Transformers Interviews News on Seibertron.com
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Wednesday, December 19th 2007 11:32pm CST
Categories: Comic Book News
Posted by: Professor Smooth
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Renaud and the entire Bottalk message board had the chance to talk with Transformers: Animated series writer Marty Isenberg.
Check out what the former Beast Machines writer has to say about the new series on Bigbot.com by clicking here
Friday, December 14th 2007 8:24pm CST
Categories: Comic Book News
, People News
Posted by: Raymond T.
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Last year IDW
gave fans the chance to submit questions for Transformers writer
Simon Furman. The best 20 were picked out of the litter and were answered by the Transformers guru himself. This year, fans were again able to ask the writer their burning questions. The best 20 questions were put together and are online in the second Simon Fuman IDW A&Q session. The first 15 on the IDW forum and the last 5 on Simon Furman's Blogpage
The following 15 questions have been taken directly from the IDW Forum
1) Character-wise are there any aspects of a character ie: role, alt. mode, character that you haven't had an opportunity to explore but you still would like to either through an original character or through the expansion on an existing one?
SF) What I feel I used to do well but (in the new IDW/TF-verse) haven’t done much of recently is take a little used character and really kind of escalate/advance them into terms of motivation, role and overall story impact. I’m thinking of the likes of Bludgeon, Thunderwing and Carnivac, where characters with little or no depth ended up virtually carrying whole story arcs. The closest I’ve come of late is with Razorbeast, in Beast Wars (Gathering/Ascending), where a toy/character who otherwise came and went without much of ripple has become quite pivotal (even collectable!). So far, with the Spotlights, I’ve largely focused on already A-list characters (or the likes of Nightbeat, a character I'd already got to grips with in a previous incarnation). Moving forwards, what I’d like to do is bring in a character or two from the ‘B’ or ‘C’ list and really go at them from scratch, bring them thundering into the ‘A’ list in terms of the IDW/TF-verse. Sixshot more or less fits those criteria, but I found there were limitations with a ‘living weapon.’ I’m looking forward to doing more with the likes of Doubledealer, Banzaitron and Jhiaxus. Right now, I’m searching for ways to confound expectation, so pretty much every character I tackle in an IDW comic comes with a fresh coat of paint, so to speak. Whatever established profile/tech spec/biog the characters already have, I’m using that as a loose template and taking it in different directions, without necessarily reinventing the wheel. It’s a very exciting way of working, as it seems to really let the creative side of me loose.
2) In your years working in the comic industry how much does it differ today to when you broke into the industry (art, story and the general production of a comic)? How do you see it in the years to come? And what is your favourite part of working in that industry?
SF) For me, the main difference is structure. Everything now is about the trade (paperback). With that in mind, stories are pretty much always arcs, be they four or six or more issues. I kind of miss the more rambling, unfolding nature of an ongoing comic. When we came to do the Titan reprints of the Marvel Transformers series, it was a challenge to break up the storyline(s) into cohesive (vaguely standalone) volumes. And, in fact, it often didn’t work. If you look at All Fall Down and End of the Road, there’s a distinct ‘To be continued…’ at the end of the first of those volumes. And I think because of distinct story arcs, there’s a natural tendency not to make single issues as self-supportive as they used to be. Which is also a shame. It’s why I love the Spotlights so much. They seem to hark back to a different era, where, as well as being part of a larger structure, each single issue also had to be semi-complete in and of itself. What I don’t miss about the ‘good old days’ is thought bubbles. It’s weird how old-fashioned they seem now. I much prefer narrative captions. They seem, to me, more grown-up (in a good sense of the word). Because, and this is a shame, comics are just no longer pitched at (or as accessible to) kids. Even ‘kids’ comics are just more sophisticated. I think back to the (Marvel) UK Transformers stories and compare them to the (Titan) UK stories of today, and there’s a big creative gulf. The one is not necessarily better than the other, just different. It’s no point getting misty-eyed with nostalgia, as a writer you have to move and evolve with the times, which I hope I’ll continue to do (wherever, and in whatever form comics go/take). The best bit is just being IN the industry. They’ll have to take me out in a box!
3) What one change would you make to the Transformers history you've created? (eg. do you wish maybe you hadn't made Magnus quite so scared of Galvatron? Do you wish you hadn't killed off Cyclonus? Not used Unicron in a particular story, etc).
SF) It sort of depends which Transformers history is being referenced. And even then, the only places I’d maybe want to go back and change/revisit are where external circumstances (such as imminent or sudden cancellation) dictated that either a story not go the way it was originally intended or not be completed at all. Certainly, the IDW/TF-verse is too new and still evolving to be the subject of retroactive second-guessing. New opportunities and avenues to explore are plentiful and ongoing there, and it’s probably the most well thought out/cohesive long-term structure I’ve ever had the luxury of working within. If I had to pick points to revisit, it’d be: with the original Marvel UK stories, I’d have loved to be able to play out the Ultra Magnus/Galvatron ‘rematch’ as originally set up. But the imminent change to black & white 5-page stories meant that Time Wars pretty much had to wrap up everything (and with two Primes in the mix, Ultra Magnus kind of got sidelined). With the Marvel US stories, I’d love to have been able to do the full post-Unicron storyline I had mapped out, with wasteland Cybertron and the quest for the Last Autobot unfolding over multiple issues (instead of, like, one). But again, it wasn’t to be. Once I knew issue #80 was our last, everything had to be condensed/accelerated (to an ultimately unsatisfying degree). I wish I could have continued Transformers Energon, I wish I could have wrapped up War Within v3, but really these things were just not meant to be, I guess. Largely, I try not to look back, only forwards. What’s out there already is out there, end of story. Truthfully, I’m not sure I’d want to tamper even if I could.
4) Will we be seeing more of the Micromasters in the future? (ie. why they are small and such and related to the Dead Universe?)
SF) Definitely more Micromasters in Revelation (and beyond)! This time around, in the IDW/TF-verse, I’m trying to apply thought and logic to concepts that previously were maybe just thrown into the mix without much due care and attention. If it’s Pretenders, it’s well why would Transformers need an outer shell? As a disguise element it always seemed slightly redundant to me in the original storylines. If it's Headmasters, what is it about a human/Transformer hybrid that makes them special? Why bother unless the end product is markedly better, and it cuts both ways (after all, it’s a kind of symbiosis)? I’m asking myself all the tough questions that were maybe skipped over in the rush of new product lines, and the same applies to Micromasters. Why is small better? What new, interesting abilities do pint-sized Transformers bring to the mix? And, as always, who is responsible? What’s their bottom line? The whole Jhiaxus/Nemesis Prime/Dead Universe storyline is about to explode, big time, and Micromasters are an integral part of what’s to come.
5) It's a very loose term, though. Can you define "brothers" in a TF sense? Is it merely some trivial notion of 'created around the same time' or 'somewhat looky-likey designs', or that they share some E.S.P., or what?
