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Old 2012-10-23, 04:01 PM   #21
Warcry
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Originally Posted by Cliffjumper View Post
Yeh, I found the ongoing was the better stuff going back... Vol. 1 was kinda alright, partly because I used to really REALLY hate it and now with a bit of distance and a lot more perspective than I had ten years ago I can see it's just a not very good comic rather than the end of humanity. Vol. 2 does have a few good bits but the excessive amount of references compared to the amount of original thought was a real distraction - I'd say in its' way it's weaker than the first one because it thinks it's really, really smart.
That's actually really mellow of you, considering the venomous essays you wrote about the first two Dreamwave minis at the time (note to self: read these later for laughs). I think the fact that we've had a decade's worth of continuous output now softens the blow somewhat...at the time Dreamwave was the first G1 Transformers story in almost a decade, and to the fandom it was serious business. Now I think we've got a little more perspective, and it's easier to see that a bad comic isn't the end of the world.

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War Within I have about the same feelings on - of the two completed ones both have a cracking first half then a directionless patchy second half.
I never even bothered to track down the first War Within (which predates me joining the site, IIRC, but only just) because of how the second one went off the rails. The first three issues set up a compelling, unique background of a Balkanized Cybertron that fell apart without the charismatic Megatron and Optimus to lead their factions...then ignore it completely in favour of The Fallen, who seemed like he'd walked in from another story entirely. And then just to rub salt into the wounds, they time-jumped all the way to the end of the faction split so that they could shoehorn in some nonsense about Quintessons.

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The weird thing is both should have served as a big cautionary example for IDW before giving Furman complete control of the universe... Part of the problem with most people thinking Pat Lee is worse than Hitler is that everything wrong with the output was blamed on him - if Furman's scripting was rubbish it must have been something to do with Pat, right, so there's obviously no problem with his writing, let's get him onboard.
You've got to say this for Furman, though: he knows a good scapegoat when he sees one. The first chance he got he went on record saying that everything bad about War Within was because Pat Lee meddled.

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Only problem is I'm not entirely sure who IDW could have (realistically) got onboard instead - Sarracini and McDonough/Patyk weren't really much better and shouts like Roberts are great with hindsight but would have been insane back in 2005/6. Maybe John Ney Rieber? Or Joe Casey, who did some very good work on G.I. Joe around that period.
My suggestion would be "hire an actual professional comic book writer", but IDW's idea of legit industry professionals are hacks like Holmes, McCarthy, Costa and Barber so hiring people for the sole reason that they've written Transformers before was probably the best they could do. And even that's not a safe bet since they seem to have blackballed Roche on the writing side of things for some reason, and Roberts is clearly too talented to stick with a B-list publisher like IDW for long.

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My pet theory is that back in 2005 or whatever they were hoping to basically pressure IDW into picking them up as writers and expecting the comic-buying public to back them by refusing to pick up a TF book until they and their story were picked up.
I think that was their aim, yeah...a lot of people in the fandom expected IDW to pick up the stories where Dreamwave left off, IIRC, right up to when IDW announced Infiltration. McDonough and Patyk were probably counting on the same, so that IDW would try to hire them and they'd have some leverage.

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EDIT: I've never really brought into the 'house style' thing TBH as work by Figueroa, Ruiz, Guidi and Milne all turned out pretty good; to me it looks more a case of a few bad inkers and crap work from Ruffolo, Wildman and Ng (both of whom did superb fan art - but then Pat himself turned out some gorgeous cover and poster work). Those raw pencils Wildman sells at conventions don't look particularly impressive to me - different from the inks, yes, but not classic work that was butchered.
Good or bad there was clearly a "house style" enforced at Dreamwave -- "draw like Pat" being the order of the day. Some artists flourished under the constraints though, just like Furman's best work came when he was writing under serious constraints in the 80s and 90s. Figueroa and Milne in particular did much better work for DW when they had to match an enforced style than they did when IDW let them do pretty much whatever they wanted, and Milne's art on MTMTE (where he's aping Roche's style) has been getting much more praise than he ever received when left to his own devices. I'd even argue that DW's house style was a good thing because -- regardless of whatever else you have to say about it -- Dreamwave's art is very consistent and looks like it's part of a single, contiguous universe. That's something you could never say about IDW, with it's randomly shifting character designs and colouring styles.

