Don Murphy: "Transformers 2: Revenge of the Fallen has finished shooting and is in the capable hands of Michael Bay and Industrial Light and Magic. If you liked the first movie, this is in the same vein, just more exciting, more spectacle and more robots. The first one was a MONSTER worldwide hit. The second will be the same because I think it will entertain even more than the first. You haven't seen much information leak this time, primarily because everyone knows it works already! June 27, 2009, place it in your calendar!"
Poster: "Don, I'll only pester you with one ROTF question:
When are we going to start seeing trailers/posters/marketing in general for the film? Do you know?"
Don Murphy: "we're kind of trying to follow the PIRATES OF CARIBBEAN model, that is, no publicity for as long as possible, since the sequel will have enormous attention no matter what we do"
1. Victory Saber -Would you please disable the Magnificence possessed by Autobots in IDW/verse? If they still hold it, they will get the answers to so many puzzles so easily.
SF) One story angle I just never got to cover properly in the four-part Revelation arc was the ‘price’ that comes with using the Magnificence. A bit like the Monkey’s Paw scenario, the Magnificence does give you exactly what you want/need, but the information or what information precipitates mostly turns out to be a poisoned chalice. That side-story got sidelined, I’m afraid. Originally, there was going to be a Hot Rod payoff, in which he goes well and truly through the wringer as a consequence of his mining of the Magnificence. There’s an element of that in Maximum Dinobots, though. Also, at some point, I was aiming to get into where the Magnificence comes from and who created it. Hopefully, down the line, I’ll still get to do that.
2. Zaku Prime: Are the Quintessons and the Magnificence connected somehow? Both involve ancient civilizations on alien worlds, so…?
SF) I did consider making it a Quintesson artifact, but ultimately rejected that. The Quintessons do have a big role to play, but I imagined the Magnificence as pre-dating even them, coming from a time when BIG universal forces were in play. Between The 13 series and another thing that’s in the pipeline that’s too early to talk about yet, we’ll get to understand more about where/how the Quintessons fit in to the new IDW/TF-verse, and maybe what those ruins were all about on LV-117 (from Spotlight Wheelie).
3. Quickswitch - There have been some incredible insights and development of Sixshot in IDW. The last time we saw him, he was under the now-dead Jhiaxus' neural control, and now I wonder, who 'has' him, and what's going to happen in his story now that he doesn't seem to have the Decepticons or the Reapers anymore--anything we couldn't see coming?
SF) Again, I would have liked to follow up on the status of the various ‘big guns’ post-Revelation but there just wasn’t the room. All of the ‘guardians,’ Sixshot, Thunderwing and Monstructor were pretty much inactive, mentally, when appropriated by Jhiaxus, and he did little more than artificially animate them with a preset series of commands and responses to certain situations, so the assumption is that once that control is gone they lapse back into that ‘offline’ mode. I quite like the idea that Banzaitron manages to hold onto Monstructor and the Autobots put Sixshot and Thunderwing somewhere safe… like the nearest black hole!! Given that Devastator seems to be active in All Hail Megatron, we have to assume that somewhere along the line the Combiner tech is refined and gets into Megatron’s hands, so it makes more sense that the Decepticons have Monstructor.
4. Praul - Hello! Just spinning off from a debate we were having in another thread - Was Prime getting beat against Sixshot or were things pretty much even when they finished fighting? In other words 'oo's 'arder!!!!
SF) I reckon honors even, just about. Sixshot’s very powerful but Prime’s a Prime, and would fight on to the bitter end. Things were just getting warmed up in Devastation, and because of the proximity of bystanders, we can also figure Prime was holding back some. And we know that Sixshot’s not indestructible, just very, very adaptable. My money’s still on Prime in a straight fight with no collateral to worry about.
5. Zaku Prime - What were you planning to do with Straxus and Grindcore? All the other Dead Universe guys got some characterization, but these two just seemed to be generic heavies. Care to give some back-story/thoughts on these two?
