A couple of updates from the world of the Transformers Bumblebee Movie - the sixth to be produced and released, but yet unsure if the sixth in the series (even as a prequel, it's believed more and more this may be part of a new narrative timeline) - in the form of a new interview with screenwriter Christina Hodson courtesy of Den of Geek.
“I always wanted to see me be the hero,” Hodson says. “I wanted to see me kick ass. I mean, not literally. I had no desire to be an actor, but I wanted to have those role models and those heroes. I think what's really fun is that [Bumblebee] is a big, cool, fun, action movie the boys are going to love, but girls love action, too, and this is a chance for girls to see themselves in the movie. Which I think is a really special and important thing.”
“Charlie is really our entry point into the movie. She doesn't know anything about Transformers,” says Hodson, calling Bumblebee “custom-made for people who are new to the franchise.” “But, of course, if you're a fan, you'll get wonderful little Easter eggs that you'll get to enjoy that other people won't.”
The prequel film offers a chance to get to see the Bumblebee character, who Hodson admits has always been her favorite, in a new light.
“This is really an origin story for Bumblebee,” she says, “but the character traits are all the same. They're all there. His loyalty, his kindness. He's fun-loving and really he's been the one who has always had that special bond with humans, whether it's Sam or someone else; that was something that I wanted to lean into a bit and see where and how that began.”
Additionally, we also learn of some reshoots happening for the movie, with cast members Hailee Steinfeld and Jason Drucker (Charlie and Otis Watson) as well as the Volkswagen alt-mode for the titular character, as per the actors' Instagram stories.
Were all of you excited out the new Bumblebee trailer? Well Travis Knight has done an interview with Empire Online on the trailer, revealing some behind the scenes as well as some insight on the movie to come.
Some highlights is the character of Memo (played by Jorge Lendeborg Jr.) who is Charlie's new neighbor.
"Memo is new to town, he's Charlie's next door neighbour and someone who we get to know as she gets to know him at the same time. We see their relationship bloom and grow and be challenged; they have a lovely friendship in the film but the core of the movie is the relationship between Charlie and Bee."
We also get confirmation Starscream will appear, possibly as a background character.
We're swiftly disabused of that notion thanks to a barrage of familiar faces including Decepticon premiereship players Shockwave, Starscream and Blitzwing, all in their original, first generation forms.
We also get a little heartfelt speech about Transformers to Knight.
"I grew up with these Transformers and the story that I wanted to tell was something that was resonant and evocative of those original wave of Transformers stories. I loved those things so much. They were new, they were magical, they were wondrous. They connected with me emotionally and they were exciting to watch. That's the kind of film I wanted to make here."
Knight also heavily implies Wheeljack is going to make an appearance in a G1-esque body.
"There's a lot going on," laughs Knight. "If I was going to make a Transformers film I wanted to give nods to some of the things that I loved most about the series to begin with and for me seeing those original designs on Shockwave and Soundwave and Ravage and Wheeljack and all those different characters was a really exciting opportunity to take the audience back to that initial wave of Transformers and to evoke the same feeling that they evoked in me. I was pretty giddy bringing those guys to life."
This slipped under our radar in previous days, but there is a new interview with IDW Publishing's Publishing President Greg Goldstein, courtesy of ICv2, in which no actual new information comes out - but we do have confirmation on two major points that people have been speculating about the Transformers (and Hasbro Universe, I suppose) comic once the current continuity ends this October.
Namely: yes, there will be a reboot, set for some point in 2019; and yes, the licence from Hasbro has been renewed, the ending happening at the same time as the renewal was a coincidence at best. REad the relevant extracts from the piece below, and head here for the full story.
A couple of quick questions on licenses. You mentioned how you’re wrapping up your Hasbro storyline. Was that done in conjunction with the time for renewal of the license?
Yeah. It's funny, I've seen some commentary on that. We've been in business with Hasbro for 12 years. We love the relationship. They are a great partner. We try to deliver the best possible books month in and month out on not just Transformers, but on GI Joe and on My Little Pony. We had a great Jem and the Holograms series. Jem will be back. They're probably going to say, "Why is Greg pre‑announcing these things?" In any event, no. Sometimes, it's easy to extrapolate incorrect information, so no, the Transformers line and the other titles continue.
