• Interviews 

    Transformers: One Year Later with Writers John Barber and James Roberts [Interview]

    By | January 31st, 2013
    Posted in Interviews | 2 Comments

    Last year, after more than four million plus years of conflict, the war between the Autobots and the Decepticons came to an end. With one chapter of the Transformers story closing, IDW Publishing decided to shake things up a bit, and ended the main Transformers ongoing series and replaced it with two new, and very different books. “Transfomers: Robots in Disguise” tells the story of what happens when the fighting is over, the rebuilding process that follows, and the difficulties of finding ones place in a strange, new world. Its sibling title, “Transformers: More Than Meets the Eye” chronicles the adventures of a crew of space faring Transformers, led by Rodiums Prime, as they search the cosmos for the legendary Knights of Cybertron, finding just about everything but along the way. Writers John Barber and James Roberts are the guiding force behind the latest take on the Transformers, and they both stopped by to talk with us about the series’ first year, and what the future holds for both books!

    Congratulations, guys, on an amazing first year! But before we gush too much about the here and now, let’s start at the beginning… or the end of the previous series, rather. Walk us through the close of the last Transformers ongoing series — essentially, why was it time to end it and launch two new titles in its place?

    John Barber: Well, I wasn’t involved yet. I was a freelance writer in New York at the time — I’d just written the Transformers: Dark of the Moon prequels and adaptation for then-Transformers-editor Andy Schmidt. Andy asked me to pitch on a new Transformers series, and showed me a document that James had written, which was an outline for what basically became The Death of Optimus Prime, the debut issue we co-wrote and that spun into the two new ongoing series. It wasn’t until after we started working on those that I wound up getting hired to replace Andy (when he started working at Hasbro) and moving out to San Diego and becoming the Transformers editor at IDW. So I wasn’t there for the decision, but I think the previous series had run for almost three years at that point, and writer Mike Costa was ready to move on. So the idea of winding down the mostly-Earth-based comic and starting up with a new number one and a new creative team and direction made sense. Plus, that ongoing ended with a story called ‘Chaos’ that had two components–one taking place on Earth and one on Cybertron, and they came out biweekly, alternating stories each issue. The success of that suggested there was a market for more Transformers comics, so I think the idea of doing two ongoings came into being.

    James Roberts: I don’t have much to add to that, I’m afraid! I remember that a second ongoing had been planned for some time, and that it was going to launch after ‘Chaos’, but it wasn’t until relatively late in the day — perhaps at the point that Mike decided he wanted to move on — that the decision was taken to actually close down his ongoing and launch two new titles, both from issue 1. I think there was even talk about The Death of Optimus Prime being numbered issue 125, and the numbering carrying on from there. A ‘clean’ relaunch was better, in the end.

    JB: Yeah, that’s right. Andy had added up all the issues of the various Transformers miniseries and the ongoing series that IDW had done up to that point, and if you didn’t count certain side projects, you got 124. So the next issue would be #125. And for a while we were going to go from that issue #125 to one series “starting” at #126 and the other at #1. But, well… that was a little complicated. Two #1s definitely were a cleaner entry point for readers (and retailers).

    Both books Transformers: Robots in Disguise and Transformers: More Than Meets the Eye are so thematically different from what was going on before you almost needed that solid, definitive break, I think. And the books aren’t just distinctly different from the former series, but they’re very different from each other too. How much of a conscious effort was made to make the books so fundamentally distinctive, and was there every any resistance from Hasbro?

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    JR: Fans who have followed IDW’s Transformers Universe for a while tend to split the last seven years into different eras differentiated by whoever was the main writer at the time; so – broadly – we have the Simon Furman era, followed by Shane McCarthy, then Mike Costa. And when a new writer takes over the reins they invariably put a different spin on things – there are those who would argue that ‘All Hail Megatron’, Shane’s multi-part epic, is as thematically different from Simon’s preceding stories as Robots in Disguise and More Than Meets the Eye are from Mike’s ongoing.