SF) What defines a ‘brother’ is going to feed into and be explored in two ’08 storylines. In the ‘ongoing.’ Sideswipe is about to step up and make his presence felt, most notably when he meets Sunstreaker again and realises he’s no longer just Sunstreaker! There is a bond between lots of characters, it’s just that in some cases it’s more pronounced, and the pair (or more) of characters in question are aware of it (even if it’s purely subliminal). Then, in a kind of standalone (but, of course, very connected) series, we’ll start to understand exactly where that link/bond came from. It’s connected to the lineage idea introduced in Spotlight Optimus Prime and to the eventual concept/realization of Combiners. Whatever it is, in some Transformers the bond is very strong, almost like in twins, in others it’s so watered down they don’t even know it’s there. A lot of ‘fundamental’ stuff, in terms of what makes a Transformer tick, is planned for next year.
6) If you were to radically reinvent the concept, allowing you to disregard anything and everything, for a one-off ‘Evolutions’ type story, what would it look like?
SF) It would probably not be terribly different to what we’ve done for the IDW/TF-verse. In many ways, it’s a reinvention/update of the classic G1 era, cutting out some elements, making others more contemporary, dropping in new ideas/designs/rationales, etc. So if I was handed carte blanche to do an Evolutions-style story, I’m not quite sure what I’d do with it. Even with Beast Wars, where I thought the abrupt leap into Beast Machines missed major storytelling opportunities, I got to drop The Gathering and The Ascending into that mix (and maybe more to come). The idea of just taking a different era and setting Transformers (G1) there doesn’t greatly appeal to me. Trying to re-do or re-style classic G1 stories doesn’t greatly appeal either. I feel (strongly) Transformers (as a whole) needs to keep moving forwards, evolving, in a way that doesn’t limit it to hardcore fan appreciation. That’s why I was so pro the new movie makeover. The quickest way to kill it dead would have been to make it a retro G1 piece, harking back entirely to the 80s (either in look or sensibilities). What I did enjoy recently was doing the ‘classic G1’ mini-comic for Madman’s DVD release of the entire animated series. That, in essence, ‘plugged a hole’ if you like, between the end of the animated show and the animated movie and felt more pertinent. Mostly, though, it’s my preference to keep looking upwards and onwards.
7) Given that you're well-known for taking obscure characters and breathing new life into them (Bludgeon, Nightbeat, Thunderwing etc.), are there any underdeveloped Transformers you'd like to give the same treatment in future?
Yes. And, assuming the Spotlights continue, I hope to do just that. The IDW/TF-verse is just so brimming with potential right now, I feel there is this vast pool of characters waiting for their chance to shine, to step out from (often limited) profile/tech specs, or simply just to be completely re-thought/re-made from the ground up. I think it's important that the main players have been established, either as the title character in a Spotlight or the main supporting character in a Spotlight (such as Ultra Magnus/Scorponok), but that done it’s time to move other, maybe more minor characters into major roles. After the trio of Blaster, Arcee and Grimlock Spotlights, I’m involved (rather than outright writing) in one more Spotlight (in what will be volume 3). That one definitely feels more in the spirit of minor character given due credit, gravitas and screen time. And, as always with the Spotlights, it plays into something much bigger. Can’t say any more at the moment, but I think it’ll surprise a few people.
8) What exactly does it take to kill a Transformer in IDW continuity? The amount of damage a TF can take before dying has always seemed to be fairly inconsistent to me, and so I'm curious as to what your take on the matter is.
SF) I think if I have played fairly fast and loose so far in the IDW/TF-verse, it’s with the actual mechanics (literal and otherwise) of how much injury a Transformer can sustain before it becomes critical. The two key elements to me are neural processor (brain) and Spark core (‘soul’). Take out either one of those, and you’re dead, gone, etc. Mind you, both are heavily shielded. Even a headshot (such as in Spotlight Ultra Magnus) might not necessarily destroy the processor. In Escalation #5, Megatron digs his hand into Optimus Prime’s chest cavity and squeezes his Spark core, meaning to crush it. Had he followed through, Prime would be dead. We have to assume that when Megatron shoots Starscream (in Infiltration #6) he misses (or fails to destroy) his spark core. EJ made it more graphic (and a much bigger torso hole/wound) than I’d maybe anticipated (in the writing), and so a certain degree of dramatic license may have to be applied there (especially if we ever actually place the Spark core specifically in some kind of internal cross-section). Though presumably there’s some room for manoeuvre here, what with different sizes and shapes of Transformers and all. Though we haven’t shown it as such, in the case of disembodied heads (such as Sunstreaker in Devastation), I’m working on the principle that the head is still hooked up to the Spark core (which has either been removed to a place of safekeeping or the original body preserved). The one can’t function without the other. I do mean to pay stricter attention to the physical limits of Transformers in upcoming arcs and series.
9) Now that IDW has the licence to produce Doctor Who comics, do you want to write for the series again? If you could, what elements would you explore, like in Axis of Insanity you explored the Doctor's curiosity and the dynamics between Peri and Erimem.
SF) I’ve always had a soft spot for the Doctor. Over the years I’ve done a fair few Doctor Who stories, whether in Doctor Who Monthly/Magazine (in the 80s) or in audio drama. And I’m currently doing some new (junior) Who for the UK (more details on my blog as and when I can trumpet this officially), as well as some Torchwood comic work (again, watch my blog for more details). So the short answer is yes, I’m always up for more Who. And, in fact, I have talked to Chris Ryall about doing some IDW-Who. But if I do, it’ll be later rather than sooner in 08, as story arcs (by other creators) are already in progress or upcoming (and I’m snowed under right now). What would I do, story-wise? I’d like to put the Doctor in a situation where he’s just totally and utterly out of his depth. Sometimes I feel the just always seems to know what’s what and what to do about it. I think if I get to do an IDW arc, I’d put the Doctor completely out of any kind of comfort zone, in a situation where he’s got to more or less think/act on a wing and a prayer. I loved the Human Nature/Family of Blood two-parter in series 3 of the new TV show. It showed the Doctor in a refreshingly new light. It’s that kind of thing I’d like to tap into any story I might write. Beyond the companionship, why does he have a companion? It’s for situations exactly like that.
10) What are some of the best experiences you’ve had working with artists? Any particular issues, old or new, where you were especially blown away?
SF) Too many ‘blown away’ experiences to list. Some notables would include: my very first strip work (a ‘Library of Death’ story in UK comic Scream), drawn by (of all people) Steve Dillon. What a way to start out. Story was truly dire, by the way, but hey, it looked good! Transformers UK #113: Geoff (Senior) was forever blowing me away with his artwork, and in fact #113 isn’t his best TF work (I’d reserve the likes of Target: 2006 pt 8 and Edge of Extinction in US #75 for that distinction), but it was inspirational inasmuch as it pretty much pushed me into rethinking what was supposed to be a minor (disposable) supporting character (Death’s Head) and turning him into what’s become, I guess, my signature creation. For all the wrong reasons, I remember a Dan Reed UK job where he was so late with the pages I thought I was going to have to run with a reprint filler story. He had to physically bring the pages (from Paris, where he was living at the time), at which point he lost the splash page (in customs) and had to redraw it with me standing over him looking at my watch. I still shudder to this day. The first page of Transformers (US) #56 is another of what I’d call personal landmarks. It wasn’t just my first page of Transformers US, it was my first work for Marvel US (something I’d always dreamed of). Good, bad or indifferent (art-wise), that page was always going to be special. My collaborations with Andrew Wildman have always been memorable, not least because we actually developed our own IPs. Some of the ones that got away, like the (proposed) Neo-Knights series, I remember vividly. Again, for all the wrong reasons, I remember working with Pat Lee and how kind of disappointed I was to find how little of the art was actually him. He gave me an original art page of Armada, and there’s so little art on it! The good side of Dreamwave was my first collaboration with Don Figueroa on War Within v1. His art blew me away (in terms of its amazing detail and dynamism) and then blew me away again (because this was when I first realized that the new generation of TF artists were utterly passionate about the work).
