anything other than sentient lifeforms, albeit alien lifeforms of a completely different order of life. So my approach is pretty much, bar the (um) mechanics, the same whether I’m writing Transformers or To The Death, Death’s Head or, say, Alpha Flight. Boil it right down, and the core of any story is the characters of the protagonists and antagonists, whether it involves human, aliens or alien robots characters, and how they bounce off each other given a set of circumstances, extreme or otherwise. Beyond the sci-fi trappings and the high concepts, I always ask myself: what is this story about? What resonance will it have with the audience? All sci-fi really is a disguised social commentary on the here and now. Just look at something like 2000 AD. When the powers-that-be at IPC Magazines told the writers of Action to cease and desist doing socially relevant stories in a “kid’s” comic, they just fed the same two-fingers-at-the-establishment [V - note for US readers: two fingers = middle finger] ideas into a sci-fi setting and made it allegorical – and no one noticed.
So beyond the future war, alien "soldiers-of-fortune" and kick-ass mechs, To The Death is about one man who refuses to be crushed or rendered insensate by the all-consuming greed of a powerful elite who have ceased to care, to the point where they’re prepared to ‘sacrifice’ billions of lives in the name of feathering their own nests. The gulf now between the haves and have-nots is wider than it’s ever been, and governments are now merely pandering to big business (allowing them to get away with monstrous tax dodges and the like), while letting the wider world/populace to go to hell in a hand basket, ever more reliant on charity as the government purse strings get tighter. To The Death has simply gone to the next level and removed governments entirely, so that Earth is now ruled by the all-powerful Tri-Corp, who have carte blanche to do whatever they want, without heed to morality, humanity or accountability. Our ‘hero’ is the one who says “enough”, even though it’s a battle he can’t possibly win.
Va'al - Whew. One does hope that someone will notice the commentary, in this as in any other book or piece of entertainment, really. The other question I had was: you talk about working with a number of creators, and how you're happy to be collaborating with Senior again; is there anyone else you'd like to partner up with again? Someone you've never had the chance to?
Simon - There are of course people like Andrew Wildman and Geoff [Senior] who I love working with, and have worked with enough times that I kind of know how to tailor what I write for them (and to get the best out of them), but I also love working with new artists or established ones I’ve never had the pleasure of working with. I really enjoyed working with Nick Roche, he brings such (youthful) energy and passion to what he does, and would happily do so again.
In fact, I’ve worked with a whole lot of amazing artists, from Don Figueroa to Alex Milne, from EJ Su to Guido Guidi, all of whom I’d be happy to work with again. I’ve been very lucky. They all made me look good (or at least competent). Biggest thrill for me, on a fanboy level, was getting John Byrne (I’m a big fan) to draw a cover for one of the direct market Titan hardback variants of Transformers collections we put out a while back (Dark Designs, above). That was very cool.
Va'al - And after so many collaborations, so many stories, so many projects, is it now over? Finished? Or are we to see more Furmanisms show up in the TFverse in the future?
Simon - Ha. That’s a cue to trot out a Furmanism right there. I have a feeling I’ll always be involved in Transformers, in some shape, way or form. I love it, and I love the passion of the fans (mostly). It’s pretty much defined my career, so there’ll always be room for TF in my schedule, no matter how busy I get. Earth Wars is keeping me pretty busy and there’s something else TF-related that I can’t talk about yet. So yeah, short answer: "it never ends."
Va'al - Well played. And thank you again for finding words to give to us, rather than an actual word-related project, Simon. It was an honour and a pleasure! Before the time comes for us not to be here... any final words to the readers?
Simon - Hey, just go give To The Death a spin. The first episode is free to download on the site (http://www.to-the-death.com) from Sept 10th, and our exclusive print graphic novel, To The Death: Forged By Fire, is (only) available via our Kickstarter campaign that launches on the same day. These Furman-Senior collaborations are not likely to be ten a penny, so grab that goodness while you can. And thanks supporting us in our venture!
You heard the Furminator, give a new comic by a tried and tested partnership a looksie, find more of his words in the Transformers: Earth Wars game, or just patiently wait for this new Transformers related project he keeps hinting at. More interviews coming soon here at Seibertron.com, keep your receivers tuned - until then, be excellent to each other!
Courtesy of fellow Seibertronian Cyberpath, we now have the full pack-in comic for Unite Warriors Lynx Master, by Hayato Sakamoto. While not yet translated it tells the story of how Sky Lynx and his team came to be a combiner while involving past Unite Warriors releases. It also hints at a possible Unite Warriors Victorion in the future.
In addition, fellow Seibertronian Sabrblade has written up a rather comprehensive synopsis to give some clarity for non-Japanese-reading viewers.
Sabrblade wrote:Let's see, Cybertron gets blown up in the year 2011 during The Headmasters cartoon. Sky Lynx and the other four Autobots (with Ratchet somehow not dead, Wheeljack already got an explanation for his being alive) arriving to find the planet destroyed, much to their horror. They find Sunstreaker and Ironhide (who's also somehow alive again) in bad shape, as well as the shambled remains of Vector Sigma, who upgrades Sky Lynx and the other four who came with him into their UW bodies.
Ten years later, 2021, Cybertron's back in business but attacked by the recently-created Grand Galvatron. Marissa Faireborn and her daughter Sue bear witness to this alongside UW Ironhide. Trailbreaker puts up some resistance with his force field, which, from the looks of it, manages to detach Grand Galvatron's arms from his torso. Wheeljack uses the "Immobilizer V2" to disable Ghost Starscream. And Hound uses his holograms to trick Zombie War Breakdown into thinking Curse Armada Thrust is Medic Knock Out.
Down below, in the Oracle chamber first seen in Beast Machines, Ratchet works on either the dead Convoy or a new body for him (can't tell which) in front of the Oracle, within which lies Vector Sigma in its new Bw Eggbot redeco body that would have come with the Million Publishing Alpha Trion redeco of the Generations Scourge toy had that gotten released. Wandering Roller bursts in aiming to destroy Convoy, but Sky Lynx subdues him. The rest of Grand Galvatron's components burst in and are met by Sky Lynx's team.
Grand Galvatron and Lynx Master are formed and duke it out in the chamber. Lynx Master uses Hound's hologram fist to make multiples of himself, but Grand Galvatron overcomes this trick and blasts the real Lynx Master. As the battered Lynx Master lies on the ground at Grand Galvatron's mercy, he uses his Ratchet foot to heal his injuries and bites back at Grand Galvatron.
Elsewhere, five Decepticons stand in the shadow, all appearing to be the Victorion molds minus Rust Dust. According to this, their leader, the one based on Pyra Magna's mold, muses the following of the situation to the others: "As the wife of the Lord of Destruction, this cannot be ignored."
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?
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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.
Fellow Seibertronian AdamPrime, also the editor for Toy Meets World magazine, has shared with us an interview they conducted on the publication with IDW Transformers writer James Roberts - which you can read in full below! Topics included range from writing techniques, to world-building, a relationship with Hasbro and IDW, and the possibility of a Rung toy (never, apparently). Check it out, and let us - and TMW - know what you think in the Energon Pub.