    But ending the Transformers’ war – properly ending it – was so significant a plot development that it justified launching two new books; it certainly created an in-universe environment wherein everything and anything would seem fresh and new.I’ve never actively sought to make MTMTE different from RiD, and I’m sure it’s the same the other way around. I think the premise for each book is so different it all-but guarantees that they’re going to ‘read’ differently: RiD is the political thriller, MTMTE is the space adventure – although I would like to think that as the two series have progressed, those labels have become an oversimplification. MTMTE did a political thriller in ‘Shadowplay’ and RiD did space adventure in ‘Syndromica’.

    But aside from the deliberately distinct set-ups, and allowing for the fact that both titles can accommodate a range of stories, what I think gives each of them a distinct personality is the fact that John and I each have a distinct authorial voice.Hasbro have been incredibly supportive of what we’re doing, and of course they have a lot of creative input as well. Thanks to Hasbro and John I’ve had the confidence to push things further and make MTMTE even more ‘MTMTE-y’.

    JB: Yeah, Hasbro has been really open both in going for the crazy stuff we want to do, and even throwing crazy stuff back our way. I mean good crazy stuff–some really dramatic ideas. Hasbro’s Michael Kelly and the Transformers Brand Team have been incredibly great to work with on this. They’ve really encouraged us to push things further.As to the books themselves, I think most of the differences come from the different ways James and I approach the comic. I mean we talk a lot about this stuff even before I was hired as an editor, we were talking as the two guys writing these series, at least once a week. But we’re different people, different writers, and I think that comes through. I imagine people reading the books can pick out the differences even better than we can.

    Likewise, Andrew Griffith drawing RID has a really different approach to the comic than Alex Milne does on MTMTE. Both of those guys know their stuff–both in terms of the ‘bots and in terms of storytelling. They’re absolutely as fundamental to the different feels of the series as we are.

    When it comes to making a break with the previous series… I think the one place we did have a really conscious break was in setting both these books in space. We’d spent a big part of Simon’s run was set on Earth (not all, of course, but a lot of it), and then AHM and the series Mike wrote were largely Earthbound or, at least, anything set off-world was happening in relation to stuff going on on Earth. The Autobots were trapped on Cybertron in AHM, but that was in an effort to keep them away while the Decepticons were wreaking havoc on Earth. That kind of thing. The end of Mike’s run got most everybody back to Cybertron, and that seemed like a good place to launch from. Not to say there’s anything wrong with Earth stories, or that we’ll never go back obviously Earth is really important to the Transformers mythos, but just to change things up, to highlight a different facet of the brand.

    Okay, let me piggy back on that a little. The idea of “the brand.” Despite the differences, there are some noteworthy shared pieces, so how much do the two of you communicate about the books’ directions?

    JR: The two books are designed to be read independently of each other, so it’s possible to just follow one (even though for the fullest TF experience it’s advisable to buy both, of course). But from time to time John and I nod in each other’s direction for example, there’s a scene in MTMTE issue 3 where Swerve tells Skids that he’s always wanted to open a bar with Blurr, who’s back on Cybertron. And then some weeks later, in RiD issue 5, we have Blurr opening his own bar.

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    But in terms of overall story direction and the big story beats in each issue, yes, we each know what the other one has planned. And John’s is the editor of MTMTE and the writer RiD, so he knows everything about everything.

    I must admit, I quite like the fact that each book largely ignores the other. Rodimus left Cybertron with a bunch of Autobots, leaving Bumblebee behind to try and stabilize a fractious postwar society; there’s no love lost between the two of them. And Bumblebee and Co. assume that the Lost Light has been destroyed, and for various reasons Rodimus can’t get back in touch with them… so there’s a sense of structural and emotional separateness too. I say all this to make the point that when a character in MTMTE or RID makes even a casual reference to the Autobots in the other book, it gives me a frisson of excitement. It feels significant.