11) In 2008, are there any plans for a mini-series of Primus and Unicron story and fit the core continuity?
SF) I shall restate categorically what I’ve said before. No Primus. No Unicron. I’m just not going there (outside of Beast Wars, and then not directly). BUT, that’s not saying we won’t at point start poking and prodding around the pre-history of the Transformers and begin to ground what’s happening in the present with stuff that goes all the way back to the very beginning. There’s stuff I’ve laid into the IDW/TF-verse already that pays into the timelost roots of the Cybertronian race and I don’t intend to let that mystery drag on too long. The Dead Universe wasn’t always dead. That’s all I’ll say for the time being.
12) Marvel G1 question: whatever happened to Professor Morris? I believe the last we saw of him was when Centurion was beheaded by Galvatron. Later, when Wheeljack rebuilt him, Morris was never mentioned again. So was he trapped in his underground bunker when Centurion was sent to the bottom of the Thames or what?
SF) OK. This question sent me scurrying back to my collected editions of the UK stories (and de-archiving the original issues that featured ‘Ancient Relics’ the Transformers/Action Force crossover). We last see Professor Morris (in person) in issue #102 (‘Fallen Angel pt 2’), when he mentally communicates with Swoop, asking permission to mind-share again (following on from events in The Icarus Theory in UK #45/46). We ‘assume’ that’s him communicating through Centurion later in ‘Ancient Relics’ (though I confess it’s not clear). However, it’s still something of a loose end, as we never really know if Morris was ever extracted from that bunker (after Centurion disappeared into the Thames… to be extracted later in ‘Salvage pt 1’ in TF-UK #160). Let’s assume so, eh? Maybe Swoop was feeling charitable and (after the events of ‘Ancient Relics’) freed him. Or maybe Triple III finally broke in or RAAT got involved. Whatever the case, let’s hope Morris got out somehow. He only had enough food and water for a year!!
13) Have you ever considered that maybe all the various storylines from all the previous companies (Marvel, DW, Club exclusives, etc) could be brought together in a huge storyline that could redefine the future of Transformers and use all the characters from all the comics, toys, manga and anime available (G1 to Galaxy Force, Beast Wars, and back), just like DC is actually doing in their Countdown comic series?
SF) Some kind of big ‘Crisis on Infinite Transformers’ was considered (and then rejected) when IDW first picked up the license. Chris Ryall and I discussed several options, of which that was one. Another was a way of running G1 and Cybertron comics in tandem, with a sort of crossover story that simultaneously launched both titles (the original pitch for which can be seen as an ‘extra’ in the Best of Simon Furman book). Both were ultimately rejected in favour of the complete reboot of the G1 line that now forms the IDW/TF-verse and I believe it was the right way to go. Even if we’d gone the ‘Crisis on Infinite Transformers’ route and effectively cleaned house, it would still have been a confusing and off-putting (especially to new readers) way to start. Though part of me still loves the idea of doing something on that scale I don’t think (this far on and in) it’d be something IDW would ever consider.
14) You have been involved with Transformers more or less since the beginning. How do you feel about how the line has grown and evolved since its inception? Has it improved, degraded, remained true to the original vision, forgotten it, reshaped it for the better?
SF) I think, as with all properties that have been around as long as Transformers has, there have been both highs and lows. The great thing about Transformers as a whole is how easy it is to ‘transform’ itself for each new generation (whether they be young kids or adults, fans or newbies) without losing the core concepts and ideals that underpin it. I’m not going to get into what I feel those highs and lows are, but I do think that even 23 years on from when it first hit toy shops in the west, Transformers is still delivering across a wide variety of media. Whether it's the IDW/TF-verse, the new movie franchise, Transformers Animated, the passion the creators and toy designers and moviemakers bring to each is undiminished by time. In fact, I’d go as far as to say we’re in something of a golden age right now, where the sheer momentum delivered by the first (new) movie is pushing everyone involved to be that much more on their game when it comes to new product. There will always be those who hanker for what they see as the original and best, the G1 of the 80s (be it toy, comic or cartoon), but clearly the main reason Transformers has survived and thrived is because things haven’t stopped still, haven’t remained stuck in the nostalgia era. The long-time fans are incredibly important, but it’s even more important that new generations are given an easy access point into what otherwise could be a daunting and off-putting 23-year (and counting) history.
15) When writing dialogue for the Transformers, do you imagine it being spoken by the voice-actors that played the respective characters in the cartoon?
SF) Sometimes, but increasingly not. I pretty much always write dialogue for Optimus Prime with Peter Cullen in mind as I do so. He’s just so completely attached to the character in my opinion. But when it comes to the IDW/TF-verse, I try not to go in with any vocal preconceptions, because it may subliminally make me write a given character as if its their classic G1 equivalent (which it’s not). However, when I write Beast Wars characters in comic form I absolutely do think of their voice actor counterparts. How can you not think of David Kaye (“Yess”) when writing BW Megatron or Scott McNeill with Rattrap? So it depends. The (new) movie voice cast didn’t really have enough screen time (or make enough impact on me) to affect the way I write any surrounding prequel/roll over movie comic material. So, strangely, those I do tend to base more on their original animated counterparts. (New) movie Starscream I write just like his G1 counterpart. I have Chris Latta’s whiny, shrill delivery in mind when I write him. Mostly, though, when it comes to writing dialogue for Transformers, I try to approach each character as I’ve previously set them up (with any accompanying vocal tics) and not be too influenced by ‘outside’ sources. That said, while writing Torchwood stories recently, I had each of main actor’s voices nailed to my subconscious.
The following last five questions were taken directly from Simon Furman's Blog
16) How does the Matrix work in the IDW universe (i.e. power of Primus, souls of all the Transformers, sacred battery, etc)?
SF) Well, we’ve yet to actually meet the Matrix in the IDW/TF-verse. So we may be getting ahead of ourselves here. What do we know about it so far? Well, according to Spotlight Galvatron, the Matrix was (and maybe is) “carried” by Nova Prime, and he (Nova Prime) disappeared into the Dead Universe (along with the Matrix, we assume). Nova describes a bottomless well and a resonant tug on the Matrix. What happened next we don’t know (yet). But what is the Matrix (hm, that sounds familiar somehow)? Not telling. Not yet. But ’08 holds the answers: what it is, where it came from, what is does (then and now!). The Matrix (and what it’s become) will figure large in all that happens post-Devastation. The Matrix has been gone from the IDW/TF-verse for a long time, and its return will not necessarily be a thing of celebration.
