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View Full Version : Full transcript of Furman panel at Auto Assembly!


Denyer
2004-05-15, 10:30 AM
From A.T.T.

jakobscribble@scrambledcity.com

. I recorded Simon Furman's panel from last Sunday at the UK TF
convention Auto Assembly and I wanted to try my hand at transcription.
Boy, do I appreciate now what all you guys who post interviews and
such have to go through. I never realized how much work it was!
I've sent a copy of the audio tape to the Auto Assmebly organizers
so hopefully they'll have it up soon in audio format at their site for
all of you who don't like reading a lot of words. In the meantime,
I've got the first three parts of my four part transcription ready.
The first portion here is the opening segment where Simon
introduced himself and what he'd be talking about. The main focus of
this panel was the Dorling Kindersley (DK) Ultimate Guide he wrote
that's being talked about all over the place. Then he opened it up to
questions and that's when the spoilers for the Energon and Universe
comics started spilling all over the place. I've transcribed the Q and
A in parts 2, 3, and 4 of this thread.
My tape recorder didn't pick up the audience members' voices too
good so I have paraphrased all of their questions in my transcription.
Oh, and part 4 won't be up until tomorrow. Standard spoiler warning
applies.
Again, a downloadable audio copy of the panel should be available
sometime in the near future at http://www.autoassembly.org.uk/

[Begin transcript of Simon Furman panel]
[audience applauds]
Hi everyone.
[applause continues]
What I want to do first is just give you a little background on the
Ultimate Guide and what we could and couldn't do with it just by basis
of the fact that we only have 144 pages. And then if people want to
ask me questions about the Ultimate Guide or just Energon or War
Within or anything else that's going on Transformers-wise at the
moment, just ask away.
The Ultimate Guide began life, well it must be nearly nine months
ago, when I was approached by Dorling Kindersley. I had seen their
other ultimate guides and they were doing one of these on
Transformers. I'd been very impressed by the Ultimate guides they'd
done before, but I have to say when they offered me the job I just
thought-This is going to be such a lot of work! I'm not sure I can fit
it in with the amount of work I had on at the time, you know in terms
of other Transformers work and other work altogether. In the end I
just decided that if somebody else did it, they were probably going to
end up talking to me a whole lot anyways, so it made sense maybe just
to do it myself.
But the main problem I found when I started trying to sort of plan
out the guide was how much to include and how much to exclude because
there was just so much that I realized right away that even five
volumes just wouldn't even begin to tell it all. So I had to make some
kind of hard descisions about what to include and what not to include,
how many characters to include on a spread of Autobot lieutenants or
troopers or Decepticon warriors, so I had to sort of write some stuff,
tear down everything I'd like to have done with the book in terms of
numbers and scale and focus I think on telling a kind of entry-level
introduction to the Transformers so anybody could pick up the book,
but also had some stuff in it that fans who have been with it for 20
years might not have known before or seen before, (that) it provided a
little more depth or background to.
So I immediately had it decided that more than half the book was
going to have to be Generation One. To me, Transformers is Generation
One largely. I know it's come on and Energon is great and everything
like that, but to me the core of everything is Generation One. So I
was willing to give over half the book at least or almost half the
book to Generation One. And also becasue there is so much to establish
and so much that hadn't been established, really. I realized right
from the start that taking it right back to the very beginnings of the
civil war to Cybertron to Iacon-a lot of these things had never really
been visualized. War Within (volume) One had done it to a certain
extent whereby Don had drawn Iacon as it was before the outbreak of
war. We had an idea of what the high council chambers looked like, but
I thought nobody's actually ever sort of knitted this together into a
map of Cybertron or a map of Iacon.
So one of the first jobs was to actually do half of Cybertron. We
decided first of all we were going to do a cutaway of Cybertron.
Dorling Kindersley are famous for their cutaways in these books. They
do these magnificent-I don't know whether you've seen their Star Wars
books-but the cutaways they do of the Star Wars spacecraft and so
forth are dynamite. Originally the plan was to do a cutaway of
Cybertron. It would be half part mass and part cutaway so you would
see it through the levels, but in the end I think we decided that
people would be more interested just to see how the geography of
Cybertron actually works. So I went back to just about every bit of
source material I could find that mentioned a location in Cybertron,
be it the cartoon series, the comic, the new Dreamwave material-and I
tried to just knit it together into a planetary map that works.
And (I) also come up with explanations of what the Rough Sea was,
for instance, what the Sonic Canyons were and how that worked. What
were the Sonic Canyons? It sounds great, but there had to be a kind of
rationale for all these bits. So it was great fun to put that together
and I ended up actually sketching out the map of Cybertron, which then
went off to an artist to be drawn up. So there was a lot of this
groundwork to be done. The Civil War had to be pretty much mapped out
from start to finish, and there's a complete timeline of the Civil War
in the book which takes us right from the beginning to the end very in
brief, but it ties in with what we were doing with War Within, what
Dreamwave had already established by way of what had happened
inbetween the end of the War Within era and the beginning of the
Generation One waking up on Earth era.
So all this stuff had to be taken into account. What also had to be
taken into account is what Hasbro wanted to see by way of a kind of
defintivite timeline and backstory to the Transfomers. We couldn't
just run exactly with the Primus story or exactly with the Unicron
story or exactly with several things we'd introduced in the War
Within. So we had to do a lot of back-and-to with Hasbro to make sure
that the timeline and the backstory we were going to put into the
Ultimate Guide was the one that they were happy with, that Dreamwave
were happy with, and that we could literally use as kind of a bible
for everything from now on. So a lot of work went into Generation One.
I tried to put a lot of extra material into the strightforward
biographies of the characters. So when we're dealing with the
Autobots-some of the Autobot troopers like Sideswipe and Wheeljack and
stuff, I looked into what had been told about them before the Civil
War and tried to extrapolate that into a kind of, well this is what
these guys used to do before they had to pick up arms and start
fighting. Because the whole idea is that these guys were peace loving,
going about their business. So there had to be something-a status quo
behind that. So again I tried to introduce elements of that into the
Ultimate Guide, and write my way through Generation One into
Generation 2.
With Generation 2 I brought in the whole team ups with GI Joe as one
of those led into Generation 2, and I also sort of gave a nod in
Generation 2 to the fanfiction because I realized how much fan fiction
had spun out of the endless sort of aborted end of Generation 2 with
the Leige Maximo. So I wanted to make that point that even when there
almost wasn't anything happening with Transformers-there was. You
know, it never kind of went away for people and they kept it going
even before Beast Wars started.
And then into Beast Wars. In Beast Wars I did a lot of talking
back-and-to to Bob Forward and Larry DiTillio just to find out, to
make sure I wasn't basically getting my facts wrong about Beast Wars
and Genesis and how much maintained it, how much influence Generation
(One) the original cartoon series had had on them. So we had a lot of
discussions with them.
Beast Machines I just plainly had to do a lot of research on and
actually try and find some episodes to watch just because I didn't
know it that well. So a lot of this like Robots in Disguise, too, I
had to do the research and I had to look into.
Armada of course was current for me at the time so that was a lot
more straightforward to do. And then we had Energon which was on the
horizon but not here yet. We had a very early style guide-a few scant
details about what was going to happen in it. At the beginning of
planning out the guide we may leave a page at the end just to kind of
trailer Energon. But of course once we started working on the book
three or four months in, Energon was suddenly happening a bit more and
Hasbro really wanted Energon present in the book. We realized it would
look bad by the time the book came out not to have an Energon section.
So we had to scale back a few sections. Robots in Disguise lost its TV
section which is a shame because it would have been nice just to have
that for completists sake, you know we've got a TV section on pretty
much everything. We couldn't do (a TV section) with Energon just
because at that point I don't think anybody had finished episodes for
us to look at, but we did use a lot of the early art and we actually
got sort of a smallish Energon section in there.
By the time I was actually writing those spreads, because I wrote
the whole book chronologically, I really didn't want to sort of dip
into it and do a spread here on Robots in Disguise, a spread here on
Generation One. I wanted the book to read like an evolving history of
the Transformers so you've got the course of the characters in the
fictional world but you've also got the kind of evolving story of what
Hasbro were doing, what the fans were and weren't doing, what the toys
were doing, so we have toy sections in each of the chapters. And we
tried to pick some nice toy images that aren't necessarily the ones
everybody's seen-some classic characters, sure, but we wanted a few of
the more sort of rarer toys-some of the European exclusives in
Generation 2. We had the Turbomasters in there and so forth. We just
wanted to make it as accessible as possible but also as
all-encompassing as possible so that you hardcore fans weren't going
to be dissapointed with it. It had to have enough new material-enough
stuff that hadn't been seen before.
I think everybody I've spoken to so far who've seen it have been
very impressed as always with Dorling Kindersley books with their
illustrative material. The cut(away of) the map of Cybertron, the
cutaway of the
Ark, the Unicron cutaway, the expanded Primus drawing that Don
Figureoa did as a sketch-all this fabulous stuff that we managed to
get into the book-it looks great. I have no doubt about it. It looks
great. I hope it reads great. I guess that's for you to tell me!
So any questions on the Ultimate guide or generally?

