IDW Mike Costa Reflects with UB Podcast Interview - Stories, Fans, and More

Discussion in 'Transformers News and Rumors' started by Kickback, Dec 8, 2011.

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  1. Billzilla

    Billzilla Skepticon

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    I agree with some of his comments about the fandom, others are clearly the result of a job that didn't turn out as he planned and blaming anyone but himself. I do agree that Transformers is generally considered a less respectable job in the comic book world than your average franchise book. Friends I have who will spend all day talking about what color green lantern's underpants are (green?) look at me like I have a dick painted on my forehead if I try to talk about TFs.

    But honestly I'm not very interested in any of his shitty comments about the franchise or fandom. There is a lot of entitlement among us, but we're still a community, our money still spends. Better than most. And we were kind enough to pay his rent for a while. But if he didn't like working there, he didn't like it. Not a crime. There's plenty not to like.

    I was interested in the challenges he had writing the characters as they are challenges I too have faced writing science fiction. Characters who don't eat, sleep or love are very hard to find good motivations for (I usually go with "avoiding boredom" as their primary impetus for action in that situation, but I write comedy) also character designs that are toys first a very difficult to find a compelling reason for said design. A lot of writers avoid this by completely tossing sense out the window, others struggle with it. I would, he evidently did. I would like to hear more about this from another writer who perhaps struggled with it and was more successful.

    At the end of the day, I didn't hate his writing as many of you seemed to. I won't particularly miss him and he certainly had his failings, but I've been reading comics a long time, and I've read quite a few with the Transformers logo on the front that were much worse than the ones with his name on them.

    Who he is as a person matters to me very little. A lot of my very favorite writers- Dave Sim, Hunter Thompson- are generally regarded as magnificent assholes. Costa barely rates in that company. As a writer or an asshole.
     
  2. Mako Crab

    Mako Crab Well-Known Member

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    If I recall, the basic argument started as everyone thought it was so great, when really it was just a shade or two better than what they had been getting with the other TF comics. Ah dang, I gotta go see if I can't find it now. It's been so long, I kind of forgot what all the complaints were.
    I do know that the main thing this one guy had against Roberts was not that he was a bad writer, because he quite enjoyed Wreckers, but that the fandom reaction to him was so over the top as to be annoying. He wanted a good writer, not a good TF writer, if you get my meaning. Kind like he felt that all the huge heaping amounts of fan praise for Roberts were derived from the fact that he likes to drop lots of little easter eggs in his stories that only TF fans would understand.
     
  3. SouthtownKid

    SouthtownKid Headmaster

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    I have always had a HUGE problem with that. That is possibly the worst tiny bit of writing in the entire TF franchise. For characters who live millions of years with minimal evolution, for their entire society to suddenly change THAT drastically in that short an amount of time is flat-out impossible to swallow. 300 years was a case of Mainframe not really understanding what they were doing yet. It would be a little more believable to have said 300 million years. Or say, "300 Cybertron years," and have 1 year on Cybertron equal 100 Earth years or something.

    But please don't hold up the "300 years" thing as writing being done right.
     
  4. Petes Robot Convention

    Petes Robot Convention Well-Known Member

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    Actually, Evolution can happen VERY quickly. A catastrophic event may have taken a place. A final battle. But yeah, actually, what Mainframe did was actually perfect and is not at all odd...
     
  5. Acteon

    Acteon Overworked

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    I'd actually disagree with that. Transformers was a property planned for 4 issues that managed to make it to 80, was popular enough to create a UK-based Marvel office and launch a bunch of other comics onto the market.

    For a licensed property, that deserves some serious respect.

    Sure, it isn't Batman, but if Costa thinks he's good enough for the big leagues based on his last job, he's delusional.
     
  6. SouthtownKid

    SouthtownKid Headmaster

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    You are misunderstanding. It's not a question of accomplishment. It's about the well-documented fact that back in the 1980s, working on the licensed toy tie-in comics, be they TF, ROM, Micronauts, He-Man, whatever, was considered the 'low man on the totem pole' job within the various publishers' bullpens and freelance staff. They were the books thought (whether rightly or wrongly) to be aimed at the youngest audience, and were the books that suffered by far the MOST outside interference from a creative standpoint. And that perception has persisted to this day, although it does seem like the outside interference may be lessening a bit.

    None of that denies they brought in a huge audience, especially in the cases of TF and GI Joe. But that was because they were bringing in a large audience from outside comics. I had friends who were Joe fans and bought the GI Joe comic religiously, but if I suggested they try some Marvel super-hero comic, they'd look at me like I was suggesting they should go to school without pants. Also, I worked at a comic shop in the late 1980s, and I can tell you there were many, many, many, many comic fans who bought $50+ a week in super-hero comics without blinking an eye, but avoided TF and Joe like it was the plague, because their perception of it was that they were "for kids" because of the toy connection. I'd just roll my eyes and think, "Whatever..." but there was just no convincing them.
     
