DON FIGUEROA: the Cybertron Philippines interview

Discussion in 'Transformers News and Rumors' started by lastmaximal, Jul 4, 2007.

  1. lastmaximal

    lastmaximal Hellspark

    Jul 1, 2002
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    This'll seem a little old by now, but this interview was spotlighted at the Don Figueroa exhibit at Cybertron Philippines' Cyber Con Philippines weekend event. Conducted by CybPH's own Protoform-S, this interview was part of the Don Fig display and can bee seen in the event pictures; we now share the text with you as well.

    • Where did you live in Manila before migrating to the US?

    I lived in Malabon, which I think was primary a fishing town near Manila (my family wasn't [in the fishing industry, but I remember playing in and around the fishing boats down by the river when I was a kid) I grew up there, it's mostly in school where my friends and I argued which was better: Transformers, He-man, G.I.Joe or M.A.S.K. (I'm into Transformers and He-man myself , I don't remember anybody standing up for Gobots..)
    I also lived in San Pedro, Laguna for a little while and for my last year there, I lived in Quezon City.

    • Do you still have relatives here in the Philippines?

    Yeah, Uncles, Aunts, my Grandma and Lots of Cousins all over the place.. oh, and my Dad's still there.

    • Would you like to visit Manila again? If so, when?

    Of course, I always dream about going home and visit my family/relatives, it might be tricky, but I would also like to track down some of my childhood friends. the neighborhood kids I use to run with and my old classmates . right now I'm quite busy and I don't really get a lot of time off to travel. maybe someday.

    • What is the best Transformers story you have ever read?

    Almost everything I get to read nowadays is written by Simon and I'm partial with any story I get to work on, and I've enjoyed reading and drawing most of the scripts I get. most Transformers stories that have stayed with me was from the cartoon, like the episode Heavy-Metal War, I just love the fight between Devastator and the Dinobots. I also love the idea that the war could have been resolved in a one-on-one battle and it doesn't have to be 'to the death'. It's just too bad someone had to cheat. but then again, if Prime did win, I doubt Megatron would have left in exile.

    • Why do you think Transformers has been such an enduring franchise?

    The Characters are just so memorable. whether the look of the character, the alt. mode they have or even the voice, it just sticks with you. even people who are not fans of Transformers will say to me they remember that "cassette dude with the computer voice" "and "the one that turned into a gun" or the "truck guy". the original toys are great, I remember there were a sort of competition between my friends and I who gets the most Transformers toys....well, it might be a little late (after 2 decades), but I think I won that contest

    • For you, what is the most underrated Transformers-related thing [character, series, toy, anything]?

    I don't know, maybe Machine Wars? it's probably the weakest attempt at a G1/vehicle revival but at least they tried. some of the toys were kinda cool, like the flip-changers. and at least the bigger toys had better colors than their original UK versions. but I think they could have tried a little better with it, maybe a good storyline to go along with it and maybe better packaging. I think it would be cool to see these bots have a comic book mini-series or something.

    • Any thoughts on the 2007 movie? Aesthetic, impact, ease or difficulty of drawing, etc.?

    It's probably the most hyped Summer movie right now and I hope it do very well, enough to warrant at least a couple more sequels. I was lucky enough to be one of the first fans to see the designs back in December of 2005. some were totally different from what we have now, ( I think I saw 3 different version of Prime and Bumblebee) some are already finalized but had a different name attached. most of the designs I saw back then were great! some, not so much. I can't say I'm totally in approval with all of the final designs, but I do like most of them and I understand why some are picked and some dropped.
    the Movie designs were extremely detailed and I tried to get as much of that in the prequel comic, specifically in the first issue. I got used to it but it was a pain in the ass specially when I was working from print-outs. it's just not as easy as having the toy in your hand, you can move it around to see the details. I constantly had to flip through a stack of papers to see what they look from different angles. you should have seen the paper that piled up in my studio! it's a good thing I don't smoke.

    • Your job notwithstanding, which part of Transformers do you appreciate more: Toys or Fiction? Why?

    I always like the toys, you can easily grab a bunch of toys from different series and put them together, slap new paint jobs and come up with a totally new storyline for them. I just appreciate the details and engineering that goes into each toy, from the simplest transformations to the most complexed.

    • Which characters are easiest for you to draw? What about the most challenging?

    I can probably draw most of the main Generation 1 cast without having any kind of references in hand. Prime and Megatron specially. an extreme close-up of Shockwave is probably the easiest to draw:) 
    I find it a little tricky to draw any brand-new design/character. I have to draw it a few times in different poses to get used to it but I would still need a reference picture or the toy nearby, specially for the super detailed ones.

    • How has your work evolved over the years since you started out?

    My robot proportions have improved, I never got told once that I had to "reduce the head about 20%" when drawing for IDW, they let me have a lot of freedom, artistically speaking. I've been inking my own work nowadays, it takes a bit longer to finish each page but it has enabled me to experiment a bit. right now I'm getting used to short-handing the pencil stage but mistakes happens sometimes during the inking process.

