Tom Scioli & John Barber Interview - IDW Transformers vs. G.I. Joe #1

Wednesday, June 11th, 2014 12:37pm CDT

Categories: Comic Book News, People News, Interviews
Posted by: Va'al   Views: 20,914

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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.


Transformers News: Tom Scioli & John Barber Interview - IDW Transformers vs. G.I. Joe #1

Transformers News: Tom Scioli & John Barber Interview - IDW Transformers vs. G.I. Joe #1

Transformers News: Tom Scioli & John Barber Interview - IDW Transformers vs. G.I. Joe #1

Credit(s): CBR


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Re: Tom Scioli & John Barber Interview - IDW Transformers vs. G.I. Joe #1 (1581178)
Posted by Black Bumblebee on June 11th, 2014 @ 1:12pm CDT
Bleh
Re: Tom Scioli & John Barber Interview - IDW Transformers vs. G.I. Joe #1 (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: Tom Scioli & John Barber Interview - IDW Transformers vs. G.I. Joe #1 (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 Seibertron.com, 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!

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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.”

---INITIATE REVIEW(ish) THING

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.

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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.

STORY

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.

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Seriously


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.

ART

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.

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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!

THOUGHTS

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!

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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!

----END REVIEW(ish) THING
Re: Tom Scioli & John Barber Interview - IDW Transformers vs. G.I. Joe #1 (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: Tom Scioli & John Barber Interview - IDW Transformers vs. G.I. Joe #1 (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: Tom Scioli & John Barber Interview - IDW Transformers vs. G.I. Joe #1 (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!

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Re: Tom Scioli & John Barber Interview - IDW Transformers vs. G.I. Joe #1 (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: Tom Scioli & John Barber Interview - IDW Transformers vs. G.I. Joe #1 (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: Tom Scioli & John Barber Interview - IDW Transformers vs. G.I. Joe #1 (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: Tom Scioli & John Barber Interview - IDW Transformers vs. G.I. Joe #1 (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: Tom Scioli & John Barber Interview - IDW Transformers vs. G.I. Joe #1 (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!
ALL NEW STORY, ALL NEW ART!


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Re: Tom Scioli & John Barber Interview - IDW Transformers vs. G.I. Joe #1 (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: Tom Scioli & John Barber Interview - IDW Transformers vs. G.I. Joe #1 (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: Tom Scioli & John Barber Interview - IDW Transformers vs. G.I. Joe #1 (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: Tom Scioli & John Barber Interview - IDW Transformers vs. G.I. Joe #1 (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!
Re: Tom Scioli & John Barber Interview - IDW Transformers vs. G.I. Joe #1 (1592490)
Posted by Darth Jumpy on July 22nd, 2014 @ 9:02am CDT
Ignoring the artwork, I enjoyed issue 0. The humor worked pretty well. I'll pick up this comic, but I do hope that they do something about the art eventually. I get that it is a homage, but the art that they are referencing never had this many issues, especially with the perspective.

Also, I hope that they stop making everything in red, including the speech bubbles, in the briefing room scenes. Trying to read black on dark red in this preview was just painful.
Re: Tom Scioli & John Barber Interview - IDW Transformers vs. G.I. Joe #1 (1592494)
Posted by gothsaurus on July 22nd, 2014 @ 9:10am CDT
Yeah, I admit I kinda hated it until I read it. About 2/3 through I started to "get it" and by the end I was having a lot of fun. I think it's a good gimmick for a limited series. If they do an ongoing Joe/TF series, I'd want a serious reboot and some modern art.

That said, I really loved the older Dreamwave crossover that was so dark and painterly. It was really gritty. But I digress...
Re: Tom Scioli & John Barber Interview - IDW Transformers vs. G.I. Joe #1 (1592496)
Posted by Va'al on July 22nd, 2014 @ 9:15am CDT
I'd agree on the mini-series idea, rather than ongoing. But we'll see what happens to it after the initial run.