AdamPrime wrote:Hi guys and gals,
I'm the editor of Toy Meets World magazine. Recently we had the great honor of chatting with IDW writer supremo James Roberts. He's a proper gent, so I thought I'd treat you all to the full interview.
TMW issue #1 is undergoing a 'trial launch' right now, and is available at selected retailers in the south west. We're listening to feedback, and will tweak the mag slightly for the proper nationwide rollout in a few weeks' time. If anyone would like an issue, and there is plenty to read about (such as interviews with Simon Furman, Stan Bush and My Little Pony's Nicole Oliver; reviews of all the coolest toys and books; and tonnes of retro fun with TF, He-Man, Sega, Power Rangers and much more!) then please contact me and I can send one out in the post.
Anyway, on the the interview:
When did you decide that you wanted to be a writer? Was it always going to be in comics, or was that something you pursued later in your career?
I’ve always wanted to write fiction for a living, but not comics necessarily. And that’s strange, I guess, because as a child I read comics to the exclusion of pretty much all else: Whizzer & Chips and Buster, then Marvel UK titles (including Transformers, of course), then 2000AD and what little Marvel US and DC stuff found its way to the Channel Islands. I was a member of an unofficial Transformers fan club – a group of pen pals, really – and even then, for most of the time at least, I contributed prose fiction rather than comic scripts. In my late teens I discovered authors like John Updike, Martin Amis, Graham Greene, George Orwell and Julian Barnes.
It's fair to say that the best TF writing has come from the Brits; previously, Simon Furman was considered the godfather of Transformers - were those big shoes to step into? Did he officially pass the torch?
Oh, I dunno – Nick Roche, John Barber and Mairghread Scott all write a mean TF story, and none of them are British. But thank you anyway! I was and am a huge Simon Furman fan – I’d hold him up alongside my more traditional literary heroes as being a formative influence – and I have him to thank for being a Transformers fan. More than the toys, more than the cartoon, more than the Marvel US material… if it wasn’t for Simon’s work on the British TF comic, we wouldn’t be having this conversation. I got his autograph back in 1991, just after #75 of the American Transformers comic came out; he signed the comic for me. I got him to sign it again 10 years later, when I was promoting an unofficial TF novel I’d written; and 10 years after that, in 2011, I had him sign it a third time – and by then I was writing TF stories professionally, and he asked me (tongue in cheek, but still…) to sign something for him.
Simon’s my TF dad, really. There was no “official” passing of the torch – I’m not sure how that would even work…! – but he did give me a copy of the script to the last Marvel US issue with a lovely note that essentially invited me to carry on what he started.
When you're writing a script, how do you keep to the page count for each issue? Do you supply the script that you feel is complete, and the artist squeezes it in to 20 pages?
No, it’s more complicated – and time-consuming – than that. It’s my job to break each issue down not only into pages, but panels. I have to work out the pacing and structure of each issue, how the story unfolds, how many panels I’ll need to do a scene justice. It’s a case of ‘Page 1, Panel 1’, then a description, for the artist, of what needs to go in the panel, and then the dialog that will go inside that panel. MTMTE is a dense comic – both in terms of plot and dialog – and a huge amount of my time is spent working out how best to tell the story over 20 pages. It’s all planned down to the last detail.
Your stories are characterised by an incredible amount of world-building and backstory. You have also introduced concepts relating to Transformer anatomy and beliefs such as Rossum's trinity, the Guiding Hand and so on. Does Hasbro or IDW ever try and reign you in? Or are you allowed to add as much depth as you like to the characters and universe?
I’m encouraged to world-build – it’s almost part of the job description. IDW, Hasbro and readers (I hope) want to see the Transformers Universe expanded and enriched. I’d only be reined in – and it hasn’t really happened yet, touch wood – if I wanted to introduce a concept that was fundamentally at odds with what Hasbro felt Transformers was about, or if my editor thought, frankly, that it was a rubbish idea, or if anyone responsible for singing off my scripts feel that what I wanted to do was too… well, I was going to say “adult”, but that’s not what I mean. MTMTE has always operated on an adult level in terms of not talking down to its audience, and in terms of exploring mature themes.
MTMTE has an intriguing stance on politics, governments and social injustice. It makes for fascinating reading. Have you ever considered a place in Parliament?
I’m a political nerd and I do have strongly held beliefs about how society should be organized and how we could bring about a better quality of life for everybody. Maybe one day I’ll take the plunge and put my money where my mouth is.
MTMTE threw out the concepts of 'goodies' and 'baddies'. The Autobots and Decepticons are revealed to just be people - whether it's Rodimus' crew, the Scavengers or Deathsaurus - under the badge they're all basically the same. We're dreading the day when the war starts again - will the peace (and MTMTE as a comic) last?
You’re giving me too much credit. The decision to end the Autobot/Decepticon war was made by IDW’s editorial team back in 2010, and John Barber and I had a year in which to prepare two ongoings – John’s Robots in Disguise (now simply titled The Transformers) and MTMTE – which would explore postwar life in more detail. Neither John nor I knew how long the peace (and that’s a relative concept; there’s still lots of conflict in the Transformers Universe) would last. We didn’t know whether fans would demand a return to war, or whether we’d find it difficult to set stories in peacetime for too long. But here we are, in Year Five of each of the ongoings, and the war is still officially over.
It’s true that putting the war to bed has opened up a huge number of new storytelling avenues, most of them predicated on the idea that, once (overt) hostilities cease, and the red and purple badges are put to one side, you’re forced to see each Autobot and Decepticon as a Cybertronian – as a character defined by something other than who they used to take orders from. As I say, it’s opened up lots of new story possibilities. All that said, if the war started again – and it well might – that would mean MTMTE had to end. It would just create some interesting new tensions…
Have you petitioned Hasbro for a toy of Rung? We can imagine the packaging now - "Tranforms from ROBOT to ORNAMENT and back again!"
Ha! I’ve never petitioned Hasbro for anything. They do their thing and, from time to time, I learn that, for example, there’s to be a Minimus Ambus figure, or that another of the Lost Light crew – Brainstorm, Whirl, Chromedome, whoever – is being re-released as a toy. I would LOVE Rung to have a toy, but I damaged the chances of that ever happening when I decided, early on, that he should turn into something which happened to have a very limited play value. You see the sacrifices I make for the greater storytelling good?
With MTMTE, you've taken a few obscure characters, and a few prominent characters, and really made them your own. Characters such as Rewind, Whirl and Ultra Magnus will never be the same. Did you set out to do this from the beginning? Did you think to yourself "Now's the time for Brainstorm to shine!!"
Kind of, I guess. I deliberately selected lesser-known G1 characters, but characters I was fond of, to accompany the Big Four (Rodimus, Magnus, Ratchet and Drift) that were at the center of MTMTE Season 1. Autobots like Tailgate, Skids, Swerve, Brainstorm, Chromedome and Rewind were attractive to me principally because they hadn’t been explored in the past. They were recognizable (to more dedicated TF fans, admittedly), but they were almost blank canvasses. I knew that MTMTE – certainly in the early days – was all about secrets and hidden histories, and I couldn’t tell those type of stories with A List characters who had appeared in IDW comics for the last few years, or with characters who had very well-established personalities. I’m immensely proud of the fact that, through MTMTE, these D-listers have become well-loved and well-recognised characters in their own right.
