We recently had the unique opportunity for you, the fans, to address your questions or concerns about the Transformers comics to IDW Publishing's Andy Schmidt, editor for the Transformers comic books. Andy has very kindly answered all of your questions, and you can check out his responses below. Of particular note is that we can confirm that the Transformers Spotlight series of one shots will be making a come back in April 2010 with Transformers Spotlight Prowl! Continuity
I'm sure you have been asked this many times in person(although in much harsher words than what I will use) but could you please explain why there are so many blatant errors in "The Transformers Continuum: The Definitive Chronology"? Also, Thank you for giving up your time to answer these questions posed to you by the fans, as it is appreciated greatly. AS: G1Wheeljack, sure. Not a problem. CONTINUUM is what I would call a primer, rather than a historical document. It serves to bring readers who are not versed in the previous continuity up to speed quickly and prepare them for the new TRANSFORMERS ongoing series.
So, trying to cram 75-plus issues of continuity into 28 pages of recap is not an easy thing to do. And not all the information is really necessary to get into the ongoing. So, I chose to essentially ignore a few things—The Machination being the most debated, I think. I combined it with Skywatch for the purposes of the recap. I know that we’re not bringing them up again for a good while. And it seemed like just one more element to throw at a new reader in an already complex portion of the CONTINUUM.
That said, as fans, you should realize two things—CONTIUUM does not trump the individual issues. It rewrites nothing. The books are the books. They are what count. And when/if The Machination returns in the ongoing series or in a mini-series, they will be revealed in such a way as to introduce them properly to any new readers.
I was a little surprised to see so many core fans reading CONTINUUM when we were open that it wasn’t intended for the core fans, but it was intended for the fringe fan looking to get back into TRANSFORMERS. And while the core fans seem to have hated CONTINUUM (which does not surprise me) it is the fringe fans that seem to have enjoyed it. The feedback we’ve gotten from retailers was that it was a really useful sales tool and that people not already reading TRANSFORMERS were glad to have it, enjoyed it, and it got them excited for TRANSFORMERS #1. And honestly, that was really the goal.
What happen with Continuum ? AS: See above.
Are stuff like machination and skywatch being the same are regarded as canon or mistakes on IDW end ? AS: Consider the third option, Cyclonus86! We did it on purpose and it still doesn’t make it canon! See above again for the full explanation.
Will IDW release a more accurate, detailed and definitive continuum in the future? AS: Maybe. I wouldn’t rule it out. The funny thing about the label “The Definitive Collection” is that it was thrown on the day the book went to the printer. There was dead space at the bottom of the cover where we had intended to put several different cover elements, but they didn’t really work there, so we moved them all to the back cover. Then Chris Mowry suggested throwing in the label on the cover, and Denton and I had to admit it looked better…
Why has IDW made the decision to re-write the G1 story in such a backwards way, having no regard or respect to the mythology and background that has already been laid?
Dreamwave presented the G1 story as it originally was, and expanded on the original story with positive backstories (such as War Within) that enriched the mythology. They expanded, yet did so in a way that the original Marvel comic and cartoon still had relevence, even going so far as to connect arcs and hints laid in the original work. Please forgive me for seeming completely negative, but I believe all of the "mini-series", such as Devestation, leading up to this "ongoing #1" to be a extremely divergent mess. Taking G1 characters and writing backgrounds and stories for them that are completely 180 degrees from their original origins is a horrible idea imo.
You don't fix what isn't broken.
Why not expand on themes and stories already set in motion by Dreamwaves' G1-verse? BTW, I do want to say that, besides the way the new art style draws the faces, the design of the bodies is pretty cool. AS: Optomitron, without any clear examples, I’m not sure what you mean by rewriting G1 continuity in a backwards way. I honestly don’t know how to address that since it seems to make sense to me as is.
I don’t think the characters have been mis-handled. Optimus seems like Optimus to me. Megatron seems like Megatron to me. I don’t think making alterations to back-story really destroys a character. I think it’s necessary in fiction quite often. All the big guys seem like all the big guys to me.
About Dreamwave, there were many poor decisions made on the business side of things at the end of Dreamwave’s run on the book making it virtually impossible for us to legally pick up any of their storylines. Sad but true. I have looked into it personally.
If you did a Transformers / GI Joe crossover, would it be in continuity with the main series or outside the main continuity? AS: Unknown at this time, rauprime.
Does LAST STAND OF THE WRECKERS have something to do with Revelation? AS: Not a whole lot, no.
