IDW Transformers vs. G.I. Joe #0 (FCBD) - Tom Scioli and John Barber Interview

IDW Transformers vs. G.I. Joe #0 (FCBD) - Tom Scioli and John Barber Interview

Sunday, June 8th, 2014 10:59am CDT

Categories: Comic Book News, People News, Interviews
Posted by: Va'al   Views: 23,027

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The awesome folks over at Multiversity Comics had a farily lengthy chat with Tom Scioli and John Barber about the Free Comic Book Day issue 0 of the new Transformers vs G.I. Joe ongoing comics series. Read out below some snippets from the full interview - found here - and check out some exclusive looks at the layout work by Scioli, including unused parts. And if you still want to read the issue, it's free on ComiXology right now!

Before we dive into the issue, I’ll ask this: why do a #0 issue instead of a #1?

Tom Scioli: That way you get to have two first issues instead of just one.

John Barber: We’d planned out the early version of the story, as it would launch with issue one…Well, wait, let me back up. I should say Tom planned it out—he built a really detailed outline. But then it came up at IDW to do Transformers vs. G.I. Joe as our gold Free Comic Book Day comic. I guess we could have just used what would’ve been issue one, but I think Tom and I both felt like that wouldn’t work…I mean, then you’d be launching the regular series with #2, essentially.

I think Tom suggested doing a G.I. Joe mission where they run into the Transformers—like, anchor it to the G.I. Joe squad, as opposed to an all-out, full-scale mixing of the two—make it a G.I. Joe story where you’re with them and you meet the Transformers for the first time, but they only sort of realize what you see. I think the initial idea was a little more real-world, but I suggested doing something with the creeper bombs that Tom had already been talking about…and after a while, it turned into the final battle between G.I. Joe and Cobra. Which, at the scale this comic operates, is the prologue.

What’s the overall reaction been to the debut? I know what readers were saying at my local shop (loved it), but do you feel like the Free Comic Book Day premiere served the book well?

TS: It basically changed my life. There were a massive number of books in circulation, dwarfing any previous project I’d worked on. I was in Toronto for Free Comic Book Day along with Ed Piskor, and stayed for TCAF the following weekend. Being able to sign piles of books then have people tell you how much they loved it a week later was great. We were the toast of the town.

JB: Wow. I was just excited Gerard Way liked it. I’ve heard a lot of good things. I think my life is largely the same, but hey, we’ll see how it goes. I’m very, very pleased with the reaction. I saw, and actually still am seeing, a ton of people on Twitter just loving the comic.


For the uninitiated to the GI Joe universe, this issue provided them a very clear guide to who these characters are, and what their motivations and personalities entail. Will readers get a clearer view of the Transformers side of the book in the future?

JB: It’s important to me, for anything but especially for a Free Comic Book Day comic, that this comic is accessible. Ted Adams over here at IDW was very concerned before we started that this comic would be clear to somebody that hasn’t got a master’s degree in Transformers and G.I. Joe. There are times where you can get a little more inside-baseball on some stuff, I think…but FCBD isn’t the place.

After we finished the issue, he read a PDF of it and called me and..I don’t know if you noticed, but this comic is a little unusual. So I didn’t know how Ted – how anybody – would react. I mean, up to this, it was Tom, me, Carlos Guzman (our editor), and Michael Kelly and the team at Hasbro who’d seen it – but I’d only talked to Michael about it, from the Hasbro side. So the first person I see reading it is Ted, the owner of IDW.

And the first thing he said was that it was totally accessible. And it’s funny, because as far out as the story goes, as complicated as the formal aspects of the comic are, it does walk you into this world. “Here’s what G.I. Joe is; here’s who Snake Eyes, Scarlett, Duke, everybody is. And what’s this mystery of the Transformers?”

So, ah, yeah—that’s exactly the plan with the Transformers, too. I don’t want to count on anybody having everything about the characters memorized… but if you do know everything, I think you’re in for a fun ride, too.

TS: The balance in this issue is a little more on the Joe side than the Transformers side. That balance will vary from issue to issue. The issue we’re currently working on, #2, is very Transformers-heavy.

While many, if not most, of the readers of this series had the opportunity to pick up the issue on Free Comic Book Day, some will be entering #1 with totally fresh eyes. Will the first issue be a traditional “setting up the book” story, or will it jump in a little faster, due to the #0 issue?