We’ve got three monthly Marvel books as of January 2019, the opportunity to do some specials, maybe one‑shots and some other things with Marvel. They're very excited about it, we're very excited about it.
Our Transformers reboot for 2019 is going to be great.
We've got some pretty exciting projects on the Star Trek front.
[Teenage Mutant Ninja] Turtles is heading to issue 100. We have the longest‑running Turtles series in the history of the brand. The brand's 35 years old next year.
Since early this morning, Hasbro has been taking questions on their official Instagram page about the upcoming Transformers War for Cybertron: Siege toyline. And a few of those questions are now up with accompanying answers, on Hasbro's Instagram story! Only a few questions have been answered so far, and it's unknown how many more will yet be answered, but even in the ones currently released there are some answers worth sharing.
The first and biggest (get it?) answer Hasbro released is on the subject of a Titan class figure being released in the Siege toyline. While an entirely direct answer wasn't quite given, it seems that a Titan is effectively confirmed for the line!
Another question asked about the increased sculpted detail in the line (as most noticeably seen on Chromia). Hasbro's answer confirms that the greater detail is an intentional choice, and claims it helps to "enhance [the] Cybertronian mode" of characters.
In response to a question on the whereabouts of the Decepticons, Hasbro answered (unnecessarily indirectly) that Decepticons would be revealed in the future so stay tuned.
Hasbro also stated, replying to a question of if the toys would be available on Amazon, that the line "will be available at all major retailers and online in 2019!"
And there you have it! Those are all the (actual) questions answered so far - as of this time Hasbro is still taking questions, so you can submit your own questions (and check for more answers) on their Instagram story here! Check out screenshots of the Q&A below, and share your thoughts in the Energon Pub Forums. And as always, stay tuned to Seibertron.com!
The ACG Hong Kong 2018 show is underway and while it is outside of Japan, Takara is there in full form (since many Takara products are sold in Hong Kong through Hasbro Asia). The upcoming Masterpiece figures MP 17+ Anime Prowl, MP 29+ Anime Shockwave, MP 34S Shadow Panther and MP 42 Cordon were on display and we got photos of them from the Transformers Never Die Facebook group.
Prowl an Shockwave are redecos, Shadow Panther comes with different accessories from Cheetor (including a mutant mask) and Cordon is a slight retool of Sunstreaker.
As we know already, this Prowl figure will also be released simultaneously in the US and an interview between Seibertron and Hasbro confirmed that this will happen more frequently from here on out. Due to the brand unification going both ways, Hasbro will now be importing Takara Masterpiece figures themselves and selling them through specialty retailers (like Entertainment Earth, BBTS, ect) with a wraparound cover for English words. We have transcribed the interview for you below, you will find it after the images of the Masterpiece figure display.
Ryan (interviewer) – Speaking of Masterpiece, Takara Tomy is releasing Beast Wars Megatron – is that coming from you guys or not?
Ben (Transformers Brand Manager) – It’s a partnership we have with Takara now, so Hasbro are now importing the Takara Masterpiece items stateside. You will see a box that will go around the Takara Tomy original packaging, like a slip sleeve sort of thing, that will bring our brands together. It will be the exact release you would’ve expected in Japan, at the same time you would’ve gotten it in Japan.
Ryan – Is it a product you worked on together?
Ben – There’s definitely more collaboration going on, not to the level of Movie Masterpiece, but in general you see the unification of our brands, product lines, the Masterpiece line that Takara is creating is our next step in working together.
Another of Seibertron.com's big interview videos from last weekend's San Diego Comic Con 2018 event features the Hasbro Transformers brand team, with the awesome/gruesome twosome of Ben Montano and John 'Hasbro' Warden answering questions as much as they're allowed to on the War for Cybertron: Siege toyline for the first half, our thoughts about the reveals and the future events in which more product will be shown (worldwide), then moving on to some Masterpiece line questions and US distribution of those figures (they're all coming over!), their hopes for the Bumblebee Movie and what's next in fiction.
The full video is posted below for your viewing pleasure, and we've provided an almost verbatim transcript beneath that for ease of parsing and understanding the points made in the interview. Check it all out, and let us know what you think in the Energon Pub discussion boards!
Ryan Yzquierdo (Seibertron) - Seibertron.com Alex Valente (Va'al) - Seibertron.com John Warden – Hasbro Design Manager Ben Montano – Hasbro Marketing Manager
Va'al: "We saw today the reveals for the War for Cybertron Siege stuff, and you've said it's a very one sided war with only the Autobots revealed for now – when are we to expect more stuff (Decepticons in particular, ndr)?"