This may sound silly, but do you take voices into consideration when writing a character? Most people would claim to "hear" the voices in their head when they read. Do you ever give it much thought?
It’s not a silly question and I do give it some thought, mainly because so many readers ask me “Who do you think X sounds like?” And I have to give a very dull – but truthful – response and say, “S/he has a British accent and sounds a bit like me.” I have an imagination deficit in this regard, because I really don’t ‘hear’ their literal voices. I do, of course, know their voices in terms of their character – what they would and wouldn’t do, what they’d say, how they’d say it, the rhythms of their speech and so on, but I don’t, say, write a line for Nautica and hear a certain actress’s voice. But I know that many fans DO, and that’s great!
Do you think that MTMTE, with its tales of space-faring derring do, has a wider appeal than regular Transformer comics? If something like Star Trek can have such universal appeal, there must be hope for Transformers. Could we see a TV version of MTMTE in the future, and would you want to be a part of it? Conversely, do you think its nature makes it LESS appealing to some Transformer fans?
MTMTE is an easy sell in terms of concept: a group of misfit Transformers head off into space in search of their mythical ancestors. It’s a traditional quest story and, as you say, very much in the Star Trek tradition. That might give it a better chance with the casual reader – the non-Transformers fan - than other Transformers comics, but I don’t know. Casual comic readers whose Transformers knowledge is informed by growing up in the 80s – people who think Transformers should be about Autobots versus Decepticons on Earth – may prefer something more in keeping with their childhood memories. I don’t know. I think many people have a preconceived idea of what Transformers is about and sometimes that dissuades them from giving IDW’s titles a chance; and unsurprisingly I wish more people would put such notions aside and pick up MTMTE or John’s Transformers, because they’d be pleasantly surprised.
Can I see MTMTE transferring to TV? I don’t know if I can see it happening, but I’d like it to. MTMTE almost reads as a TV show adapted for comics, with most of the stories being structured as if they were a 45-minute episode. And each story arc – the MTMTE fandom even calls them “seasons” – lasts about 22 issues.
If MTMTE ever transferred to the small screen I would love to be part of it. Even if I ended up hanging about making tea for the animators and actors.
Live from a hotel room in Louisville, Kentucky, this slightly jetlagged reviewer brings you a fresh update frome the 2016 BotCon event, in addition to the stellar work the news crew are doing in updating on the ground situation: a review of the event exclusive 'Dawn of the Predacus' comic - read on below!
YYYYEEEeeeeeeEEESSSSSssss... (Spoiler free-ish)
In the last 48 hours of the Great War between Decepticons and Autobots, new measures are taken, paths chosen, fates decided, and acts of sacrifice kickstart a whole new saga...
A comic which is clearly, undoubtedly, obviously, a pack-in story with a set of toys. A big toy advert. A narrative tying together toys that share a theme. Easy to get wrong. And yet, John-Paul Bove in his first official IDW Transformers writing gig, delivers a story that works on a number of levels.
Much as anticipated in the interview we conducted with him, the comic contains a very good balance of fictional universes, setting up threads between G1 and Beast Wars which we both know the developments of, and others that could still yield something very very different - time will tell if we'll get an exploration of the latter, I suppose.
I laughed for a good minute, here
What works particularly well is the blend of lighter-hearted humour to what is, effectively, a fairly dark chapter in the history of the two narratives, and the end of a war in general - once again as a testimony to the two universes, with the G1 gravitas (resulting silly at times) and the BW intentional silliness.
Corin Howell fits this melange excellently, too, with artwork focusing on the fraught, tired, elated - and wonderfully skeptical and sarcastic - emotions that are running amok across the different factions, not just two as we might think. The simpler, cartoony style fits the tone set by the script, and still delivers some great pages with a grim undercurrent.
(Wanted: rubber ducky!)
Both of which are undoubtedly helped by Bove returning in his role as colourist on the book, injecting his own authorial perspective of tonalities and emotive hues to the visual side of things, helped out by letterer Chris Mowry from the IDW stables. The lighting definitely heightens that contrast pointed out above, with contrasting, but not jarring, results.
What maniacal laughter?
Visual and verbal together, you might ask? Read some thoughts below, and make sure to look closer at the two covers available for the comic at the event, variant by Sara Pitre Durocher and string pulling, and 'regular' cover with all the souvenir characters by Robby Musso (both in thumbnail).
Thoughts Spoilerish ahead
Having read this in-hand, on-site, as soon as I possibly could, I feel odd giving a review and a mark to the book but you know what? It's good, and not just as a 'let's featured all the new toys and some old ones and sorta mash them together' way. Compared to previous releases from the BotCon team, we are several notches higher here, even with the full reveal of the souvenir figures in its pages - and even the main cover.
The Knights of Ren Prime
That may very well be Bove's writing, and the control he has over the art with colouring Howell's work, but the synergy between the two is palpable, as the overall tone of the book is set well by mixing light and heavy, positives and negatives, humour and gravitas, past and future. If you get a chance to read the issue, please do. It's truly enjoyable.. in fact, it's just Prime.
Some non-Toy Fair 2016 news for Transformers fans, in the form of the iTunes preview for the upcoming IDW Transformers vs G.I. Joe #11 comic book, by Tom Scioli and John Barber! You can check out the three pages mirrored below, and head back in a couple of weeks for a full preview.
ESCAPE FROM PRIMUS! With Earth no more, the G.I. JOE team battles to make CYBERTRON their new home—but MEGATRON has something to say about that. Hint: it’s “no, I’m not going to let you do that.” Plus: the secret history of DUKE!
During the Hasbro panel at NYCC2015, of which you can see our gallery here, Machinima and IDW took the stage to give some further detail on the upcoming animated series for Combiner Wars. The biggest selling point for the Seibertron.com team is that it will be a Japanese anime-style series, with a focus more on the adult side of the fan base. No artwork or trailers were shown in slightest, and we expect all of the missing information to be revealed at the next Toy Fair. In the meantime, check it out embedded below!
Main speaker is Eric Calderon, producer on Aeon Flux and Afro Samurai among others; he underwent 'Transformers boot camp' to understand the franchise.
Windblade will be the main character/perspective, as was for the comics
Not really a children's cartoon, something not really attempted previously
Trying to appeal to new and old fans alike
The series will be standalone, using previous fiction as sources rather than basis
'Combiners have to fight each other'
IDW editor John Barber talks briefly about Titan Returns, and the re-emergence of Sentinel Prime from the IDW continuity
Barber, James Roberts and Mairghread Scott will be on writing duties again, creating one overarching story
That, and we've got a sweet spot for Bumblebee (let's bee friends)!