[end of part one]

. Continuing with my transcript of the Simon Furman panel on the DK
Ultimate Guide to TFs at Auto Assembly 2004 this past Sunday. This is
part two and it contains the beginning of the Q and A session.
I forgot to mention that whenever there are words in parenthesis,
those are my own. I tried to fill in the parts where the sentence
wouldn't make sense. Like I said, this transcription stuff is hard.
Again I must reiterate that my microphone didn't pick up the
audience's questions so I had to paraphrase them for the purposes of
this post. If I screwed up your question it's entirely on me. Simon
was the only one with a mike and his response is the only part I've
been able to type almost exactly. I took out a lot of 'Umm's and 'You
knows' in his speech to clear up what he was saying. So forgive my
edits. Any other goof ups in the presentation of the material are also
my own. You'll be able to hear the unedited version in a week or two
at http://www.autoassembly.org.uk/ . I hope.
Oh yeah, and SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS. The man writes the books.
Expect to be spoiled.

-------------------------------------------
[continuing the transcript]

Question: In the Ultimate Guide you write that one of the original 13
Transformers is working as a bartender. Is this true?

(Laughing) It's always possible. I wanted a bit of urban myth in
there. It was put in as a little throw away line, really. This is
referring to McAdams old oil house, which cropped up in a few of the
UK stories and I had to get in there in my map of Iacon, and Guido
Guidi did a fabulous little sort of internal bar illustration to go
with it. I honestly didn't actually know what to write about McAdams
at all so I ended up putting a little sort of throw away bit of urban
myth about Mc Adams that maybe it doesn't exist in normal space-time
as we know it, and is the mysterious owner one of the original 13, but
I guess it's just a bit of urban myth for the book.

Question: Is there any japanese continuity in the guide?

This is getting back to, you know, I would have needed five volumes to
tell the whole story. No, it hasn't got a large amount of Japanese
stories. We've got some pre-G1 japanese-sort of the origins of Hasbro
Transformers, really. We touch upon the original mini robots-the
Diaclones, the Henshin Cyborgs, we touch upon all of that and we've
got some pictures to go with it, but no, it does not go into the main
Japanese toylines.

Question: Doesn't this picture of Primus in robot mode contradict a
lot of what you've laid out in terms of continuity? This can't be
Cybertron, can it?

Well, I mean it's...I never beforehand entertained the idea of Primus
as a robot. To me it always worked better as a planet. He's just a
planet now, he doesn't transform anymore. But I just thought once I
saw Don's sketch (that) he's made it work somehow. If anybody else had
done it, I don't think I'd have been impressed. Don I know had looked
at Cybertron and taken it apart and worked how it would fit together.
When he was retro-designing the characters for War Within you knew
that every one of them worked. I mean, they could have made toys from
Don's designs. It wasn't just as some artists have done over the years
where he couldn't change into that and he does it, he did it so
magnificently (as with) all his transfomations that I was willing to
take it on board and I just felt it worthy of inclusion in the
Ultimate Guide. To be honest, I don't think I'd ever wanna show
Cybertron transform and be Primus-I think that's something that maybe
happened in the mists of time and he is now just the planet Cybertron.
I don't think there's any way he can transform anymore, but I thought
it was worth putting in on a kind of , well here's how he used to look
(basis).