Ben: "Later this fall, there are some really cool conventions coming up around the world and we have a global tour coming up on our plan and we'll have a lot more to share. I can't say right now exactly when but stay tuned. Best non-answer answer I can give you."
John: "But I can say that if there were enemies they would be very cool and defy all expectations."
Va'al: "We've seen the different size classes for the line (Battle Master, Micro Master, Deluxe, Voyager, Leader, Weaponizer). IS Weaponizer only for the deluxe class, or will we see it across the line?"
John: "The Weaponizer classs robot is a deluxe class character, there will be other in the line than Cog, it makes sense from [?] - take Cog, he transformed into a bunch of weapons and vehicle, so it makes sense for that size to work with other characters to hold. So right now, deluxe."
Ryan: "One of the comments on our YouTube videos asked if Cog can also turn into the invidual robots that made up the character originally, can he still do that?"
John (with Ben) – No, he's not a Duocon. We'll put the actual vehicle and robot mode in the case soon, we need to move things around. He has a dedicated vehicle mode that can split into two, and he does have a third mode in being able to be all the weapons – that's the Weaponizer."
Va'al: "Combiner Wars had Devastator, Titans Return had Trypticon, Power of the Primes Predaking. Are there any plans to have something that size or with that idea in the line, at any point in the trilogy?"
Ben (with John) – Yes, that's our intention. Somebody fitting of the battleground. Fans have responded really strongly to it, so we'd like to continue with it."
Va'al: "So you'd like to continue the Titan class."
John: "Definitely. I mean, this is really taking a page from the 1984 pilot episode, and it's what happens on Cybertron in the last hour, and there's definitely room for a big character for sure"
Ben: "There's a lot of good guesses out there, online right now."
John: "It's exciting to see what people are saying, because we get an idea of what they want."
Ryan: "A question about Micro Masters, for the Unicron Trilogy fans: was there any talk of giving the Minicon ports? Are they compatible with previous figures?"
John: "We did talk about that actually, early on. We didn't want them to become too cluttered with stuff, and in order to pay homage to the original late 80s Micromaster line we wanted to really keep the conversion from vehicle to robot, but also make sure fit in the new ecosystem which is weaponizing. So they do convert and form weapons and munitions thing, so they do have that screwport, but so did the original Micromasters anyway."
Va'al: "In terms of the where this is now going, Siege being the first chapter and two more after that. Do you already know what the next two will be, or are you waiting to see how this one goes before moving onto the next part?"
Ben: "We already know where it's going. The Trilogy is mapped out, we're waiting to see some of the response and reaction, and some elements can change but the story is pretty much outlined in our heads, which is great and why – I think John would agree – the product is sharp, because we are focused, we have a plan, and we're able to provide a real play experience in Siege."
John: "Part of it is putting a stake in the ground with our design philosophy early on, we've been working of Siege for almost two years now, and trying to understand the constants. Scale is going to be a constant. The level of articulation mostly, and trying to make the characters the best version of that character they can be. Ultra Magnus is kind of a testament to that. The front cab turns into the white Ultra Magnus, the trailer turns into his armor, that's part of what he is. The plan is to keep that philosophy, so that people can go for a ride for three years. If this year they didn't get this one guy, they might get it next year."
Ben: "Assuming that fans love all we're doing is not fair to anybody."
John: "But coming to events like this and talking to you guys, finding out what you want is really exciting. Hearing what you have to say really does influence what we're doing."
Ben: "We had some people say 'I didn't vote for Impactor or Mirage' and the votings were close, so the more we hear from you guys, from your fans, it feeds the roster, it gives us depth through the line. There are certain things that will be standards, but there's flexibility in what micro collections can be fulfilled. Someone asked about Powermasters – there's a lot of subsets within the continuity that we can bring into the storyline if we see there's enough interest in it."
Va'al: "You mentioned the Armada retro-compatibility with the Minicon ports (that are not there), you have RID elements in Ultra Magnus, are there any other references or ideas from previous iterations that are not G1 or not RID that are present in the line?"
