One Foot In The Dead Universe: John Barber and James Roberts Interview
Monday, February 10th, 2014 12:35PM CSTCategories: Comic Book News, People News, Interviews
Posted by: Dr Va'al Views: 16,787
Now that Dark Cybertron is well and underway, we here at Iacon Underground were fortunate enough to get to ask IDW writers John Barber and James Roberts some questions about the series so far and both Robots in Disguise and going forward!
IU: Thank you both so much for taking the time to talk to us! Now that we’re halfway into the event, what’s your favorite part of DARK CYBERTRON so far? What upcoming part of the series are you looking forward to finally seeing the light of day?
John: Well, we’re a little past halfway, but that’s my fault for not writing this quicker… it’s funny, because of the way this comic came together, that so much of it kinda crushes together in my head… it’s hard to remember what’s out, what’s done but not out, and what’s still in progress… Early on, I think the combination of Phil Jimenez and Andrew Griffith in issue 1 was really exciting to see. I’ve known Phil a little bit for a while, but never actually worked with him or even spent any real time talking to him before we started this comic—and it turned out we grew up really close by each other. And Andrew, I love working with. That first issue coming together was really cool.
As far as looking ahead—I think the last act of the story, the last third is really strong. Issue 9 is really crazy action, and I think James and I found a good rhythm to the writing there. And issue 10 is a lot of fun, there’s sort of a breath to take, before the end comes.
James: We’ve just signed off Part 9, and it was even more frenetic and action-packed than it seemed at the script stage. Andrew had the unenviable task of cramming about 50 characters over those 22 pages, and the majority of panels – I’ll say it again: the majority of panels – have about five people in. It’s testament to his artistry that he can make all that look natural and not cluttered.
I think Part 10 is going to be popular, particularly with those people who were anticipating a more traditional crossover where the two casts mix it up early on. MTMTE and RiD have always been defined, in part, by their separateness, by the two stories happening at arm’s length from each other, so John and I wanted to approach the reunification of the overall cast slowly — really build to it so that it forms part of the climax of the story. And really, issues nine through 12 are the climax. 88 pages of everything colliding.
Part 10 is also special because Alex Milne is back on pencils for. I’m flagging up that fact not to disparage the likes of Livio Ramondelli or James Riaz or Atilio Rojo, super-talents one and all, but because Alex makes his “comeback” in an issue of MTMTE, and for lots of people, MTMTE is Alex. So that just feels right. And, y’know, in Part 10 John and I had fun mixing up the casts and – really important, this – playing with some core post-CHAOS continuity. We get to reference and progress plots that began in the first 22 issues of the two ongoings.
So yeah, Part 10 I’m looking forward to (even if Parts 11 and 12 are the ones that will kick people in the guts); as for my favorite moment so far… Phil and Andrew drawing the Lost Light crew in Part 1. Seeing those pages take shape made the crossover seem real to me. Oh, and working with John over an extended period – as two writers, rather than writer and editor – has been fun, especially as we entered the final furlong and all the scenes started to blend. In a good way!
IU: Are you planning more crossovers for the future, or are you happy to have your respective books to yourselves for a while?
John: I think we’re good for a while. I don’t think we’re eager to do another massive event like this, but we’ll continue to have little bits that carry over from one series to the others. DARK CYBERTRON was a big deal to us; we’d been apart for about two years, which—in comic book terms—is an eternity, so doing something really big to draw everything together and tell a huge-scale story was very appealing, but it’s not something we want to overdo.
James: We’re both very aware that repeating these events too often might affect the forward momentum of our books. That said, unlike “Year One” (or however we’re referring to the period of time between CHAOS and DARK CYBERTRON), when the two casts were cut adrift and unable to communicate, at least now they can keep in touch with each other. So there’s more scope for… I don’t know what you’d call it. Everyday crossovers. Ground-level crossovers. But fans of huge, tum-thumping, after-this-nothing-will-be-the-same epics needn’t despair: you can have those without yoking the two books together.