Re: Wildman's War Within art...was it even inked? Like, at all? The main reason those issues look bad to me is because they look like someone threw modern hi-fi colouring onto crude pencil sketches. Wildman is someone who really needs good inking for his art to look good, and it looked more like his pencils were scanned into a computer and coloured directly.

And I don't think I can talk about Dreamwave without mentioning the single best thing they did: the More Than Meets the Eye profile books. Not only did they finally give personalities to the 1987 and on characters who never saw their full Budiansky bios published (as well as odds and ends like the Omnibots and Reflector), but those books are the only place that you'll ever see the bulk of the line drawn in the same style as one another (even if some of the art was bad, or some really good art was passed over). The only real complaint I have about the series is that it skipped over the Action Master bodies of established characters and didn't include Euro G1 and G2.
 
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Old 2012-10-23, 05:03 PM   #22
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I think the fact that we've had a decade's worth of continuous output now softens the blow somewhat...at the time Dreamwave was the first G1 Transformers story in almost a decade, and to the fandom it was serious business. Now I think we've got a little more perspective, and it's easier to see that a bad comic isn't the end of the world.
Yeh, I think it was because at the time it and the RiD/Armada cartoons basically WERE Transformers fiction. I mean I can remember at the time people frantically trying to work out if it was in cartoon or comic continuity whereas nowadays everything's "whoa, colouring error, another microcontinuity". And for me, personally, it was before the sheer amount of material meant I stopped caring too much whether everything was good or not - the IDW comics are shit but I don't care because I get explodey Bay goodness every two years and Prime rocks my socks; lots of people who hated the Bay films weren't that fussed because they had Animated, etc, etc. I also think several years of substandard material from IDW has 1) made me realise DW perhaps weren't exceptionally stupid and 2) numbed me to expecting much with a TF logo on it to be all that good.


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The first three issues set up a compelling, unique background of a Balkanized Cybertron that fell apart without the charismatic Megatron and Optimus to lead their factions...then ignore it completely in favour of The Fallen, who seemed like he'd walked in from another story entirely.
The first one's similar - there's a load of interesting stuff about Optimus settling in as Autobot leader and then he's stuck underground with Megatron for three months before a nice Sunbow ending.

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My suggestion would be "hire an actual professional comic book writer", but IDW's idea of legit industry professionals are hacks like Holmes, McCarthy, Costa and Barber so hiring people for the sole reason that they've written Transformers before was probably the best they could do. And even that's not a safe bet since they seem to have blackballed Roche on the writing side of things for some reason, and Roberts is clearly too talented to stick with a B-list publisher like IDW for long.
I think the problem with getting in pros is that licensed stuff - especially for licence renters like DW and IDW who hardly have a good record for breaking 'serious' comic books (30 Days of Night is the exception that proves the rule, pedants) - are still very stigmatised so IDW would need to put down some decent money. And IDW make four variant covers for reprint books.

The best hope for Roberts is that he is totally and utterly in love with the Transformers universe - genuinely in love, not the Furman kind where he does Transformers because it's his only paying work and if Marvel or DC pushed a fifth-tier cape book under his nose he'd be off like a shot. As long as IDW play ball with him properly he won't want to leave.

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Good or bad there was clearly a "house style" enforced at Dreamwave -- "draw like Pat" being the order of the day.
I dunno, I think that's more down to using a vaguely anime-influenced style which was what a lot of fandom and readers wanted to see (the early 2000s were when fascination with the Japanese series, TV Magazine and Generations were at their peak) and the colouring jobs. Artists were probably asked to draw in a similar style but there don't seem to have been any broken fingers for those who don't.

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]And I don't think I can talk about Dreamwave without mentioning the single best thing they did: the More Than Meets the Eye profile books. Not only did they finally give personalities to the 1987 and on characters who never saw their full Budiansky bios published (as well as odds and ends like the Omnibots and Reflector), but those books are the only place that you'll ever see the bulk of the line drawn in the same style as one another (even if some of the art was bad, or some really good art was passed over). The only real complaint I have about the series is that it skipped over the Action Master bodies of established characters and didn't include Euro G1 and G2.
Oh yes, definitely - some of the 'big' characters get awful profiles and awful art, but they're not the ones you use the thing for, are they? Scans ripped out of issues with the junk from the last one dumped and the ordering problems sorted are an incredible resource.
 
