Josh Burcham in Glorious Technicolour


Everybody knows the Transformers comic book artists like Nick Roche, Joe Ng and Don Figueroa.
But how about the colorists, the people who add color to the awesome covers and comic book pages?Often these people are overlooked despite being very important to the way a a comic book looks and feels!

I had the honor of conducting an interview with IDW Publishing colorist and fellow member Josh Burcham. Josh has colored the art for the Stormbringer , Beast Wars: The Gathering and the upcoming Spotlight: Shockwave titles.

Calenatarion Calenatarion: Hey Josh. I’d like to thank you for the oppurtunity for this interview!

Josh Burcham: Hehehe, it’s cool. I’m sure it will be fun XD!

Calenatarion Calenatarion: Well, let’s start!

When did you know you wanted to become a comics artist? And what comics inspired you?

Josh Burcham: Hehe. Well, to be honest I never did much like comic books. I always thought they were for geeks and just a dumb waste of time. But you know, I'd always had an interest in art. I guess I just never realised that comics in themselves are a form of art. You know I actually picked up coloring after seeing stuff done to Don’s stuff before he got picked up by Dreamwave. That inspired me to at least get into coloring. I really didn’t have any idea I could do comics with it at the time, at least not until Dreamwave came out with their comics. Of course I wanted to color for Dreamwave too, so at first that was really my main influence. I tried my best to emulate the style (And to this day I don't think I even have it right, but what can you do :P)

Calenatarion Calenatarion: Okay, as you just said yourself, you also did some work for Dreamwave. What experience with Transformers did you have before working for Dreamwave, and now, IDW Publishing?

Josh Burcham: Well, I have been a real active part of the Transformers community for the past 5, 6 years. It could be longer, though :P. Maybe not so much in the ‘regular’ community, but definitely in the art side :P!

Calenatarion Calenatarion: So you did some work for both IDW Publishing and Dreamwave Productions. Could you tell if there are any (big) differences between the two?

Josh Burcham: Well, you know.. I really didn’t work with Dreamwave to notice much of anything really. But what I can say is that IDW is definitely a lot more open to artistic interpretation. Back at Dreamwave it was pretty much standard for all their colorists at the time to have the same anime/cel style look. But what I like about IDW is that I have been able to experiment. So far I have used like 4 different styles of coloring on different titles with them. So it has really been great to just try things out. Another thing is, that I’m in constant communication with the other people at IDW. People like Chris Ryall, Dan Taylor and Don Figueroa. We talk all the time (e-mail, IM, and what not), so it’s really cool.

Calenatarion Calenatarion: Communication is an important part of the job, whatever you do.

Josh Burcham: Definitely.

Calenatarion Calenatarion: So what experience did you have with non-Transformers comics in the past?

Josh Burcham: Uhm, not too much really, hehe. After Dreamwave went under I was left kind of jobless. One of the companies bidding for the Transformers comic license gave me a hollar asked if I would be interested, should they land the license. But in the meantime, from hearing from Hasbro they gave me some cool jobs. I did a few covers, actually I colored 2 issues of a book called “Sixgun Samurai” as well. Pretty neat stuff, but I’m definitely more at home with Transformers. Of course ive done like fan art and fan colorings of like marvel/DC characters, but not much experience outside the TF stuff.

Calenatarion Calenatarion: Well then, are you currently working on any non-Transformers comics?

Josh Burcham: Uhm… Not at the moment. I was actually set to work on the Lions, Tigers and Bears comics, but I had to decline. At the time I was working on 3 IDW titles at once. I couldn’t handle another one.

Calenatarion Calenatarion: I see, that’s a pretty cool series.

Josh Burcham: Yeah, it’s a great comic. I actually recently found out that the original artist, Jack Lawrence, who did a lot of Transformers art himself! XD That’s really cool. But yeah, I am kinda disappointed it didn’t work out.

Calenatarion Calenatarion: That points me to the next question. Since you are always pretty busy (or so you say :P), how much time do you need per issue?

Josh Burcham: Man, you know I have never really tried to figure that out :P. I just get pages and try to get them done as fast as I can. It usually takes maybe a month per issue, little less perhaps. But that’s just when I’m taking it easy :P. This past week I had to do like 16 pages within the span of 4 days.

So it varies I guess :P, it just depends on the deadlines.