Question: Will there be a volume two of the Ultimate Guide?

Well, I mean, that's really down to Dorling-Kindersley. I'd love there
to be a volume two because there is a lot, and I knew as I was going
through it that I was having to skim on some things. And also by the
time there ever came to be a volume two, yes, we would be far enough
through Energon that there could be a properly expanded Energon
section so that there would probably be another generation on the way.
There is absolutely scope for a volume two, but it's not my decision
to make-it would be (a matter of) did it do well for
Dorling-Kindersley, did Dorling-Kindersley think there's a market for
a second one?

Question: Which continuity does the guide follow more-the Dreamwave or
other G1?

Well it's all being done with consultation. We didn't just put
anything into the Ultimate Guide that we liked. The continuity that I
largely followed was the Dreamwave continuity they're in the process
of establishing and the current backstory that Hasbro are happy with
and Dreamwave are happy with. Whereas I've probably nailed down some
stuff that Dreamwave don't quite know I've nailed down yet. It's very
much-I was looking at the Dreamwave stuff far more than the Marvel
stuff or the cartoon series. We got to the point with certain things
where I just couldn't possibly marry it into a straightforward
narrative. Things like Powermaster Prime-it hasn't happened in the
Dreamwave verse yet if it will happen in the Dreamwave verse, so I had
to kind of put that into a "well this is what happens in a parallel".
So I did fall back on "this is what in one reality happens to Optimus
Prime". But we can't really put that yet into an established
lockeddown Dreamwave timeline becasue that hasn't happened yet.

[audience member] It was mentioned in the G1 More Than Meets the Eye
guide, though

Simon: It was, yes.

[audience member says something]

Simon: Yeah, at that point I haven't seen that final issue, but in
terms of story I don't think they locked that down to anything
specific. I think they did a biog(raphy) of the capabilities and so
forth of Powermaster Prime without actually locking down the backstory
on it because it may never happen.

[Question: You're in contact with Dreamwave. What do you know about
the Decepticon Matrix?]

Simon: (Laughs) I can't tell you this. I do know stuff about the
Decepticon Matrix, but I don't know what their plans are. I know that
Hasbro were very keen to establish a Decepticon Matrix and that it
will play a part in what they are doing with the G1 book, but it's not
something I'm going to be dealing with in War Within. So I don't know
exactly what their plans are for it. I know the sort of the rough
backstory they have for it, but until I know how much of that they
really are using, I can't reaally comment on that.

[Question: Doesn't that entirely destroy the continuity by having two
matrixes?]

Simon: Well I think one of the things that they will start to tie into
is that there is an entity that preceedeed both Primus and Unicron.
There is a founding entity somewhere in the mists of time. The thing
with the Dreamwave verse is-it's like I was explaining at the talk
yesterday-we can't be too bound with what's going ahead with the
Dreamwave stuff by what's been established in the past. We do have to
reference it, we do have to kind of look at all that stuff, but the
good thing about the Dreamwave stuff is they are making one cohesive
whole. They are trying very hard to make sure that whatever backstory
they have is established now, they speak to it, and it rolls out into
whatever else they publish in the future. To a certain extent, yes
they are reinventing the wheel slightly, but only with a kind of "well
this is how it could work without throwing away everything else that's
happened in the past".

[Question:Will there ever be a return to G2?]

The Generation 2 comic will never continue. I can honestly
categorically say this unless somehow in some alternate world Marvel
picked up the license again and decided to relaunch the comic. I don't
think it's gonna happen, but we did do the Alignment story for
Transforce, which as far as I was concerned kind of wrapped up the
Leige Maximo stroyline. He and Megatron do have a day of reckoning in
the end and so forth, so as far as I was concerned I got to tell the
end to that story. It was always something I wanted to tell. I wanted
to take that storyline to some kind of conclusion. But will it ever
happen in comic book form, I can almost say absolutely not.

[Question: But Dreamwave will come to a point in their continuity when
they call their comic G2, right?]

But you see, I'm not even sure Dreamwave would call it Generation 2.
Generation 2 seems to be something to me that is inextricably linked
to the original Generation One if you like. I have a feeling Dreamwave
might not call the intervening period Generation 2 at all between
Generation One and Transformers: the Movie. They might, but I have a
feeling they might just-it's probably just Generation One ongoing,
literally.

[Question: Why didn't Universe make it into the guide, and do you have
an idea how that storyline will conclude?]

Universe we didn't put in just because I wan't sure how much of
Universe was going to be physically available in terms of not just the
toys that they're releasing, but the comic material that's being
published by the fan club in America. I just wasn't sure how much was
going to be out there. And really, we didn't have enough for a
section. It's far too new. At least with Energon it was a whole world
already established. Universe is kind of evolving at the moment and
we're really at just the start of it, and I'm kind of glad we didn't
put Universe in there because we still haven't seen the second issue.
So it's happening kind of slowly. Do I have a long term plan for
Universe? Not really because the long term plan for Universe is
largely with Glen and Dan Khanna. I'm more or less working as a writer
for hire almost, taking their ideas and spinning them out into proper
comic book scripts and stories. So Universe I don't honestly know
where they're going exactly with Universe, but it's fun to be along
for the ride.

[Question: You brought out Bludgeon and Thunderwing in Armada. We've
seen Bludgeon again since. Any chance we'll see Thunderwing in War
Within?]

It's always possible. The thing with War Within is I don't want to
keep repeating the same characters, I don't want to keep the focus
on...you know. So if we had Jetfire in War Within 2, if he's in War
Within 3 at all, (he) will be a background character, or will be seen
just here or there. Each time I'm trying to switch the focus to a new
set of characters we haven't met. Some of the characters who, as I
literally am writing the series, I will have the need for a character
to do this (or) be that, so yeah, anything's possible. But at the
moment I've given a few hints about War Within three, but one of the
key Autobots I'm going to be focusing on is Blaster, who hasn'r made
his War Within debut yet. The other thing with War Within three is I
really wanted to bring in some characters that have never been in the
comic book before, so we have the in-between G1/G2 Turbomasters making
their comic book debut. So I'm trying to do this all the time (and)
not just go for the obvious characters. Optimus Prime and Megatron are
back, but they're not necessarily the characters we're going to be
exploring. Each time I'm going to try to sort of pull up some of the
other characters. Optimus Prime and Megatron have their big outing in
the first War Within, so each time is a kind of, "oh now I want to
play up some other characters".