    These books are probably the most critically celebrated take on Transformers in, well, forever. But sadly, we all know it’s hard for some comics fans to get around the history of the Transformers, and its being “just a toy comic” that doesn’t count as much as the latest issue of Batman. I have to wonder, are you guys seeing new readers? Are formerly non-Transfans giving the book a chance?

    JR: Personally, I’m sensing that non-Transfans comic fans generally are giving the two series a shot, and that’s fantastic, and that’s what we want, and when both titles launched the intention very much was to make these stories accessible to people who loved comics but who knew very little about Transformers.

    With regards to your wider point, you’re right, there is a sort of snobbery involved here, and I really don’t understand why it exists. At the risk of stating the obvious, what matters is the stories and the execution; so long as you’re acting with creative integrity — i.e. you’re telling the best stories you can out a desire to entertain then it’s irrelevant whether the characters were first seen in toy shops or on the big screen or in prose.

    JB: We’re definitely seeing new readers coming over from other comics, yeah. When we started this relaunch with the two new titles, it was right in the midst of DC’s New 52, where they rebooted their titles in an effort to make them more accessible to lapsed readers, new readers, and people coming in from other media. They basically started from square one with most of their characters, said “the previous stories didn’t happen” and moved forward. Which can be an attractive concept, right? But with the Transformers series, James and I and Hasbro, and IDW all wanted to keep the previous stories around, but move forward in an accessible way.

    Transformers also has a big fanbase that flows in to the comics from people that are fans of the characters, fans of the brand, from other media. It’s completely possible for somebody to be a huge Transformers fan and not have been exposed to the comics, and once they are, hopefully they’re hooked, too. We’re trying to do that by working closely with Hasbro in putting in-our-continuity comics in the Generations toy line — full comics, that will expose new readers to comics.But on your larger point, I think overall, when you look at the characters that originated in comics (like Batman or Spider-Man) — almost nobody hits on those characters in the comics. First, they see the cartoons or the toys or the movies or whatever. I think if there ever was a difference, it’s eroded pretty consistently since… well, probably since the movie serials in the 1940s, if we’re honest.

    For me, that’s the thing. Having grown up with Transformers and G.I. Joe under the Marvel banner, they’re all the same comics to me. So for that reason, I’ll never understand the resistance to the property, but it’s there. I saw it when I was a retailer, and I see it now as a fan.

    JB: I’m absolutely with you. I got into Spider-Man from the appearances on Electric Company; I got into Batman from reruns of the Adam West series and the Scooby-Doo episodes… but I got into Transformers from the comics. I think there’s considerably less resistance to Transformers now, as compared to even a few years ago.

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    I recently suggested Transformers: Last Stand of the Wreckers as my Friday Recommendation, and no kidding, I got more appreciative emails about that one than anything else I’ve done for the site, which tells me that you are right, and that people aren’t entirely opposed to Transformers if the story’s right. But obviously, you guys can do a much better job of selling the books than I can, so how would pitch your Transformers to someone who is undecided?

    JB: Last Stand of the Wreckers is really a great one. What Nick Roche and James did on that was extraordinary. For long-time fans, it was an explosion of concepts, new and old, brought together by people that really really care. And for new readers, that story humanizes the characters in a really powerful way.That’s what I’d pitch, really. The Transformers comics are about people. Metal people, sure — and metal people whose problems frequently involve the fate of the world being at stake — but they’re relatable people with real emotions acting like people act. I think that’s the biggest thing we all strive for.

    JR: Took the words out of my mouth. I also sincerely believe — and this may come as a shock to people who assume that working with a licensed property means that you’re working within very prescriptive guidelines — but I sincerely believe that today’s Transformers comics have a lot more freedom — and can therefore generate a greater sense of forward momentum — than a lot of the mainstream titles. I don’t know, maybe it’s as much to do with the scale and durability of the concept. A cast of 300+ near-immortal metal men fighting a galaxy-wide war that’s raged for millions of years. There’s a real sense of progression with the TF comics. It really isn’t the case that we have to reach for the re-set button every issue, or every year, or whatever: the overall story surges forward, characters die and stay dead, key locations change, allegiances shift, whatever, but you don’t get the sense of the status quo having to continually reassert itself.