TS: I treat each issue as a stand-alone mini-movie, but like the Marvel movies with bits and pieces carry over from chapter to chapter. Each one is a complete reading experience, a complete aesthetic experience for that matter. That extends to the look of the book, too. The art is very different in issue #1, although still related to the art in this issue. It’s a new look for my work that I’m very excited about sharing with the world. I think some people will be blown away by it.

JB: Yeah, this is a prologue issue, not an if-you-missed-it-you’re-out-of-luck issue. Issue 1 is issue 1. If you’d never read any comic at all, issue 1 is a good point to jump in to the medium. But wherever you’re coming from, things have changed by the time issue 1 occurs, so it’s not like we’ll be going over the same set-up—the status quo is different by the time #1 starts, so in a way, everybody’s on the same footing coming in to the issue.

Transformers News: IDW Transformers vs. G.I. Joe #0 (FCBD) - Tom Scioli and John Barber Interview

Transformers News: IDW Transformers vs. G.I. Joe #0 (FCBD) - Tom Scioli and John Barber Interview

Transformers News: IDW Transformers vs. G.I. Joe #0 (FCBD) - Tom Scioli and John Barber Interview

Transformers News: IDW Transformers vs. G.I. Joe #0 (FCBD) - Tom Scioli and John Barber Interview

Credit(s): Multiversity Comics

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Re: IDW Transformers vs. G.I. Joe #0 (FCBD) - Tom Scioli and John Barber Interview (1580298)
Posted by Downbeat on June 8th, 2014 @ 12:08pm CDT
This book is amazing and I'll defend it til death.
Re: IDW Transformers vs. G.I. Joe #0 (FCBD) - Tom Scioli and John Barber Interview (1580302)
Posted by Va'al on June 8th, 2014 @ 12:18pm CDT
I need to try it again. We had a really weird time on the staff trying to figure out how to review it, but I might get back to it before #1 hits. :-?
Re: IDW Transformers vs. G.I. Joe #0 (FCBD) - Tom Scioli and John Barber Interview (1580320)
Posted by 1984forever on June 8th, 2014 @ 1:46pm CDT
It's a great story, but I'm undecided on whether the art adds to the craziness of the book or tears it down. Points for using real Transformers, and even more points for using good Cybertronian characters like Straxus. Points subtracted for killing real '80s native New Yorkers like Zap, and not putting enough pages into the book. It looks like I'll be buying this crap after all!
Re: IDW Transformers vs. G.I. Joe #0 (FCBD) - Tom Scioli and John Barber Interview (1580558)
Posted by Dead Metal on June 9th, 2014 @ 12:12pm CDT
My comic store got one of these for me since it was Transformers and he's so awesome that he tries to do me favours every now and then.

I just decided to read it, and well, surprise, surprise I still hated it.

I like the idea that it's it's own take and unconnected to the main TF and GI Joe comics, but that's all it has really.

The art is bad, it does not remind me of Silver Age comics, it reminds me more of Super Jail. But unlike Super Jail it's not crazy or disgusting enough to make it cool, that and it's not animated like it's an ADHD kid on sugar and coffee.

The only thing remotely similar to Silver Age comics is, that it reads like a bad Silver Age comic, back when they didn't care for what they where doing, and the Code dictated that they could not have multi part stories and thus had to compress everything into one issue, which didn't every time.

The Transformers speech bubbles suck too, the stupid squiggly lines, seriously, the Transformers squiggly line for "And fine somewhere to hide" is longer than the one for "No you're my Golden Ticket to Bigger Things. My key to the Decepticon elite. You're the lure I'm going to use to draw Optimus Prime out of hiding."

Some panels do look like Kirby, but those where like two or three panels in the entire issue.
Re: IDW Transformers vs. G.I. Joe #0 (FCBD) - Tom Scioli and John Barber Interview (1581163)
Posted by Va'al on June 11th, 2014 @ 12:36pm CDT
Another interview with IDW Publishing creators of Transformers vs G.I. Joe new ongoing series, Tom Scioli and John Barber! This time, courtesy of Comic Book Resources, who also have an exclusive look at another cover and two additional pages to what we saw last time. Check a preview out below, and the full story here.

The new ongoing series will be told in stand-alone issues, with each featuring "life, death, love, hate, mechanical aliens from space." Scioli and Barber spoke with CBR News about "Transformers vs. G.I. Joe" #1, explaining how Megatron functions as the series' Darkseid, how Scioli is playing with readers, why Doctor Venom should get his own series and much more about their nontraditional approach to both franchises.