TRANSFORMERS RETURNS TO
HUMBLE BUNDLE WITH IDW PUBLISHING
Leading Publisher Re-Teams With The Pay-What-You-Want Site To Offer TRANSFORMERS Comics
San Diego, CA (March 4, 2015) - Humble Bundle and award-winning publisher IDW Publishing, in conjunction with Hasbro, are reteaming to offer the perfect opportunity to build a digital TRANSFORMERS comic collection. Not only does the bundle feature multiple collected volumes of the hit TRANSFORMERS series, it also boasts some of the most recent issues to date, making it easy to catch up to speed on the latest stories.
Humble Book Bundles typically last for a full two-week time span, however, the contents of this particular bundle are so premium that it will run as a limited time one-week offer. Also unique to this bundle is the "pay $5 or more over the average price" tier, which is being utilized in place of the standard fixed price tier.
Customers can name their price for the first 37 issues of TRANSFORMERS: More Than Meets the Eye and the one-shot Death of Optimus Prime.
Those who pay more than the average price will also receive volumes 1-6 of TRANSFORMERS: Robots in Disguise as well as TRANSFORMERS: Dark Cybertron Vol. 1.
Customers who pay $5 above the average price or more will receive all of the above plus TRANSFORMERS: Robots in Disguise #33-#37 and TRANSFORMERS: Dark Cybertron Vol. 2.
“This new bundle of Hasbro’s TRANSFORMERS comics features the newest directions for Optimus Prime, Megatron, and all your other favorite Autobots and Decepticons,” said Jeff Webber, IDW’s VP of Digital Publishing. “This collection includes brand new issues all the way up to the past month, documenting the very latest stories in IDW’s TRANSFORMERS Universe!”
As with all Humble Bundles, customers can choose how their purchase dollars are allocated, between the publishers and charity. The Humble TRANSFORMERS Bundle 2 Presented by IDW supports the Hasbro Children's Fund, which is dedicated to empowering childhood by bringing the sparkle of Hope, the joy of Play and the power of Service into the lives of the children who need it most.
The Humble TRANSFORMERS Bundle 2 Presented by IDW runs from now until Wednesday, March 11, 2015 at 11 a.m. Pacific time.
About Humble Bundle
Humble Bundle organizes pay-what-you-want plus charity promotions for awesome digital content and puts the power directly in the hands of the consumers, offering them fully-featured titles at prices they set themselves. Consumers pay what they want and decide how to allocate their money between content creators, charity and a humble tip. Humble Bundle also offers the Humble Store, a digital storefront that features great games at great prices with a portion of sales going to select charities. Since the company's launch in 2010, Humble Bundle has helped empower its community to allocate more than $54 million toward charity to date. For more information, please visit https://www.humblebundle.com
About Hasbro Children’s Fund
The Hasbro Children’s Fund, Inc. is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit whose mission is to empower childhood by bringing “the sparkle of Hope, the joy of Play and the power of Service” into the lives of the children across the globe. Working with strategic charitable partners, the grants made through the Hasbro Children’s Fund support programs that deliver; stability for children in crisis; pediatric physical and mental health services; hunger security; educational programs; quality out of school time programming and programs that empower youth through service. To learn more about these programs and how they are making a difference for children worldwide, please visit http://www.hasbro.org.
Hasbro (NASDAQ: HAS) is a global company committed to Creating the World’s Best Play Experiences, by leveraging its beloved brands, including LITTLEST PET SHOP, MAGIC: THE GATHERING, MONOPOLY, MY LITTLE PONY, NERF, PLAY-DOH, TRANSFORMERS, and premier partner brands. From toys and games to television programming, motion pictures, digital gaming and a comprehensive lifestyle licensing program, Hasbro fulfills the fundamental need for play and connection for children and families around the world. The Company’s Hasbro Studios creates entertainment brand-driven storytelling across mediums, including television, film and more. Through the company's commitment to corporate social responsibility, including philanthropy, Hasbro is helping to build a safe and sustainable world and to positively impact the lives of millions of children and families every year. Learn more at http://www.hasbro.com and follow us on Twitter (@Hasbro & @HasbroNews).
Lizzie Cuevas, 510-842-7087
Director of PR firstname.lastname@example.org
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About IDW Publishing
IDW is an award-winning publisher of comic books, graphic novels and trade paperbacks, based in San Diego, California. Renowned for its diverse catalog of licensed and independent titles, IDW publishes some of the most successful and popular titles in the industry, including: Hasbro’s The TRANSFORMERS, G.I. JOE and MY LITTLE PONY; Paramount/CBS’s Star Trek; Nickelodeon’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles; 2000AD’s Judge Dredd; The Rocketeer; Toho’s Godzilla; Zombie vs Robots by Chris Ryall and Ashley Woods; Ragnarök from Eisner Award-winner Walter Simonson; and Little Nemo from the award-winning duo of Eric Shanower and Gabriel Rodriguez. IDW is also home to acclaimed imprints such as the Library of American Comics, which publishes classic comic reprints, Yoe! Books, a partnership with Yoe! Studio, IDW Artist’s Editions, and Top Shelf Productions.
IDW’s critically- and fan-acclaimed series are continually moving into new mediums. Currently, Jerry Bruckheimer Films and Disney are creating a feature film based on World War Robot; Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson and Warner Brothers are producing a film based on Ashley Wood's Lore; Michael Bay‘s Platinum Dunes and Sony are bringing Zombies vs. Robots to film, Alex Kurtzman is producing a movie based on Locke & Key at Universal.