    What I find most interesting about the series is how you’ve taken the Transformers major premise of “Autobots Vs. Decepticons” and essentially eliminated the conflict at the center and created this engaging character piece about solidarity, and purpose, and renewal. Specifically, I like how you’re treating the Decepticons as vets on the losing side of the war rather than just some ol’ bad guys. Can you talk a little about that? Is it difficult to write a sci-fi/action/adventure comic that doesn’t really have any villains?

    JB: Michael at Hasbro is a big fan of the “shades of gray” when it comes to characters. I mean, the villains are always the heroes in their stories, from their point of view. Although, personally, I do hold that… well, even if I empathize with a character, or I can get readers to empathize with somebody that’s done bad things. I don’t really think that makes them “good,” or their actions not-villainous. Still, everybody does things for a reason…I always kind of liked the idea of telling the story after the story. There was an issue of Dave Sim’s comic, Cerebus, pretty early on its run, where Cerebus lead these guys to sack a city, and the next issue was basically them having to deal with having won. That sort of thing is really appealing to me. I mean, the war is really interesting, but what happens after that is more complicated and potentially more unusual.And I like being able to put these characters in this situation where, if you’re an Autobot, you’ve won. Definitively won. There are some Decepticon stragglers out there, but there really isn’t an opposing force that poses a serious threat… so what do you do with all the Decepticons you’ve captured? That was the interesting question to me. You have to enfranchise them at some point, or you have, like I think Metalhawk says at some point, “a dangerous underclass with nothing to lose.” And these characters live for millions of years — if not forever. So there isn’t any process of waiting a couple generations and letting animosities die down. That makes the drama come pretty easily on my end.

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    JR: A while back, after Wreckers but before MTMTE, I really wanted to tell the story of Megatron being defeated, and captured, and the Autobots thinking, “Oookay… what now?” And for various reasons, not least because Mike Costa had planned a storyline in his ongoing where Megatron was actually captured, etc… this never happened, although I was able to realize some of my ambitions in the form of the ‘Chaos Theory’ two-parter. Anyway, the point is, I was attracted to this idea of the Autobots agonizing over what to do with the ultimate bogeyman, and putting him on trial for war crimes, and calling witnesses, etc…

    But yeah, a post-war Transformers saga is immediately appealing to us as writers because it’s not been done before. Well, not for an extended period of time (as with so much else, Simon Furman went there first with his post-Unicron stories in the original Marvel comic).

    I think both John and I enjoy exploring fundamentally human, real-world conceits and concerns against the backdrop of an epic space opera: it makes for some interesting juxtapositions. In MTMTE, the ‘real world’ stuff comes from the way the characters interact — to me, it matters not one jot that the protagonists are made of metal; notwithstanding the fact that they have their own unique culture, one that’s built around having two modes, and living for millions of years, etc, they talk to each other as we do, and experience the same range of emotions as we do. I always try to have characters interact, and in particular talk to each other, in as natural and ‘organic’ a way as possible. And as for those juxtapositions of scale — I love being allowed to write a series where, in one issue, two characters argue over the significance of a semi-colon, and in another issue, a sentient city screams the dead back to life. And look at issue 10 of RiD! Hardcore time-travel shenanigans, and fantastically knotty storytelling, but the story is ‘lived’ through wonderfully realized, ‘real’ people.

    I’d like to talk about the artists you partner with. Creators like Nick Roche, Alex Milne, Andrew Griffith, Brandon Cahill, and a bunch of others I’m (apologetically) leaving out. These guys are just killing it on the monthlies, and then you toss in Guido Guidi’s retro-approach seen in the recent annuals, and suddenly, we’re starting to see some Transformers comics that aren’t only about making the robots look cool. What do you think the IDW team of illustrators brings to Transformers that we haven’t seen before?

