We are thrilled to welcome two design legends of Transformers brand history, Takara-Tomy designer and Hall of Fame honoree Kojin Ono and the Art Director for Transformers Animated, Derrick J Wyatt. Click the guests link along the left to read about our final two amazing guests!
To say that Tom Scioli and John Barber‘s Transformers vs. GI Joe is an unusual comic is underselling things quite a bit. On paper, it’s a natural fit, an ongoing series that follows in the footsteps of earlier books that have combined the two toy lines into one massive interplanetary battle. In practice, though, it’s something a lot bigger, a comic that almost assaults the reader by cramming in as much big, wild stuff as it possibly can — a toy comic so weird, and so great, that it almost feels like it shouldn’t exist.
With the book’s second storyline well under way, throwing in everything from Vikings to old gods to Dinobots (and a new printing of his amazing American Barbarian on the way this summer), I talked to cowriter, artist and occasional ComicsAlliance guest contributor Tom Scioli about the series. Today, he talks about building a history for a universe that’s even more important than our own, the two-page Free Comic Book Day story, and why his book isn’t a paean to Snake Eyes. You can read the first part of this interview here.
CA: The next specific scene that I wanted to talk about was the first page of #6. Every time I think this comic can’t get any wilder, it gets bigger and weirder in a way that I find really enjoyable. This comic opens with Adam and Eve being expelled from the Garden of Eden by floating Transformers with laser swords.
TS: It’s a universe. It’s a whole universe. My thought is that the Transformers vs. GI Joe universe is the most important universe there is, and while you’re reading it, it’s even more important than our universe. There’s an Alpha to that universe and there’s an Omega to that universe, and what you were witnessing was Roadblock’s reading of the Cobra Bible, the Decepticobranomicon, so what you’re reading may well be an actual accounting of what happened. It might be mythology. It might be disinformation. It could be any number of things. There’s a deep history to this world.
CA: I’ve said this before, and I mean it in the best way possible, but I’m always surprised this book exists.
TS: Right. [Laughs]
EXCLUSIVE: Two months after Paramount and the Transformers brain trust of Michael Bay, Steven Spielberg and Lorenzo di Bonaventura picked Akiva Goldsman to incubate ideas for a multi-part sequel and spinoff films based on the billion-dollar franchise, they have finalized their “writers room.” And it’s a doozy.
Goldsman’s four-team roster features some of the top names in sci-fi, I’ve learned: Walking Dead creator Robert Kirkman, Iron Man scribes Art Marcum & Matt Holloway, Pacific Rim 2‘s Zak Penn and Amazing Spider-Man 2 and Lost‘s Jeff Pinkner. I’m hearing the ink isn’t even dry on the deals, but that is a major-league lineup to join Goldsman, who is spearheading it all for the studio, Hasbro, Spielberg and Bay (Bay and Goldsman were college buddies at Wesleyan). More writers will be added.
This is a major priority for new Motion Picture Group President Marc Evans, who’s tasked with getting more movies made. It marks an intriguing new step as studios put even more of a premium on the care and feeding of tentpole franchises, as is the case with James Cameron’s Avatar sequels and Disney’s process for developing its Marvel tentpoles.
ComicsAlliance: The first thing I want to talk about is pacing. Jumping into Transformers vs. GI Joe #5, which is the start of the second paperback if people are reading it that way, they’re getting a comic that moves so fast that it is often hard for me to keep up.
Tom Scioli: Well, issue #5 would be the one, because issue #5 is where it really accelerates. I just find that so many comics have a lot of redundancy, a lot of over-explaining, a lot of images of basically the same thing, so part of the approach is to just eliminate redundancy and just give you the things you need to move the narrative forward. I sort of crossed a point of no return with it, I think, and where that came from is that I wrote a script for a Transformers vs. GI Joe movie adaptation.
You know, the movie doesn’t exist yet, but I made a comic as though I was adapting a movie, and how movie adaptations are. There are chunks missing, and jumps because of the time it takes to take an hour and a half movie and put it into a comic, you’re going to have to cut some things out. I wrote something with that sort of style in mind, and after I did that, I realized that’s a tool I could use any time. It doesn’t have to be restricted to this particular conceit, it’s just a tool in my arsenal now. It was really effective in that script, which hasn’t come out yet, but it was just a really intense reading experience.
CA: The interesting thing about that to me is that, like you said, there have been Transformers and GI Joe team-up books before, and now you’re doing it as an ongoing series and using the entire cast of both books, as they have existed for thirty years. There’s not a whole lot left on the table.
TS: That’s one thing I noticed. I was sort of going through all these characters and throwing them in, and now I’ve sort of reached the point where it’s like, “Oh, what Decepticon villain can show up?” and most of them are there already, pretty much. There’s an endless number of jets that I can go to, but most of the really resonant ones have shown up, so now it’s just getting weird, which is actually interesting. Now we’re getting into the Pretenders and the Predacons, all the weirder corners of the mythology.
CA: That’s something I wanted to bring up, because you’re at the point now where you’re creating new stuff.
TS: I want to go more in that direction. I thought doing a comic like this, that’s an established thing, would be easier — having a universe that’s already established that I’m just building up. But I’m seeing the limitations of it. I really do want to just create more and add more to it. It’s not so complete a cosmology that there’s a character for every season. I thought there would be a character for every occasion, and in a lot of cases there are. I needed a character who was a chef, and, okay, Roadblock is a chef, I can use him. But there are a lot of holes in the mythology that I’m trying to fill in.
That last Transformers movie… they went nuts. It almost wasn’t even Transformers anymore, it was this infinite universe of every kind of creature you can imagine, and that freed me up too, realizing that I could make this universe whatever I wanted it to be. It doesn’t have to just be giant robots that turn into cars or dinosaurs, it can be a universe.