CBR News: First off -- did Bumblebee make it out alive from "Transformers vs. G.I. Joe" #0, the FCBD issue?

Barber: Well, he didn't look very good on that last page, did he? I think we might have to wait and see.

Scioli: Life and death have a different, not-quite-analogous definition for Cybertronians.


You said in our last interview that these stories will be single-issue stories. What are the benefits and challenges to writing one-issue stories?

Barber: Every issue stands on its own, but they definitely flow into each other. I think the rhythms of the series will start to be clearer as the series progresses, but really -- if all you did in life was read any single issue of "Transformers vs. G.I. Joe." I think you'd have had a pretty satisfying life. It's all there in every issue -- life, death, love, hate, mechanical aliens from space.

It's really a matter of taking an approach where every single issue is a whole unit. Not every issue is going to feel the same. I think the best comics are like that, sometimes. Every issue of this comic will have a personality. If you like one, you'll probably like the rest, I hope, but every one will have it's own idiosyncrasies.

The Free Comic Book Day #0 issue was very G.I. Joe-heavy; issue #1 is also very much from the point of view of the G.I. Joe team (but, believe me, is not lacking in Transformers), and then issue #2 switches it up completely.

Scioli: The major benefit is long-term goodwill. The readers will know that when they purchase their issue, they'll get a complete entertainment experience that they will want to repeat. The challenge is fitting all the story beats, and have them unfold in a natural manner, in a set number of pages. With my webcomics, I had the flexibility of having any give chapter being however many pages it took: 20, 14, 100. I do like the creative problem solving that's required for a rigid format. Jack [Kirby] and Stan [Lee] did all of those early epic "Fantastic Four" sagas in 20 pages. I'm not just talking about the to-be-continued soap operas from the middle issues, I'm talking about the self-contained stories in the first 20 or so issues.



Re: IDW Transformers vs. G.I. Joe #0 (FCBD) - Tom Scioli and John Barber Interview (1581178)
Posted by Black Bumblebee on June 11th, 2014 @ 1:12pm CDT
Re: IDW Transformers vs. G.I. Joe #0 (FCBD) - Tom Scioli and John Barber Interview (1581205)
Posted by Amelie on June 11th, 2014 @ 3:04pm CDT
I actually want these, but my local store doesn't look like he'll carry them and I don't trust his ordering anymore - I've ordered so many comics from him and failed to get a regular supply its ridiculous.

I really love the art style. I see what they've gone for with it and appreciate it. Spon on and very quirky. The fact its single-issue stories is a nice idea, too - the idea of tracking down back issues is what puts me off RID and MTMTE.
Re: IDW Transformers vs. G.I. Joe #0 (FCBD) - Tom Scioli and John Barber Interview (1583337)
Posted by Va'al on June 18th, 2014 @ 6:43am CDT
This is a quiet week for Transformers comics, in terms of new IDW Publishing output. Here at, however, we wanted to make sure to give you the full sequential art coverage, and, before issue 1 actually hits stores next month, we went back to review the Free Comic Book Day Issue #0 of the new Transformers vs G.I. Joe ongoing!

That one

“Some missions are so secret, so sensitive, so serious that as far as America’s concerned--they never occurred. The agents sent on these classified missions are code-named Seibertron Comics Staff.”


As the saying goes, ‘these are not your father’s ________________’ -fill in the blank with whatever pop culture item, sports team, or ‘other’ that might be relevant at the time’ In this case, it’s ‘GI JOE VS. TRANSFORMERS’.

Tigertrack - TF VS. G.I. JOE or JOES VS TF (whichever is your slant) have had several incarnations over the years that have seen print, and even a few more that have not.

Va'al - (It's technically Transformers vs G.I. Joe..)

TT - Fine fine.

While not really moving either of the franchise’s further ahead in their respective universes these crossovers have proven to be fun elseworld stories, generally ‘what if’ type situations, that have left both franchise followers feeling less than satisfied asking several questions, including: why do they continue to do this?

The newest comic crossover between these two siblings may perhaps come closest to creating the feeling I had when I would play with and display my GI JOE and Transformers toys together when I was a child, and represents perhaps a very real portrayal of what I might have been thinking the story might have been like. I’m not quite sure if that is meant to be a compliment or not.

Not pictured: Tigertrack

V - See, I think that was my problem with this comic: I have never really been any part of anything that had something to do with G.I. Joe, despite the two franchises being so close through the years. It made it harder for me to assess what Tom Scioli and John Barber were trying to do plot, story and context-wise.