[Question: Does Grimlock play a big part in War Within 3?]

Um, no. Grimlock will appear in the first issue. But thereafter I
can't really say. But he is not a foreground character really in the
series, I'll tell you that much.

[audience members begin proclaiming out loud "You killed him! You
killed Grimlock!"]

We don't know anything about that yet.

[Question: Why didn't the first War Within tell us Prime's original
name?]

In the original script it did, but somehow it didn't actually make it
into the comic at the time. I think because I was a bit larry about
naming him in case there was some problem with Hasbro or with
Dreamwave or whatever. Having referred to him since, I think I do name
him in the Ultimate Guide. I do nail it down to Optronix, which is his
pre Optimus Prime name. With the first War Within I was feeling my way
a little bit in terms of I didn't want to nail down too much and piss
Dreamwave off or piss Hasbro off or piss somebody off, but as it's
gone on I think I have the latitude to establish certain amounts so
it's in the Ultimate Guide as a hard-and-fast.

[Question: Are you being consulted by the people writing the
Micromaster book?]

I'm in touch with Dreamwave all the time. I know that the Micromaster
series is going to essentially be a kind of War Within era comic. I
think it's beyond War Within three (that) it's set. Knowing about what
they're doing for the Micromasters series, I raise certain amounts of
foreshadowing into War Within three. I know largely it revolves around
the general absence of Energon or the scarcity of Energon and a
downsizing process and so forth. So there is a grand scheme of things
that we're all working towards here. And the thing with Dreamwave is
that-I think it's Adam Patyk who's writing the Micromasters. Or is it
Brad? I don't know, but everybody's consulting very closely on this.
The reason I'm being a little cagey on War Within three is I haven't
actually written anything yet. I've written the outline, but the
outline is with Brad, it's with Adam, it's with Hasbro, so things may
change yet on that because they will come back to me largely with
comments (like) "Well, we've got this plan for Micromasters, can we do
this instead?". And we will adapt to make sure that everything goes in
a nice even flow.

[Question: In the old UK continuity Prime used to be a surgeon, but in
War Within he's a librarian.]

Well, again, it's this kind of starting from scratch thing a little
bit more. I didn't feel bound by pretty much anything that's been
established in the Marvel series-all the Marvel biographies or
whatever. We were allowed to more or less reinvent the wheel to an
extent. I felt comfortable doing that. And also, I kind of felt,
"well, Optimus Prime's a surgeon, we've got sort of other kinds of
surgeons, medical characters, (etc.)", I felt I wanted to make Optimus
Prime something a little more hum drum before he becomes Optimus
Prime. I thought that would add more dramatic impetus to the fact that
he does become the Prime. It's that he's not sort of somebody already
out there saving lives, doing good things. He's a guy filing records
in a basement somewhere.

[Question: I don't know if you've seen the current G1 issue with the
War Within reference in that]

I haven't seen the current issue.

[Question: Megatron's back and it's set in War Within. It seems like
it's just after Megatron comes back from wherever he's been, and it's
got something to do with Starscream taking out the High Council. Has
somebody told you this?]

Well, somebody's not told me this, which is great. I don't know. Like
I say, War Within three is still at the stage where this sort of stuff
can still be addressed, I mean this is the idea. They'll see my
outline and we can always tweak things, but this is puzzling me a
little bit because it's certainly never been mentioned to me.

[Audince member continues explaining why he feels the events are in
the War Within timeline]

Right...There's no doubt I'll be talking to Brad and talking to Adam
and these things will be discussed.

[Question: So you're not Brad Mick?]

No, I'm really not Brad Mick.

[Question: He is a person?]

He's a definite person.

[Question: He's not a pseudonym?]

He's a person.

[Question (from a different audience member): Why's he never shown his
face?]

He has! He was at OTFCC last year.

[Question: It's just that whenever we see a picture of him in a
magazine it's a cartoon not a person.]

There were pictures of him definitely taken at OTFCC last year, so
he's around.

[Question: Any chance we could see a pre-war story about the
downfall?]

It would be lovely to do a pre-war...Somebody else asked me a similar
question yesterday about will we ever see a story set in peacetime
before the civil war? And you know it would be an intriguing thing to
do. I can kind of see it as a one-off.

[Audience member blurts out that it'd be a comic about TFs doing
nothing. Simon laughs.]

It'd be interesting to see where you'd get the drama from the series,
because yes, you're right-nothing much is going on in that stage.

[Audience member states how a rise of Megatron/fall of Sentinel Prime
story would be interesting.]

The more I thought about it, the more I thought it would be a great
kind of one-shot to do. I can't see it as a series. I can see it as a
pretty kick ass one-shot.

[Audience member: You could bring Flame from the G1 series.]

Oh, absolutely. If only I could! If only I could bring them (the
Marvel-owned G1 characters) in from the G1 series. We can't touch
them, really. I don't think it's the case that Marvel owns them so
much because I think possibly you could argue that Hasbro owns them,
but I just think it's a case whereas we can drop in the odd sort of
sly reference, I don't think they would take kindly to us using the
likeneses from material that was taken from the Marvel comic book. I
think that's the problem. It's sort of a fuzzy grey area that nobody
wants to go near.

[Question: But there's a Jhiaxus toy.....]

Well ther is a Jhiaxus toy now, isn't there? And I wrote the little
biograpy that went along with that in the first issue of the fan club
magazine just because Glen thought it would be cool for me to do it. I
based a lot of that biography on my Jhiaxus from G2, you know, sort of
this whole idea that I put down his motto is "My greatest enemy is
myself" or "The only thing I fear is myself" or something. Which kind
of ties into his whole "I've got over being a megalomaniac and I
don't know what happens" kind of thing that was in G2. I did try and
reintroduce elements of the G2 Jhiaxus into the Universe Jhiaxus.