Who’s your favorite character to draw right now?
That’s a good question. [Pause] A tie between Skids & Nautica. I always liked to draw Skids since I got to design him for issue 2.
I also have a lot of fun drawing Nautica—right now I’m working on issue 42, which has them interacting, so I’m having a lot of fun drawing my two favorites in the same panel.
On the flip side, who’s the most difficult one to work on?
Ah, that’s a good question. [A lengthy pause, some muttering] Whoever I haven’t drawn a lot of in a long time is usually the hardest one to work on. I don’t know, sometimes the hardest one can be Ultra Magnus, just to make sure the scale’s right.
Ah, that makes sense.
Other times it can be Getaway. The hardest one I’ve ever had to draw, that I never feel like I get right, is Red Alert, but he’s not on the ship in season two, so I don’t have to worry about drawing him right now.
So, um, is there anything else you’d like to talk about that we haven’t touched on already?
Hmmm … well, I’m really happy for the inclusion of more female Transformers. Since the preview for issue 41 is out showing more female Transformers, I can only be happy about that. Over the years I snuck in female Transformers in backgrounds. Megatron Origin, the Drift miniseries in the Circle of Light (a faction of Transformers). They make the world bigger; the more the merrier. Now it’s better that I don’t have to sneak them in, and I’m like, “Yes, they’re there!” I’ve been rooting for them for eight years now; we need more!
That makes me really happy to hear, coming from you. Did you design Firestar’s flame hair, as seen in the issue 41 preview?
Yes, it was me who came up with Firestar’s hair. When designing characters, I ask myself, “How can i make interesting character designs?” I look at silhouettes, heads. What’s a standard head, what’s different?
l looked at different things; when I was designing her I designed her altmode first. I put her head in the altmode’s back as the exhaust. I asked myself, “Can I get away with fire for hair?” But since it’s the exhaust for the car, it kinda works. I thought about how’d it work for portraying different emotions. If knocked out, she’d have little blue flame or it’d be snuffed out. If enraged, her hair expands and just goes nuts. It’s a great way to show emotion.
I had the altmode and head design, took it to James, and said, “James, this is the idea.” He went, “That’s really cool! I have fire for hair [to work with].” It’s really different, and it makes her stand out among other characters.
Along with the other female Transformers, I started thinking about different designs that haven’t been done before. I’ve got to post them online so other people can see her. There’s a big female Transformer I want to show off, one who doesn’t have a standard head at all, but one singular eye. It was really fun to do. It’s just really fun to try new things, to see whats out there.
Transformers is all about change; you don’t have to be stuck to the standard. The big thing with Firestar was keeping in elements of the original design. When IDW started out with Transformers, they’d take a character and do something completely different; it’s how I did her design.
In addition to his rich film and television resume, Garry Chalk’s animation career spans 30 years and over a thousand episodes of cartoons. Among them Optimus Prime and Primal in The Transformers, Energon, Beastwars, Gi Joe, Sonic the Hedgehog, The Watchmen, Reboot, and many, many more. Recently, he starred as Sky Marshall Wade in the new hit series, Voltron Force as well as in Cedar Cove. Further, Chalk will be seen in the new Godzilla film in 2014!
Scott McNeil - After appearing in a few films and two episodes of Highlander: The Series, he provided voices for Beast Wars, as Waspinator, Dinobot, Rattrap, and Silverbolt. He has described this as the work he is most proud of. On another fan favorite show, Dragon Ball Z, he was cast as the original voice of Piccolo and various other characters. He then provided the voice of Duo Maxwell on Mobile Suit Gundam Wing and Principal Kuno on Ranma 1/2.
Trevor Devall is a prolific voice artist, having performed in hundreds of animated productions including television movies, series, feature films and video games. Some highlights: Rocket Raccoon of Guardians of the Galaxy in Marvel’s Ultimate Spiderman, Emperor Palpatine/Darth Sidious, Admiral Ackbar and Jar Jar Binks in Lego Star Wars: The Yoda Chronicles, Iron Will, Hoity Toity and Fancy Pants (for which he was nominated for a UBCP Award for Best Voice) on My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, Dukey on Cartoon Network’s Johnny Test, Captain America and others in Marvels’ Wolverine vs Sabretooth, Jayce on the globally popular League of Legends video game, Colossus on Joss Whedon’s Astonishing X-Men, Dad on Disney’s Kid vs Kat, Mu Laflaga in Gundam Seed, Togusa in Ghost in the Shell-SAC, Mr. Palmer, Ike and many others onZeke’s Pad, Moordryd Payne on Dragon Booster, Aizawa on Death Note, Chang and the maniacal Irishman Leigarch on Black Lagoon, Alpha Q in Transformers: Energon,Pyro in X-Men: Evolution, Wild Weasel in G.I. Joe: Valor vs. Venom, Scourge in Transformers: Cybertron, and the voice of the alien helmsman Hermiod on Stargate: Atlantis.
★ Event Summary ★
* Date: June 21 (Sun) curtain 16:00 - 18:00 the show (scheduled)
* Venue: Odaiba Cinema Media - Jeu screen 1
Yubinbango135-0091 Tokyo, Minato-ku Daiba 1-7-1 Odaiba Aqua City 1F
* Special guests: Yoshimasa Hosoya (Optimus Prime), Ryohei Kimura (Bumblebee) Kouki Uchiyama (Smokescreen), Katayama FukuJuro (BlueStreak) and more.
* Ticket: Includes Blu-ray & DVD, Advance tickets 4,800 yen / general ticket (day of) 5,000 yen
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