John: "There is Chromia, who is sort of IDW but really is an homage to that episode where she appears, briefly for a second. But there is definitely room to put things in that make sense in War for Cybertron: Siege and the Trilogy in general. There's a misconception that this is a G1 brand, and in a certain sense it is: there's the original Ark crew, things like that, but we also have characters like Ultra Magnus, he's got the RID vehicle mode. As we think about this toyline, it's more about who makes sense, if people want an authentic G1 experience, they can buy a Masterpiece toy – this is Generations, so what is best in the context of this new story."
Va'al: "So the story first approach is still continuing for this line."
John: "It's definitely a toy story, if you think of the ecosystem at play. I don't know about you guys, but my most favourite toy experiences as a kid were coming up with my own stories, pulling down Encyclopedia off the shelf and building a Cybertronian base and using sugar cubes as Energon."
Ben: "You took off a week from not designing toys and made this diorama. John did this for a week, or a month. 'John aren't you supposed to be checking emails?' 'No, I'm busy making this diorama.'"
John: "I was just moonlighting, much to my wife's chagrin. I jut worked day and night, I worked twice as hard. But when you get an opportunity to build a diorama… Ben's right, you get a chance to channel those exciting things that made you fall in love with being a toy designer in the first place, and I think this new line is not just about collecting characters, it's about creating that universe of story on the shelf, that's why those fireblast effects are in there. That's why we're adding levels of customisation to the characters, and more articulation than we've done in years. It's about how does your Transformers universe come to life. What does it mean for you to be a collector."
Va'al: "To that point, what is your target point for this particular age bracket? Are you looking at both the old collector and the new collector?"
Ben: "We've found that a huge set of the audience is kids, 7-8-12 years old getting into the Generations line. A lot of it has to do with parents getting their kids into the line, whether this is the touch point or the animation. But a large percentage of the fanbase is not the 30+ collector. It's just appreciation for really cool toys. John and I talk a lot, and you've asked if we have a long view for this trilogy, and we definitely do. And there's definitely a misconception in the universe that we may prefer one era of Transformers over another, say G1 over Beast Wars, but we grew up in different eras, half of our writers on Cyberverse grew up in the 90s, early 2000s, our design team is the same, we have designers who are in their mid 20s, so we're introducing G1 to them too – so what you'll see in this is an extended universe continuity introduced within Siege. So to a lot of people saying 'you don't like Beast Wars' 'you don't like the Unicron trilogy' I am fairly confident that we will debunk that over the course of the next couple of years. We respect the entirety of this brand. This is our first step, a starting point which will be epic, and I'm confident that everyone will be excited to go on this journey with us."
John: "Ultimately, the reason I hope this line will be popular with kids – just like Power of the Primes is – is that Transformers is fun to play with. It's fun to change a vehicle into a robot, you take time out on a rainy day to do so. And I think it's time to break that perception that there's Beast Wars fans or G1 fans – we're Transformers fans, we're a big family, we may have big fights online about stuff but we still love robots that convert into cool stuff."
Va'al: "So what you're saying is we'll complain no matter what you do anyway. [Laughter]"
John: "I didn't say that."
Va'al: "No, that's what I said. It's what I heard."
Ben: "Transformers fans unite. That's the vision we have, the entire team has, there's no reason there should be animosity within the fandom. Everyone has their own preferences, got it, we respect that, we don't want people to lose that, their passion, their 'G1' - but everyone has their own G1. We hope that this trilogy will be the opportunity to bring all of those things together, same with the Bumblebee movie, I really feel like that movie is going to unite fandoms. That's really a vision we have."
Ryan: "I hear you talking about Siege, your plans for the next stuff, I see IDW is coming to an end with the Unicron storyline – can about the fiction behind this? It's ripe with stories, any plans on that front?"
Ben: "Nothing yet. Nothing yet. But the fact that your head is already going there is great, this says 'tell me about it'. So we'll have a lot more to share in the future."
Ryan: "I'm really excited about this, I think it has a lot potential. If we switch gears real quick, I wanted to ask about Bumblebee – it looks like a different style to what we've been used to, there's a lot of love going into it, you seem to be having a lot of fun, can you speak to that?"
Ben: "The toys or the movie?"
Ryan: "The toys, that's where you guys are at."