Calenatarion Calenatarion: And regarding the way you work at IDW: Do you have any input on which colors you are going to use? Or do you get color notes from writers and/or artists like Simon Furman, Don Figueroa and so on?

Josh Burcham: Hehe, well both. Sometimes there will be notes in the script from Simon. (not too often but it happens). And sometimes from Don as well. Sometimes he will have some color schemes already worked out. For example Stormbringer’s Bludgeon and Thunderwing. And sometimes I get the chance to decide. For example: the black helmet on Megatron in the flashbacks :D.

Calenatarion Calenatarion: So sometimes you get color notes from Don Figueroa and Simon Furman. Where you the one that decided on the faded out greyed coloring effects for the flashbacks during Beast Wars: The Gathering? This was a very awesome feature in the Beast Wars series.

Josh Burcham: Yeah actually. Don (Figueroa) and I talked a little bit back and forth about what we wanted to do for the flashbacks. I ran across some tricks that I wanted to try out, so ultimately we did. I did get to choose the flashback colors though XD. We were at first going to use a sort of sepia overtone (just as we did in Stormbringer), but since it was flashing back to Cybertron/pre-Earth, I thought blue would better differentiate. That really set it apart as if its taking place elsewhere. The book was mostly all about warm vibrant colors so the blue flashback contracted very well I think :D.

Calenatarion Calenatarion: Allright, thanks for the info on that. My next question is, do you have any favorite Transformers characters or comics you have worked on, or are working on? And why?

Josh Burcham: Well, my all time favorite characters has to be Optimus Prime. I mean, he’s freaking Optimus! :P So it’s really been awesome, my first chance actually coloring Prime in an official manner. It is just so cool I get to help making him appear in the comic and stuff.

My favorite comic I worked on? Stormbringer. This mini series is just amazing. I just read through the script for issue 4 the other day. And man, it is great. Main reason why, is because of how well it ties into IDW’s continuity. Everything (Simon) Furman has been doing is so tightly knit into eachother, is very exciting.

Calenatarion Calenatarion: I noticed you have a lot of your own artwork on your own Deviantart website, have you drawn comics in the past? And do you have plans to do so in the future?

Josh Burcham: I haven’t actually tackled a real comic page yet. Though I really really hope to someday :P. If for nothing but to try it.

As far as published art or something? Both IDW and myself have shown some interest in maybe a cover or two sometime in the future, so who knows! :D

Calenatarion Calenatarion: And if you would do a cover, do you have any wished on which series/continuation?

Josh Burcham: Any! I’ll take whatever I can :P.

Calenatarion Calenatarion: And do you have any future plans or projects involving Transformers?

Josh Burcham: Well, as far as coloring goes I’m hoping to stick it out as long as I can. I know I would love to work on the Live Action Movie tie-in stuff.

As far as anything else, I would love to do a cover as I said. I also have a neat idea floating around as far as a story goes. I’m no writer, but I think the ideas are pretty cool :P. Maybe I’ll bring it up one of these days. Although it’s pretty off the wall so I don’t know if it would ever get considered :P.

Calenatarion Calenatarion: Could you tell us something about your ideas?

Josh Burcham: It actually takes place in a kind of Generation One cartoon continuty. It’s not an “after Rebirth” kind of thing, but more of a “what if this happened instead of this” story.

Calenatarion Calenatarion: Just like Infiltration right?

Josh Burcham: Well, my story goes into a bit of role reversal, which is where I’m not sure if it would ever get considered. The strip down premise is what if Prime is basically snapped. Things happen and we end up in a kind of V for Vendetta situation, but then with Transformers.

Calenatarion Calenatarion: So, let’s continue with some non-Transformers stuff. Do you have any future plans for non-Transformers series?

Josh Burcham: Well, when I first started coloring my goal was Transformers comics. Now that I have met that goal I have kind of set up some more for me to achieve. (Not that I plan on leaving Transformers stuff :P, I’ll be here as long as I can). But, I would love to do some work on some of the big name books. Big names like Spiderman, Ironman and Batman, stuff like that.
Ofcourse I wold love to work with Mark Brooks too, who is a Marvel exclusive artist right now :(.

Calenatarion Calenatarion: And untill now, of all of your creations, what are you the most proud of?

