This time round, fellow Seibertronians, we have a special treat for you all in our interview series. We were approached by an old acquaintance of the franchise who is now back for more with IDW. Please read on for a full interview with artist James Raiz!
Va'al - With Dark Cybertron about to happen in the IDW Transformers universe, we are very proud to present another interview with one of the creative talents behind the event. James, thanks for thinking of us and agreeing to do this also to mark your return to Transformers comics - but before we get to that, the usual opening question: How did you discover our favourite transforming robots? Where did it all begin for you?
James - Thanks so much Alex! Great to be back and talking comics and especially Transformers after my time away. I have been a fan as long as I could remember!
I was introduced mainly by the cartoon - I was a huge fan of the old G1 series back in the day! My parents bought me the smaller toys, like Bumblebee, Cliffjumper, Warpath, Gears, Cosmos, etc... and of course go-bots because they looked like transformers and were lots cheaper - I had a lot of those... But I remember one day, my mom splurged for my birthday and I got Metroplex! I was floored! I immediately put all my Go-bot toys inside! One toy that was special to me was Topspin - I loved that toy so much, I actually sat down and drew it - my first ever transformers drawing. I wish I still had it...
Va'al - A lot of the current batch of creators seem to have grown up on the G1 cartoon and toys (though there are exceptions); I was going to ask about your first toys but you pre-empted me! But you say that it was actually a toy that got you into the artistic side of the franchise - did you pick up any of the comics back then, too?
James - Honestly no, I actually didn't get into comic books until high school - so I wasn't really looking for them. I was more into card collecting at the time - baseball cards, hockey cards, but my best friend was deeply into comics - so I started following him to the stores. I'd say it was actually the start of Image Comics that turned me into a gigantic comic fan, so most of my collecting was Image stuff and some X-Men at the time - didn't really look for the Transformers comics.
Va'al - The collecting bug was there from the start though, it seems! It took me a while to even consider picking up a Transformers title, Marvel or IDW (or any other iteration), I'm quite the late bloomer too - and it's all because of JP Bove. How did you eventually get into the Transformers comics? If you did at all, that is!
James - Now that's quite a long story! So I might as well go into it. I was working at a company called Dreamwave Productions - I was Pat Lee's primary assistant, his main background artist. He really liked me because I put so much detail into my work. Because of my schooling background (I have a technical illustration diploma), my backgrounds - buildings, landscapes, and especially cars, looked great! My human figures however... well Dreamwave was known for their "Anime" style, and it's a style I wasn't used to doing - I was more the Jim Lee clone if anything, so they were hesitant to let me fully pencil any of their books at the time.
Fast forward to Wizard Magazine contacting Dreamwave - they had an idea for an article about 1980s toys possibly being current comics - they picked an artist who they thought would be good for each franchise - J. Scott Campbell for Thundercats, Joe Madureria for TMNT, and Pat Lee for Transformers. They then contacted Pat Lee to do an image for the magazine.
The article was a gigantic success - everyone loved the art Pat produced. So from there, the wheels started turning. We all thought "wouldn't it be cool if we actually got the license???". From there, Dreamwave started their quest to acquire it. I actually helped the pitch by putting together a three page Transformers RID sample, written by Chris Sarracini. It didn't get done yet. A few months down the line, enter a business man named Adam Fortier. He worked with Pat in making a deal with Hasbro. Next thing I know, we now have the license!
Right away I expected to be doing backgrounds for Pat, which I was ecstatic about. However they sat me down and informed me that they were going to do two titles - Pat of course was going to do G1, and they have another title based on the current cartoon at the time - Transformers:Armada - and they wanted me to pencil it! I was over the moon!
So yeah... quite an introduction to Transformers comics!
Va'al - Wow, that sounds all pretty fast, looking back. This next part is going to be a bit tricky, as Dreamwave is still quite an issue for a lot of Transformers fans, and especially artists. Did you have any particularly bad experiences while working for Lee, or were you one of the people who made it through unscathed?
James - Pat gave me my start in comics - he gave me a job when no one else would - he gave me my start in the industry. However what he did to all of those guys was just wrong. For me personally, I left Dreamwave at two points in time, but I encountered the financial trouble mainly at the end of my tenure with Dreamwave.
When I left Dreamwave in 2003, it had nothing to do with not being paid - Dreamwave was flooded with cash at that time - I left because they kept promising me work on multiple titles, and for one reason or another they fell through - it was even to the point where they told me to wait 12 months before I can get back onto the flagship Transformers title, and that they'd find me work to do in between then.
At that time I was getting married, and I needed money, I didn't know when the work from Dreamwave would come, so I left for a job at Wildstorm/DC Comics. I returned back to Dreamwave in 2004 - Pat asked me to come back and help him with some movie and television projects - I didn't have any work at the time, so I agreed. At that time you could tell Dreamwave was in trouble. People were complaining about not getting paid in full. I helped out with a Transformers Sourcebook and did an issue of Transformers:Energon - and I did get my money... but it did take a while. So when they offered me a chance to do War Within volume 3, knowing that deferred payment or even possibly no payment at all was inevitable, I declined, and I left for the final time.