17) Was it always the intention to introduce Acree to the IDW-verse, or was it as case of being suddenly struck with a workable idea? If so, what inspired the idea and story?
SF) I think once the nature of IDW/TF-verse Jhiaxus started to properly take shape, so the idea of doing an Arcee story became both workable and desirable (in the context of both a Spotlight and the larger story). To an extent, I wasn’t willing to go anywhere near Arcee (as a character) until I had worked out the whys and wherefores (in the IDW/TF-verse) of quote-unquote female Transformers and the whole issue of gender. Back when I was writing the first clutch of Spotlights, the idea of Arcee started to germinate. The Nightbeat Spotlight opened a door, and the involvement of Hot Rod just somehow made me want to get Arcee in there too, somehow, even though the two aren’t linked in the IDW/TF-verse. But even then I didn’t really have all the answers I needed (for myself) to properly introduce/write the character. I’ve been vocal about my resistance to the idea of gender in Transformers, so if Arcee existed (and she was a she), then I really needed to know exactly why that was (and how she and others react to that fact). Arcee, Combiners and Micromasters all have a common point of origin, in terms of forcing the evolution the Cybertronian race. Once I had that in mind, Arcee just seemed to work (and I had the motivation on both sides) as both a concept and a character.
18) As more people chip into building this new IDW/TF-verse continuity, are there any guidelines for what creators should/shouldn’t include to avoid clashing with other books?
SF) My main rule of thumb has always been (and remains), if it’s been done that way before, don’t do it again. It applies equally to me and, I hope, the other writers contributing to the IDW/TF-verse. Mostly, other than looking at what’s been established so far in the ‘ongoing’ arcs, the Spotlights and so forth and making sure new story elements don’t blow it all (in terms of the over-arcing story) out of the water, it’s just a matter of continually thinking outside of the box, and not falling back on classic G1 (knee-jerk) story/character traditions. Defy expectations. Turn characters on their heads. Assign them roles and functions that don’t necessarily match their classic G1 counterparts. And try and keep the story rolling onwards, rather than keep dipping back into what’s gone before (or if you do go back, make sure it has some present day/future resonance/pay off). On the IDW forums there’s a great thread, which painstakingly details who’s appeared, when and where. It’s very helpful, not least to me. The great thing about the way the IDW/TF-verse is set up is there are stories to tell that don’t necessarily have to be set on Earth. It’s been established that the war is spread out across many worlds, many frontiers, and that there are disparate groups of Decepticons (Infiltration units) and Autobots (Tactical Response units) involved, and that the ‘staged’ process established in Infiltration, Escalation and the like is underway on those other worlds too. So it’s reasonably straightforward to assemble a cast on some far-flung world and tell whatever kind of story you want to tell.
19) What goes into writing a new character who’s not been featured before? With, say, Sixshot was there a process involved in how he would act or did you look at tech specs or previous appearances in other mediums to get a basic idea?
I do at least start with the tech specs. Then, largely, I look for whatever it is in that character that interests or intrigues me, or seems to open the door to some kind of dramatic conflict (and if it’s not there, then I’ll start to rethink or flesh out the character more) and subsequent resolution (to a degree). With the Spotlights in particular I look for a way to give the reader an almost instant insight into what makes the character tick, and why we should care about or empathise with them. Good guy or bad guy, it’s necessary that the reader become involved with the character quickly. So if there’s nothing much there in terms of tech specs or previous appearances to start with, I’ll introduce something to lift the character out of a kind of template role. Taking Sixshot as an example, having divined that he’s this ‘living weapon,’ I thought, so what does that mean? (Both to us and to him.) Why should we care? How does he view himself? Is he happy being a living weapon? Might he, if given a way out, take it? And so forth. When addressing any character, I’m continually asking myself questions about them. First job really is to get myself interested. Once I am, it’s that much easier to get other people interested. Sometimes I actually prefer it when there’s little or nothing already there in black and white and I can just build the character from the ground up.
20) In Spotlight: Shockwave, did Shockwave beat the Dynobots or did he just destroy their organic covering forcing them into stasis lock? Any chance of a rematch?
SF) I think the answer to the first part of this question is that Shockwave beat the Dynobots by destroying their organic covering, at which point they went into stasis lock. Did he beat them? Yes. Would he, if they too had been resistant to the high levels of energon? Hard to say. Maybe, maybe not. Grimlock, clearly, had foreseen the possibility of losing and planned an appropriate no-win scenario before ever setting foot on the planet. So maybe he won. Either which way, we do have something of another grudge match in the offing. Only this time it’s the Dynobots versus… ah, but that’d be telling. Whatever the case, stuff is set in motion in Spotlight Grimlock that will have huge repercussions. Will Shockwave figure in any of this? Maybe. Are the Dynobots coming back in 08? Definitely.
Friday, December 14th 2007 6:42am CST
Categories: Site News
, People News
Posted by: Air Commander Starscream
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Our very own Stormrider
had the awesome opportunity to interview a very influential man in our fandom, this man is no other than the voice of evil himself Frank Welker!
Frank Welker has done so much in his life and has been called a "voice god". We all know him for his role as Megatron in the original Trasnformers, but he has literally done hundreds of different voices or appearances in various shows and cartoons like Fred of "Scooby Doo" to several different voices in Transformers. You can view his impressive resume on IMDB.com
and read more about him on Wikipedia
We are very proud to be able to share this interview with all of you.
Stormrider: Hail Mr. Welker (Leader of the Decepticons).
Welker: Greetings humanoid Stormrider!
Stormrider: I would like to thank you for this opportunity. It is truly an honor to chat with such a legendary voice artist. Your numerous voices have been a big influence on cartoons and movies, and have made millions of children and adults smile. Today, I have several questions to ask you (that your fans are dying to know).
Welker: Thank you for your kind words, I do appreciate it...now, off your knees lest your fellow humanoids see you,...ask Lord Megatron what you wish....
Stormrider: I would like start off by asking you some questions about your role with Transformers:
Welker: Absolutely, fire when ready.
Stormrider: Regarding your work with the Transformers cartoon, when did you first realize it had such a huge and lasting effect? And along that line - when did you realize that you had such a huge following of Transformer fans? Were you ever surprised?
I first got the feeling that something was going on a few years back. I kept getting these invites to Botcons, Transcons and other various cons. I had no idea what they were and was surprised to find out that these folks wanted me come out to their venues.
I remember calling Peter Cullen after one particular invite, an event being held in New York. I asked him if he would like to go. We agreed that if we both went it could be fun and I should go ahead and confirm the date. Something came up at the last minute and I wasn't able to make it. Peter ended up going without me. He told me later that he really enjoyed the experience. Of course he wouldn't speak to me for a month. He said the fans were great and that there was an incredible interest and following in all things "Transformer." I think I can speak for both Peter and myself in saying that we had no idea of the huge "Transformer" fan base. It was a big surprise.
