Question about The Club's story creation process

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Question about The Club's story creation process

Postby Mkall » Sat Aug 01, 2015 10:09 am

Weapon: Twin Sonic Cannons
There's something that's been bugging me for the last couple of years when it comes to Club stories whether its in the Botcon comic or in the monthly issues.

It's obvious that The Club has to plan at least a full year in advance (probably longer) to get the figures they want produced for next year. I suspect that the Botcon 2016 figures are already going through the back-and-forth with the manufacturer.

Anyways, I'm wondering about the lore side of things. For example, is the accompanying story worked on after the toy choices have been finalized, or is it that a cool sounding story idea pops up and The Club tries to find characters to fill the roles needed?

Or is it a little of both?
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Re: Question about The Club's story creation process

Postby TF_JW » Sat Aug 01, 2015 2:56 pm

It really is a bit of both, and varies greatly with the figures/stories that are being discussed at the time.

For BotCon, usually a theme develops as the toys are conceptualized. Sometimes this theme is something simple and overly broad - Like "Invasion!" for example. That idea was originally slated for 2011 as a time travel story, but through talks with Hasbro and the former Animated show crew, Stunti-Con Job came to the forefront. (And that set was entirely toys first, story later. Because it was such a self-explanatory theme for the box set.)

"Invasion!" then evolved from a time travel to an inter-dimensional story when a new batch of toys were explored. And as more and more toys were accepted from the many concepts pitched, the story solidified itself.

Machine Wars was, well, weird. Obviously Fun Pub had the A Flash Forward story running, which seemed to present itself well as a lead-in to a story about some cataclysmic war on Cybertron. With the way Jhaixus was presented there, there was going to be some kind of massive battle. As that story was being developed, Machine Wars Starscream was pitched for the Invasion! set (since the Terradive mold was well-received, it was paid special attention and had about a half-dozen concepts created with it as a base. Starscream was one of those, even though how he'd fit the "Invasion!" theme wasn't addressed at the time). The toys and story behind the Machine Wars set blossomed from there... And perhaps blossomed too far as it needed two issues in which to be told rather than something much simpler and streamlined.

Pirates vs. Knights was definitely a theme that was in place before the toys. A lot of concepts were explored for that theme. After the toys were set though, that's when the story began to be fleshed out. From the start, it was known that some kind of plot twist was going to send the pirates to a Cybertron that they were not planning on attacking. Character and story notes were sent to Marty Isenberg at that point and he did an amazing job getting everything to fit into place. I still chuckle at his comment after receiving the final page of the script with Hunter and Shokaract. Essentially it was just "I have no idea what is going on here, but I assume you do."

For Cybertron's Most Wanted, it was toys first before a theme. Battletrap had been conceptualized during the many pitches for pirate characters. Packrat was mocked-up as soon as the first publicity photos for Rattrap were released. SG Stepper was floating on the periphery ever since he appeared in the 2012 BotCon comic. And Oilmaster was thought up fairly early as a way to outdo Scorponok from the previous year. So then with a thug, an evil Autobot, a thief, and a bounty hunter, a "Most Wanted" theme seemed obvious. At the same time, the Waruders and Diaclone concepts had been sitting on the table of potential toys. So when the idea of the criminals becoming the unsuspecting heroes was thought of, those toys were grabbed and added to the souvenirs.

So there you go. The BotCon comics usually go hand-in-hand with the story. Since the process of narrowing down the final list of toys usually spans a lentgh of time, it's difficult not thinking of what kind of story would bring things together.

For the Club fiction, the story is usually told a little more for the sake of the story. Sure the Club freebie or Club store figure is usually included, but it's much easier working a single figure into the story than 12 or 13 or however many figures are released at BotCon any given year. So for the Club comics, the story and toy are sometimes developed separately, and then the toy added to the story as brainstorming progresses. Side Burn and Runabout/Runamuck are good examples of how the exclusive toy characters were woven into the story after the groundwork for the narratives had already been started. Same with Another Light and the figure to be featured in its pages.

The exceptions to that approach are Rampage and Trans-Mutate. Those toys were developed a couple months before work on the story even began. The characters and setting were shopped around to several authors, including Trent and Greg who ended up being the ones to take the helm.

I hope that gives you the insight you were looking for?
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Re: Question about The Club's story creation process

Postby Mkall » Sat Aug 01, 2015 3:05 pm

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That's great insight. Thank you very much!
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Re: Question about The Club's story creation process

Postby Sabrblade » Sun Aug 02, 2015 7:59 pm

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What about the prose stories? Do those go through the same process described above for the magazine comics?
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Re: Question about The Club's story creation process

Postby TF_JW » Mon Aug 03, 2015 4:25 am

Pretty much. Although with them, they're usually even more free from needing the Club/Con toys added to their pages. Obviously the characters are added where appropriate, but for those it is very much all about the story.

An exception being Lio Convoy. Fun Pub knew that they wanted a series of prose about him, and so asked Jim Sorenson to craft plot around the toy's bio.
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