Va'al - That's a good, honest, direct answer - it can be hard when something as big as the Dreamwave issue happens, and you're involved both professionally and personally. So thank you, we really appreciate it! How did you end up getting back into the comics with IDW, after your second leaving? You did some cover work for them, but how did you get chosen for Dark Cybertron?
James - Well, it took a while. After I left Dreamwave the second time, things were actually pretty good for me. I received regular consistant work in the comic industry - did work for Marvel & DC on various titles. I also got the opportunity to help my buddy Joe Ng out doing pages for the Transformers/GI Joe crossover from Devil's Due/Udon. Honestly, my work was horrible in that issue - mainly because I was working on two other projects at the same time - one for Top Cow doing City of Heroes and one for SPIN Toys - I just didn't know when to say no...
From there, the Transformers license ended up with IDW. They contacted me, asking me if I'd like to be involved. I actually did a tryout page for them to be the first penciller on the Transformers:Infiltration series - they presented the potential pencillers to Hasbro and Hasbro picked E.J. Su to be the first penciller so he got the gig (and honestly I do feel Hasbro made the right choice - he did an amazing job! No complaints here!) But, I did get to do covers for quite a few issues of that series. I also got to do covers for the different Spotlight issues (Shockwave, Hot Rod & Six Shot) as well as covers for the first two issues of Beast Wars.
In 2006, after hearing stories about good friends from my Dreamwave days going back to school and getting into video games, and with the freelance hours really starting to drain me out, I decided to change directions in career - so I went back to school to study animation. From there I spent six years working in film and videogames - I got the opportunity to work on films like Watchmen, Percy Jackson, Battle LA and Underworld to name a few.
During that time, I've always stayed in touch with IDW - they've been SO good to me. I did stuff for them on the side like images for the beast wars sourcebook. There was a time when I was actually offered to be the penciller for the first Transformers live-action movie sequel - the Search for Starscream - but unfortunately there was no way to handle a full time job plus a regular penciling gig. So they still gave me the opportunity to do covers for the series - some of my favorite work ever! In between film jobs I even got the chance to fill in on Maximum Dinobots - there I realized I was faster and more disciplined - and I was much more happy with the work than my last interior Transformers stint.
Fast forward to late 2012 - we had an unfortunate injury in my family, and I decided to let my contract run out at my current job (I was a storyboard artist for Ubisoft), so I could stay home. I contacted Chris Ryall to see if they had any work available - and he and John Barber gave me my first full interior Gig in a long time - Transformers: More Than Meets the Eye #22, which will also be inserted with the Skids toy!
After that issue I went on vacation, and when I got back, editor Carlos Guzman contacted me and asked me to be a part of the armada of artists who will be working on Dark Cybertron! I was more than happy to accept. I really owe a lot to Chris Ryall, John Barber and IDW.
Va'al - I keep reading excellent things about Ryall and the IDW crew, I'm pleased to see more of it artists with different backgrounds and experiences, too. And I'm sure we'll be more than happy to see you work on both MTMTE and Dark Cybertron! Do you have any teases you're allowed to give us about the coming storyline?
James - Sure! Dark Cybertron debuts in November with DARK CYBERTRON #1 and then continues that same month with MTMTE #23 and RID #23 and then alternates between MTMTE and RID until issue 27 of each. Everything is written by John Barber and James Roberts - both amazing to work with! Phil Jimenez will be doing the artwork on Dark Cybertron #1.
Exclusive to Seibertron! MTMTE #22, page 4 - Art by James Raiz
Because it will be alternating books, instead of one artist per book, an armada of artists will be working on it! You'll see the amazing work of Andrew Griffith, Atilio Rojo, Brendan Cahill, Casey Coller, Alex Milne, Robert Gill and Nick Roche. As for myself, I'll be handling most of the artwork taking place on the Lost Light.
I actually can't say much at all, but as a tease, how about this:
Shockwave's got a plan, millions of years in the making, goes all the way back to Nova Prime and Galvatron era...
Va'al - That's expanding a little on what we know, and it's just making me want to read it more than before! It'll be good to see your work again too. Speaking of which, I hear you've been busy artistically with other giant robots in the meantime - care to tell us more about that?
James - Sure thing! I have started a YouTube channel up for fun a few months back. At first it was a hobby, but now it's something I'm taking much more seriously. It's called "The Box Office Artist". At first, I was doing previews of upcoming blockbuster movies (or ones I thought I could draw something cool with). I did one for Iron Man, Fast and Furious 6 and Man of Steel among others. The response was very positive, however, most people who watch actually want me to teach them draw.
So, I'm starting some tutorial videos, and what better way to start than showing people how to draw, than what I pretty much draw best - Giant Robots! I'm doing a four part tutorial series on how to draw a Pacific Rim style Mech. I concepted and drew an image of a giant mech, inspired by the movie and recorded the entire process.
It will be split up into four different videos:
2. Pencilling in Ink
4. Final product
A timelapse version of the entire piece from start to finish is already up, but the entire series will come out the last week of August. And I would love to chat with all of you to find out what you'd like me to teach you how to draw next - I think a Transformer should be next in line, don't you?
Va'al - That's some amazing work right there, I hope more people get to follow your artistic endeavours! Also, Seiertronianas, feel free to talk to James in this thread - he'll be reading your responses and answering when he can. James, it's been a pleasure to talk to you, and I'm really looking forward to seeing more of you in the pages of MTMTE, especially after that sneak preview. Any last words?