* * *

. Okay, just to clarify a few things you might be wondering about
part two of this transcription thing I'm doing. I was the brilliant
guy who asked Simon if he was really Brad Mick. I also asked the
moronic question about the drawing of Primus transformed and if it
wrecked his continuity. Yeah, they might seem like dumb questions but
everytime I'm around Simon Furman I get all gaa-gaa.
Part four (the final part of my transcript of the panel) will be up
tomorrow. I just couldn't hang. It's really hard trying to do the
whole transcription at once. I did at least try to include some good
stuff here in part three, where Simon hints at what'll be happening in
Energon and Universe.
Oh, and one more plug for the Auto Assembly site:
http://www.autoassembly.org.uk

------------------------------------
[continuing transcript]

[Question: Have you seen the books based on your stories?]

Would these be the David Ken or whatever? The novels? Yeah. I haven't
actually read them. I don't know whether anybody's read them.

[Audience member states the novels seem to use many of Simon's ideas.]

Well, I mean that's nice. I'm always pleased when people think it's
worth using bits I've established or created or whatever as a sort of
basis for further stories. That's why I was always kind of chuffed
with all the people who ran with the dangling G2 storylines. I
thought-Oh cool! People have found something they want to explore in
there, so I thought it was great.

[Question:Would you like to work alongside Brad Mick on maybe a G1
one-shot?]

Yeah! Absolutely! I'd have no problem at all with working with Brad on
something. I like what he's doing with the G1 book. The plain fact is
that at the moment I'm happier doing the War Within, doing Energon,
and I think Brad is doing great guns with G1. Would I work with him on
something? Yeah, I definitely would. It'd be fun, but I think Brad is
the right guy to be writing G1. I think he's got a lot of interesting
ideas. He really knows his stuff, and he's just coming up with some
interesting twists and turns that I wasn't expecting. Again, I think
he's doing a great job on that.

[Question: I heard he's got the G1 stories planned out a full year and
a half in advance. Is that how far out you plan?]

I don't need to. With War Within I don't really need to. With War
Within, it's a fixed six issues. I plan out the six issues fairly
closely. They do kind of vary from the original outline as I go along.
Sometimes things are discarded, other things are dropped in, other
things are working better. But with Energon, I'm planned out with
Energon-we're currently on issue 22? I have plans up to issue 32 at
the moment. So yeah, I'm well ahead. The thing is, we have to do a
story for the summer special-a nine page self contained one off. It
wasn't gonna work to put it in the middle of what we were doing at the
moment. I also really wanted to put Energon Megatron in there. So we
set it at around the time of issue 30-31. So a lot of the characters
that will be-I had to kind of work my storylines properly ahead so
that I knew where Megatron would be, who he'd be with, where he is. So
you'll see it when you see the summer special story that's got
Megatron. It's got Slugslinger, it's got Snowcat and-who else is going
in? Somebody else. But I mean it features characters that aren't yet
in. It references the Omega Supreme character. So you know, we had to
run ahead and I had to make sure that what I was doing was going to
end up with a point whereby around issue 30-31 this would all apply.
So now that's what in the current story arc I'm doing which is called
"Multiplicity", which begins in issue 26. A lot of that will now build
towards having all those characters in the right place at the right
time around about issue 30/31. It was interesting that as I came in
here the episode of Energon that was playing is Megatron/Scorponok.
They had a showdown. Well that will happen in issue 30 of Energon. It
was just interesting. I'm glad I've seen what they've done with it
because not that I've been slavishly following the cartoon series-I'm
absolutely not-but it's interesting to see how they played that scene
before I actually get (there). I know what the outcome and so forth
will be, but it's nice to see what they were doing with it. So that's
going to be issue 30/31, and then I'm going into another big story arc
which will be largely around the Omega Supreme character. One of the
things-the question that came up yesterday was do I know when Energon
is going to finish? Is Energon a finite thing, an ongoing thing? I
don't know. But I am working in fairly kind of advancing story arcs
that hopefully won't mean that I've got to wrap up the whole of the
series in one issue all of a sudden. So I really want to be kind of
pushing the storyline on so each time we start a new main story arc,
events have moved on a bit in the time being-in the intervening time.
We'll do a couple of almost one off issues, so like 24 is the Tidal
Wave/Ironhide story. The ongoing stuff continues behind the scenes,
but largely they've become quite focused stories. Issue 25 is Omnicons
and Hot Shot and Kicker, then 26 launches the Multiplicity arc, then
30 and 31 will be focused and then the next story arc. So I'm kind of
working in a pattern like that, but aiming all the time to reach a
point where if I'm told to conclude the story line I'm not gonna feel
I've got to rush Omega Supreme in without having introduced him in a
kind of logical progression.

[Question: Do you have to write story arcs at a certain length to fit
in trade paperbacks as with Armada?]

I think you have to be aware of trade paperbacks. It is a fact of
life. I try not to-sometimes I fail I will hold my hand up and say-not
to make individual issues just part of a trade paperback. I will try
to make the individual issues. And I'm trying very hard with Energon
for there to be a kind of evolution of story within each single part
so that it's kind of somebody's story or something is resolved or
something is revealed so that there is something in each issue. But
you have to be aware of trade paperbacks because if I do a seven
part-you know, a part that sort of is a seventh part or
something-normally you tend to get about six issues in a trade
paperback. With the third volume of Armada they had to put seven
issues in because that was the way it landed before the beginning of
Energon. So yes, I try to make it easy for them and break the stroy a
little bit after six issues.

[Question: If Energon continues and is not replaced by another series,
will writing the same characters be boring for you?]

Well I don't know whether that's the case I guess it depends how
much you like Energon I suppose. I mean the thing (is), I've started
to really enjoy Energon far more than I did with Armada. Armada I just
wasn't sure particularly where I was going with it. I wasn't impressed
with the animated show very much. I just wasn't quite sold on it
somehow, but with Energon, it seems to have a lot more kind of classic
G1 feel to it. It seems to have more impetus, more action, more sort
of grand scale storylines. So to be honest I think I could quite
happily continue writing Energon for quite a while. But my feeling is
either it will stop dead and there will be something completely new,
or it will evolve again in which time it will be like an
Energon/Armada thing. We'll whoop ahead in time or something like that
or move somewhere else or see something else. I quite like the idea
that we're building something that potentially could be as grand as G1
was in terms of the original comics, you know. When I think that I'm
already thinking about Energon 30 something, I'm already over by that
point my run on the G1 US comic. I wrote only 25 issues of that. By
the time we get to Energon 31 I think it is, it'll be 26 issues of
Energon and Armada. So it kind of feels great that I've done even a
bigger run on that.