Stormrider: What is it like to look back at your work from the Transformers series 20 years ago? Are there any special memories you would like to share?
Again, I had no idea about the popularity of the franchise. I received a box set of the television series from an Australian fellow who wanted to do an interview to go along with the impending release of this set. So, I watched some of the shows and was very much surprised how much I had forgotten. I really got a kick out of seeing the old shows and hearing our G1 voices.
I remember at the time of the recordings we were allowed by the Screen Actors Guild contract to do 8 hour sessions and for "Transformers" most of those sessions ran the full 8 hours. Today, you can only record four hours. Anyway, eight hours with a bunch of crazy, talented, fun, actors is like being at scout camp with crazy glue and spray string. We were kids having fun...Oh, there was much work (and often times hard work) but the people made it fun. Mike Bell, Jack Angel, Scatman Cruthers, Chris Latta, Greg Berger, Casey Casem, Don Messick, Peter Cullen and on and on with all these folks; it was recipe for fun and folly.
Mike Bell was an instigator. He and I loved to see if we could make Cullen break up during sessions. Mike was a master of saying incredibly fun nasty things...let me explain. When our director, the hard working Wally Burr, would give us direction he would hold down the talk button and speak to the actors...we could hear him, but he could not hear us. While he was giving Peter direction, Bell would say the most god awful, demented, hysterical, things that Peter would hear while Wally was imparting acting plums on how Optimus must save the world. Peter would try to respond, but you know what he was picking up and it was not Wally's well thought out direction, but Mike's deranged diatribe. Peter would start laughing and when Wally lifted his finger off the talk button and looked up to see if Optimus was ready to save the world and get the Allspark...there was Peter snickering and laughing at him. Wally would ask him what part of the direction was so funny and we were all gone...childish, I know, but wonderful times and great memories of industry "giants gone wild."
Stormrider: It sounds like great fun. Do you consider that period of your life as your true heyday?
I think for a lot of us this was the Renaissance period for animation. It was such a great time. There was this desperate need for material because of television's classic Saturday morning shows and the new burgeoning syndicated market. There wasn't a lot of feature animation that was yet to come, but a whole new group of artists and actors were born.
Before this period, I was lucky to work with the greats who graced the hallways and studios before me. I was the new pimpled kid on the block. There was Mel Blanc, Daws Butler, Don Messick, Paul Winchell, Hal Smith, John Stephenson, Joanie Gerber, Mike Bell, June Foray, Bill Scott and others. There weren't a lot of young folks to speak of, but a few years later I began to work with the new wave; this surge of new people. These folks are now my contemporaries with a newer crowd pushing in as we speak. I can say there are more people now than there was ever before, plus a lot of on camera folks are also now in the mix.
Yes, it was a very happy time. I think I once did close to 12 shows in one day. Three with a full cast and the others shows with just pick ups. Gordon Hunt, a close friend and director of animation at Hanna/Barbera told me I must have set some kind of record. He then asked me if I had anything to eat that day...I hadn't.
Stormrider: Megatron is certainly one of the most well known Transformer characters. A lot of fans here would love to know what you feel is the driving force behind him.
When I created the voice for Megs, I was just trying to come up with a sound, something different that would set me apart from my fellow actors. As I looked at the drawing and read the description of the character, the voice that you know as Megatron was what came to me. I played up the scratchy, edgy sound because I imagined Megatron as always on the edge. He trusted no one and was driven to stay one step ahead of not only the Autobots, but the Decepticons. I think it worked, it separated me from the other actors and it made the character very recognizable. When people hear that voice they know it's Megatron.
Stormrider: Regarding Megatron's voice - is it difficult for you to do? Does it strain your throat? Are any effects added to Megatron's voice in the studio to give it that unique raspy quality?
The voice is easy to do, but there was a lot of yelling and over the top performance. We were directed that way because of the constant action and effects. It could be painful. When we did the recent "Transformers the Game," I was hoarse at the end of the day. I did a lot of yelling and fighting sounds for that project too, but I enjoyed getting back on the horse and pumping electrodes again. When we did the more subtle lines it was joyous taking Megatron down deeper and slower and letting him have a vicious simmer or two. In the old shows, they did put just a hint of something like echo or harmonizing in our tracks which added a bit of "other worldly" quality, it was nice.
Stormrider: Peter Cullen based Optimus Prime's voice on his brother. Are there any Transformers characters that you created from people in your life, or have any interesting background stories with?
When I did the voice of Soundwave, I was doing a bad impression of Barry White, "Baby, baby, baby, I want to kiss your nose" etc. I also used that same voice for, Dr. Claw in "Inspector Gadget." In the final mix Soundwave was very processed...I was hoping they would use more Barry and less mix. Soundwave, the "Motown man."
Stormrider: Barry White, eh? Do you have any other Transformer voice secrets that you want to share? ... Rumble as "Vanilla Ice"?
Well, Rumble was kind of a bad impression of Leo Gorsey from the "Dead End Kids." But No Ice cream Vanilla or otherwise....
Stormrider: It was great to hear your voice as Megatron in the new video game. How did it feel to return in the role after so many years?
Thanks, I was very happy playing "Megs" again. There were a lot of lines to record, a lot more than we ever did in the television show but I really enjoyed it. By the way, I was very pleased to see the reviews of the game's "sound and voices" were so positive; it was a nice thank you to the folks at Activision.
Stormrider: What was it like working with Peter Cullen again?
It was fantastic. Peter and I did not get to work together directly in the game, but we did the promotional video and just when in to orbit. We feed off each others' energy. We worked together a lot in the old days. I remember a show called, "Mighty man and Yuk" (I was Yuk to Pete's Mighty Man) we mostly recorded just the two of us and we did almost the entire show by ourselves. We entertained each other with impressions and sound effects trying to top one another. A lot of people don't know this, but Peter does some great impersonations and sounds. He is an all around performer. By the way, when two actors do the entire show, there may be a lot more lines but there's also a lot more donuts!
Stormrider: What was it like when you auditioned for Megatron in the recent Transformers movie? The selection process between you and Hugo Weaving seemed to have been very close, and fans were surprised that you did not get the part.
Yes, apparently there were differences of opinion among the producers but the ultimate decision was Mike Bay's. He felt my voice didn't fit his idea of what the new Megatron should sound like. Hugo Weaving is a terrific actor; he is a creative and inventive. I was surprised that they would use him then process his voice to the point of being unrecognizable.
Stormrider: Have you seen the new Movie yet? What's your impression of it?
No, I have not seen it. But from what I hear, it is a lot of fun. I know the purists were a bit disappointed. I have seen some trailers and scenes via "YouTube" and I will say I really liked Optimus Prime, but Megatron's mouth bothered me- too much in the world of large insects. Also, I got a kick out of the clips that some bright "YouTuber" put together of Peter and me doing the G1 voices to the trailer. It sounded great, and it fit beautifully.
Stormrider: If you were asked to dub Hugo Weaving's lines as a special feature for a future DVD release of the Movie. Would you do it?
Sure, if they wanted Megatron to sound like Megatron I would be happy to...of course now I would want a bigger trailer with a refrigerator and an iPod.