James - It's been a great pleasure Alex, thank you so much for the interview, and thank you to ALL of the Transformers fans out there, and everyone who kinda remembers me a little bit. I will be active on the boards, so feel free to ask me any question you'd like!
Being in the Film and Video Game industry was a lot fun, but now being back in comics, and especially drawing Transformers again, makes me feel like I'm back where I belong. Thank you so much to all of you for making me feel welcome. And I hope you enjoy the art I'll put out for all of you!
You heard the man, get in touch! Thanks again to all of you for reading, and stay tuned for another interview soon, here at Seibertron.com.
Our friends over at Unicron.com were able to attend the debut of Tranformers: More Than Meets the Eye, Last Stand of the Wreckers and Chaos Theory writer James Roberts panel at TFCon! The talk ranged from the rationale behind his storytelling to more in-depth looks at characters such as Rung, to the origins of the fan-acclaimed current ongoing series. Head over to the Unicron.com for a write-up of the panel highlights, and check out their video too, embedded below!
Courtesy of Entertainment Weekly, we have a first look at some trademark Michael Bay action during the filming in Detroit: explosions! Take a look at two amateur videos from the sets, and read the full article here.
“He [Michael Bay] knows every single piece of everything and you just kind of watch him in awe at how he kind of has it all in his head and brings it all to life,” says Wahlberg. “He runs this huge, huge production like an orchestra. It’s insane. It’s so incredible to watch.”
In the midst of San Diego Comic Con, it feels like the fandom could use some more Transformers goodies to sink their teeth into. And lo! Seibertron.com is proud to present another interview with the talented people behind the IDW Transformers comics. Last time we spoke to Andrew Griffith, this time, we were able to reach superstar colourist, and the official BotCon comic artist Josh Burcham! Read the whole interview below.
Va'al - In the aftermath of BotCon, here at Seibertron.com we are delighted to have another chat with another of the amazing people behind the Transformers comics: Josh Burcham! Josh, thanks again for doing this with us. Before we move to your work on the comics, a couple of more personal questions to start us off. Where did it all begin for you? How did you become a Transformers fan?
Josh - Boy, ya know I wish I could say that I had memory of THE moment when I was first introduced to Transformers but I really can't. Transformers have just always kinda "been there". I was born in the latter part of 1985 so Transformers was already pretty well on its way by the time I was born. I HEAR from my mom that my first Transformer was probably Targetmaster Kup and he came out in 1987 I think? So I was about 2 years old when Transformers came into my life and really, growing up, they've ALWAYS been around. There was a part of my childhood where I kinda forgot about them, they were just kind of "those toys I've always had" hidden away in the closet. It wasn't until G2 came around that I started to remember "hey! i think I know what these are!" I remember, even then, feeling a sense of nostalgia as the G2 cartoon [if you can call it that] was on TV.
I guess as a small youngster I used to make my parents/grandparents record episodes of G1 on VHS for me that I could watch over and over, so it was really pretty crazy. And I've always had a copy of TF:TM around that I'd seen a million times. I could recite practically the whole movie line for line, I watched it so much! But, I didnt REALLY get back into Transformers during G2 but that certainly brought them back to the forefront of my mind. It wasn't until Beast Wars was pretty well under way that I REEEALLY got back into the franchise. And when I say "under way" i mean that I didnt quite believe Beast Wars was ACTUALLY Transformers until they started doing some G1 namedrops when I gave it a chance.
I remember my parents got me a couple Beast Wars figures and they were neat and all [Terrorsaur and Snapper, I think his name is? The turtle one] but I just wouldnt believe that THESE were supposed to be the Transformers that I remembered. I mean, they were animals and stuff! I thought it was just some other company trying to cash in on the Transformers' name or something. But once the cartoon started making evident its ties to the G1 universe I started to believe and ended up getting myself hooked! I'd wake up super early to watch the show before going to middle school, and it was around the time the Transmetal stuff was going on when I got full back into collecting the toys. I had two backpack fulls of what G1 toys had survived my early childhood mixed with what new Beast Wars stuff I was getting. I remember forcing my younger sister to play with them with me too. Making bases for the good and bad guys on opposite ends of the house. It was pretty great! But from Beast Wars on, the Transformers were back for me. And they've been with me ever since!
Va'al - See, we're getting closer to my territory here too, as I essentially grew up with Beast Wars. There seems to be a common denominator in getting up stupidly early to watch Transformers, across all fans in all countries! So Kup may have been your first toy, and the cartoons were your way in - when did you encounter the comics? And which ones?
Josh - When I was younger I would, every now and then, come across garage sales with Transformers comics [the Marvel ones] and I remember getting them mostly because they said "Transformers" on 'em. I'd read 'em once or twice then kind of shuffle them to the side. I'd keep them as a collectible but comics were never really my "thing" when I was a kid. I never really read them. The time I took notice of the Transformers comics was when Dreamwave got hold of the license. I guess the biggest detractor I had against the old Marvel stuff was that I just wasn't all that into the artwork. And I'm not restricting that to JUST Transformers comics, but ALL comics from that sort of era. It was simple, never really found it exciting, and I never liked the worn, faded, dot matrix kind of coloring so I never really gave comics a chance. But when Dreamwave came around and we started seeing what the comics would look like I was pretty floored. I remember saying to myself "THIS is what comic books look like now?!?! This is awesome!".
