Smooth Talkin' With Don Figueroa
Hello and welcome to Smooth Talkin'. He has become one of the most well known Transformers artists ever and has only been drawing the professionally for a couple of years. His works include the web-comic Macromasters, Dreamwaveâ€™s War Within, Armada, and Generation One; heâ€™s got a Beast Wars comic coming out from IDW in early 2006, ladies and gentlemen, Mr. Don Allen Figueroa!
Professor Smooth: Thanks for joining us, Don.
Don Figueroa: Thank YOU for Having me:)
Professor Smooth: Macromasters
Don Figueroa: That would be cool if possible. I would love to be able to do and finish my Macromasters story if given the chance. But after 4 years, it's going to require extensive updating, not only story wise, but designs as well. I would also need to condense it a lot to fit as a mini-series format, but I don't think I can go any less than 6 issues with it.
Professor Smooth: Dreamwave
Don Figueroa: The War Within Series is possibly my favorite memory of DW. It was a great honor to retro-design almost all of the main characters. and it was a great relief that the designs were well received by the fandom..well, mostly.
Professor Smooth: Transformers have battled with bullets, lasers, pointy chunks of debris, axes made of pure energy, Cybertronian martial arts, and (famously), with their bare hands. With you on the art, theyâ€™ve also used the Steve Austinâ€™s Stone Cold Stunner and the Jake â€œThe Snakeâ€ Robertsâ€™ DDT. Were these unique offensive maneuvers called for in Jamesâ€™ script or was that â€œall-Don?â€
Don Figueroa: I'm a big wrestling fan, and I always thought it be cool to see giant robots bust-out some of the moves. so I asked James and Adam to include some crazy-ass WWF/E style fight scenes if possible and so when the opportunity arose. I asked them to let me handle the Sunstorm/Jetfire fight. They agreed as long as the outcome will be Jetfire ending up face-down and getting to use his antenna guns on Stormy.
Professor Smooth: What work of yours did Dreamwave profit from without paying you?
Don Figueroa: Hmm, the amount adds up to about 2 or so month's worth of work, so that covers the last things I did for DW which are G1#10, G1#11, and some other stuff, like additional MTMTE stuff for the annual, various covers (I forgot which exactly). BW#1 didnâ€™t isnâ€™t even included on that because by the time I sent it, the place was shut down.
Professor Smooth: What are your thoughts on, in the immediate aftermath of Dreamwaveâ€™s bankruptcy, Rich Johnston publicizing the exact amounts owed to everyone at Dreamwave and airing all the other dirty laundry coming out of the situation? Were you glad people knew the truth or would you have rather it stayed private?
Don Figueroa: I think it should have stayed private IMO. But it didnâ€™t really bother me much when it did become public because the Fans got to see where the owner's priorities were.
Professor Smooth: Pat Lee
Don Figueroa: He was actually working on Marvel stuff months before the company went under. Remember FF/X-men? It didnâ€™t bother me much then, lots of folks do that. I thought maybe DW was being sold to Marvel or something (like with Wildstorm and DC) or maybe taking in work for them to keep DW afloat. I just didnâ€™t know that the captain was taking the only lifeboat after he steered the ship towards an iceberg.
Professor Smooth: Another Pat Lee question: Newsarama recently interviewed Pat Lee on the Dreamwave bankruptcy. Would you care to comment on any of his, well, comments?
Don Figueroa: I don't think I can fault the Interviewer for what seems like a bunch of tee-ball questions, more likely Pat just picked and chose what he wanted to answer or perhaps there was an agreement beforehand that he can't be grilled on certain matters in the interview.
Professor Smooth: Joe Quesada, Editor in Chief of Marvel Comics was asked about his decision to hire Pat Lee. He refused to defend his decision. As an artist, can you explain what the appeal to his artwork is?
Don Figueroa: He's a big name, I heard he's pretty fast and he's got a team behind him that do inks, colors and background art.
Professor Smooth: Final Pat Lee Question: Do you think that the TF fanbase has criticized Pat Lee too harshly? Would cutting back on the near-endless Pat Lee be something youâ€™d personally like to see?
Don Figueroa: I think Lisa Simpson and Paul Anka summed it up best in a Song once...
Professor Smooth: Devilâ€™s Due
Don Figueroa: Well, When I first heard about DW closing, I dropped Josh Blaylock a line -having done some cover work for him before-I told him I'm available to do stuff. Fed-Ex was also coming after me due to some BS technicalities about sender responsibilities, so I could really use some work then.
Professor Smooth: Crisis?