  7. SouthtownKid

    SouthtownKid Headmaster

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    We'll disagree. Cybertron had plenty of catastrophic events in its past. And what qualifies as "quickly" in terms of evolution would happen over a much longer period for beings with lifespans HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS OF TIMES LONGER than any creature of Earth.
     
  8. G.B. Blackrock

    G.B. Blackrock Autobot Ally

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    Disclaimer that doesn't have much to do with what follows: I read the first five pages, then skipped ahead to the last page. Didn't see enough variation in the first five to make me think that the next 20 would be sufficiently worth my time.

    I'm reminded of a bit from an old Doctor Who episode (Full Circle, I believe) whereby the Doctor observes that Evolution does indeed work by leaps and bounds (although he also didn't think the evolution he was seeing in that particular context could possibly have happened as fast as it seemed it was happening).

    So maybe there's something in both your statements?
     
  9. SouthtownKid

    SouthtownKid Headmaster

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    Man, two Who references in the news section in only a matter of minutes... weird
     
  10. Autobus Prime

    Autobus Prime Transit Former

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  11. Kaijumaster

    Kaijumaster 335

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    so, Overall I'm not sure what your point is.

    Costa argued that it was absolutly ridiculous that these characters evolve emotionally and culturally so slowly...now thats a valid point.....

    But in G1, the Ark & Nemesis crashed placing everyone in stasis Lock for 4 million years. Shockwave swore that "Cybertron shall remain as you leave it" to megatron, so he PREVENTED thier culture from advancing, that was an active choice and addressed in the opening minutes of the original show.

    Beast Wars comes along and shows that without Shockwave holding them back and the war over, thier population culturally and socially FLOURISHED in 3 centuries (And maybe a touch longer...it was 3 centuries since the war ended...not necassarily since rebirth)

    since then, The armadaverse portrayed the war in a smaller time frame....thousands of years, and didn't really provide a lot of flashbacks to the start.

    Animated showed that a VERY long time had passed since the war had ended, and showed Ratchet, Ultra Magnus and Megatron as the only main cast members to have survived. Cybertron has obviously flourished and the decepticons roam aimlessly. And theres no denying that Younger flashback Ratch and Modern Ratchet are two very diffrent individuals. one who has definetly aged.

    Now We get to modern day, IDW & PRIME, both go back to the MILLIONS of years with no advancment. having detailed it, thats a fault of the IDW & Prime verses, not the franchise on the whole. If this bothered Costa he was in a position to address it, but not only did he not, aside from a single comment both on and off the page that it bothered him, but he made it WORSE by showing a cybertron FIFTEEN MILLION years later with apparently less advancment than beast wars managed in 300.

    Now the 300 isn't sloppy or a failure to understand, if anything it takes the very first episode....which explained the lack of advancment, took the original series....which showed once the war got moving again thier technology did advance over the 16 years we watched, and greatly expanded on that.

    IDW & Prime have chosen to go thier own route, but thats caused a problem they don't like, and thats fine. but it's a problem they created not one that was already there and they can push off on the property as a whole. (And yes I'm ignoring Japanese continuity)
     
  12. SouthtownKid

    SouthtownKid Headmaster

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    I should apologize for this, because my point had zero to do with anything Costa-related. I was just pointing out something I've always hated in the otherwise excellently-written Beast Wars.

    I guess I could tangentially bring it back to the Costa discussion by using the Beast Wars example to point out it is not necessary for me to agree with every single little thing a writer might say in order for me to enjoy the larger work as a whole. And that even among the things I consider the pinnacle of the franchise, writing-wise, it is always possible to find holes or complaints.

    So, my love of Beast Wars is not affected in the slightest by the "300 years" thing, no matter how wrong-headed I find it. And for whatever it's worth, however I judge Costa's run as a whole is not affected for me by what he said in the interview, the difficulties he related with the premise, or his defensiveness towards the fanbase.
     
  13. SPLIT LIP

    SPLIT LIP Be strong enough to be gentle

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    Was it ever stated it was evolution that drove their size down? they specifically called it an upgrade which some but not all participated in.

    It wasn't evolutinary, just a planet wide event.
     
  14. SouthtownKid

    SouthtownKid Headmaster

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    I might be wrong on this, but I think the "upgrade/planet-wide event" thing came not from the show itself, but from the fiction that followed. Like the BotCon comic with pink spider Arcee. I don't necessarily consider all of that later fiction as show canon. Maybe some of the Furman stuff, but I seem to remember the Arcee story was written by Hallit. So, no.

    But again, that may be my ignorance and it could have been addressed in the show. It's been a while.
     
  15. Anguirus

    Anguirus Well-Known Member

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    Nailed. It.

    Yes, I know you can cite Micromasters and Pretenders and binary-bonding and energon crises and make kind of an idea of what happened. Doesn't change the fact that in the G1 meta-franchise characters are millions of years old (and I guarantee you, if that doesn't blow the top of your skull off with the implications, you haven't thought through what a length of time that is), and that in the Beast Wars, everyone is suddenly talking about their "ancestors" from the Great War hundreds of years ago.