So I started to read the TF books Dreamwave was putting out, and then this is where I started to get interested in comics. Not necessarily in reading them, but in making them. Around the time Dreamwave had the license, and actually even before that, I was getting into the Transformers Fan Art scene on the different message boards. I wasn't very great at drawing and I had no way to get my drawings into the computer so I got hold of Photoshop and started teaching myself to color. And it's at this point where I realized that the stuff I was doing was more or less how comic books were made. So that's what drove me to want to get into making comics. It all kinda happened at once, my interest in comics as a medium and as a career!
Va'al - Dreamwave! That was quite a change from what was going on before it, wasn't it? I still really like The War Within storyline, and especially the artwork. You started drawing and colouring, focusing on the latter, as many a fan is still doing - how did you get noticed? What was your first job?
Josh - It was really all just luck. Back when Dreamwave was putting out books I, and a lot of the world, were still rockin' the America Online internet provider. There was an option to search for people with keywords and one day I just got a wild hair and typed in "Dreamwave". To my surprise I ran across a fella who actually worked there! [It's all about who ya know! Networking is key in this business, I've found!] I struck up a conversation with the guy and eventually I told him who I was and that I was an aspiring colorist. I showed him little bits of the artwork I had at the time and asked if I had a chance. The guy eventually agreed to show my work to their art director so I could find out! Not too long after that I heard back from the art director there and he gave me his thoughts and critiques of my work. He told me what they were looking for and encouraged me to keep trying, gave me areas to concentrate on improving and suggested I send my stuff in again in the future.
A number of months passed since then and I got in contact with the art director again with some new work and, hopefully, some improvements. The one thing I still needed to work on was getting that painterly kind of look they liked to do for their backgrounds but he saw that I had potential. My character rendering was good enough so they ended up putting me to work on the Armada profile books! Which was a project that suited me just fine. It was all just character art and no backgrounds, so it was really great that he put me on a project that played more to my 'strengths'. After the Armada profile books wrapped up I was left with a choice to either help out on the Energon books or see if I had what it took to work on their "big" upcoming mini-series: The War Within vol. 3. And thats kinda how I got rollin'!
Va'al - Networking is the key to most jobs, I can confirm that for freelance translation too! You must have made some good ones while you were working for Dreamwave, definitely. But then they ..collapsed. To put it lightly. How was that for you? What happened next?
Josh - Well as far as money owed, I got hit lightly compared to some of the other amounts I've heard owed to different artists. It was a pretty surprising thing when it all happened. Definitely a lot of "well....now what???". After Dreamwave went under and before IDW ended up getting the license was, I think, a year's span of time where there was just nothing. While I was waiting to see where the TF license would fall I did some work for my pal Mike S. Miller [the artist of Devil's Due's first Transformers/GI Joe crossover] and his company doing colors on a series called "Sixgun Samurai". I had a lot of computer problems as well during that time so it was pretty much just that and a whole lot of nothing. Unemployment, really. When the TF license ended up going to IDW Publishing I found out just like everybody else on the internet, and as soon as I did I hit up all the people I could think of to see if they could point me in the right direction. Eventually that lead to Chris Ryall and I shot him an email explaining who I was and what I did over at Dreamwave and if they had any open projects. Between them already being creatively set up for the -ation books and my only having Dreamwave work to show for my abilities [a look they were understandably trying to stray away from in the outset] I was ultimately turned down.
It wasn't until some time after that they were gearing up to do the first Beast Wars mini-series with Simon and Don that I got my first "in." They were looking for a colorist and had asked Don if he had anyone in mind to work with and it wasn't long after that I got an e-mail from, then editor, Dan Taylor and was given a test page to see if things would work out. Keeping in mind what Chris had said about wanting to stray away from a Dreamwave sorta look I kind of "invented" a new coloring style for me on the go. I was just making it up as I went along. Luckily they liked what I had done and that's how I got my first gig at IDW. I also did some helping out on the -ations stuff as well, which was challenging and a lot of fun! It was like it was all new to me again!
Va'al - You have undoubtedly made a name for yourself since getting back on the Transformers wagon. The colouring work you've done since, including your current role as on the fan-acclaimed Transformers: More Than Meets the Eye is nothing short of amazing. But you are now also producing your own art, and are even in charge of the official BotCon comic! I know that fans have started a campaign of sorts to get you this far, but how did it actually happen?
Josh - Heh, How did the campaign happen or how did I get to draw some robots? Well the campaign came about over on the IDW message boards courtesy of some friends. They started making banners and not long after it seems like half of the posters there started sporting them. It was pretty crazy to come onto the boards and see all of those post signatures with those banners! It wasn't my idea, but I'm humbled by the amount of friends I have on there showing their support for me and my artwork!