    JB: I think right now, if you go through the list of people regularly drawing the TF comics (including covers), you’ve got Alex Milne, Andrew Griffith, Andrew Wildman, Livio Ramondeli, Agustin Padilla, Nick Roche, Guido Guidi, Brendan Cahill, Matt Frank, Casey W. Coller, Marcelo Matere, Ken Christiansen, and Geoff Senior. Plus you’ve got all the guys on the SPOTLIGHTS, and Dheeraj Verma on the FALL OF CYBERTRON digital comic… plus all the colorists: Josh Perez, Josh Burcham, Joana LaFuente, Priscilla Tromantano, John-Paul Bove, Jason Cardy, Thomas Deer… I’m sure I’m leaving somebody out. I think there are a handful of other names out there who are as good as those artists, but I don’t think there’s a better group of Transformers artists that has ever been assembled in one place. Flat out. In fact, the level of artistic talent here–especially because this stuff is really hard to draw and color–is probably the best group of artists working on any line of comics, anywhere, right now. I’d take the Pepsi Challenge with anybody.

    I think they all bring a real dedication to the material… all these creators pour a lot of themselves into these comics. And they’re really not easy to draw… there’s a lot of crazy situations and the characters themselves are such a challenge to do right…

    I know James can speak more of the incredible stuff Alex can pull off–there’s a great bit in MTMTE 11 with a character suspended upside down that is such a great piece of storytelling, in my opinion–but the moment it crystalized between me and Andrew was back when we were doing the DARK OF THE MOON prequel, FOUNDATION. I wrote this panel where Megatron says “Freedom,” but he says it with disdain. Like, it’s a disgusting thing for him to say. And I wrote the panel, and this was the first comic Andrew and I worked on together, and I figured I’d have to go back and add a line to it, to clarify that disdain. But Andrew drew the character–this is a metal guy, not a normal human, which makes this even more impossible–he drew him so you could see the revulsion in his face. I knew at that point I could ask him to draw anything.

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    I’ve used a music metaphor before, and that’s how I think of this stuff. He and I–and Josh Perez–are the band that does RID every month, but sometimes I get to do a side project with Brendan or Guido or Livio and that’s just as much fun, and just as awesome, but different. Livio has an amazing skill set and working with him is a real thrill. Brendan’s one of my oldest friends–I passed his samples over to Andy Schmidt back when I was writing, and that got Brendan into the Transformers rotation. He and I have a shorthand way of working where I can say half a word or something and he knows what I mean and knows a better way of doing it. And Guido, man… when I saw the retro-style art Guido was doing, I knew we had to get him on Regeneration One covers. And then I really, really wanted to work with him and do a little ode to the first issue of Transformers… I could tell he had the same love of that really early stuff, so we really bonded on that.

    I think there have been some really amazing Transformers artists in the past, too–I don’t want to take anything away from anybody. There have been a lot of great artists doing Transformers comics, and I think in the next year there will be some more great ones coming into our world. But this group right now is composed of people giving it their all and that are all really excited about what they’re doing.

    JR: Again, I wouldn’t want to add too much to that. I just know that Alex gives every issue of MTMTE everything he’s got, and treats each issue like a feature film – each time we have a new location within the Lost Light, for example, he’ll design a proper set, so if and when we return to that location everything lines up spatially. And his character designs! I can write a new character and give the briefest of outlines in terms of looks, and he’ll create an Autobot or Decepticon who you just know, just by looking at the page, would work in real life – you know, they’d properly turn from A into B.

    Like Nick, who has a truly outstanding ability to wring emotions from characters who by their nature are very geometric and inflexible, Alex brings the characters to life.