Josh Burcham: Stormbringer, by far. I got to try out this new coloring style and I really liked it. I really like how Don has been using a lot of heavy blacks, it helps to really create his awesome atmosphere in the book. I really think it is some of our best stuff so far. So I’m pretty proud of it. It is kind of sad to see the mini come to a close, but hopefully I’ll get to put this coloring style to use again later on xD.

Calenatarion Calenatarion: And since you worked for both IDW and Dreamwave.. How do you think IDW’s Transformers titles compare to those by Dreamwave, and even before that Marvel?

Josh Burcham: Well, you know, it is hard to really compare the three. They all have their ups and downs. I can’t say I have really read enough or really any of the Marvel stuff. Although I really appreciate the big impact Furmans had on it. And of course you can’t go wrong with artists like Geoff Senior and Andy Wilman either.

Comparing between Dreamwave and IDW is hard too. For the most part I enjoyed Dreamwave’s stuff. I liked Generation One Volume 1, I don’t quite understand all the hates it gets. I thought it was enjoyable, cinematic. A good way to reintroduce us to Transformers. I like that their continuity was a mix and match of cartoon and comic ideas. I thought that was pretty cool. They made it have enough back story to keep building fresh stories and what not. But I also really really like IDW’s reinvention. The continuity is really tight thanks to it being headed by one man. I like that IDW is very open to different artistic interpretations. It gives a lot of opportunity for different artists to have their go at it. That, and it is so fresh! You really don’t know what to expect. It’s like you sort of know the characters, but there are new directions/new situations leading the story. This makes it fun to read and not some Transformers: The Movie or More Than Meets The Eye cartoon rehash.

Calenatarion Calenatarion: Talking about Dreamwave, are there any Dreamwave titles you would like to see completed or done by IDW and would you like to work on it?

Josh Burcham: Well, Age of Wrath (War Within) definitely. Not only was it a cool story, but my first actual comic I worked on. So it would be great to finish that out. That, and I love Joe Ngs stuff.

Calenatarion Calenatarion: And how about their Generation ongoing and Micromasters series?

Josh Burcham: Micromasters was something… I could live without. Like as far as the Dreamwave mini was concerned. It had a lot of neat ideas. Paradron, explaining the Micromasters tech. But the whole thing was just really cluttered. Writing and art, etc. I read one issue and never bothered reading the rest. I just couldn’t get into it.
The G1 ongoing, yeah. Lots of neat ideas and I liked the way they were going. I was actually hoping after Age of Wrath got wrapped up, I would get to work on the ongoing but we all know how that went :P

Calenatarion Calenatarion: You’re a comics fan as well, what comics do you enjoy reading?

Josh Burcham: Well, the Lions, Tigers and Bears books are one. Fantastic series, definitely worth checking out! But the only comics I have been really following have been the Ultimate Spiderman comics. Those are just fantastic. There are definitely comics out there I would like to read, but I just haven’t gotten around to it yet. :.

Calenatarion Calenatarion: And who are your favorite Transformers and non-Transformers artists?

Josh Burcham: Well, Transformers wise it have to be Don, Guido (Guidi), Nick Roche, Makotron, Evan Gauntt [aka ZeroMayhem]. Those guys are all really great, really big inspirations for me. And Mark Brooks is another. I think both his Transformers and non-Transformers stuff are outright amazing. Skottie Young was a huge inspiration for me personally. His stuff is what inspired e to take a more of graffitti-ish approach to the Transformers stuff I draw.

Sean Galloway, Jonboy Meyers, Humberto Ramos and Adam Hughes, those guys are amazing as well. Everytime I see their stuff just makes me wish I could be as great as them :P. Chris Bachalo too, can’t forget him. I love the way he draws Magneto :).

Calenatarion Calenatarion: And what do you hope IDW will be doing the future regarding the Transformers comics? And which ones you would like to work on.

Josh Burcham: Honestly, I don’t really know what to expect from IDW. So far it has been surprise after surprise (all good surprises btw) and I really hope I get to stay and continue being a part of it. Don calls me his unofficial colorist now, so hopefully wherever he goes, I’ll be not too far behind him :P. As far as near future goes, like i said, id love to be apart of the upcoming Movie Tie-in stuff. I love the designs and Chris has seemed really stoked whenever he talks about it, so I know it’s going to be great.

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Posted: Sunday, September 17th, 2017
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