NEW AND RESTOCK BANDAI
We have 18 new and restock pre-order listings from Bandai. This menu includes figures like S.H. Figuarts Super Sailor Moon for $37.99 and Sea Dragon Kanon from Saint Cloth Myth EX for $87.99. We also have listings for lines such as Digimon, Ultraman, Soul of Chogokin, and Attack on Titan, Gundam, Kamen Rider and more! http://www.bigbadtoystore.com/bbts/list.aspx?list=18409
LOST PROTECTORS – PLAY WITH THIS TOO! KICKSTARTER CAMPAIGN
Check out this awesome new Kickstarter campaign just launched by our friends over at Play With This Too! These 6” figures have tons of play value with interchangeable heads and weapons, so pledge today on Kickstarter. https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/44 ... protectors
MARVEL AVENGERS INFINITE LEGENDS SERIES 02 BAF THANOS
The second installment of the Avengers Infinite Legends series includes Iron Man Mark XLII, Hulk, Captain America, Spider-Woman, Hellcat, and Batroc; and each of the six figures comes with a body part for the super villain Thanos. Get all the parts you need to build your very own Thanos with the Set of 6 for $139.99 or the Case of 8 that includes an extra Iron Man and Hulk for $159.99; and we also have Iron Man and Hulk available individually for $17.99 each. http://www.bigbadtoystore.com/bbts/sear ... eries%2002
AGE OF ULTRON HOT TOYS HULK AND DELUXE HULK
Hot Toys is very excited to introduce the new Avengers” Age of Ultron 1/6 scale Hulk Collectible Figure! The movie accurate figure is based on the image of Hulk as seen in Avengers: Age of Ultron and features a newly developed screaming head sculpt with rolling eyeballs and a specially painted muscular body. Hulk is priced at $274.99. The Deluxe Hulk includes an interchangeable non-articulated “Hulk Smash” pose giant green-skinned muscular upper body and is priced at $374.99. http://www.bigbadtoystore.com/bbts/sear ... hot%20hulk
BATMAN 1/6 SCALE GOTHAM KNIGHT FIGURE
Inspired by a number of timeless comic book appearances, the Batman “Gotham Knight” Sixth Scale Figure invites collectors to further define their favorite look for the Caped Crusader with three cowl and mask options and three interchangeable facial expressions; which are also compatible with Sideshow’s Batman Sixth Scale Figure. This cool new version of Batman is listed for $199.99. http://www.bigbadtoystore.com/bbts/prod ... ode=retail
STAR WARS DIGITAL COLLECTION
You can now get your favorite characters from all six movies in the Star Wars franchise in this all new Star Wars Digital Collection. These four-packs of 3.75” figures are a great way to expand your own Star Wars collection or to start a new collection for someone new to the Star Wars universe. We have the Case of 6 four-packs for a total of 24 figures listed for $124.99 and the individual four-packs are priced between $19.99 and $29.99 each. http://www.bigbadtoystore.com/bbts/sear ... %20digital
From the Soul of Chogokin line we have the impressive Vehicle Machine created to transport GaoGaiGar’s mighty Goldion Hammer, Goldymarg! This figure transforms between normal, Goldy Tank, and the Marg Hand or Goldion Hammer arrangements and comes with a bunch of accessories to complete each look for $144.99. http://www.bigbadtoystore.com/bbts/prod ... ode=retail
SEA DRAGON KANON
From the depths of the sea we have Gemini Saga’s younger twin and member of Poseidon’s Seven Sea Generals, Sea Dragon Kanon! This detailed and precise figure comes with four interchangeable face parts, display frame, 7 interchangeable hands, and a cape for $87.99. http://www.bigbadtoystore.com/bbts/prod ... ode=retail
S.H. FIGUARTS SUPER SAILOR MOON
Check out this outstanding Super Sailor Moon form Tamashii Nations, taking the stage in a stunningly colored and delicately fabulous sailor suit. From her wing-like barrettes, translucent sleeves, and billowing ribbon, every detail is faithfully brought to life in meticulous detail. She comes with her Spiral Heart Moon Rod and Rainbow Moon Chalice for $37.99. http://www.bigbadtoystore.com/bbts/prod ... ode=retail
DANCING GROOT SOLAR POWERED BODY KNOCKER
Enjoy hours of fun that’s powered by the sun with your very own Dancing Groot Solar Powered Body Knocker by NECA. This 6” tall Baby Groot dances from side to side when exposed to light and is listed for $12.99. http://www.bigbadtoystore.com/bbts/prod ... ode=retail
SIXTH SCALE JEAN-CLAUDE VAN DAMME
“I am the Fred Astaire of karate”. Recreate his signature split stunt and other martial arts moves with your very own 1/6 scale figure of the “Muscles from Brussels”, Jean-Claude Van Damme. Featuring over 30 points of articulation, a newly painted head sculpt with the authentic likeness of JCVD, this figure comes with his signature black leather jacket, black jeans, grey T-shirt with the JCVD logo, black socks, interchangeable hands, sunglasses and a figure stand; and is priced at $179.99. http://www.bigbadtoystore.com/bbts/prod ... ode=retail
SIXTH SCALE BATTLE BRUCE SHARK BUST
Shark City Ozark is proud to present the 1/6 Scale Battle Bruce Bust! This museum quality resin replica is hand sculpted and hand-painted and is made in America! This highly detailed Great White Shark bust features rows of razor-sharp teeth and battle scars and is positioned as if he is coming through your shelf in full break-the-surface-to-attack mode. This whopping 16” long, 11” tall bust will fit right in with your 1/6 scale figure collection and is listed for $299.99. http://www.bigbadtoystore.com/bbts/prod ... ode=retail
TMNT PRIME 1 STATUES
Sideshow Collectibles and Prime 1 Studio are pleased to present the Donatello, Raphael, and Leonardo Poly-stone Statues from the film Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2014). These very large and amazingly detailed statues feature movable eyes and themed bases that can be connected together for a truly impressive display. We have Donatello listed at $749.99 with Leonardo and Raphael priced at $699.99 each. http://www.bigbadtoystore.com/bbts/sear ... 0prime%201
GLENN RHEE MINI BUST
Continue your amazing collection of The Walking Dead mini busts by Gentle Giant with the all new Glenn Rhee Mini Bust! Digitally sculpted using photographic reference directly from the set of the hit TV series, this limited edition and individually numbered statue is made of high quality polystone and hand painted. This bust comes with a matching certificate of authenticity and is listed for $80.99. http://www.bigbadtoystore.com/bbts/prod ... ode=retail
REVOLTECH MICRO VENOM SNAKE
Venom Snake from “Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain” is now a Revoltech Mini figure from Kaiyodo! Standing about 4” tall, this rugged looking snake has a prosthetic arm and shrapnel stuck in his head. He’s fully articulated for all kinds of sneakin’ around action, and he’s fully equipped with a pistol, knife, bazooka, iDroid, goggles, a cigar, multiple interchangeable hands, and a base. His one remaining eye is even movable! This mini Snake is listed for $44.99. http://www.bigbadtoystore.com/bbts/prod ... ode=retail
NEW TRANSFORMERS RID FIGURES
We have several new figures in the Robots in Disguise line. In the Series 03 Legion figures we have Underbite and Fixit priced at $23.99, and in the Hyper Change Series 02 we have Optimus Prime and Steeljaw priced at $44.99. You will also find some new Rescue Bots and RID Tiny Titans available in this menu: http://www.bigbadtoystore.com/bbts/list.aspx?list=18388
Oliver Queen defends Starling City in this all-new bookend from the hit CW show Arrow: The Television Series! Standing on a clock tower base, Arrow dons his mask and draws his new bow as seen in Season 2. This bookend is made of high quality polystone and stands approximately 9 inches tall and is listed at $134.99 for one bookend (not a set of two). http://www.bigbadtoystore.com/bbts/prod ... ode=retail
INTIMIDATOR UPGRADE KIT
Is your Fan’s Project Intimidator just not intimidating enough? Well, we’ve got just what you need to upgrade this already impressive figure. This add-on kit provides updated elbow joints for the Fan’s Project Intimidator combiner figure and is priced at $9.99. http://www.bigbadtoystore.com/bbts/prod ... ode=retail
MR POTATO HEAD MASH UP MARVEL
Now your Mr. Potato Head can save the day disguised as your favorite Marvel superhero. We have the Classic Scale Case of 2 up for pre-order for $23.99 that includes Spider-Man/Peter Parker and Iron Man/Tony Stark. We also have a new collector four-pack in the mini scale for $14.99 that includes Captain America, Wolverine, Iron Man and Spider-Man. http://www.bigbadtoystore.com/bbts/prod ... ode=retail
GORDIAN ACTION FIGURES
This cool 12” tall die-cast and plastic robot figure by Marusan Toys is from Gordian Warrior (Toshi Godian), a Japanese Anime television series that aired from 1979-1981 with a total of 73 episodes. The human pilot Daigo Otaki controls the smallest robot named Protteser which fits inside a bigger robot named Delinger, which fits into the largest robot named Garbin; and joins an organization of law enforcers to defend Victor City. We have both regular and metallic versions listed for $394.99. http://www.bigbadtoystore.com/bbts/sear ... n%20figure
AGE OF EXTINCTION DRIFT STATUE
At last; there is hope, after all.