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Old 2012-10-23, 07:37 PM   #23
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One more plus to MTMTE (DW) is that it gives hints of what was to come. Whether this was the plan or not it was interesting reading some of the profiles for the likes of galvatron or cyclonus and the hints it was making about where DW (probably) was looking to head.
 
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Old 2012-10-23, 08:10 PM   #24
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What really surprised me is how well the first mini reads in TPB form until about two-thirds of the way through (the concluding section is still obviously thrown together in an eleventh-hour panic and the fundamental misunderstanding of the Prime/Megatron dynamic is still unforgivable). It's not great by any means but it has a nice flow even if it is about a 15-minute read.
I do think the first mini makes a brave (and very possibly suicidal) decision to slowly build up the roles of the Transformers, in what's actually a similar- albeit more extreme (issue One must be the only Transformers comic with no speaking Transformers surely)- way to what Furman would do with Infiltration.

The main problem is there's just not enough in there for six issues even with the slow burning start. Things like how Prime and Megatron are written might not have ended up such a problem if subsequent issues hadn't established them as already having the fully formed cartoon/comic relationship.

The last two issues do however do all of All Hail Megatron in one sixth of the time.

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And I still love Micromasters very, very much. Putting aside Ruffolo's art it's so close to something Roberts and/or Roche would write it's unreal - forefronting 40-odd characters who've barely been used and putting them in an unusual different situation on Cybertron? Nice. And their Joe crossover was so completely alien to both franchises that I have a lot of time for it even with another very weak conclusion.
I remember everyone seemed to love Micromasters, but never really got it myself. The Joe crossover might stand up better now I've read more Joe.



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Yeh, I found the ongoing was the better stuff going back... Vol. 1 was kinda alright, partly because I used to really REALLY hate it and now with a bit of distance and a lot more perspective than I had ten years ago I can see it's just a not very good comic rather than the end of humanity. Vol. 2 does have a few good bits but the excessive amount of references compared to the amount of original thought was a real distraction - I'd say in its' way it's weaker than the first one because it thinks it's really, really smart. Vol. 3 seemed to find more of a balance - yes, references galore but at least they went along with the plot rather than randomly diverting it.
I think volume 3 starts off great, and the Sunstorm story is probably one of the best arcs in all modern TF comics (one of the few with a decent ending as well). After that it seems to loose direction a bit though, the Insecticon story feels like it's making time as the writers decide what to do next. Though we'll never know if what would have followed would have made it work better. I can't even remember what the last few issues were about at this stage.

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War Within I have about the same feelings on - of the two completed ones both have a cracking first half then a directionless patchy second half. The third one didn't even have that. Armada's a bit the same - each plot arc starts off really well and makes you think "Hey, maybe they're getting it right finally" before devolving into a mess of useful coincidences and random plot devices.
I still think Furman was trying to sell a War Within Ongoing with the "Day in the Life" stuff in the second one, and ironically those standalone plots are the best thing in it. I still *HEART* Trypticon.

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EDIT: I've never really brought into the 'house style' thing TBH as work by Figueroa, Ruiz, Guidi and Milne all turned out pretty good; to me it looks more a case of a few bad inkers and crap work from Ruffolo, Wildman and Ng (both of whom did superb fan art - but then Pat himself turned out some gorgeous cover and poster work). Those raw pencils Wildman sells at conventions don't look particularly impressive to me - different from the inks, yes, but not classic work that was butchered.
I don't know, James Raiz and El Don complained about the house style when they had no real reason to (everyone pretty much liked their DW work so it's not as if they needed to make excuses for it). Didn't Raiz talk about being required to redraw some of his Armada stuff to make the humans more "Lee-esque"?

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My suggestion would be "hire an actual professional comic book writer"
Like Dan Abnett?


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Yeh, I think it was because at the time it and the RiD/Armada cartoons basically WERE Transformers fiction. I mean I can remember at the time people frantically trying to work out if it was in cartoon or comic continuity whereas nowadays everything's "whoa, colouring error, another microcontinuity".
I could see the cartoon argument (as it's well into the series that we get the line about them never having returned to Cybertron which firmly takes it out of cartoon teritory) but I never understood the comic continuation people.

After all, this was before it occurred to anyone to do a Marvel set book that ignored huge chunks of the Marvel comics, so people were trying to fit it in post-G2. Where Spike died. I could maybe buy some of the robots being rebuilt or going back to old bodies, but a human being glued back together was pushing it.