Stormrider: Are you interested in auditioning for any parts in the sequel? Would you want to do Megatron in Transformers 2 and Transformers 3? Or, maybe Soundwave?
I would consider it, but I would insist auditioning to picture. In dealing with a major project or motion picture that is the way it should be done. It is professional and nothing gets lost in translation.
Stormrider: Hypothetically speaking- if Hasbro and a production studio were to develop a new Transformers series that retold the entire Generation One Saga - with quality animation, great writing, and superior production standards would you be interested in reprising your role as Megatron?
Yes, and since we are in the land of hypo, how about Robert Zemeckis and in 3D?
Stormrider: Let's talk about some of your other roles. What are some of your favorite characters other than Transformers?
Dynomutt, Jabberjaw, Baby Kermit, Slimer, Dr. Claw, Fred Jones (sentimental favorite), the Gopher in "Caddyshack!". This is too difficult of a question; it's like asking a cannibal if he has ever met a person he didn't like?!?
Stormrider: Interesting, Fred Jones? Didn't you originally audition for Scooby Doo and not for Freddie?
Freddie was the first voice I did, that's why I say he is a sentimental favorite but yes, I was originally auditioning for Scooby. When it became apparent that Scooby was going to be voiced by the wonderful Don Messick, they asked me to read for Freddie. My next choice of course was Shaggy, it was a comedy role. Casey Casem wanted to read for Freddie. We both ended up getting opposite roles from what we thought. You know what? It worked out great and we are still doing those rolls 35 years later...go figure.
Stormrider: Which do you enjoy doing more - good characters or bad characters? Why?
As an actor, I think you always enjoy going out on the limb and pushing into new territory. I think that is why I liked playing Megatron, a villain. I have played so many good guys and little fluffy characters that he was a wonderful departure. I remember doing Magua the villain in the, "Last of the Mohicans" for Hanna/Barbera. He was one of the most despicable fellows I remember from my youthful literature. What a thrill it was to play him, although for Hanna/Barbera the character was quite different - he was still a villain but a straight acting part. Then the next day...there I was doing Bunji a very cartoony voice and the Shmoo totally lovable innocents. That is what I think actors respond to, the chance to play outside. That is why type casting and line readings are the demon nemesis for actors.
Stormrider: What was it like to work for Hanna/Barbera? They pumped out a tremendous amount of cartoons and characters from the 1960's - 80's. You did a lot of voices for them. Was it difficult work?
It was on the job training. Joe Barbera directed a lot of the shows that I worked in and I really liked working with him. We became friends and I miss him. He was such a funny guy, always had a joke at the ready. H/B was an incredible production entity and they produced a huge amount of product. I managed to squeak into a lot of those shows, and I learned a tremendous amount during that period.
Stormrider: What was it like when you started off as a voice actor? Please describe for us your first voice acting role. Were you nervous? How old were you? How were you inspired to get into voice acting?
Well, I was doing stand up comedy at "Ledbetters" a folk house here in L.A. in the early seventies. In my act, I did a cat and dog fight. After my show this fellow from, Irwin Wasey, an advertisement agency, asked me if I would like to do a voice over for a Friskies dog food television commercial he was producing. This was cataclysmic for me in many ways. Steve Martin, the comedian, who was working on opposite nights of the week at this club, would miss out on this opportunity because this producer just happened to pick my night to come into the club... and of course Steve wasn't doing any dogs in his act. I have often thought this probably adversely affected poor Steve's career...I'll let you be the judge. Anyway, I was to meet and work with one of our great funny men, Ted Knight, who was the announcer for this spot and had not yet become a super star on the Mary Tyler Moore show. One more thing about this bizarre start in the voice world, the producer's girl friend just happened to be working for ABC and was casting a show called "Scooby Doo." She had me come in to read for the show, and that led to my first voice over animated series which I am still doing to this day. Call it what you will...synergy, serendipity, fate, Allspark or just plain luck but you have to admit; it has kind of an "Outer Limits" quality to it.
Stormrider: It sounds like fate had your calling card. Though, I am now trying to imagine Steve Martin as Megatron and you starring in the movie "The Man With Two Brains".
Hmmm, Megatron with silver hair and a fake arrow through his head....I like it!
Stormrider: Are you working on any projects right now?
Yes, we are starting the third in a series of DVD's for "Garfield" the cat. Needless to say this is a great project and terrific people. I have worked for Jim Davis the creator many times and he "is" Garfield the cat which is great, you just supply him with kibbles and good readings and he will smile and then nap. I am doing the voice of Garfield and am trying to keep it close to Lorenzo Music. Lorenzo was another good friend and I can't tell you how much I enjoyed his company. I had a deep respect for him and his wonderfully distorted look at life. Our first DVD, "Garfield Gets Real," has just been released.
Stormrider: It is sad to see many great voice actors pass away. Do find that the voice acting industry is changing as a whole as new talent come on board?
It is the way of things. It is nice to know that their work will live on forever. I miss the greats, but there is always new talent and you can't keep them down, they will show us their stuff. It's like oil in water; no matter what it will rise to the surface. It is the immutable force of nature and change is part of that mandate.
Stormrider: You have performed in countless TV shows and movies. Is there a difference when performing for a movie as oppose to a TV show?
Yes, there is a difference, and most of the projects I work in are project driven. In other words you do what is needed for that specific project. In motion pictures, I do mostly looping, which is one of the truly enjoyable things I do.
I'm sure most of your readers know, but looping is when an actor goes into a dark room, usually a sound stage or studio, the editor rolls the film and the actor does the voices or sound effects for what is presented on screen. Often times you can add things that weren't in the script and it really helps make a character come a live. You can do this just by adding in breathing and subtle sounds. I did all the animals in Disney's, "Homeward Bound". Even though the live action animals had human voices, when they didn't have anything to say, I could breathe for them. It helps bring an element of belief in a very unreal situation. I like this process because you see what the director needs, it is already there on the screen you don't lose so much in the verbal exchange or explanation.
I have always had this weird ability to go with what I saw on screen. I could fit sound or dialog into the track and usually without rehearsing it. I can't explain it exactly, but it's kind of like flying. You are lost in what you are doing, in the zone...It may not be a talent, but more of a weird aberration; regardless sound editors love it. It cuts down on their editing time and the time they have to spend going through the sound library. In my old stage act, I would put a TV on stage and make up dialog and put it in people's mouths, just going with what was on screen. The audience got a kick out of it becaus they knew I was making it up as I went along and it was high risk.
Anyway, back to your question...when you record to script, you need to honor the writer, then of course the director, and then the producer has a vision. It can be confining unless you have a great team effort and mutual respect. In TV shows, we usually record to script and read it much as you would a play so it is quite different from looping. When you record for a movie (not looping) such as Aladdin, I did about three 2 to 3 hour sessions over a period of about three years, another totally different process.
Stormrider: Okay, now some lighter questions.
You played both Megatron and Galvatron. And as we all know, Galvatron was a reformatted version of Megatron. So when you voiced Galvatron, how did he differ in your mind? Are they two different robots or just one robot that became insane?