[Question: Will there be a comic storyline with
Transformers:Alternators?]

I would be very surprised if they don't do a storyline or introduce it
in some form, but as far as I know there are no plans.

[Question: How many issues will there be of Energon?]

If I had my way, they'd go on and on and on because it's great.
Transformers just keep me busy, keep me enjoyed, keep me pumped up
about my storytelling. It pays the bills! But I love it. And you know
there was a time when I kind of didn't love Transformers. When it had
sort of-I felt like it had had its day, and it's done, it's gone, and
I've moved on. But I'm happy to be in Transformers. I'm very-I'm
enjoying myself. So as far as I'm concerned it can go on as long as it
likes.

[Question: you've mentioned new characters-are they going to be
reformatted or completely new?]

Some of them are completely new characters, some of them are
reformatted characters. I think it's no secret-is it?-that Snowcat is
Cyclonus in a new body. But then there's also Mirage who we introduce
in issue 26 who is a reformat of a character. So I don't whether any
of that's general knowledge yet, but Mirage is completely a reformat
of a character. So we meet him in issue 26.

[How long is the Alpha Quintesson storyline where he's trying to bring
Unicron back from the brink of death going to go on?]

Well I'm going to run with Alpha Quintesson in a quite different
way. As far as I can see in the cartoon series-and correct me if I'm
wrong because I haven't seen as much as some people have seen of
it-but he's more or less just Unicron's kind of mouthpiece.

[Audience member confirms Simon's statement.]

Yes, well I wasn't really happy with that. I just thought I don't
quite buy that. I'm sort of, well, why is he? So we introduce a few
twists and turns into Alpha Quintesson. I think in issue 27 we get a
big kind of shock about Alpha Quintesson and then we run that into a
completely different twist on what he is or is not trying to do for
Unicron.

[Question: At any point in the storyline are you going to explain why
Unicron always gets the worst people to help him out?]

Simon: (Laughs) I do think Unicron can be quite dumb at times. From
what I understand of Alpha Quintesson, he's the last of his
race-Unicron has eaten his planet or something. That's certainly how
it's going to be in my-in the Energon comic. He uses him as his kind
of mouthpiece. And you think, really this guy's a little bit ticked
off surely. So I just wanted to run with it. I wanted to give the
character-I do that with all my characters. I'd rather not have them
as kind of-well he's a mouthpiece and that's all he is. I'd much
rather use him for a few twists and turns that people maybe weren't
expecting.

[Question: Do you get ideas from the TV series?]

I try not to get ideas from watching the TV series. I'm always
interested in what they're doing with the TV series, and I think I've
seen about the first six or seven episodes of Energon. But no, I try
not to. In fact, if I see something in the TV show, I try not to use
it, really. It's just that I don't want to be seen-certainly not if
it's an idea that's clever, I don't want to rip it off. If it's
just-oh that character used to be so-and-so, then yeah, I'll use that.

[Question: Did you ever use Bob Budiansky's stories as inspiration?]

Yeah, oh, absolutely. That was always the way with when I was
originally writing the UK comic. You'd see the odd thing that Bob
Budiansky hadn't had a chance to explore, hadn't had a chance to use,
really, because he was cramming in new characters each month, he was
pretty much under the compress of Hasbro to get the next wave of
characters and the next wave and the next wave. So all we used to see
were these fantastic chances for a storyline go begging. So really
that got me into this habit of looking at a character they had maybe
ignored or a possible storyline they'd started and hadn't gone
anywhere with, or just a throwaway line somewhere that you could spin
a whole storyline out of. So that's kind of the way I still looked at
it. I'd just think well, what could be done with that? If they're not
doing anything with it, can I do something with that?

[Question: So who is Mirage?]

I'm absolutely not going to tell you.. If you don't know already.

[An audience member says, "You told us yesterday!']

Oh, did I? Oh dear. Okay, well since I've told you, he's Tidal Wave.

[Question about what role Unicron will play in Energon]

Well, as far as I'm concerned he's not really in Energon. I mean, I
know he is, but he isn't. I hope and pray that I haven't got to do
some kind of apocalyptic battle against Unicron AGAIN at the end in
one issue. I really hope that we can keep Unicron as a location, and
that's all I see him as in Energon-he's a location. We've pretty much
established him-we'll establish more, but while he's kind of not dead,
he's certainly not really sort of doing much more than some
subconscious level of awareness. So really all I'm looking at is
Unicron as a kind of fun location to set some of the action in, and
the Multiplicity storyline sets a large bulk of stuff within Unicron.
So I'm using him very much as "well, here's an exciting location we
haven't had the chance to play around with before". Because otherwise
if you're inside Unicron, presumably Unicron could just snuff you out.
But if Unicron is more or less offline, maybe we can have a kind of
story told inside Unicron where you don't get squished in the first
instant.

[Question: Will you be using more clones in the Energon comic?]

There's a reason why the next storyline's called Multiplicity. That is
because we have an awful lot of clone Terrorcons in it. In fact we've
got clones of-and I don't know whether they have in the cartoon show
yet-we've got clones of all the main Terrorcon characters. So there's
clones of Cruellock. They (the cartoon) seem to keep to Battle Ravage
and Divebomb, don't they I think? Unless they have gotten as far as
Cruellock clones and I just haven't seen it. We've got clones of
Insecticon and so forth. Each one of the sort of Terrorcon generals is
going to have his little clone army.

[Audience member: A bit like Beast Machines?]

Yes.

[Question: You had a plot to continue the Beast Wars episode Nemesis
beyond what was shown, didn't you?]

