10 Questions with the "Incredible" Jeffrey Brown
Tuesday, July 15th, 2008 8:22PM CDTCategories: People News, Interviews
Posted by: First Gen Views: 25,517
"Incredible Change-bots" creator, Jeffrey Brown. Mr. Brown thanks for taking the time to talk with us.
Jeffrey Brown - Of course, happy to do it.
FG - First off, I have to ask: would you call yourself a Transformers fan or a Gobots fan? The book itself covers both facets so well it’s hard to determine.
J.B- I would fall more on the Transformers side, definitely. I had a few GoBots, but they never seemed as available at stores, and the Transformers cartoon cemented my loyalty on their side. Still, the GoBots song was just as catchy as the Transformers song. With the book I was interested in parodying the whole idea of robots changing into vehicles and didn't want to make it too Transformers-specific, so the story would still stand on its own if you weren't as familiar with the Transformers mythology.
FG - Indeed it does. Along the lines of comedy, it fits in well with the rest of your work like Clumsy and I am going to be small, but you went from people and what seemed like everyday life to form changing robots. What inspired you to pursue this kind of book?
J.B. - Well, I grew up reading comics, and my dream was to draw for Marvel, who of course put out the original Transformers comics. I've always been a science fiction and fantasy fan, and even though I drifted away from that at times, it's also always stayed with me. There's just something more fun sometimes about indulging in that sort of geeky side, and it's still possible to throw in some parts that reference real life at the same time. It also balances out what most people think of as the more 'serious' work, and keeps me from getting too self involved with the autobiographical projects.
FG - One of the most standout differences from your previous works to the Incredible Change-bots is the fact that it's a full color comic. You established your writing capabilities and humor in your previous black and white books, what made you want to do this book in full color?
J.B. - I'd started experimenting with color around the time I was getting ready to finally do the book, and it just made sense. If there was ever good place to do my first full color book, it was with a bunch of shape changing robot vehicles. I still prefer drawing in black and white, and I tend to feel like adding color isn't necessary unless it really adds something to the work. I think this book really benefits from the color.
FG - One thing I noticed right away was the similarities and differences you did with the colors of the ‘Bots’. In some instances you can see the direct homage for a particular Transformers or Gobots character and in others you see a big difference, like Big Rig for example. Did you find yourself trying to stay away from what's already been done by doing that or was it just how you envisioned the characters?
J.B - With Big Rig I just thought it'd be funny to have him be a funny, gaudy orange rather than the kind of noble red, and Rusty being orange had to do with my theory that every extra or minor character with red hair in a film is named 'Rusty' in the credits. After that, I just tried to balance it out, have a bunch of different colors, and it just kind of depended on whatever felt right.
FG - Another thing I noticed is that James 'Monkeywrench' Hawking bears a striking resemblance to the lead character in Clumsy. Was this a way of getting yourself in the comic or just a coincidence in drawing habits?
J.B. - It has to do with how I draw - my basic style reduces the human figure to such a point where it's harder to make characters into caricatures with more subtly identifiable faces, so everyone is kind of built on this same template. At the same time, I wrote the book just as my own son was born and over the first few months after his birth, so there's definitely also a bit of thinking about myself as a father and making parallels there sometimes. I guess the Change-Bots themselves are my most identifiable characters!
FG - Speaking of identifiable characters, how did you feel when you found out Devil’s Due Publishing was making the Balls and Microwave action figures?
J.B. - I had met so many of the guys at Devil's Due at various points - artist Tim Seeley lives right around the corner from me, even, and we shop at the same comic shop, and had been invited to stop by and visit them here in Chicago several times before I finally made it over there. That first time I visited them was when they brought up the idea of doing the Change-Bots toys. At first I thought they were just thinking out loud, like, 'It'd be cool if there were toys of these guys, huh?' and when I realized they were serious, I got really excited about the idea. I've always wanted to have my own toys or toys of something I've created, but to have it actually happen is great.
FG - Did you ever think that the Incredible Change-bots would get to this level of popularity?
J.B. - I thought it had the potential, but I'm always surprised and flattered when something I've made has an impact on the world of any sort - I feel very lucky about the extent to which people have responded to my work. With the Change-Bots, it's probably the most developed narrative of any of my books, and the characters really started to take on lives of their own by the end of the book, and I started to think that the book could do really well on its own, even aside from piggybacking on the Transformers or something, even though I figured people who grew up with the old Transformers cartoons like I did would get a kick out of this kind of tribute/parody.
FG - So it's over a year later and the ‘Bots’ figures will be hitting the shelves in September 2008. Are there any other plans for the Incredible Change-bots?
J.B. - Yeah, I'll be working on some new Change-Bots stories for an issue of my "Sulk" comic book series with Top Shelf for sometime probably late next year. That issue will also probably print some of the drawings I did for the Change-Bots fan club - before the offer expired, I did around a hundred drawings for the club, each of which was like a stand-alone panel, so I'd like to print the best of those. And if the first vinyl figures of Balls and Microwave do well, Devil's Due may do some of the other characters.
FG - Would you mind letting the Seibertron.com community know what you're doing now?
J.B. - Right now I'm working on "Funny Misshapen Body", a collection of autobiographical comics that will all together tell how I ended up becoming a cartoonist rather than a painter, following my time in high school through art school. I'm behind schedule on finishing it, so right now it's where the majority of my focus and energy is.
FG - Well, we know about Top Shelf Comix, is there any other site or place that fans can get to see what’s going on in you're world?
J.B. - I've got a website in the works – http://www.jeffreybrowncomics.com - but I haven't even put up a placeholder page yet, because despite my love of Transformers, I'm still kind of technophobic in a way. You can also see some of my work up on theholyconsumption.com, which also features the work of three other Chicago cartoonists. Coming up this month I'll be at San Diego Comicon, and then signing at the Book Cellar here in Chicago on July 30. Other appearances are updated on the Holy Consumption blog: theholybulletin.blogspot.com. Coming out in October will be the first issue of my Sulk series, with the second issue coming out in December. Volume One is all new Bighead stories and Volume Two is a mixed martial arts (ultimate fighting) story.
FG -Again, thank you so much for your time Mr. Brown. If your past works say anything, Funny Misshapen Body is sure to be a success and I'm sure a lot of Change-bot fans, like myself, can't wait for the Sulk comic book to come out.
J.B. - Thanks for talking to me - one thing I worried about before Change-Bots came out would be whether other Transformers fans would love it or hate, so I'm happy for the positive feedback.
For any of you Seibertronians who may be learning about the Incredible Change-bots for the first time, click here ti get a preview of the great spoof of our beloved Robots in Disguise.