Do want to make connections with Beast Wars and Beast Machines, or have you got a project in mind for them?
AS: We’re just limited in terms of staffing resources and the number of titles we can produce. For the time being, we’re focusing most of our attention on the G1 characters in the current universe. We’re also doing about one movie-universe book a month.
I don’t rule out revisiting other incarnations or even bringing them into the fold in the current universe, but we don’t currently have any plans for it either.
Will this new series delve into the ancient mythology of this universe’s Transformers. Are there any plans to deal with the first 13? AS: Not right away, but Cybertronian back-story will become increasingly important as we move forward.
No plans for a 13 comic at this time. Characters
hurm okies this goes to any of you willing to answer this. i guess only one thing i was wondering... for the coveres of the next #2 issue i see Prowl, Redalert, Hotrod, & Mirage considered for the next leader... but why is Jazz not considered... the only reason i ask is because wasnt he in charge back on Cybertron with Ironhide? Prowl seemed to be under his comand sorry if im reading that wrong i realy am curious whats happened to him! AS: Laserbot, that’s easy! The cover actually isn’t a representation of who is being considered for leadership. It comes from a different story development altogether. That said, you’ll see how the Autobots get to where they get in issue #2. On sale soon!
will we see bumblebee or goldbug as the vw beatle? AS: Neither! Ha ha! Goldbug is a separate character in our continuity. He was seen in TRANSFORMERS: SPOTLIGHT: METROPLEX.
Is Megatron going to return and will Optimus eventually be leader again.
BTW First issue was great AS: Some things are permanent in comics. You can’t come back from the dead. And once you retire, that’s it, you’re retired. Right? I mean, has anyone ever heard of a character in comics being resurrected? Anyone? Bueller? No? Okay, I guess that’s it then.
I’d just say, don’t expect either of those things right away, Bumblebot. And thanks for the compliment on the first issue. Mike and Don did amazing work on it.
Is there any plans to bring back any characters thast have and will be killed off?
Will the humans be the main threat, or will there be other threats that play a big part? AS: Maybe and no, humans are not the main threat.
Will we see more original IDW characters being introduced? Will we see characters from other transformers continuities being introduced into this one? AS: No plans for any major characters that are original to IDW. We might bring in some other characters though. Probably in a side-series like, I don’t know, maybe TRANSFORMERS: LAST STAND OF THE WRECKERS.
Seeing as we have Overlord in the new Wreckers comic, can we expect to see other Japanese-only TF (Star Saber, LeoZak etc) in future comic issues? AS: We’re trying to focus the cast down to key characters who have important roles to play. At the same time, we’re also trying not to ignore the larger cast. There is no goal to bring in new characters, but if it works for story purposes, I’m certainly not against it—as Overlord indicates.
-Will Skywatch get a character like Circuit Breaker (if not her per say but a homage to her Marvel self)? AS: No plans at this time. They’ve got Spike!
-Are any humans on the Autobot side? Are have the Autobots lost a traditonal ally once and for all? AS: That remains to be seen. But a definite maybe.
-Will Thundercracker return from Skywarp's attack? Will any Decepticons appaer to be a main threat? AS: Thundercracker returns in TRANSFORMERS #4! Boo-yah! All Decepticons are threats! But yes, you’ll see more and more of them.
-Will the Dinobots/ Arielbots,/ Protectobots/ Predacons appear? AS: That would be nice. My nephews love the Dinobots and I have to keep them happy!
-Any plans to have Simon Furman finish any loose ends from his -ation series
AS: Rattrap Primal, I think he wrapped it all up pretty nicely. If you’re asking about the Magnificence in particular, then no, not at this time.
Why was Ironhide killed?
Where are the special teams like the Aerial Bots, Dinobots etc...
Will the characters be portrayed in the correct manner? AS: Ironhide was killed for several reasons. The main one being that he jumped in front of a giant cannon as it was fired.
Good question. I haven’t seen them lately. Maybe they’re right in front of you, only in disguise…
Yes…? I’m not really sure what you’re asking without having some reference point for what you think is “correct manner.” If you’re asking if they’ll never change and always be exactly as they are and predictable, then the answer is no. If you’re asking if they’re going to grow and evolve, then the answer is yes.
I'm a big fan of All Hail Megatron and the Spotlights-ation series. Like the new direction, not sure about the character designs, but I'll get used to it. AS: You sound like my kind of guy, starscreaminghost!
Where is Omega Supreme? Did he split Earth and leave the others to fend for themselves? AS: Read TRANSFORMERS: BUMBLEBEE.