The FREE COMIC BOOK DAY ‘prequel’ sets up the future ongoing. One part Transformers to three parts GI JOE, this comic is more of a Joe-centric story than a TF story. The beginning of the book introduces Bumblebee and Starscream, and how they seemingly get themselves sprinkled into the middle of the final results of another COBRA threat that GI JOE is working bravely to thwart. But don’t let that fool you. The COBRA and GI JOE action is the main part, and Starscream and Bumblebee are only minor pieces of the pages they are in, seemingly unimportant to the actual threat of the creeper bombs that COBRA is about to unleash.

V - And here I felt that it was more of an introduction to G.I. Joe for readers like me, who have very little clue about the franchise. So while I'd agree it's more G.I. Joe in content, I'd say it's trying to appeal to regular Transformers readers - so it needs to say very little about our favourite transforming robots. The issue introduces many GI JOE and COBRA characters, using almost infodump-y tiny file cards as a means to share names and specialties. And jokes. And plot points. So many cards.


TT - I like your point about it being an introduction to joe for TF fans, I often felt it was the transformers that drove (hah!) the stories and GI joe was there to get a boost or feed off TF popularity.

The story itself seems to take place before many of the characters are quite who we knew/know them to be yet. Duke is a ‘rookie’ who is constantly hitting on Scarlett ala Ripcord from THE RISE OF COBRA. Scarlett is possessed with taking down the COBRA COMMANDER. Snake Eyes is not yet mute or mutilated, he’s actually a very vocal, veteran leader. Other Joes from different parts of joe history show up like Doc, Roadblock, Wild Bill, Ace, and Bazooka.


V - Now, the artwork. Tom Scioli is doing everything, from layouts to pencils to inks to colours, and is explicitly referencing a Kirby-esque Silver Age (debated term, but let's use it anyway) style of art. The facial expressions, the dots, the shadowing, the dots, the backgrounds - all the elements are there, undoubtedly.

The Dots

Does it always convince? No, not really. But I enjoyed it nonetheless, in a strange way of recognising its amibition and completely bonkers scope. The execution will divide a lot of opinions (and indeed already has) but there is no doubt in claiming that Scioli knows Kirby's work, and is a good sequential storyteller. Whether the style is what the two fandoms wanted is an entirely different conversation.

I believe my position of not really being that tied to either franchise in its early incarnations allows me to see this with a fresher perspective, and doesn't hit the 'childhood memories' of either. In fact, it captures the silliness of both series looking back on them now, in a fashion!


TT - The issue has some slapstick banter, hard core fighting, and a somewhat sweet payoff full page shot. Even more so there is the final page payoff, in which --

V - That thing happens, with those characters saying those things to each other.

Is it a must? Not sure. Is it fun? For me, it was: I found it amusing, ambitiously out there, with some interesting plotting and planning, some intriguing if not always convincing artwork (but impressive, as it's all Scioli's work, from start to finish). It's still free around the internet somewhere, so I'd give it a look if you can!

Have some Lichtenstein, too

TT - I suppose this series will replicate that previous formula of the Joes being the established Earthians to contact/conflict with the Transformer aliens and cobra looks to use the bots for their benefit somehow teaming with the cons and then double-crossing them. I'm not expecting much surprise-wise.

I still very much dislike the art. I think I know what is being attempted, I just find it pretty disappointing for the most part so far. The SDCC covers are very bothersome. But I will still work to support this and enjoy it, so maybe someday we can get the ultimate crossover.

We'll see what the actual first issue brings - but until then, GOOOO FORMERS!

Re: IDW Transformers vs. G.I. Joe #0 (FCBD) - Tom Scioli and John Barber Interview (1583365)
Posted by gothsaurus on June 18th, 2014 @ 9:30am CDT
I thought this was a really fun romp. And while I'm hoping they eventually get around do a dead-serious toy line and comic book, this strikes a chord for any old G1 fan.

Most everyone my age watched the two cartoons back to back, and at some point read one or both of the comics... so doing a time warp 25 years back to your childhood for a grin is a surprise out of left field. Refreshing and fun comic to read. Art, banter, and outlandish plot points make it a great time.