    • What is the biggest change in yourself [as opposed to your work] you’ve noticed since you started drawing professionally?
    I think I must have gained about 15-20 lbs since I started full timeSmiley emoticon I used to move around a lot and do a lot of heavy lifting when I use to managed a grocery store warehouse. still, it beats having to go to a chiropractor every other month. I'm also a bit of an insomniac now, but I figure if I ever go back home to the Philippines I wont have to deal with any jet lag

    • What is the most common misconception or incorrect idea people have about your work, or about being a TF fan artist in general?
    Hmm, I don't know. I think some people assume I have some stroke or pull within Hasbro or IDW or whatever..

    • What are your favorite TF art pieces you've done?
    I always like the latest thing I work on but the ones I'm very proud of are: the 20th Anniversary G1 Lithograph for OTFCC, the combined Stormbringer covers, Stormbringer Megatron.(he would probably have looked like that in War-Within if I designed him then) and Stormbringer Bludgeon's design, the 'Classics' piece I just did for Botcon '07(not the box-art, but I like that too) Armada Unicron's Box-art.( that one was cool to see as a 3 story high display at the Times Square Toys-r-us )

    • What is coming up for you for the remaining months of 2007? What's next? [Care to spoil us a bit? )

    Well, there's the Optimus Prime Spotlight coming up, and I'm working on the new Beast Wars series right now as well as a short for Transformers UK. I've talked to Chris about maybe doing other things beside Transformers as well. I've pitched a story to him that is more fantasy/mythology based (some are based on Filipino myths too), I'm still working on the story and design, but it's slow going. I only get to work on it in between the Transformers stuff. but I think he likes it, so far anyway.

    • What's your dream Transformers project for you to work on?

    Well, it all depends if anybody would let me, but there's this Transformers/G.I.joe story that I've been sitting on for years now that I would like to do. I posted some of the designs on the boards once, Optimus Prime as a version of the Joe's 'Rolling Thunder' and Megatron as 'Destro's Dominator'. ninja swords would have been of no use with my version of Transformers, I figure unless the sword is made of a magical metal and the person wielding it is a kryptonian, there's just no way for a sword strike from a human that can take down a Transformer. it would have taken something like a small nuclear explosion to even disable most of them. another thing I'd do is Omega Supreme would be reformatted into the Joe's Defiant Shuttle Complex
    I would like to do a new Transformers story from scratch someday as well, I'd still use names like Optimus and Megatron and such, but the story and design will be all new. infact, the fantasy/myth story I pitched to Chris WAS originally a Transformers story idea I had. but it would only work as a stand-alone story since I don't want to mess with any established continuity. but the idea went far enough from being Transformers that I decided to just make this a totally new story.

    • Optimus Prime: Flame on!

    • Bumblebee: He likes to whip it, apparently

    • Autobot: It seem that they like using non-lethal weapons in times of war, but hey! whatareyougonnado?

    • Galvatron: Insane in the Membrane. I like him in the animated movie, the TV show version- not so much

    • Hot Rod: Optimus Prime's new stylist, I don't know how good the chances are of having TWO flame-decaled vehicles in the sequel

    • Megatron: Lookin' sharp...and pointy

    • Beast Wars: Needs a movie, atleast an OAV, perhaps a masterpiece figure(s)

    • Starscream: Always needs a 'hint'!

    • Michael Bay: Casanova Frankenstein's top 'Frat-Boy' henchman, top-notch action-film director

    • Action Masters: Don't get a lot of action anymore. which is good, in my opinion

    • IDW: The 'I' makes them special:) 

    • Megan Fox: She's pretty hot, but I think Amanda Bynes is hotter ( did you see here in the MTV movie awards?!)

    • Energon: I prefer them in cube form, but crystal form's ok too

    • Grimlock: MUST be in the sequel, or heads will roll

    • Decepticon: Just following orders, really!

    • Minicons: Modern Micromasters, I think I can fit about five of them in my mouth

    • Chris Ryall: Needs to write more Transformers stories, got a tremendous singing voice

    • Cybertron: Not filled with magical Jelly Fertilizer

    • Philippines: A magical island chain across the great ocean , land of chocolate hills and the realm of the great Dolphy: the ever-living

    • What advice do you have for beginning artists?

    Draw any way you want, don't let any body tell you that you have to draw a certain way, if you want to draw Transformers based on the cartoon models, comics, movie or whatever, do it! as long as you're fine with it. make them your own and run with it.

    • Any message for your Filipino fanbase?

    Kamusta po! I hope I get to come home again for a visit someday and meet you guys. and I hope you guys enjoy the movie and gain more members in the Filipino Transformers community, both new and old fans from back in the G1 days.
  2. Sector Seven

    Sector Seven ∞ GΣΣK™

    Jun 5, 2007
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    Oh, Don... no.

    Thanks for posting the interview, lastmaximal.

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