Don Figueroa: The only "TF: Crisis.." I know of was that awesome spread Jake Isenberg did based on the George Perez/Alex Ross collaboration. I never heard of a storyline about it, official or otherwise. Though, I donâ€™t think I'd want to see something like that. As with the original DC 'Crisis' story line, by condensing all the TF continuities into one main Universe, you have to erase lots of characters and would render years of stories void.
Professor Smooth: How would you handle that project, art-wise?
Don Figueroa: Same way I would always do, with Lots and lots of "unnecessary" details, cameos and Easter-eggs.
Professor Smooth: IDW
Don Figueroa: There are some scenes that are similar to the old one, but it is a brand NEW Story. None of the DW pages were reused.
Professor Smooth: Do you have any TF projects lined up after Beast Wars?
Don Figueroa: Maybe. I hope so; I'm not a bit tired of drawing Transformers yet
Professor Smooth: How would you compare IDWâ€™s approach to the Transformers artwork to that of Dreamwave?
Don Figueroa: It's always nice to see different takes on TFs. I always tried to develop my own style, even during my time at DW. Which why I'm puzzled as to why some folks think I draw like Pat. We donâ€™t even draw Prime's head the same way. If anything, my artwork was more influenced by James Raiz' and Guido's works
Professor Smooth: Dreamwave was notorious for (among other things) demanding their artists to conform to their â€œhouseâ€ style. Youâ€™ve mentioned before that they actually altered your artwork on occasion. Do you expect anything similar from IDW?
Don Figueroa: I donâ€™t think this will be the case in IDW, They've let me draw the way I've always done which will eventually help me develop more and hopefully improve.
Professor Smooth: Few TF fans agree on anything. However, the OTFCC â€™04 Mega Litho is widely praised as a spectacular piece of Transformers art (which, Iâ€™m proud to say, I purchased the first one available for at OTFCC). Youâ€™ve mentioned that there were plans to make further lithographs to accompany it. Is there any chance that these might be produced by IDW?
Don Figueroa: Thanks, Glad you liked it. It was one of those projects I did that was quite a task but it was enjoyable at the same time. Espen did an amazing job coloring that monster. I only wished it was inked, but nobody would touch it. I'll probably take a stab at it one day.
Professor Smooth: As both an artist and a TF fan, whatâ€™s your opinion of the multiple covers that have been (and are continuing to be) produced from Devilâ€™s Due (Nearly 10 covers for TF vs. GI:Joe #1e, Dreamwave (eight covers for G1 issue #1), and now, IDW (at least four covers for each issue)? At some point does it seem too much or is it just a chance for fans to have more choices?
Don Figueroa: Alternate covers -usually- only happens on the 1st or #0 issues of a series, thank goodness. The different covers are just there to provide the fans choices on their purchases. Itâ€™s not a prerequisite to buy all the available covers to enjoy that particular issue, but some fans do prefer certain characters, artist or even allegiances on the covers. The choice is also theirs whether to buy all of it or not.
Professor Smooth: Fandom
Don Figueroa: I havenâ€™t been to a lot of conventions but when I do go, the people who would come by the table are really nice. Most of the acquaintances I've met are through the Internet. Some I consider good friends and I would chat with them occasionally on AIM.
Professor Smooth: Movie
Don Figueroa: I've asked some folks if I can be the "Squished pedestrian #2".... no response yet
Professor Smooth: Misc.
Don Figueroa: A complete, mint G1 Fortress Maximus, worth every penny IMO. The only toy I ever had buyer's remorse afterwards was Star Convoy. Not because he was eventually reissued two years later, but I didnâ€™t think the toy was all that great. Nice looking robot mode though
Professor Smooth: Better Optimus Prime voice: Cullen or Chalk?
Don Figueroa: As much as I've enjoyed Peter Cullen as THE Prime, Garry Chalk has been A Prime for much longer now I think. I've gotten used to hearing him as Optimus Prime
Professor Smooth: Better Megatron voice: Welker or Kaye?
Don Figueroa: I like David Kaye's take. He's got a more regal, narcissistic, evil-genius sounding voice, Frank Welker's Megs sounds very evil alright, but I like the cold, calculating tone of BW Megs
Professor Smooth: What is your opinion of the Armada/Energon/Cybertron cartoon seriesâ€™?
Don Figueroa: I didnâ€™t really caught much of Armada and Energon due to Cartoon Network putting them on 6AM, my VCR's long gone and I didnâ€™t have TiVo at the time so I only seen it on occasion. I'll get the DVDs when it comes out though.
Professor Smooth: Once and for all, and this is the big question, how should we pronounce your last name?
Don Figueroa: Fig-eh-row-uh
Professor Smooth: Thank you so much for taking the time for the interview. Donâ€™s Beast Wars comic comes out from IDW in early 2006, pick it up.
Don Figueroa: Thank you, it's been a pleasure.