The BotCon comic came to me because of the theme for this year's exclusives: Machine Wars. For quite a few years now I've been in the process of producing a fan project centered around the Machine Wars. The toy line was VERY short lived and exclusive to only KB Toy stores as a way to test the market to see if consumers would be open to going back to Autobots and Decepticons, since we were into the Beast Wars era stuff. The toys consisted of repaints and had virtually no fiction to go along with them. Just generic bios. So my project's always been about giving some sort of fiction and creating a fresh and unique universe for these very unique character interpretations to exist in. The plan's always been, and still is, a fan made full-length comic book to act as a sort of "pilot episode" introducing the universe. So I've had a lot of artwork I'd done for the project floating around online that I'd drawn. I guess one day Pete Sinclair, from the Collector's Club, had been googling Machine Wars stuff and ran across my Machine Wars art I'd done and then contacted me about doing the card art for all of their exclusives for this year. Me taking on art duties for the comic came a little later, but yeah! Here I am!
Va'al - Here you are indeed. IDW also seems to be adding more recognition to your work, and that of other colorists and inkers: I was sorting out issues today, and suddenly everyone's name starts appearing on the cover! Have you ever experienced 'discrimination' because you're 'just' a colourist? How do you find working as part of artistic team compared to a one-person job?
Josh - Yeah! Getting colorist/inker's credit on the cover page was a surprise indeed! A little victory, I think, for us 'second stringers.' There's definitely some descrimination out there, but I think that's more people who just dont really understand. A lot of people dont even REALIZE that there's another guy that does JUST the colors or JUST the inks. A lot of companies will credit the penciller as just "the artist" and people think "well I guess that guy did all of the art that I'm seeing here!." It's just one of those behind the scenes things you dont really think about. Like for me, as a kid, LOVED watching cartoons and I just took them as they were. Optimus Prime sounds like this because that's Optimus Prime and what he sounds like. It never ONCED occured to me that there was a man behind that voice that WASN'T Optimus Prime; that there's a guy whose JOB is to do the voice of a cartoon character. And it's kind of like an epiphany moment when you realize that. Or at least it was for me. And that's just one poor example. Doing what I do has definitely made me more aware that everything you see there's a person behind that. Even the little logo design on that box of frozen fish sticks. SOMEBODY did that. It didn't just appear out of nowhere. And so, yeah. When you see colors in a comic book know that there is some person behind that. Color just doesn't magically appear out of nowhere. I've had some people ask "well why don't they just let computers do it? Isn't there some kind of
program that can color all the characters?" and, sometimes, I wish that were true! But it's not. Being a colorist, it's just so secondary to a person's mind. Nobody really cared before, in comics, who colored what. It was always the writer and the artist that sold the book. Thats why when DC announces a new big title or reboot they say "CHECK OUT THIS NEW SERIES BY JIM LEE" because thats what the general audience is aware of. They know Jim's work, they follow Jim's work, and not that his work is bad by any means, but a penciller or a writer's efforts definitely SEEM more evident to the eye. And so a lot of companies, well they take advantage of that and they don't worry so much about the 'other guys.' The day you see a new project announced and the first person they try to draw you in with is the colorist will be...well it'll be one crazy day. I don't see it happening, lol. But I am thankful for companies giving more proper credit to the whole creative team. Definitely thankful to fans for taking interest in guys like us colorists, like you guys here at [url]Seibertron.com[/url] with the interview and all. People are starting to be more mindful and pay a little more attention to who all is involved and it's really great.
And, oh yeah, there's another question in there! Sorry! heh! How do I find working as part of artistic team compared to a one-person job? Oh, I very much prefer it! [The 'it' being working with a team!] I really hate to do stuff on my own or by myself because I only have so many ideas! And when you're working with a team of other people there's just so much more you can accomplish! Every person is unique and has their own thoughts and ideas and different ways to do things that I'd've NEVER thought of doing on my own and it all serves to make something, whatever it is, BETTER.
Va'al - We do aim to please, both fans and our guests! Plus, I have a lot of interested vested in the visibility of 'secondary' creators, being a translator myself. Speaking of computer programmes and digital artwork - I've seen a recent discussion you had with people on Twitter about the positions and reactions of digital vs printed art, and the value that people give to one over the other. Would you care to summarise your thoughts about the debate?
Josh - Yeah! That conversation was pretty interesting! I'd been wrestling with the concept of original art [hand drawn] VS digital art even before that conversation. I was getting myself ready for Botcon and initially I was trying to decide how I wanted to draw this year's convention comic; digitally or traditionally. The big reason for doing it traditionally is that since it's all hand drawn on paper artists tend to sell their originals for a substantial bit of money. It's one way that artists have to make a little more money from their work. [you've heard of starving artists right?] And so people pay pretty decent money for original artwork because it's one of a kind. It's the ACTUAL page that the artist spent hours upon hours working on. THE one and only physical page that the one seen in the comic is made from. So it's pretty special to people who collect/purchase original artwork. Now the argument comes in when you bring up digital artwork. Like I mentioned, I was trying to decide whether I'd go traditional [so that I would have all the original artwork for the comic, should anybody be interested in those] or whether I'd go digital. The biggest thing that working digital has going for it is speed. Speed and convenience. You save so much in both time and material. The page is pencilled/inked/colored/lettered all right there on the computer. Drawing digitally is much easier when it comes to fixing your drawings; if things don't look right there's no wasted time erasing and redrawing. There's no 'wasting' paper, no having to buy pencils/pens, no wasted time scanning, and the list goes on. It's just infinitely more convenient for me, the artist. The "downside," if you wanna call it that, is that having a page be entirely digital there is no actual physical representation of that page. Not like a traditionally drawn page. My dilemma was "would it be seen as 'okay' to sell physical print outs of my digital work, like people do with traditional art?" and that's kind of where the conversation on Twitter came from. "Is digital art the same, in terms of value, as traditional art?"