    Keep in mind, most Transformers were not in stasis for the 4 million years depicted in More Than Meets the Eye part 1 or Transformers #1. They weren't all sitting in some prison cell or lab of Shockwave's either. When the Ark bunch woke up, they started carrying on friendships and hierarchies and rivalries like nothing had happened (Optimus and Elita in the cartoon, Wheeljack and Sky Lynx in the comics, the entire universe of Autobots and Optimus Prime in the comics and possibly cartoon as well). That's one of the neatest things about Transformers, their agelessness...however, it's something that many writers do not handle well and resort to things like very porous memories in order to have their cake and eat it too with "mysterious events from the past."

    This doesn't really hurt Beast Wars mind you, but I always thought the Universe comics had it right when a bunch of G1 Autobots showed up on Beast Machines Cybertron like it ain't no thing. Proportionately, it would be like going for a Sunday drive and then finding your house looking completely different and populated by tiny people who claim to be great-grandchildren of yours.

    Uh...sorry for the diversion. Point being, at least Costa thought about it a bit, and 15 million years is as far as you have to go to get into the "future" of Transformers. That's only ~4 times the length of time that the Autobots were stuck on the ark, which is treated by the other characters about like an absence of 10-20 years would be treated by us.
     
  16. Gingerchris

    Gingerchris Telly-headed Tyrant

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    I suppose it might've been interesting for the Ark-crashed Transformers to finally get back to Cybertron after four millions years away and find the planet and it's inhabitants have evolved and advanced so radically in their absence that they just don't belong there anymore and are considered relics and to be studied like historical artifacts by the current Cybertronians.
     
  17. Bass X0

    Bass X0 Captain Commando

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    The problem I had with Costa is not his writing nor that he didn't "get" Transformers but its that he spread his stories out across twice the number of pages as was necessary.

    Two issues from Costa could have fit into a single issue and lost none of the story just by making the panels smaller and fitting more speech balloons in each panel.

    When I went back to re-read an old Dreamwave issue (Jazz and Marissa vs. the Insecticons) I was quite surprised to find out just how wordy each page was. There was actually things to read as well as art to look at. Just what I want from a comic.

    And it is for this reason alone that I was disappointed with Costa's run. Even if you did like Costa's issues, you're basically paying $8 for a single issue's worth of story.
     
  18. ladywreck

    ladywreck comic wrecking goodness

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    I totally agree with the pacing issues. They were very padded stories. Seems like he could have told a lot more yet we got a lot of conversations. Meh. Best work he did... Ongoing 19, 20, and 21 and the Ironhide mini. And maybe 31 as a stand alone issue not tied to anything. (19, 20, and 21 all felt like they needed to get somewhere really quickly and the story moved there weren't long drawn out conversations or plot that went no where.)
     
  19. Kaijumaster

    Kaijumaster 335

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    Take it back a couple issues earlier, remember that HUGE word baloon next to Jetfire during the Sunstorm arc, I remember turning the page and doing a visual double take on that one!

    There is nothing wrong with a lot of Text, and there is nothing wrong with letting your art tell the story, what is wrong (And a LOT of other writers are guilty of this in modern comics) is writting a story to fit it into a trade whether than be padding it out or shrinking it down. Fraction & Pak used to be really good at avoiding this And I think Bendis (Oh no I said Bendis!) is really good at working in that confine (Usually)
     
  20. Housewife2000

    Housewife2000 Fandom, combine!

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    I'm joining this conversation late and in a bit of a rush so sorry for not catching up and if this has already been covered...

    I'm in the "millions of years is a stupid random number" camp, and I tend to think immortal transformers make no sense either (primarily because it makes characterisation difficult, but also because it flies in the face of second law of thermodynamics). Which is just a preface to me suggesting that the Marvel G1 comics had a way around the millions of years thing that they never used - while the Ark crew were in stasis lock for 4 million years, Cybertron was still spiralling through the cosmos, having been knocked out of orbit at the start of the war. Since Cybertron is shown to have an earth atmosphere in this continuity, this atmosphere would cool and eventually freeze as the planet drifted away from it's original star. With Glaciers of frozen oxygen riding across the surface, and no atmospheric protection from meteors or asteroids, life above ground would be impossible. Chances are the surviving population would have to either abandon the planet (ala the G2 Decepticons) or go into protected stasis themselves. All it then takes is a nice coincidence like Cybertron settling into an orbit around a new star and thawing out just a century or few decades before the eruption of Mount St Hilary awakens the Ark crew, and you have yourself a timeline that doesn't require transformers to live for more than a few hundred years - much more manageable! Obviously also convenient, but that's fiction for you.

    Of course, if you're starting a continuity from scratch, just dump the millions (or even thousands of years thing) and start with events on Cybertron running fairly contemporaneously with those on earth.
     
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