    Josh Burcham, MTMTE’s regular colorist, also deserves massive credit for his contribution to the tone and feel of the book. You just need to look at some of the scenes in issue 9 – the way he captures the decrepitude of Cybertron’s slums, for example – to be reminded of how much he brings to the party.

    I also want to give a shout out to Shawn Lee, Chris Mowry, and Tom Long–all of whom have lettered MTMTE. It can be a dense read – lots of dialog, lots of back of forth, lots of characters – and they both make the text flow, and the design of the page hang together…  it makes a massive, positive difference.

    Since you brought it up, I think it’s worth mentioning that even though the books have a $3.99 price point, these issues deliver more than a typical monthly from Marvel, DC, and even some other IDW books, all of which go for the same price. I’m always amazed that you can pack an issue full of story, have some pretty complex storytelling and art, and yet somehow still keep a relatively tight schedule, with books rarely shipping late. How hard is that to do, and I guess logistically, how far ahead are you guys working?

    JR: I’ll let John don his editor’s cap and talk about the logistics of it all, but from my perspective as a writer, yes, I make an effort to make each issue a satisfying read. For better or worse, I don’t really ‘do’ decompressed story-telling. I spend a long time working on the plot – the story has to have a really solid spine – and while I don’t do this in every issue, I often have a subplot or, occasionally, two subplots bubbling away beneath the surface.

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    I have a main cast of some 14 characters, each with their own story arc, and I have a long-term, overarching plot, and these things mean that I have a lot of story beats to hit each issue. Then there’s the fact that I enjoy writing dialog. Put all this together and you get issues that demand (and hopefully reward) close reading.

    JB: I think the fact that there’s a lot of stuff happening every issue was something we both arrived at separately. I love the way guys like Brian Michael Bendis writes, I’m a big fan of his stuff–but I think there have been a lot of people who sort of aped that style without having Brian’s skill set. And that style of decompressed, writing for the trade, storytelling… well, it’s been going on for a while, so I think the idea of having every issue, even if it’s part of a larger story and it always has a beginning and an end is really appealing.

    I mean, a lot more tends to actually HAPPEN in MTMTE. Compared to an average comic, I think RID has more than usual–but compared to MTMTE… well.

    It’s a balancing act, at least for me. A lot of storytelling is about mood and nuance, and the more STUFF that happens, the less room there is to build mood or let you experience things with the characters. But the less stuff happens, the less the issue feels substantial. I think we all wanted big moments hitting in all our issues–I mean, not necessarily big “you won’t believe who died” moments (though, sometimes that’s the case) but big emotional moments. Big personal moments for our characters. It’s a balancing act to fit a lot of moments and to make them really resonate.

    It’s hard on the artists as neither of these is an easy book to draw. Our regular artists, Andrew Griffith and Alex Milne, are spectacular, fast, and hard workers. And the other artists that come onboard, Brendan Cahill, Guido Guidi, Livio Ramondeli, Nick Roche, everybody… they’re all so spectacular and put so much into every page. And still manage to get it done month in and month out. It’s funny, every once in a while, when there’s a guest artist, I’ll see fans posting that somebody “got the month off”… nobody gets time off! It takes some serious time to get these things done!

    While the “name” Transformers are players — Bumblebee, Rodimus, Ultra Magnus, etc… — are definitely present, the books do an amazing job of turning the focus on some second, third, and even non-tier bots, like Tailgate and Metalhawk — both of whom never even had a speaking role before now, much less an emotional connection with readers. But they’re two of my favorite, and I wonder, are the lesser knowns more fun to write? Where do you start with those characters, and what kind of input (if any) does Hasbro have?

    JR: There are literally hundreds of characters in the Transformers Universe, and it seems short-sighted and unnecessarily limiting to focus relentlessly on the same 15 or so big hitters when anyone and everyone out there, from Slugfest to Sunrunner, has the potential to be as popular a character as, say, Jazz or Grimlock.