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The best hope for Roberts is that he is totally and utterly in love with the Transformers universe - genuinely in love, not the Furman kind where he does Transformers because it's his only paying work and if Marvel or DC pushed a fifth-tier cape book under his nose he'd be off like a shot. As long as IDW play ball with him properly he won't want to leave.
That has to be the hope, though that's probably the worst thing that could happen to his career as a whole (assuming he wants one of course, he may well have a good paying "Day" job and does the TF stuff for fun), he arguably deserves bigger things. As said before, I'd love to see him do some of the Big Finish Blake's 7 stuff...
 
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Old 2012-10-23, 08:56 PM   #25
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I do think the first mini makes a brave (and very possibly suicidal) decision to slowly build up the roles of the Transformers, in what's actually a similar- albeit more extreme (issue One must be the only Transformers comic with no speaking Transformers surely)- way to what Furman would do with Infiltration.
And Bay would do with the '07 film. Sadly, unlike that one - but quite a bit like Infiltration now I think about it - it goes tits-up the second the Transformers appear. I think it was a very weird choice for putting Transformers and G1 back on the map after six, seven years off the map. It would have worked much better as a second volume - do the big smackdown described in the newspaper article, if sales are good throw in the Ark II stuff right at the end of your cheerful Sunbow-fest, keep everyone on tenderhooks for six months, fastforward to the present day, Prime Directive.

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The Joe crossover might stand up better now I've read more Joe.
Nah, it's even more of a head-****. Breaker, Grunt and Leatherneck in the awesome Super-Joe crossover team? It's ace.

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I can't even remember what the last few issues were about at this stage.
Shockwave SHOCKWAVE.

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Didn't Raiz talk about being required to redraw some of his Armada stuff to make the humans more "Lee-esque"?
Dunno - Lee-esque or anime-esque? DW's output in general aimed for an anime style look. And TBH if they had a certain character model for a character asking an artist to redraw art to come closer to that model would make sense... I'm actually quite for the idea of a house style for something like Transformers; I think it's been made a bit of a dirty phrase where once again it's been used as a stick to beat Pat Lee. I mean look at the ****-ups that have happened with IDW's trendy-groovy let it all hang out attitude.

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I could see the cartoon argument (as it's well into the series that we get the line about them never having returned to Cybertron which firmly takes it out of cartoon teritory) but I never understood the comic continuation people.
Sorry, my bad conflation (though someone might well have argued it in relation to the UK G1 comic) - WW was the one people spent the first three issues trying to slot into Marvel continuity.
 
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Old 2012-10-23, 10:57 PM   #26
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I can't even remember what the last few issues were about at this stage.
Shockwave SHOCKWAVE.
Actually they were doing an interesting idea. Shockwave is in charge of the decepticons (starscream has a rag tag bunch of combaticons with him on earth) Then Megatron returns, accompanied by Predaking (he finds the predacons on the Battle Beasts planet in the summer annual) and an army of his sweeper drones. What was kinda nice about this idea is while this going on in the ongoing it looked like War Within series 3 would be explaining how Megatron got this army in the first place.

There was some nice bits here - Megatron taking out Shockwave, Predaking vs Bruticus. But I have no idea where the story would have gone. There were indications that Sixshot would have shown up as another of Shockwaves experiments to save him but thats not confirmed (I'm basing that on Blitzwing being one of Shockwaves loyal experiments and Sixshot picking up Blitzwings visor after a tangle with the Predacons.
 
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Old 2012-10-24, 06:55 AM   #27
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i remember feel sorry for Shockwave when Megs returned, getting his gun arm chopped off and capped
 
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Old 2012-10-24, 11:44 AM   #28
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(assuming he wants one of course, he may well have a good paying "Day" job and does the TF stuff for fun)
Well, that pretty much has to be the case, doesn't it? I mean, in the MTMTE Annual deconstruction podcast, he mentions a son. Surely there's no way writing a single monthly title (and a licensed one, at that) could feed a family of at least two.