SF) I’d have loved to do more, backstory-wise, with both Straxus and Grindcore, and here I admit a bit more culpability than simply using my “I didn’t have enough room” get out of jail free card. Both were a wee bit on the padding out the Dead Universe numbers side, especially Grindcore, as he wasn’t really a reinvention, more just a cool name (IMHO) and the team ‘big guy.’ But what I originally intended to happen was to have more of the Dead Universe cast survive Revelation and roll onwards into Expansion, and Straxus I’d have definitely kept around. Did I have his character and backstory all mapped out? I’d love to say yes, but the truth is I’d have probably just worked harder to drop character ‘seeds’ into Revelation and then, er, expanded on them in Expansion. I have a great affection for the old Marvel version of Straxus, so I would have definitely striven to make him a little more than just the extra body he turned out to be.
6. ROSSUM asks: “If they don’t happen to show up in Max Dino’s, what may have been Jimmy and Verity’s fate?”
SF) I realise events in the real world have kind of overridden the Verity/Jimmy story thread, but I promise to at least bring them back before Maximum Dinobots wraps, so we know how/where they are. It’s pretty important, as I doubt Shane has plans for them, to get them back to Earth, where they belong, hopefully in good health. But no promises on that score! There’s a big development for Hunter at the end of Maximum Dinobots, which kind of touches upon another dangling story thread. I know, I know! It’s my own fault there’s so much stuff to tie up! I’m a child of the Claremont X-Men era, when there were always a dozen or more story threads running concurrently.
7. Simon, quite a few people (Brett_bass, Commander Shockwav amongst others) have asked if there has been any collaboration or communication between yourself and Shane McCarthy, regarding All Hail Megatron and December’s “Maximum Dinobot’s” – so, I guess one of the big questions is – has there?
SF) The short answer is “no.” Shane’s taken his leap forward and pretty much rolled from there. My job has mostly been to tie up my own storylines, though I will be leaping back into the fray for another more ongoing Spotlight soon. In the end, apart from tying things up in Maximum Dinobots, Revelation and maybe another arc, it’s down to IDW editorial (that’s you, Denton!) to make sure the two bits stick together with minimum join showing, and Denton does seem to be keeping a careful eye on things.
8. Second Cybertron, huh? Out of curiosity, is “our” Cybertron the real one, or is it a copy of a “true” Cybertron like Gorlam Prime is of “ours”?
SF) That’s a very good question. And here’s another: was Cybertron once something else? Did the evolution we saw happen on Gorlam Prime happen, in some shape or form, in Cybertron’s past? Could it be that there’s a ‘Cybertron Prime’ somewhere, the original world, and that the dead one we’ve seen in Stormbringer and other issues is simply another Gorlam Prime-like world given an evolutionary push? I know what you’re thinking, is there an answer coming anywhere in all this? Sadly, no, because I don’t even know yet how this is all going to play out. Maybe in the G2-ish way there’s a whole other Cybertronian empire that’s been ticking merrily along all this time the Autobots and Decepticons have been at war. See, that’s what I love about the big, sweeping sci-fi strokes of the Transformers saga, the story possibilities are virtually endless.
9. What’s your favourite TV show right now?
SF) That’s a tough one. There’s a lot I think is good on TV right (and a lot that’s bad). The things I watch fairly religiously are: Battlestar Galactica, Dexter, Mad Men, The Wire, The Shield and Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles. I also really enjoyed Rome. And I desperately wished Deadwood had been continued into a fourth season. Here in the UK I’ve been watching a brilliant series set in the English civil war called The Devil’s Whore and a re-tread of a 70s series called Survivors. My favourite? It’s hard to say. What I admire most of all, unsurprisingly, is great writing, and I think The Wire, Dexter and Mad Men are head and shoulders above the others in that respect.
10. What’s your most embarrassing Transformer-related memory?
SF) Probably my first Botcon, which was in 1997 in Rochester. It was a total eye-opener for me. Tucked away over in the UK, I didn’t even know Transformers conventions existed, or that there was an enduring fan base at all. Didn’t even know, until I was asked to do the convention comic, that there was a reinvention in the shape of Beast Wars! I was SO out of touch, and that became apparent in one particularly gruelling Q&A. I’m ashamed to say, having wrapped Transformers twice I’d consigned it to my ‘distant memory’ cupboard, and when people in the audience started asking me specific questions on this issue or that scene, I was floundering, and often had to resort to a lame ‘sorry, I don’t remember.’ It was a nightmare. I could see I was losing any/all support/accolade I’d had at the start of the session. I made damn sure that by the time the 1998 Botcon rolled around I’d re-read/revisited practically everything I’d ever written, Transformers-wise.