Hoping they continue with at least a 4-part in this style. A recommended read, if only for the campy fun. Very enjoyable and light. Will make you feel like a kid again.
Re: IDW Transformers vs. G.I. Joe #0 (FCBD) - Tom Scioli and John Barber Interview (1583495)
Posted by cruizerdave on June 18th, 2014 @ 5:48pm CDT
Eh. I tried it.
The drawings are childish and sloppy. The writing is equally childish and sloppy. It's like they took the very worst aspects of both the original comic series, magnified them, and eliminated the good stuff, and then put it on the page.
Re: IDW Transformers vs. G.I. Joe #0 (FCBD) - Tom Scioli and John Barber Interview (1585509)
Posted by Va'al on June 24th, 2014 @ 5:42pm CDT
Courtesy of the official IDW Publishing Facebook page, we get a look at the subscription cover for issue #3 of the John Barber/Tom Scioli Transformers vs G.I. Joe ongoing - check out the Megatron-centric art below!

Re: IDW Transformers vs. G.I. Joe #0 (FCBD) - Tom Scioli and John Barber Interview (1585595)
Posted by BumbleDouche on June 25th, 2014 @ 12:20am CDT
They're charging money for this? I'd almost pay NOT to see that artwork again... Almost.
Re: IDW Transformers vs. G.I. Joe #0 (FCBD) - Tom Scioli and John Barber Interview (1585606)
Posted by Wolfguard on June 25th, 2014 @ 1:42am CDT
The Joes kinda remind me of those lil wrestling figures that came out during the late '80s.
Re: IDW Transformers vs. G.I. Joe #0 (FCBD) - Tom Scioli and John Barber Interview (1585616)
Posted by Dead Metal on June 25th, 2014 @ 3:44am CDT
The artwork looks a heck of a lot like that of boardmember of old GrimSqueaker.
Re: IDW Transformers vs. G.I. Joe #0 (FCBD) - Tom Scioli and John Barber Interview (1585690)
Posted by gothsaurus on June 25th, 2014 @ 10:57am CDT
I have to say... after reading the first one (and understanding it's a bit of a playful, joke comic)... I'm loving this series. The retro art and inside jokes really made me laugh... and feel like a child in the 80s again.

It was off putting at first, but by the time I reached the end of the comic I was sold.
Re: IDW Transformers vs. G.I. Joe #0 (FCBD) - Tom Scioli and John Barber Interview (1592263)
Posted by Va'al on July 21st, 2014 @ 12:52pm CDT
The IDW comics have been taking a couple of breaks this month, but with this final week of July, they definitely catch up! Check out below a full preview,via Newsarama, for the first offering: the truly bonkers Transformers vs G.I. Joe #1! (And head back here on Wednesday to find out if we have finally formed an opinion on it..)

Transformers VS G.I. JOE #1—SPOTLIGHT
Tom Scioli & John Barber (w) • Scioli (a & c)
SPACE WAR I! Earth makes contact with an alien race—and G.I. JOE is on the front lines of first contact! But when the TRANSFORMERS arrive—their version of “peace” does not match our own…
FC • 32 pages • $3.99

Bullet points:
Variant cover by Rob Liefeld!
Launching out of the smash-hit FREE COMIC BOOK DAY comic!








Re: IDW Transformers vs. G.I. Joe #0 (FCBD) - Tom Scioli and John Barber Interview (1592345)
Posted by 1984forever on July 21st, 2014 @ 6:14pm CDT
Scioli is the best artist in the whole 3rd grade!

But otherwise, I like this and I will buy ( and probably complain).
Re: IDW Transformers vs. G.I. Joe #0 (FCBD) - Tom Scioli and John Barber Interview (1592459)
Posted by Bleak5170 on July 22nd, 2014 @ 6:15am CDT
Never in my almost 40 years of reading comics has an art style turned me off so much. I could see this working for another comic or a kid's storybook, but it just doesn't fit G.I. Joe or the Transformers at all.
Re: IDW Transformers vs. G.I. Joe #0 (FCBD) - Tom Scioli and John Barber Interview (1592487)
Posted by gothsaurus on July 22nd, 2014 @ 8:53am CDT
I think you have to be an older fan to really appreciate these... having read comics for a good 35 years, I can recognize that this art is homaging a different era of comics... and see it as the tongue-in-cheek, funny project it is.

But for younger or casual fans, it would look really childish and odd. Maybe after reading the trade paperbacks of all the 80s TF comics and the excellent UK series you could warm up to it and see the humor?
Re: IDW Transformers vs. G.I. Joe #0 (FCBD) - Tom Scioli and John Barber Interview (1592489)
Posted by Va'al on July 22nd, 2014 @ 8:58am CDT
I'm still getting my head around it, with a mixture of amusement, bemusement and confusion.

It's just so wacky in its scope!

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