Sideshow Collectibles and Prime 1 Studio are proud to present the Drift Polystone Statue from Transformers: Age of Extinction. Drift is a master of ancient weaponry who long ago, fought for the Decepticons. The scars of battle changed his thinking, and now Drift wields his swords as a member of the Autobots. Featuring LED light-up eyes and interchangeable hands with swords, this impressive statue is listed at $1099.99. http://www.bigbadtoystore.com/bbts/prod ... ode=retail
TOHO KAIJU GODZILLA AND BARAGON
These intricately sculpted and hand painted 8” resin statues by Albatross Japan would be a great addition to any Godzilla or kaiju collection. We have Godzilla 2001 and Baragon 2001 both listed for $214.99 each. http://www.bigbadtoystore.com/bbts/sear ... ho%20kaiju
MARVEL FILM CELLS AND WALL ART
Enhance your home theater or Marvel collection with these limited edition film cells and other wall art from The Avengers: Age of Ultron, Iron Man Trilogy, and Guardians of the Galaxy. This menu includes the double-matted and framed film cells of characters and scenes from the top Marvel franchises. We also have bookmarks that contain a piece of real film from the movies, as well as the new photo-quality MightyPrint Wall Art. http://www.bigbadtoystore.com/bbts/sear ... lm%20cells
S.H. FIGUARTS IMPERIALDRAMON PALADIN MODE
The renowned holy knight is realized in a spectacular white pearl paint and comes with a highly detailed Omega Blade accessory. Along the blade reads the DigiCode for the word ‘Initialize’. This figure comes with 3 interchangeable hands, display stand, and a support joint for $57.99. http://www.bigbadtoystore.com/bbts/prod ... ode=retail
FIGUARTS ZERO ONE PIECE 5TH ANNIVERSARY FIGURES
FiguartsZERO is celebrating its 5th anniversary with a special line-up of stunning new One Piece statue figures. These figures feature clear material throughout to create a more dynamic quality, and meticulous detailing adds depth and realism. They also come with sound effect option parts and special display bases that make them appear to come straight out of the manga. Get your hands on everyone’s favorite pirate, Monkey D. Luffy or the adorable Tony Tony Chopper for $29.99 each. http://www.bigbadtoystore.com/bbts/sear ... nniversary
ULTRA-ACT X S.H. FIGUARTS ULTRAMAN
This collaboration of cosmic proportions combines the superior articulation technology of S.H. Figuarts and the exceptional sculpt detail of Ultra-Act in this incredible 6” Ultraman Figure. He comes with 3 interchangeable wrist accessories, 2 interchangeable hands, Spacium Ray effect with attachments, and interchangeable chest piece for $40.99. http://www.bigbadtoystore.com/bbts/prod ... ode=retail
ATTACK ON TITAN TAMASHII BUDDIES
Grab your Three Dimensional Maneuver Gear and get in on the action because Attack on Titan is coming in a cool, compact and collectible size to TAMASHII BUDDIES! Protect your desk from nasty Titans with your very own member of the Survey Corps. Each TAMASHII BUDDIES product comes with an attached stage, display card, and frame set. You can also stack with any other BUDDIES you own! We have Eren Jaeger and Levi up for pre-order at $12.99 each. http://www.bigbadtoystore.com/bbts/sear ... %20buddies
S.H. FIGUARTS KAMEN RIDER TRY CHASER
Kamen Rider Kuuga's police bike inspired TryChaser 2000 is coming to S.H. Figuarts. The body is meticulously colored in Kuuga's signature red and gold. Clear parts are used for the headlights, embodying the same level of realism from the show. Use the included joint piece to display Try Chaser in action packed, mid-air poses! Set comes with hand piece gripping the handle and back wheel support display. This item is priced at $37.99. http://www.bigbadtoystore.com/bbts/prod ... ode=retail
TAMASHII EFFECT IMPACT SETS
Ideal for enhancing battle scenes with extreme collateral damage caused by being kicked through walls, explosive impact, or massive power build up cratering effects, these extensive effect accessory sets will be initially available in either gray or beige and can be used with Tamashii STAGE support stands (sold separately) and action figure lines such as S.H. Figuarts to create extreme action sequences. These impact effect sets are priced at $15.99 each. http://www.bigbadtoystore.com/bbts/sear ... %20version
BREAKING BAD 1:64 SCALE DIE-CAST VEHICLES
New to the Greenlight Collectibles Hollywood Series, these 1:64 Die-Cast vehicles from Breaking Bad are sure to enhance any die-cast car or Breaking Bad collection! We have the 2012 Dodge Challenger SRT-8 and the 2012 Chrysler 300 SRT-8 both listed for $5.99 each. We also have the 1986 Fleetwood Bounder RV known as “The Crystal Ship” for $12.99. http://www.bigbadtoystore.com/bbts/sear ... 20die-cast
REALM OF THE UNDERWORLD SERIES 03
These 6” tall figures by Zolo World feature interchangeable bodies and heads, weapons, and some may even have glow-in-the-dark parts as well as bonus SLIME. This set of 4 includes Toxic Terror Hercules, Sinister Sludge Archfiend, Krystal Kry-sis, and GROOZE-SUM and is listed at $119.99. http://www.bigbadtoystore.com/bbts/prod ... ode=retail
FWI-04M METALLIC UPGRADE KIT
This aftermarket accessory kit is a flight pack upgrade kit meant to make your figure resemble Optimus Prime from “Transformers: Dark of the Moon”. It will work with both Striker Optimus Prime and Revenge of the Fallen Leader Optimus Prime (both sold separately) and has a metallic finish. This upgrade kit is listed for $99.99. http://www.bigbadtoystore.com/bbts/prod ... ode=retail
JAY PISCOPO 8” MEGO-STYLE FIGURES
These new, limited edition 8” Mego-Style figures by Nemo Publishing are handcrafted and designed by Jay Piscopo and come in clamshell packaging featuring artwork by Jay Piscopo. We have The Black Bat, Sea Ghost, The Red Panther, Jack Danger, Rogue Agent Zero, Knight Avenger Commander X, Under Sea Knight Commander X, Archer Knight Commander X, Barbary Knight Commander X, Western Knight Commander X, 1950’s Commander X, and Commander X all listed for $19.99 each. http://www.bigbadtoystore.com/bbts/menu.aspx?menu=3640
ASMUS TOYS 1/6 NAZGUL AND STEED
Add terror and doom to your 1/6 figure collection with this highly detailed Nazgul and Steed (horse) by Asmus Toys. With the authentic likeness as seen in The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King, and an incredible assortment of accessories, these amazing figures will be the focal point of your collection. We have the Nazgul figure & Nazgul Steed in a set for $299.99, the Nazgul Steed that includes a bonus sword for $174.99 and the Nazgul figure for $154.99. http://www.bigbadtoystore.com/bbts/sear ... zgul%201/6
MAFEX AMAZING SPIDER-MAN 2 DELUXE SET