Ben: "Yeah, so we've shown two characters so far with the Studio Series, Dropkick in a really cool new mode, that no one had seen yet. But also to have a VW mode for Bumblebee is really fun, it tugged at a lot of strings that we had as we got into this brand a long time ago. But even a lot of the other stuff, DJ Bumblebee, Energon Igniters, there's a place for them. Here at SDCC, seeing the kids' surprise and excitement around Bumblebee, having 3-4 year old kids running into here screaming 'Bumblebee' that's a whole new universe, a whole new group of fans that want to have fun with this brand. They're not looking for war, they're looking for their favourite hero, the playfulness of it, converting their figure, and we're having a lot of fun creating toys that do that."
John: "And what's exciting is knowing that that kid, who might go see the Bumblebee movie, maybe his first toys is the Power Surge one, but guess what – this world [Siege] is here, if he or she feels like they need another level of complexity, Transformers is great like that. There's room to grow into something. Once that kid is done with doing War for Cybertron, maybe they start collecting Masterpiece. There's ways of graduating into it."
Ryan: "Speaking of Masterpiece, Takara Tomy is releasing Beast Wars Megatron – is that coming from you guys or not?"
Ben: "It's a partnership we have with Takara now, so Hasbro are now importing the Takara Masterpiece items stateside. You will see a box that will go around the Takara Tomy original packaging, like a slip sleeve sort of thing, that will bring our brands together. It will be the exact release you would've expected in Japan, at the same time you would've gotten it in Japan."
Ryan: "Is it a product you worked on together?"
Ben: "There's definitely more collaboration going on, not to the level of Movie Masterpiece, but in general you see the unification of our brands, product lines, the Masterpiece line that Takara is creating is our next step in working together."
I have been looking forward to this video being ready for some time, and we can finally share it with everyone here on Seibertron.com and beyond: the San Diego Comic Con 2018 Transformers Bumblebee Movie red carpet event interview series! Join Seibertron and Va'al as they provide the nerdiest content yet with all the celebrities present at the event, including the following people and topics:
- Screenwriter Christina Hodson, her history with Transformers, her love for nameless Ravage, the difficulties of a non-speaking character and influences, and wanting to be Starscream for a day.
- Actor Jorge Lendeborg Jr's initiation through McDonald's Happy Meal Transformers toys, his Armada upbringing, the differences with Spider-Man: Homecoming as a story and reference to Shia LaBeouf, his comedy skills in the movie, and his relatable Hot Shot-ness.
- Some media available footage of Hailee Steinfeld, as we were unable to interview her directly, and her experience with the movie and the fans, and the coming of age parallel between the 2007 movie and this one.
- Director Travis Knight's feelings about the movie and story, working with the characters, and interview difficulties, and his penchant for Wheeljack and 'all the waves, but especially Soundwave' - though he'd probably be Optimus Prime.
- Actor John Cena's experience with the movie and carefully worded answers, his potential romantic element, his character's presence and role in the movie, and his need for supersonic flight to move faster in life.
IMDb, the well-known.. well, internet movie database, took the opportunity to conduct an interview about the Bumblebee movie at San Diego Comic Con. The interview, as conducted by Kevin Smith, features director Travis Knight alongside cast members John Cena and Jorge Lendeborg Jr. answering a few questions about the upcoming film!
Check below for the full video (note the presence of some coarse language at the very beginning) and a couple highlights from the interview, share your thoughts in the Energon Pub Forums, and stay tuned for the last few bits of news still to come out of SDCC 2018!
Smith jokes (probably?) that he "openly wept" upon seeing the trailer for Bumblebee, and describes his excitement for it far over any of the previous Transformers films.
(To Knight) How did this [movie] happen? Knight: "I'm a child of the 80's; I grew up watching the Transformers cartoons, playing with the toys, reading the comic books [...] these characters matter to me, these stories matter to me. [...] I really wanted to bring that kind of spirit to this film, to this franchise. For me the best kinds of stories, the best kinds of films [...] are the ones that have a strong beating heart - that have a poetic soul. That's the perspective we tried to bring to this film."
Knight mentions that the original idea for the Bumblebee film came from Steven Spielberg, to Smith's incredulity, and says that the movie's (and trailer's) tone was similarly inspired by Spielberg.
Extended jorts banter between Smith and Cena.
(To Cena) You've joined this movie, but have you also joined a larger universe of movies? Cena: "Just because of the subject matter, there's no way that I can say no. I can't say much more than that, just because of the things I had to sign. [...] I will say this. What drew me to this, and what drew me to want to be involved with the universe, not only was [Knight] but how passionately he feels about story. [...] I'm really excited to be part of a wonderful story."