Can we please not have Starscream get killed ever? Pretty sick of that happening! AS: Considering he’s Mike Costa’s favourite character, that request seems doable.
Will you use Japanese characters in the universe? Will the stories or characters of the Japanese shows Transformers Victory and Transfomers Zone be connected or incorporated?
Will we see any more from subgroups such as HEADMASTERS, MICROMASTERS..? AS: No plans, rauprime, for any of that at this time. Again, I wouldn’t rule it out down the line, but we’re focusing on a smaller cast for the time being. But we’ll probably get there. Artwork
First, thank you for taking the time to interact and respond to the fans...
Why did you change everyones faces to look more like the movie verse? Part of enjoying the G1-Verse is relating to those characters. People enjoy the movie-verse because it is new and different. Once you start to meld the two together you loose part of the fan base (my opinion). I do not mind the vehicle upgrades but I honestly cannot stand the new faces. Will you pleace change them back to those they we know and hold dear?
Thanks AS: mrduce1018, no problem, happy to take questions. Don decided to try something different with the characters. You’ll notice that they do not look the same in all the different books. We’ve decided to use the launch of the ongoing series as a place to actually stop forcing artists to draw in certain ways. It’s our feeling that the artists should be allowed to create and to interpret the characters in different ways. This is how Don chose to draw them for the opening arc.
I don’t think they look at all like the movie characters since I’ve seen the movies and I still can’t tell most of them apart and in the TRANSFORMERS book, they all retain their original G1 iconic color schemes and characteristics—Bumblebee’s horns, Ratchet’s chevron on his head, Ironhide’s windshield chest and bright red color scheme, etc.
Most of the other artists are doing interpretations much closer to the original American cartoon.
Why was the decision made to not only radiclly alter the character designs, but to also Retro-activly redesign the characters as they previously appeared in flashback?
AS: See the answer above, Kaijumaster. Artistic interpretation. That’s all. No big dark secret, no conspiracy, just letting artists do what they do.
Sorry if this is waaaay repetitive. Why is it that the artwork is changing so much mid-continuity? I would understand if this were you guy's first TF book or if everyone hated the art before (it was awesome, by the way). I'm not in the "IDW has once and forever ruined everything holy and good" camp of bitchy fan overreaction, but I'm not a big fan of how the new faces look.
Thanks for what you guys do, and new faces or not, I'll be waiting for the new issues. AS: It gets repetitive when all the questions are organized like this—ha ha. No problem, enkidoamark. But yeah, take a look above. And I don’t think you’re being bitchy. You’re a fan. You care. I’m a fan too and when I’m not working on something I’m asking the same kinds of questions. My god, man—Greedo did NOT shoot first!
Can we expect to see Nightbeat's story continue in this series? His death was very out-of-the-blue and awkward, and Simon Furman had said on his blog last year that that part of the story had had to be shortened and that more on it would be forthcoming. AS: I don’t read Simon’s blog and he’s never mentioned any of that to me (I came on after his last SPOTLIGHT issue). So, as far as I know, Nightbeat is dead and gone. I tend to think we shouldn’t bring him back but if there was a great story to tell where someone else took up his quest, I wouldn’t be opposed to it. But honestly, Simon’s never mentioned it to me and upon reading those last SPOTLIGHT issues; they felt crammed, but not truncated. As far as I know, Simon got everything he wanted in there.
Simple question I'm sure the answer is probably known to, but will the Movie style continue throughout the series? I really happen to like it.
And while I somewhat agree with the complaints about the faces, I just want to ask if the faces will be more defined yet still movie style in next issues? The one panel where Rodimus was all "=O!!" it took me a second look to figure out his mouth was open. AS: That’s up to Don. He likes what he’s doing, so I’d expect it to continue as long as he’s the artist. That said, other artists are doing their own interpretations. I’m not forcing Don’s style on them any more than I’m forcing their style onto Don. But yeah, I talked with Don about the faces a couple of weeks ago and he’s still refining them.
Why did you give the Transformers a movieverse look instead of using the Classics and G1 style from All Hail Megatron? As I read through these questions it seems that the change in the look of the Transformers is an unpopular one and if it proves to be unpopular enough will you change back to a more familar look? AS: Again, see above. Not movie-ispired. But to your further points, themac339, Don’s interpretation has come under fire a little in the hard-core fandom audience only—what that means is that there are a lot of comments posted, but from the rest of the evidence I’ve seen and collected, that reaction is actually fairly small when the audience as a whole is taken into account. So, I think they’re here for as long as Don wishes to continue with them. And I’ll support Don on it.