11. There’s always one in the bunch(j/k) - Cerebros had some Beast Wars related questions, so I thought we’d better check in on probably the most important one (yes, it is double-barrelled)! What is the next arc in the Beast Wars series? Is it a lead-in to Beast Machines?
SF) The good news is, there is a Beast Wars series in the works right now, but sadly it’s more or less on the back burner for the time being. 2009, being a movie year, is just packed with stuff, other stuff, and it looks likely (nothing is set in stone right now) Beast Wars v3 will get moved back to 2010. Is it a leap forwards towards Beast Machines or a more retrospective piece? Well, let’s just say that it goes backwards in a forward kind of way. How oblique is that???
12. Captain - Mr. Furman, are you designing all new character's to be the "13"? Or is it with character's we all ready know?
SF) Right now, because Hasbro are very involved in The 13 (in a good way, both conceptually and character-wise), there’s still no definitive, locked in line-up. When I did the original pitch, way back it seems, I did come up with a ‘cast’ document, one that I even started to expand upon for Nick Roche, who was the artist attached to the project at the time (and may well be again, who knows). But right now though we’re all hanging fire, though I expect I/we will know more soon. It seems pretty likely that Vector Prime will be amongst the 13, the Liege Maximo too, and possibly Alpha Trion. But nothing’s set in stone here yet. Great pains are being taken on everyone’s part to make this series the absolute best it can be, something that comprehensively underpins the whole TF-universe in a very major and enduring way, so that’s got to be worth taking time over.
13. Oracle1984 - What do you potentially have coming down the pike in IDW's Transformers beyond Maximum Dinobots and The Thirteen?
SF) Well, I’m currently working on the 4-issue comic book adaptation of Transformers 2 – Revenge of the Fallen. And that’s pretty much all I’m allowed to tell you about that. Except to say that I’m enjoying the process immensely. It’s the first film to comic adaptation I’ve done, and it’s stretching me as a writer in interesting ways. Can’t wait to see what people think about both the film and the adaptation. After I wrap Maximum Dinobots, the next thing, Transformers-wise, is a series I pitched to Denton that is suitably epic and sweeping but doesn’t clash with what Shane is doing over on All Hail Megatron at all. It’s still core continuity, spinning out of characters and situations in my ‘ongoing’ run, but kind of has its own distinct framework. It also promises to introduce a character in the IDW/TF-verse I honestly didn’t think we’d get to, but fits here. Oh, and I have a new Spotlight tentatively scheduled as well, though sheer volume of work has meant that I haven’t really had a chance to pitch it properly to IDW.
14. World Prime - How much of what you have planned for the future has been approved by The Powers that Be? Approximately when are we going to start seeing these plans (The Thirteen and beyond) in print?
SF) The folk at Hasbro, like the rest of us, are pretty busy with the whole new movie/25th anniversary thing, so stuff tends to filter through in a steady drip-drip, rather than a torrent. But honestly that suits me. Finding the time to pitch new projects is always an issue, as there’s a fair old volume of ongoing stuff and other projects (TF-UK, Terminator, Starcraft, books, movie scripts) to keep me busy. It’s spinning plates, and right now it’s very much one project at a time. Scheduling is IDW’s end of things, and it’s not an exact science. As I mentioned, the 13 series has shuffled quite a bit, and may shuffle more, so there’s just no point throwing random dates at you only to disappoint down the line. Right now, what’s set is that Maximum Dinobots is Dec 08-April 09. I’m sure Denton or just the Diamond solicitations will apprise you of other on sale dates.