The problem that's run into is that all digital artwork is still a pretty new "thing." Most artists still work traditionally because there's a stigma amongst people [fans/collectors/what have you] that think that digital artwork is somehow 'less than' traditional art. People just don't know what to do about digital art. And this is even moreso a problem with guys like colorists, who literally have absolutely no way to sell "original art" in the same way that pencillers and inkers do, because it's done entirely digitally. Do colorists just throw up their hands and accept it, or should there be some sort of equivelant for digital artists as well? Pencillers and inkers get to make money off their originals but what do you do with something that has no tangible physical something to grab onto? There's the idea of just printing it out but even then people dont trust it because being digital you can, to put it simply, just make more. There's no definite one individual piece thats unique and "original" about the digital work. And so that's kind of the big problem. When you talk about digital VS traditional with people it always feels like it comes down to "one is real and the other isn't" and that's just not true. And that's pretty much the end thought that I came to in my own work for the convention comic. I ended up doing one single page traditionally, just to have one, and the rest of the book entirely digitally. When I went to Botcon I made print outs of the B&W line art on comic book board and had them in my portfolio and to be honest, nobody really thought anything of it.
I dunno. I ended up looking up the conversation we're talking about here and, well, here's some of my tweets about the subject. Probably a bit better/more simply explained than my big paragraphs above!
"Originally I'd considered doing half of this MW comic digital and half traditional for the easons we're talking about here but the more I thought about it I'm just pandering to people with wrong perceptions on what's the 'real art' and what's not. If any of my prints of my Machine Wars line art isn't "original" enough, I'm happy to personalize/number/ make an extra scribble-somewhere to make it so if that'll make people feel better. And if someone wants exclusive rights to a page I'll have the artistic integrity enough to only sell that one print of the page. In the end, if it's your *preference* to want something done traditionally that's fine, but to anyone who doesn't understand: PLEASE don't sell digital artwork short by thinking it's "not real" or not worth as much as traditional stuff".
Basically that's kind of my stance. There's one or two bits in there that references different ways I've heard other artists try to make their digital stuff more "original" by maybe half inking a page digitally and finishing it up traditionally or something and in the end I just feel like if it's the artist's choice to work digitally then that's their choice. It's a tool. It's a method. It's a, as of now, new way of making artwork and I don't think the artist should be punished for choosing to work in a way that makes their job easier. So I'm fine with working digitally and selling prints of that digital work, be it colors or straight up line work. People just don't know or fully understand so they have these preconceived ideas about things. I mentioned in my tweet there that if it's a person's *preference* to want original art over digital that's fine. That's a preference. The main thrust of my argument is that I hope they don't undervalue digital work just because it's not something they prefer or just because it's something they don't understand.
Va'al - Whoah, that's quite the answer! Those all sound like excellent points, thank you for taking the time to outline them. I personally don't value digital art less than 'original' work, especially for the coloured stuff I get off people like yourself and JP Bove. Yes you can have multiple copies of it, but it's still something I asked you to do! I think we'll have one final question, if you don't mind: Now that you're a celebrated artist (lines, scribbles, colours, all stuff), how do you feel towards the franchise? Are you still a Transformers fan from that side of the table?
Josh - Being on the other side of the franchise hasn't dimmed my fanfare fire one bit. I've always considered myself a fan first . An extremely lucky fan that is! I can't say enough how honored I am to get to contribute to the franchise in some small way. I know it's just the colors in some little comic books, not anything super impactful, but still!
Va'al - Trust me, the comic books ain't that little, and we do enjoy the colours. Maybe the 'campaign' will work, and we'll see you on lines and doodles sometime too! Josh, it's been a pleasure to talk with you, and get some insight into the Burchamverse. Any final words to our readers?
Josh - Thank YOU for the awesome interview! Not sure I have much else exciting to say other than thanks to you and everybody reading! I can't say enough how much I, and the rest of the team, appreciate all the support fans have been giving MTMTE. Keep reading because there's some exciting stuff ahead! And yeah, hopefully I'll get the chance to do some more drawing! I know there's been some talking about me doing art for another issue or two of Machine Wars so I'm really looking forward to that!
Josh Burcham's technicolor adventures can be followed on Twitter, Tumblr, deviantArt, YouTube and his own website. Thanks for reading, and stay tuned for more comic creator goodness soon!
While I was unable to attend in person, the wonderful world of social media (and the eyes and ears of El Duque, who was able to attend) has allowed us to put together a brief outline of the things discussed during the IDW panel that took place at BotCon.
The speakers were John Barber (editor, writer), John-Paul Bove (colourist), Jim Sorenson (writer), Alex Milne (artist), Livio Ramondelli (artist), Andrew Griffith (artist), Mairghread Scott (writer), Michael Kelly (Hasbro publishing), Carlos Guzman (editor).