Not sure I agree with you all about licensed properties having such a huge stigma, though. These days, that kind of attitude seems a lot less prevalent. Possibly because, with the rise of creator-owned work, the rather obvious fact that working on Batman and X-Men is a lot more similar to working on, say, Thundercats than it is to genuinely creating and owning your own thing becomes even more obvious. Whether it's Hasbro or Marvel, it still boils down to someone looking at spreadsheets and sales charts making the final calls, thinking about branding and IP. It seems to have re-drawn the lines, so to speak, so that it's now creator-owned on one side, and all work-for-hire standing on the other.

I mean, just looking at IDW's licensed output, you've got Popeye by Roger Langridge and Rocketeer by Mark Waid and Chris Samnee. All three are/were getting regular work at Marvel, and if Waid's not A-list, I'm not sure who is. True Blood's co-written by Anne Nocent, who's working for DC. And Doctor Who's by Andy Diggle, who's writing Superman.
 
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Old 2012-10-24, 12:41 PM   #29
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And even that's not a safe bet since they seem to have blackballed Roche on the writing side of things for some reason
I thought Roche said he was the one who decided to take a break to prevent himself from pulling a Figueroa. And he's been making sporadic noise at the IDW forums about an unannounced TF project that he's both writing and drawing. It's about one of the "Big Guns," his words.
 
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Old 2012-10-24, 12:45 PM   #30
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Isn't Roberts a policeman or similar?

The best example of how devoted he is is the material for the UK Classics TPBs. He was probably paid a fiver or given a free copy or something for that - it's obvious he'd been itching to do that for decades.
 
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Old 2012-10-24, 06:26 PM   #31
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Yeah, I just hope no-one's taking advantage.

Roberts is ex-police IIRC.
 
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Old 2012-10-24, 08:02 PM   #32
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Well, that pretty much has to be the case, doesn't it? I mean, in the MTMTE Annual deconstruction podcast, he mentions a son. Surely there's no way writing a single monthly title (and a licensed one, at that) could feed a family of at least two.

Not sure I agree with you all about licensed properties having such a huge stigma, though. These days, that kind of attitude seems a lot less prevalent. Possibly because, with the rise of creator-owned work, the rather obvious fact that working on Batman and X-Men is a lot more similar to working on, say, Thundercats than it is to genuinely creating and owning your own thing becomes even more obvious. Whether it's Hasbro or Marvel, it still boils down to someone looking at spreadsheets and sales charts making the final calls, thinking about branding and IP. It seems to have re-drawn the lines, so to speak, so that it's now creator-owned on one side, and all work-for-hire standing on the other.

I mean, just looking at IDW's licensed output, you've got Popeye by Roger Langridge and Rocketeer by Mark Waid and Chris Samnee. All three are/were getting regular work at Marvel, and if Waid's not A-list, I'm not sure who is. True Blood's co-written by Anne Nocent, who's working for DC. And Doctor Who's by Andy Diggle, who's writing Superman.
I think the big difference with those properties is they are not tied to something percieved as juvenile like Transformers (and i doubt the films have honestly done much to improve that), plus the subject matter doesn't seem to be something that has 'name' creators beating a path to its door (its probably why Dreamwave took advantage of wanabees in fandom...)
 
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Old 2012-10-24, 08:08 PM   #33
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And Bay would do with the '07 film. Sadly, unlike that one - but quite a bit like Infiltration now I think about it - it goes tits-up the second the Transformers appear. I think it was a very weird choice for putting Transformers and G1 back on the map after six, seven years off the map. It would have worked much better as a second volume - do the big smackdown described in the newspaper article, if sales are good throw in the Ark II stuff right at the end of your cheerful Sunbow-fest, keep everyone on tenderhooks for six months, fastforward to the present day, Prime Directive.
The pacing is basically a trade broken up into 6 parts rather than a six part story isn't it? It's been good to see this last year Transformers (and possibly comics in general?) move away slightly from the "Writing for trade" mentality. Even the weakest issues of the two ongoings have worked as issues in their own right even when part of a larger story.




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Sorry, my bad conflation (though someone might well have argued it in relation to the UK G1 comic) - WW was the one people spent the first three issues trying to slot into Marvel continuity.
My memory (from back in the days when I just used to browse, before I signed up and made you all awesome) is people were doing it with the first Mini as well against all logic. Though I may be misremembering, this week I've seen Roger Moore's face in A View To A Kill in HD and the horror of it has kind of filled up my mind.