    But John and I aren’t the first to shine the spotlight on lesser known names: the old Marvel comics were released alongside the original toy line (what we now call Generation 1), and so featured the new toys as they came out. For that reason, you almost had a rotating cast of characters, with the focus never loitering on particular ‘Bots and ‘Cons for too long. That said, I think it was Simon Furman who invented the idea of taking C-listers like Thunderwing or Nightbeat or Bludgeon and making them major players.

    I enjoy writing lesser known characters for several reasons. You have more wriggle-room when it comes to shaping their personalities; and because you’re not bogged down by back-story you reveal their past bit by bit, ‘growing’ them before the readers’ eyes. When I was building the crew of the Lost Light for MTMTE, I started by thinking of roles and professions and archetypes: I wanted a weapons engineer, a medic, a psychiatrist, a paranoiac, a chatterbox, a pair of best friends etc. You pick the characters that fit, and if none fit, you make your own.

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    JB: Yeah, I agree with James, and he’s an absolute master at that. I actually really enjoy playing with the big, iconic characters. I enjoy the challenge of finding new (hopefully) things to say about them, and with them. Like, sticking Bumblebee in the role of leadership on Cybertron works in part because he’s a very recognizable character.

    On the other hand, getting to build a character like Metalhawk who’s a big character in the Japanese continuity but is a very different character here where the reader doesn’t know him, and has to learn with the other Transformers who he is, and what he’s all about… that’s been very rewarding. And bringing in new characters to the current comics timeline, like Sky-Byte… it’s all a lot of fun.

    And who’re some of your personal favorites?

    JR: Ultra Magnus, Prowl, Ratchet, Wheeljack, Rodimus, Starscream (as John writes him) and Megatron are all A-listers. Of the lesser known characters: Swerve, Whirl, Rung, Ironfist, Tailgate.

    JB: Aww. Thanks! From my point of view, the whole crew of the Lost Light is fantastic. Everybody loves Swerve, now, because of James and Alex’s work in MTMTE!

    From the ones that aren’t just based on what’s going on in MTMTE: Prowl (my first Transformers toy!), Arcee, Starscream.

    Obviously, change is at the very heart of Transformers, with new series starting and ending every few years. Is there an end point in place for this current incarnation, or is this Transformers for the foreseeable future? (I’m hoping the latter, personally.)

    JR: Again, speaking personally, I’m just ploughing ahead with MTMTE until someone tells me to stop. In another interview, back when the books launched, John commented in passing about me having about 30 years’ worth of ideas for the crew of the Lost Light and their quest, and it’s true. The wonderful thing for me about writing a quest book set in space, is that anything could happen and keep on happening for as long as people cared about the cast and wanted to follow their adventures.

    JB: Well, you’re stuck with us for a while. Both of us started off with big plans for the first year/year-and-a-half or so. And those are finally coming to fruition. But 2013 is going to be bigger, better, and more amazing.

    Guys, thanks for taking the time to speak with us, and I hope you know how much folks are enjoying the books. But I wouldn’t be doing my job if I didn’t try to get a tease or two out of you. So c’mon, fellas, let’s have it — what’s coming up in 2013?

    JR: Issue 16 of MTMTE kicks off a multi-part epic that wraps up a huge number of the storylines that we’ve been seeding since issue 1, while sowing lots of new ones. All I’ll say is: not everyone is who they seem.

    JB: After issue 16 of RID… the landscape will have dramatically shifted. It’ll be very exciting times. Issues 12-16 are very, very intense, I think.

    Chad Bowers

    Chad Bowers has been reading comics for most of his life. His transition from fan to professional is a work in progress. He’s the co-founder of ACTION AGE COMICS, creator of the webcomic MONSTER PLUS, co-creator of AWESOME HOSPITAL, THE HARD ONES, and DOWN SET FIGHT (coming soon from Oni Press) with Chris Sims. He reviews comics, writes G.I. JoeVersity, and co-hosts The Hour Cosmic for Multiversity Comics! If you've got nothing better to do, you can follow him on Twitter or Tumblr.