15. World Prime - Which is your favourite issue that you've worked on? Which one came together the closest to what you originally envisioned? And on that note, which issue DIDN'T come out how you expected but was still a pleasant surprise? (add "and why?" to the end of each of those for some elaboration please)
SF) I was hugely pleased, probably out of all proportion, with the way that Infiltration #0 came out. I really didn’t know EJ’s work, so I was a little on edge about how it would play, but I needn’t have worried. We set out to do a kind of Ultimate Transformers thing, the almost complete antithesis of the original Marvel Transformers #1, in which everything happened in 22 packed pages (the whole origin, every character introduced, the first big engagement). We wanted to move stuff through more slowly, gradually build up/ratchet up (no pun intended) the suspense and focus entirely (at first) on the human perspective, casting the Transformers as something huge, mysterious, alien and rarely seen. EJ’s realistic, real world, unflashy (and I mean that in a good way) style/framing was right on the money. I can honestly say, apart from maybe Transformers (US) #68, I’ve never been truly disappointed with the way an issue or series came out. That’s because, as a general rule, I’ve worked talented and often passionate (about Transformers) artists. If there’s one issue that blindsided me, art-wide, it’s Transformers (US) #75, as Geoff (Senior) just turned in the job of a lifetime. It still blows me away even now.
16. Any particular characters you’d like to write Spotlights for in the future?
SF) Plenty. There’s characters I’d have liked to have given the Spotlight treatment to but never got the chance: Jetfire for one (but he was so involved elsewhere it seemed vaguely redundant) and Fortress Maximus for another (but that would have been post-Arcee, post-Revelation). I had an idea for Getaway at one point, but events have maybe superseded the framework I had in mind. Right now there’s a couple of more viable potentials. The first (which is tentatively scheduled) will probably come as no great shock to anyone, the second is a little more ‘out of left field,’ and ties into the ‘big’ pitch that’s with Denton/Hasbro right now. Of course, I may not get to do that latter one (I can see Denton reading this, going “wh-?”), but as and when a slot appears, I’m ready.
17. How do you want to see the Transformers line progress in the future? Continue with mini-series and the spotlights or for it to become an ongoing series with minis that crossover - showcasing work from people not doing the ongoing series? We have had a few months in 2008 with hardly any comics out per month.
SF) Personally, I still think the interconnected but self-contained four or six issue miniseries work best. It’ll be interesting to see if the sales on AHM hold up decently over the whole 12-issue run. That might be the best indicator yet of what works best, TPB-sized chunks of story or something more traditionally ongoing. I suspect those months where little or nothing came out had more to do with blown shipping dates than anything. IDW are pretty good at making the publishing plan work, on paper at least. But there are so many more random variables. Yknow… artists.
18. Are the beings in the beginning of Spotlight Galvatron any relation to the quintessons pictured in the end of Spotlight Wheelie? And are they a hint for something just about to come ie. post AHM or a far off future tease…?
SF) I very rarely tease just for the sake of it, so the fact that there’s a foreshadowing of the Quintessons in Spotlight Wheelie does suggest there’s more to come. Can’t completely guarantee when or even if it’ll happen, but I do have definite plans (and even a role in the grand scheme of things) for the Quints in mind for the next batch(es) of storylines. Maybe it’ll even tie into The 13. We’ll see. In answer to your other question, no the aliens in Spotlight Galvatron are no relation.
19. Is Arcee the only female, or just the first? I mean are thier others hiding underground?
SF) Megatron: Origin notwithstanding, Arcee is the only ‘female’ Transformer we know of. Currently. That’s not to say Jhiaxus didn’t try, try again, and another ‘female’ character is yet to make ‘her’ presence felt. But Arcee was certainly the first. And maybe the last. Only time will tell.
20. You previously mentioned that we’d see Ultra Magnus vs Galvatron. Is this still going to happen?
SF) This was where my plans for Revelation/Expansion really did change, and not just because of the shift in format. Originally, I really wanted to have an Ultra Magnus/Galvatron smackdown in the tradition of the one from Target: 2006, but once I’d arranged all the players in Revelation I realised it just wasn’t going to work. I do have plans for Galvatron, though. And Ultra Magnus for that matter. But whether the twain shall meet in upcoming storylines very much remains to be seen.
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