Are there any plans to use the Don Figueroa concept art from before the launch (Jetfire Optimus and Bumblebee)?
AS: They’re on sketch covers! Those designs (if they’re the ones I think you’re referring to) were development interpretations. They were adjusted after talking with Don, so no, not in those forms exactly. Future Projects
Can you give us an estimate on if/when we can expect the Spotlight series to resume? Can you give us any detail to why it was put on hiatus? AS: SPOTLIGHT: PROWL is in April. Spotlights were put on hiatus while we concentrated on the launch of the ongoing series, BUMBLEBEE and LAST STAND OF THE WRECKERS. There is a limit to the number of TRANSFORMERS comics we can publish in a given month and it felt like a good time to let them rest a bit.
Spotlights - More of them? Please?
Thanks for the large amount of communication with "us the fans." Even when we're complaining about stuff, we're always appreciative when our personal dedication/addiction gets taken seriously. (As are most people, really.) AS: See above for SPOTLIGHTS. Happy to take the questions. You guys have been great through the launch of the ongoing series and your feedback is always appreciated.
Beast Wars, Beast Machines, TransTech, Animated comics? Any plans? AS: Not at this time, sorry, SpinalCord.
Will we see more Beast Wars at all, even if it was a few spotlights? AS: See above, but I wouldn’t rule it out down the line a bit.
Any plans to tell more Pre-Earth/Cybertron stories, like the origin of Optimus Prime and the Great War?
Oh and bring back Minerva! AS: There are plans—May is our first pre-Earth story in a while, I think. No plans on Minerva, KAGE.
Since you have republished Dreamwave's Armada/Energon series, will you be letting Furman finish what he started with Energon and move into Cybertron? AS: No. There are legalities beyond IDW’s ability to untangle as we simply don’t have the records needed. My guess is that these stories will never be built upon again. Which is too bad as they were really building up to something.
Will Furman write anymore stories for the main transformers continuity? AS: I hope so. He and I have been talking about another project recently, but it is not set in the current TRANSFORMERS continuity, but it’s one he’s clearly passionate about.
Will there be any new sotlights (besides the Bumblebee mini-seies)? There are so many cool possiblities for Ratchet, Skywarp, Starscream, and Sandstorm (where's he been)? AS: Yep! But they won’t be too often. Just don’t have the man-power to do them all the time without glutting the market.
Will you launch the TF comics in countries like Brazil Spain and in other languages? AS: IDW has rights to publish TF comics in the US and Canada. Other countries and languages are licensed separately by Hasbro.
Will any elements of the planned Expansion story be used to explain events before All Hail Megatron or for future stories? AS: Probably not. That feels like looking backwards to me. And on top of that, I don’t think all that much needs much explaining at this point.
Are there any ideas for a Transformers “Crisis on Infinite Earths”? AS: Actually, yes. But I don’t think it’ll happen. Just seems really convoluted and unnecessary. As much of a “Crisis” fan as I am, looking back on it with hindsight, it seems like it wasn’t a great idea to do in the first place. But, yeah, we have kind of talked about something like that… kinda…
Are there any plans for Simon Furman to return to the series or a side project? AS: Yep. Simon’s always in the mix. His TRANSFORMERS: NEFARIOUS book launches in March, I believe!
Where does IDW stand with G1, Energon and other Dreamwave comics? AS: We don’t. As stated above, it’s just not in our hands. Other Topics
1) Does Hasbro uses IDW as their marketing wagon, like they did during the marvel era? AS: I’m not sure I know what that means, catz. If you mean, “Does Hasbro force IDW to put certain characters in the comics,” then the answer is no. We have a great relationship with Hasbro and the Transformers team there.
2) If they haven't, is ther any plan to make the IDW version of the characters in toy form? AS: Not that I know of but that doesn’t mean it isn’t a possibility.
Thanks for answering our questions Andy. Here are a few of my own. AS: No sweat, UltraMagnus3786.
Where do you see the comic line a year from now, if all goes according to plan? What's the backup plan? AS: I see it in comic shops everywhere! If all goes according to plan and in an ideal world you’ll be getting between two and three IDW continuity books a month and one movie-universe book a month. I’d also like to do more specials and stand alones. SPOTLIGHT: PROWL is the first of these and it’s tied to the ongoing series quite closely.
I don’t have a backup plan. The plan we have in place has enough wiggle room in it that we’ll do any course correcting as we go. As creators, Mike, Don, Guido, and everyone else are always tweaking things on an ongoing basis, looking for ways to improve their storytelling and connect with the fans.
