Seibertron.com Interviews Simon Furman & Joe Ng!
Monday, October 18th, 2004 12:46PM CDTCategory: Site News
First up is the interview with Mr. Furman, which was conducted by Seibertronian alex_kindom:
ALEX_KINGDOM: First of all Iâ€™d like to congratulate you on a great first issue of War Within: The Age of Wrath. Something that stood out for me is how well your action-packed writing and Joe Ng's dynamic artwork complimented each other. How has it been working with such a fresh new talent?
SIMON FURMAN: Working with Joe has been a blast. I've kind of seen all his potential realized on WW3. I'd worked with Joe on a few issues of Energon, and while the talent was there to see, it hadn't quite matured in terms of page layout, panel composition and storytelling. I could almost see him improve, issue-by-issue, and then, suddenly, it was like BANG -- WW3 #1... amazing, breathtaking. Wow... WOW! I know it's always tempting in these interviews just to automatically say the artist was this good or this amazing, but I'm hypercritical when it comes to WW. If I werenâ€™t happy, everyone would know. And if you think issue #1 was good, wait until see the stuff on #2 & 3. Joe's a rising star and no mistake. I'm just glad to have got him on WW now, while he's creatively boiling over.
AK: It was interesting to see that Ultra Magnus had formed a strong bond with Grimlock, this isnâ€™t something many of us would have expected considering Ultra Magnusâ€™s 'good soldier' attitude. What would you attribute this to?
SF: I think Magnus is a somewhat overlooked character, and one that's not so easy just to buttonhole. Sure, he's the 'good soldier,' like you say, but as much as he almost reveres Prime and his capacity for mercy and compassion, there's another part of him that really wants cut loose and wade in, like Grimlock. We're going to show a little bit of that Magnus in the wrap up to WW3. He's always lived in Prime's shadow somewhat, figuring that's how he ought to be, and now he'll really start to emerge as his own character (which is maybe a little more like Grimlock!).
AK: I think itâ€™s great how you, James â€˜Brad Mickâ€™ McDonough and Adam Patyk have worked together to create continuity between War Within and the ongoing G1 Comic. In fact there do seem to be some reoccurring themes, such as religious zealots like the Fallen and Sunstorm, and Megatron returning with clone armies of seekers in both titles. Is this a coincidence or is there a link between these events?
SF: James, Adam and I are working hard to make sure our various G1 series (from the ongoing to WW to Micromasters) work seamlessly together to create one whole story. So there are definitely links. The clone troopers are one such. The WW flashback in G1 #4 (and its pick up in WW3 #1) is another. But overall, we're working within the same larger framework, setting up stuff that has a payoff; either in G1 ongoing or retroactively in WW or MM. We are also working closely with Hasbro on this stuff. Expect more crossovers and cross-series teasers.
AK: Hasbro has stated that the Dreamwave continuity is now the official Transformers continuity. How do you feel about rewriting Transformers history from scratch, especially as it is a history you had so much involvement in creating?
SF: It's good, I'm very happy to be a part of it. We played it fairly fast and loose with continuity in the original G1 (UK/US) series, largely because we never expected anyone to be analyzing the stuff 20 years on. So this time it's a chance to do it right, as if we mean it. It was also useful when it came to writing TRANSFORMERS: THE ULTIMATE GUIDE, as it meant I could focus on a cohesive through-line for the whole evolving saga.
AK: With The War Within, are you enjoying not having to work around an ever growing toy line like you do with Energon and had to back in you Marvel days? What kind of freedoms does this afford you?
SF: It's nice to be able to stage characters into the story at my own pace, and pretty much at whim. It also gives me a chance to cherry-pick characters I either like already or just never got a chance to write first time around. This extends to intro-ing characters like the Turbomasters who never made it into the original comic(s) at all. But best of all you get to write the characters before this or that gimmick practically defined who and what they were. It's kind of Transformers Unplugged!
AK: Dreamwave comics are aimed primarily at an older audience than the Marvel comics. How does working on Dreamwave titles differ from your work on the Marvel title? Does this allow you more creative freedom and the opportunity to take more risks?
SF: Y'know, I never really felt I was writing for a younger audience back in the Marvel days. I always pitch my stories at a level I hope can be enjoyed by all ages. One of my first rules of writing for kids is never write down to them. Just tell solid, exciting stories with interested, layered characters. Other than a few stylistic differences, I don't feel I'm particularly telling a different category of TF stories at Dreamwave. Some might say by Marvel UK/US stories were, if anything, somewhat more uncompromising.
AK: Are there any characters or Transformers series you really want to begiven the opportunity to write stories about? Have you any plans in the pipeline you can tell us about?
SF: Right now, there's no particular story I'm bursting to tell that I'm not already telling (either in Energon or WW). I'm like a kid in a toy shop (literally!). In fact, two toy shops. I'm not sure I have the time or mental space to take on a third series. As it was, when I was doing the Universe comics as well, I found it quite a struggle to switch tracks and deal with that kind of multiversal set-up. It was fun, but it was taxing, juggling so many characters and generations. I do have a new series upcoming from Dreamwave, but it's not exactly a huge departure. More news on this soon!
AK: A lot of your work has involved Unicron and the Quintessons, and it seems like it will again. What is it you like so much about these shady characters, and what is it you plan to do with them in the future?