Forgive me, but I honestly don't remember. I was just given the script and told what they wanted...but if it leaned toward insane, I would go with that!!!
Stormrider: People tend to sing in the shower. Do you sing or do voices?
I do voices singing (off key) in the shower.
Stormrider: I have heard that you are quite the comedian. Have you ever pranked someone with one of your voices? Tell us the truth - are people an easy target?
Yes, and yes. I once called a studio owner at the request of his secretary and pretended to be Richard Nixon's public relations representative. When the gentleman came on the phone I told him I was calling for the president. Often times he made calls to small businessmen and wished to speak to this gentleman because of a letter he had written to the White House about just that very subject. All this information was supplied by his personal secretary so I had plenty of facts to set the stage for the conversation he was about to have with the president. Well, I did my job a little too well and he bought it hook line and sinker. We got too far along and when I hung up I got a bad feeling. I called his secretary and asked her to tell him it was her prank...She said she couldn't tell him because he had recorded the call and was now playing it for friends and clients up and down the hall. I begged her to tell him quickly....a couple of hours later, I got a call from this fellow and he was so down and sad that he had been fooled with this call from president Nixon. I felt terrible...To this day I am very leery of playing practical vocal pranks.
Stormrider: On which voice actor from the old Transformers cartoon can you spill some dirt on?
Stormrider: To make this interview fun and a bit interactive - a few fans have submitted questions. Are you ready? Here we go:
Stormrider: The first one is from Seibertron.com member, Skywarp-2
Dear Mr. Welker,
Most actors view their role as a success when a plastic toy is produced in their honor of that character. In many ways a toy of Megatron personifies your character and is a physical homage to you and your voice acting. Being that your role as Megatron was such a huge contribution to the American Pop Culture (and your voice and acting is forever linked to that iconic character) what are your thoughts on the greatest physical representation of that character -TakaraTomy's Masterpiece Megatron? Do you own one?
First of all, thank you for your eloquent praise. It is a bit overwhelming to think I had a part in what you mention above. I do remember the Megatron toy that turned into a gun. It was fantastic. It took me a very long time to transform it. This kid of about nine did it in seconds and then years later I couldn't find the toy. I have since named that nine year old kid "Starscream" a master at the five finger discount and disappearing Megatron toy.
Stormrider: The next one is from Seibertron.com member, Counterpunch
Mr. Welker, thank you for your work on Transformers. I hope you realize just how far reaching your impact was on a generation of kids. I'd like to ask you, as an artist, what traits or elements of your own character influenced your portrayal of Megatron? In what ways was Megatron a reflection of your own personality?
Hi Counterpunch, thanks for the good words. I love that you feel that way about my work. Sometimes we forget there are fans who really appreciate what it is we are trying to do.
I really draw from my initial instincts and reactions to the art work and drawings, I am very visual when it comes to creating a character. I am afraid it is a bit prosaic but that is pretty much the way it works best for me, seeing the artwork. It is more difficult listening to someone describe or read what the character is like. Seeing it always brings an immediate response and I can build from there.
I remember reading an interview with Peter Sellers, one of my all time favorites, and he said he had to get the voice before he got the character. I always found that interesting. Anyway, I will tell you that playing a very evil character is great fun...I'm no angel, but Megs and I are quite different.
Stormrider: And the last one is from Seibertron.com member, Raymond T
Do you know that to most of us, YOU...ARE...GOD?!?!
Uh, let's make that "a" god...remember the trouble the Beatles got into!?!?
Stormrider: In closing, is there anything that you would like to say or share with your fans?
I want to thank you all for being such great, loyal and discriminating fans and for keeping all of us in the "biz" honest and aware of what you think and what you want. Let's be clear, it is you "the audience" who is paramount for us...who try to bring life to the characters and artists visions. Sometimes we succeed and sometimes we don't succeed. With Megatron, I tried to separate him from other villains and was pleased with my decision and the results. Still, I had no idea that he would resonate with a hard core legion of fans and ultimately become an arrow of controversy. That alone has given me a taste of the, "Allspark."
"Long live my loyal Decepticons!!!!"
Megatron Leader of the Deceptions
Thursday, November 29th 2007 4:06pm CST
Categories: Cartoon News
, People News
Posted by: i_amtrunks
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have posted an interview held with Jeff Shiffman, co-sound supervisor on the upcoming Transformers: Animated Series.
In the Interview Shiffman discusses the use of the "Classic" Transforming sound, the creation of layered sound for the series, building a sound library for the series and the integration of sound and music in the series.
To read the full interview please, click here
Wednesday, November 21st 2007 9:32am CST
Categories: Movie News
Posted by: Darth Bombshell
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Board member Optimutt has posted an interview he has done with acclaimed science fiction author Alan Dean Foster, among whose works include both the novelization of the Transformers Movie
and it's prequel "Ghosts of Yesterday." The relevant information pertaining to Transformers has been posted below:
O: Since we’ve opened the door to the real world of Science Fiction, let me ask you about your adaptation of the new Transformers movie. I loved the book. I loved the movie. What are your thoughts about it?
ADF: The success of the film was a big surprise to a lot of the people. Most were surprised that it was such a good movie. It was the biggest film of the year. A lot of people expected it to flop because they didn’t like Michael Bay – I don’t understand why people hate him. I never met the man; I don’t know him from Adam. He’s made some big budget movies, some have done well, others haven’t, but that can be said about just about any director. Why does this guy inspire such vitriol?
O: As a Transformers fan, I can tell you that many of my peers saw the designs for the Transformers and flipped out. They had nothing but gripes and complaints about the style Bay chose to use to design them, saying “This isn’t how it should be.” Surely you encountered some of this stuff. But hopefully not as much flak as Bay.
ADF: Not as much because people realized that I had to work with what they were doing and I couldn’t change it. If you can’t change it, there’s no point in dumping on you. This whole problem has a “Never spit in someone’s holy water” theme to it. What those fans don’t understand is that in making a big 100 to 200 million dollar budgeted film – which is more than some countries earn per year – you have to make money back. A general rule of thumb is that a film has to take in 2.5 times the cost to break even, so if you a 200 million dollar film, they have to make half a billion dollars. That’s through sales, DVD, but that’s still a lot of money. So when you make a film, one thing you have to do is figure out how to do this film so that it appeals to 20 other people without losing the other 20 people. This has nothing to do with story but everything to do with simply appealing to that other tiny fragment of the demographic. I thought, as I came into this project. I’m the last one to defend the Hollywood producers, but I thought they and Michael Bay were bending over backwards to listen to the fan websites, and yes, accommodating the people to whom, Transformers is canon. The fact that they took so much crap onto top of that, people in Hollywood, they take a look at that and say, “Look what DreamWorks did, and look what they took in response. Why should we bother to put that kind of effort into our picture? If people aren’t going to respect us for what we’re trying to do, why should we put up with it?” It’s something fans don’t’ realize. You have a 200, millions dollar movie, it’s always 2-3 years out of your life. If Joe from Des Moines writes in and says Optimus Prime shouldn’t have lips, that’s not a decision for him to make. That becomes an economic decision of the company.