Based on the hit film The Amazing Spider-Man 2, Medicom has created the most dynamic and detailed 6” Amazing Spider-Man figure on the market! Everyone’s favorite web-slinger comes with a magnetized wall to climb on, an unmasked Peter Parker head, bullhorn, manhole cover, a skateboard, and a cell phone. He even comes with webbing to wrap up every member of the Sinister Six! Spidey comes in deluxe window box packaging and is in stock for $74.99. http://www.bigbadtoystore.com/bbts/prod ... ode=retail
MAZINGER Z & APHRODITE SET
These amazing figures are full of details and are perfect for any fan of Mazinger or giant robots. The Mazinger figure includes Koji Kabuto’s Pilder which you can remove from Mazinger’s head and open the wings. Aphrodite includes Yumi Sayaka on the top of Aphrodite’s head. This set of 7” articulated figures comes with a collectible display base for $39.99. http://www.bigbadtoystore.com/bbts/prod ... ode=retail
FIGUARTS ZERO PICCOLO
This much anticipated figure in the ever popular FiguartsZERO Dragonball series has an interchangeable right hand part allowing for recreation of two out of this world attack poses! The billowing cape and smoke effects come together to create a realistic and dynamic pose. This figure is in stock for $37.99. http://www.bigbadtoystore.com/bbts/prod ... ode=retail
STREET FIGHTER WORLD WARRIOR ENCYCLOPEDIA
Now you can learn the whole story behind the world’s greatest fighters in this hardcover encyclopedia. Inside this updated and expanded edition, you will find detailed profiles of every Street Fighter character, including their origins, personalities, allies, enemies, and more! Snag your copy now for $34.99. http://www.bigbadtoystore.com/bbts/prod ... ode=retail
STAR WARS REBELS CLASS II VEHICLES
Now your Star Wars Rebels figures have a way to travel with the Series 03 Set of 2 Class II vehicles. This set comes with the Inquisitor Tie Fighter and the Imperial Troop Transport and is in stock for $54.99. http://www.bigbadtoystore.com/bbts/prod ... ode=retail
BIG BANG THEORY MINIMATES SET 02
Are you ready for the second set of Minimates based on the Big Bang Theory? This set of figures from Bif Bang Pow! includes Sheldon (The Flash Shirt), Leonard, Penny, and Bernadette and is in stock for $24.99. http://www.bigbadtoystore.com/bbts/prod ... ode=retail
WALKIND DEAD POP! DARYL DIXON ON CHOPPER
The toughest Pop! on the block now gets a new ride! Check out this cool new stylized Daryl Dixon sitting comfortably on his chopper. Increase the coolness factor of your Walking Dead or Pop! figure collection with Daryl Dixon on his Chopper for $24.99. http://www.bigbadtoystore.com/bbts/prod ... ode=retail
THE WALKING DEAD VIDEO GAME CLEMENTINE FIGURES
Clem is an original character in Telltale Games’ The Walking Dead video game series. This mature, kind, and polite little girl is the moral compass of the group and tries her best to maintain the humanity of her fellow survivors in a post-apocalyptic world. We have both the regular and bloody versions of this exclusive figure in stock for $32.99 each. http://www.bigbadtoystore.com/bbts/sear ... clementine
EAVI METAL PHASE FOUR: A – TRANSISTOR
This figure stands just over 9 inches tall in robot mode and the chest opens to hold 3 KFC cassettes at a time. This guy comes with 2 blaster guns, a comic book and manual, bio card, 2 different version heads, and some bonus gifts for $139.99. http://www.bigbadtoystore.com/bbts/prod ... ode=retail
TRANSFORMERS X PLAYSTATION OPTIMUS PRIME
This figure stands nearly 8” tall in robot mode and transforms into a classic PlayStation system (non-functioning) complete with controller, memory card, and detailed electronic replications on the back panel. We have this unique figure in stock for $119.99. http://www.bigbadtoystore.com/bbts/prod ... ode=retail
DARYL DIXON WITH CHOPPER
Fan-favorite Daryl Dixon, from AMC’s hit television series The Walking Dead, is a lone wolf survivalist who has proven time and again to be a vital sentinel for his group in the unpredictable and perilous apocalyptic world. This deluxe box set features Daryl Dixon with his iconic chopper motorcycle and is back in stock for $32.99. http://www.bigbadtoystore.com/bbts/prod ... ode=retail
Hi! Remember us? We left the interviews with comics creators lagging for a while, as life decided to settle itself, 2014 swept in and we're now ready for Combiner Wars hitting shelves in both paper, plastic and pixel format. But alongside that, we've also seen the return of one of IDW's original Transformers characters, Drift, in the hands of its originator - Shane McCarthy. Read on below for a spotlight on the Australian author of AHM!
Va'al - Shane, it is a pleasure to talk to you for a bit, thank you for agreeing to do this! As we've done for the other creators we've interviewed, I'd like to start from the beginning - from your beginning: how did Transformers enter your life, do you remember your first interaction with the franchise?
Shane McCarthy - I absolutely do. Like most kids I was crazy about cartoons and around that time I was all about He-Man. Saturday morning was where it was at and I would get up super early to watch them all. One morning, when He-Man had finished, on comes this cartoon I'd never heard of. It opened with Cybertron in flames and I was immediately hooked. After that it was a mad dash to the toy store. The first one I ever bought was the double pack of the cassettes... Frenzy and Laserbeak I think.
Va'al - And was that also a gateway moment into collecting the toys, or were you able to keep the plastic addiction at bay (or forced to, by external factors)? Did you, or do you still, have the one that got away, or at least a very elusive toy that was really hard to get?
Shane - Well I'd already started my He-Man collection so buying toys was already a habit. What I could afford mind you; my parents would buy me some big things for Christmas (Castle Grayskull) but I had to buy the figures myself. So picking up Transformers was a natural progression.
As for the one that got away. I was crazy about Prime and Soundwave as a kid and got both of those. There's two I never got that I really wanted as a kid. Ravage, because he looked so damn cool and I never saw him again beyond when I had to make that first choice in the store. And Megatron. Although I wouldn't be after Megs these days, the actual toy doesn't look at all that hot to me.
Va'al - Starting to sense a purple pattern here, I must admit. Would you say that Ravage (or any of the other three) still holds a spot in your collector's heart? Did you continue collecting beyond your childhood and teenage years, with new iterations of the same characters?
Shane - I'd say it's really just Ravage these days; I think the concept and the design are really cool. I think I've still got Frenzy around here somewhere, I lost Laserbeak's head though.