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Well, that pretty much has to be the case, doesn't it? I mean, in the MTMTE Annual deconstruction podcast, he mentions a son. Surely there's no way writing a single monthly title (and a licensed one, at that) could feed a family of at least two.
As Cliffy and Denyer say, the script for Chaos Theory does have him talk about being a former policeman (based on location, probably Bergerac). From the moody black and white photo he uses for conventions (which I think is also on his wiki page) I like to think he's an Edwardian Lord of the Manor is his day job.


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I thought Roche said he was the one who decided to take a break to prevent himself from pulling a Figueroa. And he's been making sporadic noise at the IDW forums about an unannounced TF project that he's both writing and drawing. It's about one of the "Big Guns," his words.
Roche was emphatically told at one point IDW weren't interested in him as a writer because "They had enough good writers", if that attitudes changed since that's great, but I do think it was the main reason he hasn't done all of MTMTE, he's more interested in moving into writing projects and had to go look elsewhere for those opportunities.
 
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Old 2012-10-24, 10:24 PM   #34
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Well, that pretty much has to be the case, doesn't it? I mean, in the MTMTE Annual deconstruction podcast, he mentions a son. Surely there's no way writing a single monthly title (and a licensed one, at that) could feed a family of at least two.
Do we have any idea how much a gig like that would pay? Creative folk like McDonough, Patyk, Furman and Figueroa were stiffed out of a lot of money when Dreamwave folded. I don't know how long the "not paying staff" thing went on for, but when you have staff that are owed $15-25,000 in back pay either they were getting paid a fair bit more than a living wage or they worked for free for six months.

I'm going off of the numbers here, by the way.

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The pacing is basically a trade broken up into 6 parts rather than a six part story isn't it? It's been good to see this last year Transformers (and possibly comics in general?) move away slightly from the "Writing for trade" mentality. Even the weakest issues of the two ongoings have worked as issues in their own right even when part of a larger story.
Speaking as someone who read the story for the first time in a trade, this is bang on. It actually works...adequately as a single story, even if it's not particularly good. It doesn't break down into issues very naturally, though.

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It's been good to see this last year Transformers (and possibly comics in general?) move away slightly from the "Writing for trade" mentality. Even the weakest issues of the two ongoings have worked as issues in their own right even when part of a larger story.
This is a huge plus of the new stuff, for me. Furman, McCarthy and especially Costa all published a whole bunch of issues where absolutely nothing happened, and that were practically unreadable outside the context of the rest of the arc or miniseries they were a part of. Coming from Furman it was particularly galling, because in the 80s and 90s he was perfectly capable of writing self-contained issues that still worked as part of an arc.

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Roche was emphatically told at one point IDW weren't interested in him as a writer because "They had enough good writers", if that attitudes changed since that's great, but I do think it was the main reason he hasn't done all of MTMTE, he's more interested in moving into writing projects and had to go look elsewhere for those opportunities.
Yeah, that's what I was thinking of. And I'm fairly sure you're right that Roche had said he was more interested in writing than drawing at this point in his career.

The whole thing is hilarious, in a sad sort of way. Roberts somehow gets an ongoing series on the strength of five issues the two of them co-wrote while Roche (who had several solo issues under his belt and recruited Roberts in the first place) gets told to bugger off. Meanwhile, IDW dig up indifferent 80s faces like Furman and Flint Dille to write series for them.
 
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Old 2012-10-24, 11:17 PM   #35
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Originally Posted by Skyquake87 View Post
I think the big difference with those properties is they are not tied to something percieved as juvenile like Transformers (and i doubt the films have honestly done much to improve that), plus the subject matter doesn't seem to be something that has 'name' creators beating a path to its door (its probably why Dreamwave took advantage of wanabees in fandom...)
Yeh, Transformers is still very much perceived as a kids' comic - and one controlled by Hasbro. Hasbro seem to be largely hands-off with the comics through being highly aware of how tiny their under 18 audience (and how small their audience is - if the comics started shifting a quarter of a million copies I'd bet they'd weigh in more) is but just the idea would be anaethema to a lot of creators. Marvel & DC both seem a lot more open to shaking up the basic status quo of their books too.

I would say, though, that IDW probably don't pay particularly good money. Probably above the poverty line but it's for a book that sells 10k and that they expect to sell 10k. I would guess (and it's a pure guess) that DW folks were probably on better money because even at the end they were selling three times that and when deals were put in place it was about twice that again. It also wouldn't surprise me if bigger numbers were waved under noses of those being unpaid - "give us three more months and we'll put a bit extra in when we get it".