With issue 6, comic and animated series will join up somehow; the mini-series will see story arcs of two issues each, to be more accessible to readers. Scott's soundtrack for issue 1 is Amanda Palmer's The Killing Type. The next arc will be written by co-author Mike Johnson.
Not really a reveal for those following the cover updates or have read the digital issues so far, but Trypticon is going to show up. Ramondelli mentioned that he really enjoyed conveying the character's scale in the series.
Mostly focused on issue 0: as previously mentioned, five artists will collaborate on Furman's script for five different stories - Geoff Senior, Jose Delbo, Jeff Anderson, Casey Coller and Nick Roche (who we know for sure will be drawing the Hot Rod section).
More Than Meets The Eye
The story set up so far - Remain in Light - will continue, ending with #20-#21. Issue 22 will then be more of a summing up of where-we-are-now, and will hint at what's to come (see below).
Fun Fact: Mad doctor Pharma has Mark Hamill's Joker's voice, at least for Alex Milne!
Robots in Disguise
Barber states that his inspiration for RID is both realistic and fictional: post-war scenarios in history and George R.R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire/HBO's Game of Thrones. As we saw in the preview, #19 focuses on Gorlam Prime, and features Waspinator. Issue 20 will include Rattrap, by the looks of it! Issues 21 and 22 will focus on Shockwave and Soundwave, and set off the big event with Shockpoint, leading to...
...the big crossover, co-written by James Roberts and John Barber (remember? The Death of Optimus Prime?). The arc will run for 12 issues, across both titles, starting with a one-shot (Dark Cybertron #1, the Annual substitute for 2013) and then continuing in MTMTE #23. No word on the artistic team, but James Raiz (from DW's Armada comics and IDW's Spotlight: Sixshot) was mentioned.
UPDATE: Andrew Griffith has tweeted what looks like an indication that multiple artists will be working on the story arc.
As suggested by the Spotlights collected in the Prelude TPB and the link with recent events, Metroplex and maybe the other Titans will take centre-stage for the story, as well as Shockwave.
Jim Sorenson talked about how he went through selecting stories from all Transformers comics eras, to put together the 30th Anniversary Collection.
Marvel Classics UK and US will both continue, and a book will be released collecting the Art of Transformers Prime.
That's all we could pull out of the Twitter madness!
Come back in a short while for the slides used during the panel, and thanks to Robbie Robbins from IDW for the panel photo.
Beyond the Trailer talks with Transformers 4 Producer Lorenzo di Bonaventura about some of the movies he is currently involved with. Toward the end of the video, Transformers 4 comes up. Watch the video embedded below to hear him talk about how the Asian Market is affecting Hollywood.
There may not have been a comic coming out this week, but the official Transformers Facebook page still delivers an interview with a creator: Marcelo Matere! Check out the interview below, mirrored for those of you without Facebook access.
To celebrate this week’s BOTCON convention, IDW Publishing and Hasbro sat down with TRANSFORMERS comic book artist, MARCELO MATERE! Marcelo recently completed a run of variant covers on the TRANSFORMERS: MORE THAN MEETS THE EYE and TRANSFORMERS: ROBOTS IN DISGUISE comic books. Click the link for the interview! http://on.fb.me/15Gk8ac
To celebrate this week’s BOTCON celebration IDW Publishing and Hasbro sat down with one of our favorite TRANSFORMERS comic book artist, MARCELO MATERE! Marcelo recently completed a run of variant covers on the TRANSFORMERS: MORE THAN MEETS THE EYE and TRANSFORMERS: ROBOTS IN DISGUISE comic books—but he’s been part of the TRANSFORMERS community for a long time! Check out his comics—and lots of other ones—at comic book stores everywhere and for downloaded at https://transformers.comixology.com/ or via the Comixology and iBooks apps on your computer or mobile device!
Q: When you started drawing Transformers, did you try to emulate any other artist’s style, or did you just go with your own way of doing it from the start?
MARCELO MATERE: Professionally, yes, at that time I was trying to emulate the Dreamwave style, when they started the TRANSFORMERS ARMADA comic and the new G1 comics. It was a style close to the cartoon, but with some anime touches in the colors.
Q: How did you first come to be involved in working on Transformers comics for IDW? Was it a real dream come true when it happened?
MARCELO MATERE: In 2006, I was asked to do a two-page test for the new IDW comic books.At that time I was working on TRANSFORMERS: CYBERTRON package art—and I was able to finish only one [page of the tryout]. One year later, [IDW Publishing editor-in-chief] Chris Ryall asked me if I would be interested to work on one of the TRANSFORMERS SPOTLIGHT comics. I’d already worked on comics before, doing TRANSFORMERS UNIVERSE pages for the Official Transformers Collectors’ Club in 2004, and later on one TRANSFORMERS: ENERGON issue. But when I discovered the character Chris wanted me to draw —Soundwave— man, I freaked out!It took me almost a week to realize what was going on. I was really lucky because I had a chance to work again with Simon Furman!
Q: When you’re drawing a character design or a cover/comic page, how long does the process take for you and what kinds of pencils/markers do you use?