Smith speculates on the possibility of an extended universe, beyond even just Transformers, and Cena agrees wholeheartedly with the idea. Sneaky joke about M.A.S.K. slipped in there?
(To Lendeborg) What was it like jumping into an up-and-running franchise, but a new development of it? Lendeborg: "Obviously I had a bit part in Spider-Man, but after that I moved on to Alita: Battle Angel [...] I think all those things kind of prepared me to be more of a crucial role in one of these big franchises."
Some conflict as each interviewee considers themselves the Megan Fox of their respective fields. "We're all trying to be Megan Fox."
Knight is thrilled at the "very positive" reaction to the trailer, and hopes audiences enjoy the film when it drops!
You got the live - excited - coverage of the panel itself in the story we posted earlier, and which you can see again here for detailed content of what was said during the talks - so now it's time to show you what happened in your own eyes!
There is obviously no footage of the new trailer clip shown during the panel, or the Travis Knight reel , but all the comments from the cast and crew - including director Travis Knight, actors Hailee Steinfeld, Jorge Lendeborg Jr, and John Cena, featuring cameos from Stan Bush and Peter Cullen, and all moderated by EW's Anthony Breznican. Take a look at the video embedded below, and stay tuned for more coverage as we upload more content to Seibertron.com.
It's been a while since the last time we did this, Seibertronians. And that is mostly down to everything happening on and off-screen right now - but before the end of this narrative universe and creative teams, I thought it would be good to get into at least one more look at the people behind IDW Publishing and the Transformers comics that most of us have come to know and love (or hate, mileage varies of course). And for a turn in the books, we'll be talking to one of the category of comics people that doesn't often get spotlights in the industry at large: lettering and production!
Readers, please welcome one of the staple hands behind most of the current and past IDW Publishing output, whether you knew it or not: Tom B. Long!
Va'al - Tom, it's a real pleasure to finally get round to talking to you, and thank you for the time given to us on here! I think the easiest way is to start is, well, from the start: how did you come to comics, what's your origin story?
Tom - I got my start in the industry when I answered a newspaper ad for a weekend pre-press technician job at a local comic publisher. The publisher was Wildstorm Productions where they operated all phases of the production process in-house. My first job was outputting film plates to be sent to the printer in Canada. While there, I learned desktop publishing and the workflow of comic book production. To make myself useful, I also learned lettering and coloring.
Va'al - Wildstorm! That's a name that hasn't been around for a bit - though topical, as it seems it's making a comeback this year. So were you entirely self-taught on those last two? What made you want to feel 'more useful' as you put it, given that you were already working on the production side?
Tom - Wildstorm was a busy place with everyone scrambling to get books out on time. Many times we drove a box containing the final films for a comic down to the San Diego International Airport, or Lindbergh Field as it was known then, to buy it a seat on a flight in order to reach the printer before deadline. In that chaos, it helped to be a jack-of-all-trades.
By learning coloring and lettering basics while I worked in the production department, I was able to make editorial changes rather than sending them back to the colorist or letterer, saving valuable time. I can't say I'm self-taught, being a fan of comics, I was motivated to learn, so I sat with the great Wildstorm FX colorists and letterers while they worked and asked lots of questions to pick up the skills.
Va'al - That sounds frantic, to say the least - but also charming, in a way! Would you say there was one particular comic that you're indebted to, in terms of motivating that process? Or a small choice of them, or perhaps a specific creator (like say, Klein, or Saladino)?
Tom - Working on the pre-press of the various titles lettered by Comicraft, particularly the Cliffhangers imprint, motivated me to learn lettering. The interesting graphic design that went into their lettering impressed me and I wanted to letter like they did.
Va'al - Let's move onto more relevant (to our interests, I mean) stuff then: how and when did you start working with Transformers? Was IDW the first venture into the franchise? Or were you a previous fan of the robots?
Tom - I've been a fan of The Transformers since the TV series debuted. I watched Transformers: The Movie numerous times at the $1 matinee in sleepy Escondido, CA. My first chance to work on the franchise came back in 2006 when IDW first acquired the license. I colored one of the covers for Transformers #0 as well as lettering TF: Beast Wars The Gathering #1.