First issue is already on second printing!
Re: Tom Scioli & John Barber Interview - IDW Transformers vs. G.I. Joe #1 (1592754)
Posted by Downbeat on July 23rd, 2014 @ 3:55am CDT
I'm twenty one years old, and I'm digging on what's going on here. It isn't so much age as exposure to the material they're riffing on/basing it on that's a necessity, I think. Kirby, classic comics from the 70s and 80s, etc. It's an ungodly, beautiful chimera.
Re: Tom Scioli & John Barber Interview - IDW Transformers vs. G.I. Joe #1 (1592913)
Posted by Va'al on July 23rd, 2014 @ 5:36pm CDT
Space Balls!
(Spoiler free-ish)



Synopsis
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…

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Or maybe it does..?


Story

On a completely different note, artistically, thematically, tonally, from the concluding issue of Windblade... This week also marks the beginning of a new Transformers vs G.I. Joe ongoing from the mind and hands of John Barber and Tom Scioli, co-plotting and co-writing the whole run (as far as we know, at least). We've seen issue #0, but come along for a look at the actual start of a new thing right below here.

[Credit: Tigertrack is remotely helping out with this review, though all conclusions are my own.]

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The Seibertron Comics staff


It's still completely out there. Nothing has shifted since Free Comic Book Day, as Barber and Scioli plot the arrival of Cybertronians onto Earth, as the Joes set out to meet a Decepticon delegation headed by Soundwave and the cassettes. Where is Cobra? Oh, they're there. Where are the Autobots? Do is it really matter at this point, with Soundwave taking centre stage?

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Bay or Liefeld?


Plot-wise, there's a simplicity which might turn some people off the book, almost going back to the original cartoon plots from the two series - but in comics form, revelling in the creative spaces left from a stripped down narrative. There are sight gags, wordplay moments, slapstick, and some quite good action sequences, too.

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Er.. action?


The countdown sequence in particular is well thought out, and really shows the decompressed, almost slowed down to the bare minimum approach that the writers are taking. And we end up picking up a plotline started in issue #0, almost to its conclusion, along with what I think is an extremely intriguing ending to the book. Both of them.

Art

Ok. So Tom Scioli is taking care of absolutely everything here, from layouts to lines to inks to colours to lettering, this is his book definitely a lot more than Barber's, and it's his vision of the two franchises that we're seeing, with his artistic tendencies and influences coming into it - and that will work two ways with readers: yes, or no.

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A divisive issue


I can't see a middle ground, to be honest, the style does not allow for it. And I have to say, after getting my head round issue #0, I've come to enjoy this one a lot more than jumping into the cold deep end straight away - though I think another one to fully enjoy it. Credit note: even with Scioli on everything, I do want to make a note towards Chris Mowry's production work on this, especially the page design, and Carlos Guzman on editing, which cannot have been easy.

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A sight to behold


As SDCC is coinciding with the launch of the new series in this first issue, multiple variant covers were to be expected; here's a list of what you can get: Rob Liefeld with Romulo Fajardo Jr, James Stokoe, several Tom Scioli ones, Jamie Tyndall with Ula Mos, interlocking, single, blank, GI Joe dominant, TF dominant - you name it! It's Liefeld and Fajardo in the thumbnail, in case you were wondering.


Thoughts
Spoilerish ahead

As we said in the double-team review of issue #0, this series is setting itself up to be completely bonkers, with a method in the madness. I can't stress this enough: it's not for everyone, it does not take itself seriously, but it does it with such a charm and clearly heartfelt research and execution of styles, references and planning that it will at least crack a smile.

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MERP


I am still ambivalent about the artwork, as much as I do like the darker hues and overly filled panels, but it does fit the entire concept of the book from what I take from it - and my opinion quite definitely is not that of the entire comics staff! But if you're into your nostalgia pandering, your cosmic sagas, celebrations and parodying in parallel, this is definitely an issue for you - TF or Joe fan alike.


NOTE: There will be no 'rating' for this series, unless I change my mind drastically next month.

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