Jesus, look at http://tfarchive.com/comics/dreamwave/guide/sales.php - just about everything DW put out massively outsold nearly everything IDW have done; Energon outsold AHM...
 
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Old 2012-10-25, 03:37 AM   #36
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You're right about that...it's easy to forget how far the sales figures have fallen. But most of that is tied to this:

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Yeh, Transformers is still very much perceived as a kids' comic - and one controlled by Hasbro.
That's entirely true. In a different medium it wouldn't matter -- look at the movies or video games -- but the comics market is a tiny, insular remnant of what it once was. Practically no one readsbuys comics regularly other than hard-core comic nerds. And the big-name books that casual fans might pick up are so far up their own ass in terms of continuity and crossovers that they make LOST look accessible, so no one ever becomes a new fan anymore. And the hard-core nerds do what hard-core nerds everywhere do -- they hate anything that doesn't fit their idea of what a comic should be. And since they're the only paying customers, the creators who want to make a name for themselves need to pander to their likes and dislikes. It's like a whole industry taken over by Geewunners.

If comics still reached the huge audience they did in the 80s I think a Transformers book would be a far, far bigger success than IDW has ever managed. The general public obviously doesn't hold Transformers in any particular disdain because of it's toyline origins, and we've got the box office numbers to attest to that.

I...just really don't understand how IDW can't find a way to translate that into more sales. I mean, practically our entire generation grew up reading comics books, even if only occasionally. We've made nostalgia for childhood toys/TV shows/etc into an art form, and somehow nerdy passtimes are now considered cool. That should be the recipe for a new golden age for comic books, but no one (IDW included) have any idea how to capture what should be a very receptive market.

Dreamwave were no better, admittedly. They did manage to capture huge sales based on 80s nostalgia, but nostalgia was the only trick they had so they squandered all of that momentum. Wasn't their TF Volume 1 #1 actually the top-selling comic the month it was released? They managed to lose 114,000 readers in under three years, almost 80% of the initial readership of their flagship title. No wonder they couldn't afford to pay their staff...
 
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Old 2012-10-25, 06:53 AM   #37
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Four out of six of Vol 1 (and the first of Vol 2) were #1 sellers - though I did read somewhere that, like IDW compared to them, it was shifting less than G2 got cancelled on - which says a lot about the contraction of the industry.

I think after the late-1990s bust both Marvel and DC made the conscious choice to nurture what they had rather than chasing new readers. I doubt comic books are even their primary source of income anymore; licensing nice accessible movies and getting TPB sales from Amazon/Waterstones/Barnes & Noble. The likes of DW and IDW probably don't have much choice other than to do the same just because the industry's now set up that way.
 
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Old 2012-10-25, 09:44 AM   #38
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I...just really don't understand how IDW can't find a way to translate that into more sales. I mean, practically our entire generation grew up reading comics books, even if only occasionally. We've made nostalgia for childhood toys/TV shows/etc into an art form, and somehow nerdy passtimes are now considered cool. That should be the recipe for a new golden age for comic books, but no one (IDW included) have any idea how to capture what should be a very receptive market.
Quite apart from the historic problems of locality of specialist comic shops (at least in the UK) and other preceptions of the industry by outsiders and all the other attendant problems of the comic book industry, Transformers has a fandom that largely split along the lines of following a particular facet of it - i.e. some will only buy the toys, some will watch the cartoons/ films and that will be enough.

One thing I think that is harder to judge because the figures aren't available to Diamond (whom compile the comics charts, right?) are sales of trades via places like Amazon and bookstores. Although the comic book industry may be declining, I wonder if its reach is a little wider than we think (if not by much and taking into account that comics readers will invariably use alternative shopping methods in addition to their own comic shop).

Your point about interest in a film/notstalgia etc and translating that into new readers is one that has been a constant struggle for publishers to tap into, if they're even trying - I know Marvel is making a concerted effort to have its cake and eat it with Marvel NOW! by tapping into potential interest generated by Avengers and Spider-Man by relaunching all its books whilst leaving continuity in check.

One of the problems with comics is their long running nature and it can seem daunting to an outsider to know where to start. Reboots can be annoying for readers that have stuck around as it invariably leads to retellings of well worn origins. A friend of mine said it'd be interesting if comics were run along the lines of TV shows, running for a finite period before being relaunched again.