Va'al - A colourist too! Is there anything you haven't tried working on for a comics project..? So was the Transformers work something you asked for yourself, or were you assigned it by IDW? And - I realise this may look like a stupid question - was there anything different in your approach, compared to other books?
Tom - I haven't written, pencilled or inked a comic yet, but there's still time. When IDW first got the license, it was still a very small company so Transformers Beast Wars came to me to letter without me even having to ask. I recall we wanted to play up the mechanical nature of the robots in disguise, so we went with rectangular speech balloons instead of the usual oval ones. IDW has since dropped that for the more conventional balloon.
Va'al - Would you say there are other differences between your Transformers work and your lettering and production on any other title you currently work or have worked on? If so, do you bring any of it yourself, or does it tend to be an editorial decision?
Tom - I adjust my lettering/design to fit the art and tone of the various titles I'm assigned. I have a lot of freedom to try different approaches. Unless an editor thinks what i came up with isn't working, I usually get to decide on the look of my lettering. For example, my sound effects for Transformers look more mechanical to evoke the metallic sounds of the characters.
In a title like '68, a zombie comic by Nat Jones and Jay Fotos I had the pleasure to letter, I used very organic, asymmetrical sound effects to evoke the fleshy monster vibe. I adjusted the balloon style, as well, layering the tails over the balloon rather than connect them and used a brush stroke rather than a uniform line to compliment the art.
Va'al - Do you have a preference either way? Are you more for the mechanical side of design, or the organic flourishes of - say - a Dire Wraith infested Ultra Magnus, as we saw in Rom vs Transformers: Shining Armor?
Tom - I tend to approach my design logical and mechanical by default so I really enjoy a chance to play loose and organic with lettering to change things up.
Va'al - And in terms of book production and design - I really enjoyed what you did for the Primacy trilogy books, by the way - what's your approach on those? Is there more editorial influence there, or is it all from your own bag of tricks?
Tom - Thanks very much, that title was a blast to put together. I get free reign to do a first pass at the design, then the editorial review will fire back with any changes or concerns they have if they don't think what I've come up is working. The Trilogy came together pretty quickly, I recall some of the spot art I used was dropped from the design pages, but for the most part, my original design stayed intact.
Va'al - And a good thing it did, it looks great! Do you have any favourite books / issues, already published or forthcoming, that you are particularly proud of? I'm thinking one Transformers, and one outside of the robot world.
Tom - My favorites that I have lettered have to be the Doctor Who: Prisoners of Time series and Transformers: Lost Light. Doctor Who because it pleased my geeky, old heart to work on such a storied sci-fi franchise. And Lost Light because, in addition to the great story, the sheer volume of text and SFX in each issue presented such a unique and rewarding challenge.
Va'al - Geekery should always be rewarded and enabled, I'd say. Do you have any personal projects, current or upcoming, that you're particularly involved in, or want to briefly talk about before our final section?
Tom - My current vanity project, Comic Book Nobody, gives a behind the scenes look at the office shenanigans I’ve experienced (and been guilty of perpetrating) while working in comics. Told in comic strip form no less! I’m posting my rough drafts on twitter with a plan to kickstarter a print version once I finish the final illustrations.
Va'al - I've been following them with snickers and chuckles, so will definitely look forward to the project continuing!
Okay then, final part before we let you go: short round of either/or questions - ready?
Tom - Let’s do this!
Print or digital? Print.
OGN or ongoing series? Ongoing.
Autobots or Decepticons? Decepticons.
Crack or KRRAAAK? KRRAAAK.
San Diego or New York? San Diego.
Car or plane? Car.
Va'al - Excellent choices all round! Tom, it has been an absolute pleasure talking to you, and I hope to keep seeing your production work, and very much looking forward to the new personal project!
Before we go, any last words to the readers on Seibertron.com and elsewhere?
Tom - Thank you, I enjoy your reviews, I look forward to seeing what you think of the IDW universe as the end unfolds.
Final thoughts: Be kind, read comics, stay hydrated!
There you have it folks, another interview with a comics creator behind the books we all read and love (and hate, and hate to love, and love to hate), and just in time for the Summer of Transformers – we hope you enjoyed finding out more about the production side of things, and you can follow Long’s work on Twitter at @tombgrfx. We’ll make sure to link to Comic Book Nobody once the Kickstarter is live, too!
Until next time, and make sure to follow those wise words of advice.
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