I didn't keep collecting, no. My love of the toys spilled over into books and comics. The next time I bought a Transformer was after Beast Wars came out. Like a lot of people I dismissed Beast Wars as some sort of heretical assault on the old classics. When a friend explained how the old cartoons and Beast Wars lined up and then handed me Transmetal Optimus Primal, I was hooked again. That was a seriously cool toy.
Va'al - That often still happens with some fans, good to hear we won you over to the beast side eventually! So as you ventured from screen media and toys into comics, what were your first impressions, what caught your attention in particular?
Shane - You mean comics in general? Conan, haha. My sister bought me one at a flea market to shut me up. It had Gil Kane on art and it was glorious. From there it was into Batman and Superman then down the road the X-Men.
As far as Transformers though I started picking up the magazine format comics, the ones from the UK that Simon Furman was writing. I absolutely loved them. I remember the first story I came in on, I can't remember the issue number though. But basically Prime and Outback were battered and fighting to survive against some sort of ape creatures I think. Classic stuff.
Va'al - That sounds very much like issue #100, Distant Thunder! As an established comics reader, how long did it take from that point to entering the industry as a creator? How was that process for you?
Shane - That's the one! Man, you're good. Alan Davis on cover art too, wow.
How long did it take? Well the link says that comic came out in 1987. My first publication was Batman for DC Comics in...2005 I think so, 18 years. Yikes.
The process was an interesting one. I never even thought of becoming a writer until I was around twenty odd years old. It had never occurred to me. Once the idea struck (or was actually suggested to me) everything clicked in a way nothing ever had before. After that it was a lot of work, effort and training before I broke in with DC.
Va'al - But you did make it in the end, and you've worked on multiple characters and properties since! What I'm wondering, though, is how the IDW gig started - did they ask you to take over from Furman, or did you pitch material to them?
Shane - I was approached by Chris Ryall to take over from Simon. He'd been doing great stuff but they were wanting to move in a different direction and asked me what I would do if I took over. With the understanding that it was supposed to be a new direction, one they hoped would also appeal to a wider audience, I pitched All Hail Megatron.
Va'al - And Drift was one of the new, original appearances in the series, before he became his own full-on character, correct? We've seen the pitch for him in the recent IDW Complete Drift volume, actually - how did it feel to introduce an entirely new character to the franchise?
Shane - It was fun. I was already having a hell of a lot of fun working on AHM and it was never on my mind to bring in anything new. However when I was working on the book the idea for Drift popped into my head and I thought, why not? I've said it before but the initial pitch was me just firing off a "what if" email to Chris. He liked the idea but said Hasbro would never go for it. Turns out they loved it. Right away they mentioned the possibility of a figure which was brilliant. Apparently some people didn't believe the figure was true when Chris announced it. I still find that hilarious.
Va'al - He was also not the only lasting outcome of the AHM series, as we're still feeling some of the aftermath of those events in the current ongoings and mini-series (such as the beef between Devastator and Spike, which Costa took a step further, and Barber is currently retreading in The Transformers). How does it feel, as the plotter behind it all?
Shane - It's nice to know it's all still going forward. I don't read the books (unless I'm writing for them) but I would hope that some things have been kept and other things have changed. Like any comic book, when a new creative team comes on they need to leave their stamp. It's important everything isn't thrown out but it has to be something new otherwise what's the point?
Va'al - And that, in a way, brings us to the present day, with you returning to Drift after his presence in James Roberts' writing in More Than Meets the Eye. How does it feel to write the book now, compared to any of the three you were working on back then?
Shane - I have to say it was a mix of weird and fun. James' take on Drift was different to mine and I needed to keep that in mind as I did the mini series. I'd read through Drift's "James" appearances and got a feel for who he was there. After that I needed to think about where I wanted to take him and what I wanted to say with the character taking into account what he meant to me when I created him and what he means to me now after he'd gone through so much since AHM.
It kind of felt like seeing a really great friend after they'd been overseas for a while. They're still your good mate but they've got a whole bunch of new hobbies and an accent.
Va'al - Was the inclusion of Ratchet as grumpy but sensible counterpart to him in Empire of Stone something that you built from the MTMTE relationship between the two, then, or entirely your initiative?
Shane - No that was absolutely from MTMTE. I loved the odd couple vibe I was getting from them and knew I needed someone to come calling from the Autobots. It was nice having it be Ratchet, someone who once hated Drift (or was at least seriously annoyed by him). Plus I knew it would make for some fun buddy cop moments.
Va'al - They do have some really good interactions, yes! And what about the other characters showing up, such as Gigatron and super obscure ones like Hellbat and the Micromasters? Are they something you have a connection to, or was it more of an editorial call?
Shane - No those were all my choices. When it comes to finding new, interesting characters that haven't been overused it can get tough so I decided to go to an expert. I went to Twitter and asked a Transformer fan, Sprite, for advice on some underused characters. I knew the kinds of characters I was looking for and she made some great suggestions of who hadn't been used in the IDW universe yet. I had a look through that list and chose the ones I liked the most. Gigatron, Hellbat and Grit all came from that list so, thanks, Sprite.
Va'al - Fans really making an impact, then, on all accounts! Some great artists are also showing up at IDW from the fan base, but you've gone with the established team of Guido Guidi, Stephen Baskerville and JP Bove. How are you finding working with them? What do you feel their art brings to the story?
Shane - They're a fantastic team to work with. It's fantastic to be working with Guido again; I absolutely adore his artwork. After having worked together for a year on AHM it was great to get back into those familiar roles again. And JP, what a champ. Fantastic work and a great guy. I had the pleasure of signing with JP when I was at a UK con, the guy's a riot. Stephen is a new one to me but, like the others, I love what he brought to the book. Everyone is excited to be working together and we're all doing our best to put out a book that we love and hope the readers will love too.
Va'al - It is receiving its fair share of praise so far - but with only one issue left to the series, do you have any other plans in mind for Drift or the Transformers universe in general? Anything we should be looking forward to?
Shane - Not currently no. I'm really glad John [Barber] dropped me a line asking me to do this, it was a blast, but currently this looks like it's it for Transformers. Not to say something won't pop up down the line, IDW is over the moon at how well Drift is being received so you never know.
Va'al - That's a low - though hopeful - tone to be ending this chat upon, however - is there anything you'd like to say to the fans and readers out there before we bid our goodbyes?
Shane - Just a huge thank you. Thank you for reading and thank you for writing in. It's great to know people have enjoyed AHM and Drift.
Va'al - And thank you, Shane, for taking the time to talk to us for this interview - it was great to find out more about your journey as a fan and a creator. Best of luck for future endeavours, and we'll be on the lookout for Drift #4 later this month!
You can find out more about Shane McCarthy's multiple creative lives at his website, SMAcTalk, and on Twitter. IDW Transformers: Drift - Empire of Stone is regularly reviewed on Seibertron.com - join the discussion here!
You can also read Shane's thoughts on Age of Extinction Drift here - and find out more about the latest incarnation of the character in animated series Robots in Disguise here and here.
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