Ultimately though, it is a medium that's losing ground to more immediate media. Its not something solely the problem of comics though, the book industry is much the same with a reliance now on celebrity memoirs and cookery books to bring in any income.
 
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Old 2012-10-25, 09:48 AM   #39
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Do we have any idea how much a gig like that would pay? Creative folk like McDonough, Patyk, Furman and Figueroa were stiffed out of a lot of money when Dreamwave folded. I don't know how long the "not paying staff" thing went on for, but when you have staff that are owed $15-25,000 in back pay either they were getting paid a fair bit more than a living wage or they worked for free for six months.

I'm going off of the numbers here, by the way.
Though that is them trying to put a monetary value on the magic beans they were promised.


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This is a huge plus of the new stuff, for me. Furman, McCarthy and especially Costa all published a whole bunch of issues where absolutely nothing happened, and that were practically unreadable outside the context of the rest of the arc or miniseries they were a part of. Coming from Furman it was particularly galling, because in the 80s and 90s he was perfectly capable of writing self-contained issues that still worked as part of an arc.
Ironically I think Furman would actually work better under how things are done now as its more back on familiar structual turf for him. Each issue having to have a self contained plot as well as overarching threads would mean less dragging things out as well (I've still got whiplash from how fast some of those early MTMTE/RID issues move in comparison to earlier IDW stuff).


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Yeah, that's what I was thinking of. And I'm fairly sure you're right that Roche had said he was more interested in writing than drawing at this point in his career.
If that stance has changed since I sat in on that Q&A a year and a half ago, I wonder if this is something else we can put down to the amazing ineptitude of Andy Schmidt before he went off to make sure toy packaging had the right name on it five times out of ten?

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I...just really don't understand how IDW can't find a way to translate that into more sales. I mean, practically our entire generation grew up reading comics books, even if only occasionally. We've made nostalgia for childhood toys/TV shows/etc into an art form, and somehow nerdy passtimes are now considered cool. That should be the recipe for a new golden age for comic books, but no one (IDW included) have any idea how to capture what should be a very receptive market.
I do think Digital sales have a huge potential to get out there and grab that lost audience of comics. Though I'm not enough of an expert to say how well the comic industry as a whole is managing that transition IDW do seem to be at least trying, but with mixed success.

Take Autocracy, heavily promoted and with a writer on board nostalgia who don't normally do comics people will have some affinity with and at an cheap as chips price.

But regardless of all the Movie referencing and the poor fit into continuity (I still think it would have been very easy to make it in the post-War Darwn cartoon Universe with a minimal of rewriting and it would be an easier read as a result) it's just structured and paced very badly. In interviews the authors talk about how hard it is to get out of the 22 page mindset but it really should be that difficult to come up with workable 9 page instalments. Especially when at least one of you isn't normally a comic writer and shouldn't be conditioned to 22 page pacing anyway.


EDIT: I think we can tell how much enthusiasm there is for this crossover, the announcement has gotten people really excited about ten year old Dreamwave comics instead.
 
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Old 2012-10-28, 09:28 AM   #40
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I think the big difference with those properties is they are not tied to something percieved as juvenile like Transformers (and i doubt the films have honestly done much to improve that), plus the subject matter doesn't seem to be something that has 'name' creators beating a path to its door (its probably why Dreamwave took advantage of wanabees in fandom...)
Now you have me wondering. Given how big Transformers was in the 80s, you'd think there would be a number of established writers and artists in comics who are/were fans. Why can't IDW (or Dreamwave before them) play on those people's nostalgia, get them to at least do fill-ins or mini-series if ongoing commitments would be too much? I mean, yeah, they hire fans, but it's always fans with little or no professional work. Fans from fandom. But what about pro fans? I mean, take Phil Jiminez for example. Based on that JLA/Transformers promo pic he did a while back, he has quite a bit of fondness for the franchise. There have to be a whole slew of people like him, guys who've made names for themselves in the funnybook biz and would get a kick out of working on some childhood favorites.

It can't be a money issue because, like I said earlier, IDW seems to be able to get bigger names for its other licensed properties. Though I suppose it's possible Hasbro charges much more for the TF license, leaving that much less money to pay the creative teams.
 

Last edited by dubbilex; 2012-10-28 at 10:01 AM. Reason: Clarification
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