O: As for the book, your adaptation of the movie, I was impressed by how true you stayed.
ADF: Thanks. I try to.
O: How did you get into adaptations?
ADF: In 1972, somebody in Ballentine bought the rights to a really horrific Italian movie about a female Tarzan. The character was on-screen for about 5 minutes, played by a diminutive Vietnamese girl that doesn’t look anything like your image of a female Tarzan. It was a horrible low-budget film, but, the guy in charge of promotion and advertising of the film, who got the rights, was a fan. The only smart thing they did was the advertising department got Frank Frazetta do two images, full oils, both of which have been reproduced many times in his various art books, but they don’t say “Rawanna” they say, “Girl With Cat”. Nobody saw the movie; to this day, I’ve never met anyone else that’s seen the movie. So Gena Lynne Del Ray, who had just taken over Ballantine, knew I had a master of fine arts and knew my way around a film script, asked me if I’d do the adaptation to this film about a female Tarzan, and I said, “Sounds great! When can I see a script?” She said, “There is no script. But I can arrange a screening in Los Angeles for you.” So I go down Hollywood Boulevard, into a typical schlock screening room, where they have a little 16mm projector, and run the film, which is all in Italian. So I have no script, and the film is all in Italian. I have no idea what anyone is saying and the film is just so awful. When I finished, I dedicated the book to Frank Frazetta who did the novelized cover. As you can imagine – this being Frank’s work – the cover is exactly what you want a female Tarzan to look like. After that, I did Dark Star, which was a John Carpenter film project. And from those two, I developed quite a reputation as an adaptation writer. I do two or three a year, if it’s something that seems interesting. And I turn some down, sometimes I do spin-off books, too. But don’t do those often because, I didn’t really want to write about Han Solo’s second cousin in Correlia. The Transformers? You know I wasn’t going to do that in the first place.
O: That’s an interesting piece of information. What got you to do it? What changed your mind?
ADF: I asked myself, “Do I really want to do a book about alien robots based on children’s’ toys. And what got me to do it finally was that I thought it would be a real challenge to take a story about giant fighting alien robots based on a line of children’s toys and turn it into a real novel. And that’s what got me into it. The other thing was I knew Spielberg was executive producing it. If there’s a magic word in Hollywood, it’s Spielberg. Even his bad – his not as good movies – like 1941 are worth watching. And he understands Science Fiction! He grew up with it, he loves it, just like Lucas and Cameron, and I knew that he would not do something just to make money, because he doesn’t need money. So I asked for a script and the script; which was much better than I thought it would be; in fact, it was pretty good. This whole sub-line about the teenage kid, there is some very funny dialogue, the characters were very interesting. I liked the fact that the girl was the car buff, and the boy wasn’t. Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman wrote a really good screenplay that just happens to be about giant robots. And the way I remember it, the thing that got Spielberg involved was that it was not about giant fighting alien robots, it’s about a boy and his car – that human element that he has in all his movies, and sure enough that’s the basis of the movie: the relationship between Shia Lebouf and Bumblebee.
A lot of the fan criticism that I read, claimed that there’s too much teenagers and not enough robots. And I have to tell them, there may not be enough Transformers for you, but you’re going to go see the movie anyway. However much you complain and bitch, you’re going to go see it, and the producers know it too, so you’re not fooling anybody. The 10000 of you die-hard-live-for-transformers fans are not the ones that are going to make up the budget for this film, and the producers have that in mind. But these guys could have done some very standard things, like the conventional model girls, but they really worked on it. The other gal in the story was a big-time hacker: every nerd’s dream is someone who looks like Angelina Jolie who can sit down and talk about the latest Intel chip, and kick ass every once in a while. It was a very smart movie. But it also could very well be a disaster, too, special effects aside. I always tell people that no matter how good the special effects are, you will not have a successful film without the human element. People go to see Star Wars and they say the cities and battles are great, but they really want to see what happens to Luke and Vader and Leia. All the other stuff is window dressing. And I feel that way about books as well. You can write big ships, and space travel, and big battles, but if there’s not that human interest, whether it’s a human being or an alien or whatever, but if there’s not an emotion at the center, you have no story.
O: What projects are you working on now?
ADF: I have three books coming out by Del Ray. One is my 7th short story collection called “Exceptions to Reality”, and there is a book that resolves 35 years of loose ends about a character called Flinx. It’s not necessarily the last Flinx book, but it ties up all the loose story ends, called “Flinx Transcendent.” I’m also working on a fantasy trilogy that is currently in negotiations. And beyond that, including the adaptation to the Transformers movie sequel, we’ll see.
Sunday, November 4th 2007 1:46pm CST
Categories: Cartoon News
, Toy News
Posted by: Skowl
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Hasbro Designer Eric Siebenaler has recently sat down with fellow Transformers fansite TFW2005.com for an interview regarding the franchise and his work on the upcoming Transformers Animated series.
Read the whole interview by clicking here
Wednesday, October 24th 2007 2:34pm CDT
Categories: Movie News
, People News
Posted by: Tigertrack
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A very short and sweet interview with Michael Bay...
|E! Online caught up with Transformers director Michael Bay at Hollywood Film Festival's Hollywood Awards and asked about the sequel: |
So, where do you go with it? How do you up the stakes?
It's not about upping it. It's about still keeping the heart.
Any new characters coming in?
Oh, yeah…a lot of fun stuff. I keep telling the writers, remember the heart and the magic, remember the heart and the magic. It's not about being bigger.
DreamWorks is targeting a June 26, 2009 release date for the follow-up.
To read the original interview click here. Then join in the chat by clicking the 'discuss' button, or adding a comment in the comment box below.
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Tuesday, October 23rd 2007 4:11pm CDT
Categories: Movie News
Posted by: Skowl
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In a new article in the USA Today, Transformers Movie
director Michael Bay states that, due to a hectic schedule promoting Transformers, he was not able to be as involved in the production of the film's DVD, on sale now, as he would have liked to be.
Read the entire article, which includes statements by Bay regarding to now record-breaking Transformers Movie DVD
, on the USA Today website by clicking here
Thursday, October 18th 2007 12:05pm CDT
Categories: Movie News
, People News
Posted by: Raymond T.
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has popped up on the internet with the beautiful Transformers actress
Rachael Taylor. This time UGO.com
asked the star, best known for her character of Maggie Madsen, some questions.
"I have a really simple sort of life, and to be in a helicopter landing on the lawn of the Pentagon, which I think was a shot that didn't make the movie, but there's another scene when Shia, Anthony, Megan and I are in a helicopter. I was just blown away by that. I'm not a particularly cool person and I couldn't hide my excitement. It was ridiculous! Who does that? Who rides in a helicopter and lands on the lawn of the Pentagon?
Tuesday, October 16th 2007 5:39pm CDT
Categories: Movie News
, People News
Posted by: i_amtrunks
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In part two of ifmagazine.com
have posted the second half of their exclusive interview with Mark Ryan.
In Part 2
, Ryan discusses working on the Transformers set, voicing Bumblebee in the final film, and his overall career.
To read the full interview please click here
If you missed the first half of the interview, and would like to read it, please click here
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