SF: I just love the kind of big mythos-type stuff, so of course I want to play with those characters. As a comics reader, it always used to be the biggest thrill to discover some behind-the-scenes character has been either manipulating our hero(es) or building, via incidental scenes, to a big plan/attack. I love to drop that stuff in. With Energon, I had my behind-the-scenes story and incidental stuff simmering from the word-go, and it's the first time for a while I've felt completely in control of all the pieces on my chess board. Issue #31's cover even features a kind of chess-board scene. The Quints are going to be big players in WW and G1. That's all I can say for the moment. But don't expect us just to rehash stuff that's gone before. As for Unicron, that's pretty much James's baby at the moment. But who know? Maybe I'll get to play too!
AK: You've been an important part of Transformers mythology since the beginning in 1984, what is it that originally attracted you to the title and what drives you to continue writing Transformers stories 20 years on?
SF: Sorry to shatter any illusions, but what originally attracted me to Transformers was the paycheck. Back in 1985, it was just another job (and I had expectations it would stand the test of time). But, slowly but surely, I got dragged in much as the fans did. The reason? It has to be a rich cast of characters. Every one has an almost infinite number of stories in them, and you start to care about them. I think that's why the brand/concept has endured. It's the characters, first and foremost. That fact that they're cool toys doesn't hurt either. Nowadays, I feel somewhat honored to be such an, arguably, integral part of its history. It's kind of defined and furthered my career and I owe TF a lot. That I'm still here, still turning out TF stories, still having a blast, is just the icing on the cake.
Next up is the interview with Mr. Ng, which was conducted by Seibertronian Mkall:
MKALL: Was The Age of Wrath the only idea you had for WWI 3, or were there other ideas that were turned down/put on the back burner? If there were other ideas, what were they?
JOE NG: All the story ideas for WWI3 were from the minds of the writers. I basically was just tapped as the artist. I think when I hopped on to the project; they already had the basic story for War Within made up.
M: How did you decide which characters to use in each story? Some are obvious, like Slamdance being the reporter, but why use the Turbomasters instead of the Throttlebots for example?
JN: Again, this was something that Simon, James and Adam decided on before I was even involved. I'm sure the Throttlebots will have their share of the spotlight, but visually, I think the Turbomasters are more interesting to look at. In general the Throttlebots all look very similar in looks and transformations, whereas the Turbomasters for the most part all look and transform differently. It's small thing, but it's something that made it a little easier for me to differentiate each character from one another.
M: What research, happens before a transformer makes it into a storyline?
JN: You'll have to ask Simon that question as well. But I suppose it depends on what kind of storyline it is. Does it require certain characters with certain abilities to make a part of the story flow a little easier? Is a relationship between one character and another character something that needs to be touched on for future stories to happen? I think these are questions that need to be asked before introducing new characters to the series.
M: Each series of the WWI leaves the readers with unanswered questions, which questions is the WWI Age of Wrath series going to answer? Which questions are you going to leave unanswered?
JN: I think the biggest question that will most likely be answered in this series is what exactly happened to Prime and Megatron. As for unanswered questions that the story will bring up, you'll have to wait and see I guess :)
M: As the artist of the series, how much input did you have in the actual story creation?
JN: I leave the entire story telling to the writers. They have a very clear vision of what they want, and I just get out of their way and let them tell the story they want to ell. I do get to insert some visual input when it comes to layout and how different shots should look, and Simon is always open to my suggestions.
M: The artwork is awesome as always, do you find yourself limited by deadlines? If there were no deadlines, would the artwork be even better?
JN: First off, thanks for the comment! I think if I were given a year to draw each book, it would look 10, 20, 30 times better. Too bad DW would not only lose a lot of money from it, but the fans wouldn't be too impressed with the scheduling either, I'd be spending most of that year dodging all the tomatoes thrown at me. It's a balancing act a lot of times. You have to make sure you draw as quickly as possible, but at the same time keep the quality as high as you can. I honestly don't know how Don does it! It's a little difficult at times because with the Transformers, they require so much detailing. It can get tedious, but it's very satisfying in the end.
M: Upon close inspection of issue one of the series, there was a mention of Seibertron and TFW, obviously indicating two of the major Transformers fandoms. What made you decide to add them in? Will there be any more of these references in the future?
JN: I don't know what you're talking about. There were Easter eggs in the book?!?! That's just blasphemy! Seriously though, I'm a huge fan of Transformers, and I'm just giving little nod's to where I came from, the friends that I've met, and in a lot of cases, places that I still visit from time to time.
M: Are there any more WWI series are being planned? Are there any details you can give us of the future series?
JN: I'm sure Simon still has a lot of story ideas up his sleeve about future War Within titles. But I think he's keeping stuff like that very secret for now.
M: How did you implement the design of WWI, or any project for that matter? Do you start from pane 1, and then move to pane 2 once 1 is completely done?
JN: I always start with a small layout of how the whole page will look. From there, I would transfer it onto the larger comic boards, starting with drawing the biggest figure/panel first. This way I can focus all my energy to the "money shot" of the page. As my energy starts to run low, as the day gets shorter, I would work on the smaller panels that don't need the details that the larger panels require.
M: When do you finally feel you can send your work off to be colored?
JN: Usually when my body is about to fail me and I start to pass out on my desk ;)
A big thank you goes out to Simon and Joe for taking the time out of their busy schedules to answer our questions.