No, the way it worked was, when Bob Forward originally approached me
about working on the show, we spoke about a few ideas of what we could
do. He wanted to do something because it was me writing it that was
Gen One-centric or based and that seemed sensible. We threw a few
ideas around, but it took so long to get to when I would be doing an
episode, and by that point it was just the end of the show, so we had
to throw out basically all the plans we had. We had Beast Wars
Megatron haunted by G1 Megatron, you know, in his head more or less,
so the two Megatrons were sort of having conversations like a sort of
split personality where he has Megatron stalking him. We had that
planned, and we planned to introduce some of the Decepticon jets that
hadn't been seen in the original G1 show so we could say were still on
board Nemesis in stasis. That was another plan. We had some great
plans, but none of them we could use in the end because what we had to
do was wrap it up. So in the end we salvaged the Nemesis part of the
other ideas we had and basically made that the focus of the story.

[Question about if Simon knows about an upcoming Beast Wars comic.]

I don't know, I'm actually not involved in the Beast Wars comic that
they're doing if they're doing it. I don't know whether this poll they
did about what the next miniseries would be actually has a result yet.
I don't know. They haven't approached me about doing any Beast Wars
stuff. And to be honest, I can say I'm kind of busy enough with the
stuff I've got, but who knows? Yeah, it's a story to be told sometime
maybe.

[Audience member: You could just pass those unsused ideas off.]

Nah, I don't think I'll pass the ideas off. I'll keep them to myself.
[Audience laughs] But yeah, if I ever did some it, it would be cool to
maybe pick up on those.

[Question about what's Simon's favorite Beast Wars character]

Hmmm...That's a really good question. I don't have an immediate answer
for you. I really like Blackarachnia. I thought Blackarachnia's great
because I like conflicted characters. I like, you know, as you've seen
from some of my Grimlocks. I like characters who were something once
upon a time and are now fighting to contain or bottle that sort of bad
genie within them. So I like Blackarachnia, I like the fact that with
Universe-is this giving anything away? I don't know-but basically
Blackarachnia reverts to form. So we have her succumb to the Unicron
taint. So the plan is for that of couse, is does she ever get back, or
ios he just bad ass Blackarachnia again?

[Question: How much of the Universe comic series is done?]

The second one is written and is being drawn, the third one is written
and I don't know whether it's being drawn. I don't think I know how
many issues it will be, but I've certainly got issue four done as an
outline, so it will be written I hope at some point and I don't know.
I think four is definitely solicited as such, so certainly (there will
be) four.

[Question: Where in time is Universe set?]

Universe is set pretty much as far ahead in time as we can go. Right
at the beginning of it, Hasbro said look, you can do all this as long
as we make sure we shunt it to the kind of far end of time almost so
that it's not going to keep tripping over every subsequent incarnation
of Transfomers they try to introduce. I think with Universe every
issue starts off with "A long time in the future.." and not really
now.

[Question: How far in advance do you write the comics? What's the
process?]

Well right now the issue of Energon I should have written and haven't
is issue 27, so we're supposed to be about five issues ahead of
whatever's on publication. But I have to be ahead as well as that
because each issue of Previews, the Diamond solicitation catalog has
to know what's going in. We have to have a cover description and a
contents blurb of what's happening inside it. So we have to be-I think
the latest contents blurb I've done for Diamond is issue 28 or 29, so
I always have to be five or six issues ahead of myself.

[Question: Who's your favorite in Energon?]

Um..I like Scorponok. I think Scorponok's a good character. I really
do. I'm gonna have some fun with Scorponok because he seems to have
the capacity to be a real sort of kick ass character. But the idea of
Scorponok is that he's someone whose come up through the ranks, and I
think once Megatron comes back, he's going to be genuinely scared. You
know, he's got all this power but he's going to be genuinely scared. I
think it's going to be quite a nice dynamic between these two
characters when they get back together, when they-you know-meet up
again. He's been used to inspiring fear in everybody for a while
Scoprponok, but suddenly here he (Megatron) is, this character he's
always been scared of. So I like Scorponok and I'm gonna play around
with him a little bit more. I like the Omnicons. I know people aren't
big fans of them saying "Gzzz" and "Bzzz" before each sort of speech
bubble, but they're nicely off beat characters. They have a little
potential for being explored a bit more. They're unpredictable, which
I like.

* * *

. Here's the fourth and final part of my transcript of the Simon
Furman panel that happened last Sunday at the UK TF convention Auto
Assembly 2004. Put all four parts together and you get Simon's
complete talk. I take all the responsibility for misspelling names and
such-I noticed I screwed up the spelling of Maccadam's Old Oil House
as I was reading my transcript part 1. Oh well! This installment isn't
as long as the other three, but there's still some good stuff in it,
and I tried to eliminate spelling errors this time!
One last plug for Auto Assembly!- http://www.autoassembly.org.uk

------------------------------------------
[begin transcript]


[Question: Will we be seeing more of Over-Run?]

Yeah, Over-Run will keep coming back into it as a kind of a-a little
sort of guru. He certainly is a guru for the Omincons. The idea that
he's kind of taken these characters and helped them, sort of in a
grasshopper type way, master their powers and so forth. So yeah, I
mean he's definitely going to keep coming back into it. He's not a
sort of pivotal character, he's not gonna be involved in storylines in
a main way. But yeah, we see him again in issue 25 and we're going to
keep referring back to Over-Run because he's kind of a-he sees the
bigger picture Over-Run. I think this is the thing with him. He sees
their people's places in this grand scheme of things to come. And so
we even loop him into the little bridging sequence that happens at the
beginning and end of the Armada More Than Meets The Eye three issue
series. So that we've got him worked into that, so yeah, sort of he's
gonna be there, but he's not a foreground character.

[Audience member: Is that the same with the G1-esque Alpha Trion
references as well?]

Yes, again, they're not going to be major characters.

[Question: Will Starscream return in Energon?]

Yes, Starscream is coming back and yes, he will be in this new form
as a ghost, but he is going to be able to attain some kind of
corporeal form. Otherwise he's a bit of a sort of "Oh god he's-no, he
can't touch anybody. So what?" So no, he is going to come back, and
yes he is going to be in his new Energon body. I think everybody's
seen the toy or the designs and stuff.