What are some of the larger themes you want to tackle with the Transformers brand over the next year and beyond? AS: I’m a huge science fiction fan, personally. And I’m interested in some pretty cerebral topics. While some of them might filter in a bit, the focus is going to be on what it means to be a TRANSFORMERS being. We’re going to deal with what death is to TRANSFORMERS—it may surprise you—or it may not. But our central theme is “transformation” and that theme is in every story to one degree or another.
As an editor, it’s not for me to push my interests onto the creators. I’m interested in what their themes and stories are. If I were the writer, I’d want the same respect from my editor and we’d go in a different direction. But I’m not the writer and I’m comfortable with that.
I know that doesn’t really answer your question, but I hope there’s enough meat in there for you.
What have you learned from All Hail Megatron? What would you have done differently? AS: That’s a bit loaded. As a rule, I don’t like to speak negatively of other people’s work, so I won’t go into what I would have done differently. That’s simply not fair to the creators and editors who generated that story as I have a huge advantage of hindsight. I will say that I think ALL HAIL MEGATRON was extremely successful at a number of things—the most important of which was kicking TRANSFORMERS comics in the pants and forcing folks to take notice!
What have you learned from Furman's run with the -ation series? What would you have done differently?
Thanks! AS: Simon managed to build an intergalactic mystery in a really interesting way. He’s extremely talented at building questions upon questions upon riddles. As a fan (as I was just reading as the books came out), I just always wanted my answers! Ha ha. But it’s clear after that storyline that we can build larger stories in the TRANSFORMERS universe.
As many have stated, thanks for answering these questions Andy.
There was once a Marvel crossover with IDW TFs. While I didn't enjoy the concept (the Marvel characters were unconvincing), I think there would be fertile ground for another crossover using Death's Head since he has time / dimension jumped before. This could allow for a reunion of sorts involving Circuitbreaker, the Neo Knights, and possibly G.B. Blackrock also.
So, my question is, could another deal be struck with Marvel for another IDW / Marvel TF Crossover using the above legacy characters? These characters make perfect sense plot-wise, and would be interesting to re-imagine them with the new TFs. AS: I’m personally not all that interested in doing another crossover like that one. And honestly, I’m not sure that crossover would expose TRANSFORMERS characters and stories to a wider audience – which when crossovers do happen, that is a key goal. It’s unlikely that another crossover would happen again in the foreseeable future.
What plans has IDW made to widen the reading audience with comic books besides sales in comic book specialty shops? (such as retail stores like Target and Walmart)
What are some future plans regarding collections such as the current Marvel run on Transformers?
Thanks for all you do! AS: We’ve gotten a lot of major media coverage lately. We’ve been in USA Today and on late night talk shows; the publicity has been great. Target,K-Mart and the like are selling the books so we’re already doing those things, I think.
About collections, we’re going to finish the Marvel run, I think and then there’s not a whole lot more of older stories to collect. We are looking into reprinting the Marvel UK books in a new format that I think is pretty exciting, but that’s still early stages yet.
What was the reasoning behind revealing a big spoiler from Ongoing #1 in the press release? I hadn't managed to find the issue anywhere and then got confronted by the spoiler without any warning. It's put me a little off going to find the issue knowing that was going to happen plot wise.
Is the Wreckers series going to be drawn in the older IDW style or in the style as seen in the ongoing series. I hope it's the former as I am far from convinced that the Ongoing style can convincingly portray emotion as well as the liquid metal look. AS: I guess the answer to your first question, Storm, is that that is what press releases do—they have to say something in order to have an effect. The press release went out after the book was on sale and after the news had broken in mainstream media. The press releases are really geared for retailers—but I can’t stop the news from spreading. And honestly, even if I could, I probably wouldn’t—that news got a lot—a LOT—of big attention and drove people to stores to find out what was up with Optimus Prime.
On your second question, Nick is drawing in Nick’s regular style. There is no IDW style to speak of—we’re letting the artists do their thing!
I think that’s a wrap! Thank you all very much for your questions and suggestions (some implied) and really, thanks for reading and caring as much as I do. We’re doing everything we can to get the word out about TRANSFORMERS and present a diverse line of TRANSFORMERS comics. Thanks for sticking with us. I think you’ll be rewarded for your time and trouble!
And thanks to Sol Fury at TFW2005 for setting this all up! We should do it again in a couple of months and see how you guys are feeling then!