MARCELO MATERE: Okay, for character designs, I usually do them all-digital, so it takes me two hours for each stage—sketch/pencil or inks and colors. It depends on the character and how complex it is. As for a cover, it usually takes me a day-and-a-half to do one from sketch to final inks. I usually start with the digital sketches and then I print it and clean up the pencils and do the inks with pen and markers. For interiors, I usually start the layouts/roughs digitally, then print it and do the pencils on the light box, then I move to the inks. This process usually takes me a day and a half. It depends on the page. When I do pages digitally they take less time, like a day.
Q: Having drawn and contributed so much to Transformers so far, do you have any plans to write your own story as well as draw it?
MARCELO MATERE: I’ve had some ideas but never develop them to a level that I can tell you, “okay… let’s make a TRANSFORMERS story about it.” I have plans to write a comic book/kids book soon. Maybe I should start with TRANSFORMERS? Let’s see!
Q: Are there any characters that we haven’t seen yet that you would like to bring or re-design just for the comics IDW publishes?
MARCELO MATERE: I would love to see (work if possible) combiners like Predaking and Liokaiser! They are awesome!
Q: Your long time collaborator on the IDW comics is Priscilla Tramontano. How did you meet and start working together on Transformers?
MARCELO MATERE: In 2007, I needed an artist to help me with the new TRANSFORMERS UNIVERSE line for Hasbro, and a friend of mine sent me a Deviantart page of a young girl with really cool TRANSFORMERS illustrations. She was really fast and loved to draw robots! So I hired her and she started to help me with the colors for a lot of package art and concept art stuff for Hasbro. When I started working on a MAXIMUM DINOBOTS cover, I asked my editor if Priscilla could color some covers. Since they loved her work, and she worked for me, we started to work together on a lot of covers. I’m really lucky to have her as my colorist!
Q: You’ve worked on many Transformers projects for IDW over the past 8 years. Is there one story or moment that really stands out for you?
MARCELO MATERE: I think I was lucky enough to work on great projects like the SPOTLIGHTs SOUNDWAVE, GRIMLOCK, and METROPLEX. I was able to draw some of my favorite characters! Then covers for the TRANSFORMERS ANIMATED series—I was supposed to work on the interiors, but I had no time because I was working on the TRANSFORMERS UNIVERSE package art for Hasbro. SPOTLIGHT: METROPLEX was really cool working on the sense of scale of the characters and action. Loved that work as well. And that was my first comic book that I worked digitally on all the pages. It was a great experience!
Q: You’re back again at Botcon as a guest. How much do you enjoy talking to the fans and drawing different characters for them? And do you like to be a fan yourself at an event such as that?
MARCELO MATERE: I love to talk with the fans! I was a fan before I started working professionally, so I respect them a lot. And I really like to make things in my work that fans will enjoy, like little cameos or references to other TRANSFORMERS lines. I like to be a fan, especially with the other artists from the comics, cartoons, video games, and even movies, when I meet them.
Q: Obviously you are very busy with many different projects. Can you say or drop any hints about what you have coming up?
MARCELO MATERE: Yeah, this past month before Botcon was crazy for me! Doing great works for Hasbro, IDW and other companies. I’m also working on a new stuff for IDW, and it’s not Transformers… I think you will know more about it soon.
Resident professional voice actor, Seibertronian and TwinCaster Jon Bailey (aka jON3.0) interviews the voices of Starscream, various Vehicons, Heatwave, Shockwave (Fall of Seibertron)and the Insecticons (Fall of Seibertron) and the hardest working, blue collar voice actor in the industry - Steve Blum.
Steve will also be appearing at BotCon alongside fellow Rescue Bots cast members as well as San Diego Comic-Con.
For all those of use who were unable to make it to Universal Orlando Resort for the grand opening of Transformers: The Ride 3D, Seibertron.com owner Ryan not only took plenty of pictures, he has now uploaded a playlist with thirteen videos from the event!
Take a look at a selection below, including the walkthrough, chat with Peter Cullen and Frank Welker, Steven Spielberg, and check them all out by clicking here.
Pop and geek culture website ICv2 has published a three-part, in-depth and interesting interview with IDW's CEO Ted Adams, in which they touch upon various aspects of the comics industry and the company's faring. There isn't any specific focus on one franchise, but Transformers does show up in a couple of answers, quoted below. You can check out all three parts of the interview here, here and here.
[W]e launched our IDW Limited business last year. The idea is that these are extremely high end books; they are at a minimum signed and numbered, they come in really nice gravity boxes, in some cases they have original pieces of art in the books themselves. These are really high value items aimed at a pretty small segment of the audience who’s going to want that highly collectible item.
We launched with a couple of Transformers books and a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles book and had a great response to them. Then we started to hear from the direct market that these were books they would also like to offer to their customers. We’ve since figured out how to do something similar to what we did with the Artist’s Editions where now the IDW Limited books are available through the direct market through Previews just like the rest of our products.
And you mentioned our long-term evergreen brand, which is Transformers. We’ve been in business with Hasbro going on seven or eight years. We’re well into the second year of the re-launches of both of the Transformers books--More than Meets the Eye and Robots in Disguise. And those books, like the Turtles, have rock solid, steady sales. The creative teams on those books are hitting home run after home run and the fans are really responding to that material. Another great franchise for us.
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