[Question: In your original run on the UK and US comic you weren't
restrained much by Hasbro. How does your relationship with Hasbro and
writing Energon now compare to that?]

You're right, we didn't have an awful lot of Hasbro telling us what
we could or couldn't do in the course of my G1 stuff just because I
seemed to time it pretty well. They didn't-Hasbro UK didn't-pay as
much attention as Hasbro US were doing to the US material. By the time
I came on to the US comic, Hasbro weren't paying a great deal of
attention to that, and G2 hardly any at all. So this is interesting
because yes, we are having to do certain things. The Hasbro (people)
say "Well, we want this character phased out and the new version of
him phased in". And you know, sometimes that helps. Sometimes it's a
pain to work it in, but yeah, we are doing that now but it's not
proving a problem. Hasbro actually are really on board with what we're
trying to do with Energon and with what is being done with the War
Within and G1. The main kind of contact we have there is a guy called
Joshua Izzo, who is a big fan himself. That's a completely new thing
as far as I know with this kind of creative people/Hasbro liason.
Normally you've got a kind of brand manager who doesn't really know
exactly what he's got. He knows the toys and he knows what toy should
be out when, but Joshua is great because he understands all the
history. He understands-he loves the toys, he loves the characters. So
when we say "We want to do this cool thing with Jetfire", he's all for
it. So that's the great thing we're finding with working with Hasbro
at the moment.

[Question: Will we be seeing the new Energon toys in the comic?]

Oh, yeah. We are ongoingly adding the new toys as they come up. So
we're already making plans for Omega Supreme, like I say Slugslinger,
Mirage, all these characters will be phased in. Shockblast,
ummmm...Cliffjumper, Rodimus, Prowl-they're all coming in, so yes is
the answer to that.

[Question: In War Within two, you introduced a lot of sub-factions.
Are you going to do more of that for volume 3?]

It is something I'm going to phase out gradually in War Within
three. I had a kind of mixed reaction (to) this, and I had a bit of a
mixed reaction in me as well. It seemed to work for the whole kind of
setup for the Dark Ages, but I'm not keen to carry that on too much
longer. So (at) the beginning of War Within three, we'll see a
rationalizing of these various factions.

[Question: Why wasn't G1 Galvatron shown to become the Armada
Galvatron in the Worlds Collide storyline?]

I think a lot of it was down to what space I had available, really.
And also, I felt slightly sort of narky about the whole Galvatron
business anyway because, you know we couldn't name G1 Galvatron
largely because there was an Armada Galvatron. They had some big
problems with brand name clashes, which I thought was just kind of
unreasonable for the amount we were using him. So I felt disinclined
to turning him into Armada Galvatron, to be plainly honest.

[Question: Why did they put that in the More Than Meets the Eye
book-that it was Galvatron?]

Well I think they just have to be complete with these. Whenever
you're doing one of these Transformers Universe books as it used to
be, or More Than Meets the Eye as it is now, I think you just have to
be complete. I think they're just being complete.

[Simon turns to the convention organizer and asks if he has to wrap it
up. He's told he can do two more questions.]

[Question: Why does Energon Megatron look like Galvatron?]

That's a question for Hasbro more than me. I think largely it takes an
awful lot of money to develop a new mold. It's much easier for them,
and thereby cheaper I guess, to produce a repaint of a character.

[Question: The Unicron in Worlds Collide seemed to have the ability to
travel between realities. Will you do that again or is that concept
finished with Armada?]

No, I still like the idea that Unicron doesn't just couple in
one-dimensional space. That he is intent on destroying not just one
dimension, but every dimension. So he flips back and forth through
dimensions polishing off Cybertrons is the kind of idea I've got. And
I still like the idea that there is only one Unicron. He may get
destroyed in terms of his physical form or whatever, but he comes
back, he recreates himself. Which is kind of what Energon is about.
It's Unicron badly damaged or nearly dead, rebuilding himself. And
that's the kind of line I'd like to follow with Unicron.

[Question: Will the Star Saber be coming back?]

Yes, the Star Saber's coming back. I've gotta wrap this up now, thank
you very much everyone!

[Audience applauds.]
[Panel ends]

--
crazysteve with rubber tires
http://www.scrambledcity.com

Cliffjumper
2004-05-15, 12:39 PM
Interesting... he seems to have dropped the smug bastard thing a little, which is good, though The Ultimate Guide sounds like something I won't be missing...

Warcry
2004-05-16, 03:31 AM
Dreamwave might not call the intervening period Generation 2 at all between Generation One and Transformers: the Movie.
This bit puzzles me. Is Furman saying that TFTM is part of the DW continuity? Because it literally can't be...not with Scourge and Cyclonus already running around.

Sir Auros
2004-05-16, 03:58 AM
Wow, DW didn't even bother telling him they were using TWW in the ongoing and possibly mucking up his plot in the process?

Cliffy, whore yourself out as their anal-retentive continuity editor!

Cliffjumper
2004-05-16, 11:29 AM
DW have continuity?

Sir Auros
2004-05-16, 01:03 PM
Originally posted by Cliffjumper
DW have continuity?

Exactly! The position seems to be open...

Denyer
2004-05-16, 01:52 PM
Originally posted by Sir Auros
Wow, DW didn't even bother telling him they were using TWW in the ongoing and possibly mucking up his plot in the process? Now do people see why I'm reading TWW as a separate proposition to the rest of Dreamwave's output?

They've screwed up continuity between Vol. 1, the Vol. 2 preview, Vol. 2 and the ongoing... TWW is about the only place there are vestiges of continuity. I don't expect good things from the Micromasters series, either.

inflatable dalek
2004-05-18, 07:52 PM
Yeah! a few of my questions are in there! I'm imortalised!:headbang:
Denya, were you one of the guys I was drinking with on the Saturday night? I was the tall guy with the goatee beard who asked the Jhiaxus
question (it's like friends reunited this place;) )
The highlight of the Q&A was on the Saturday, the guy who got ever so slightly irate at the news Ultra Magnus was in WW3, as it apparently contradicts his Marvel origins:wtf:

Denyer
2004-05-18, 08:08 PM
Nah, I've never been to a TF con. If I went to one it'd be to meet up with people rather than to get merch, though...