FCBD18 Interview: Transformers Creators Discuss Comics, Unicron, and the End of a Universe?!
Mar 16, 2018
They call him “the world-killer,” and he’s positioned squarely at the center of the biggest story in the history of Transformers. Unicron’s arrival means only one thing: the end of a universe.
On his path to Cybertron and Earth, Unicron has decided that Rom’s homeworld must be met with destruction. The Transformers band together in a desperate attempt to save Rom’s world, yet not everyone will survive this encounter.
The biggest story arc in the history of Transformers is a massive story in the making, bringing together everyone writing Transformers comics right now, in order to create a cohesive and suspenseful narrative. This is a can’t miss comic story as our heroes are up against their biggest threat yet, and a happily-ever-after ending is not a guarantee.
Read our interview below with two of creators behind this epic tale, John Barber and Alex Milne. John and Alex gave us the inside scoop on what to expect in the pages of this Free Comic Book Day exclusive, as well as what they love about comics and what they’re looking forward to on Free Comic Book Day! Then, click here to see our PREVIEWS Prevue of the comic!
Free Comic Book Day (FCBD): When Unicron arrives, that means the end of a universe! Tell us what makes this story the biggest in the history of the Transformers?
John Barber: This is the end of the story we’ve been telling for over a decade. The IDW Transformers comics are the longest-lasting iteration Transformers characters ever—there’s more fiction in this universe than anywhere else in the history of the brand—and it all comes crashing down with Transformers: Unicron.
The question of what Unicron is—of what could be so big as to threaten all of reality—is central to the story. Everybody writing Transformers comics right now got together to figure out how to pull this off—me, James Roberts, Mairghread Scott, Nick Roche, plus the great editorial teams at IDW and Hasbro, and I think we’ve made something with depth, action, pathos, tragedy, and—maybe, if the Transformers are lucky—ultimately some triumph.
Alex Milne: I feel it's the biggest story due to the stake being so high. It's not just the Transformers and Cybertron that have to worry about Unicron, but the Earth and the other colony worlds as well. It really is something that affects this shared universe that IDW has created. Unicron is the destroyer of worlds, and not everyone will survive this encounter. Will out heroes even be able to stop him? I guess you'll have to read to find out.
FCBD: What initially got you interested in comics? (or What is your favorite thing about working in comics?)
Barber: Getting to make up stories and working with talented creators like the Unicron crew: artist Alex Milne, who takes everything I come up with—which should be impossible to draw—and somehow makes it not only possible but a million times better than I imagined it; colorist Sebastian Cheng, who’s going to amazing lengths to make the final art look dynamic and beautiful; cover artist Sara Pitre-Durocher who composed such an iconic image; letterer Tom B. Long who’s handling my dialog with the same panache he does the Optimus Prime series; and editor David Mariotte (and everybody else at IDW and Hasbro!) whose advice and notes have been invaluable. That’s my favorite part—working together with talented people to make something great.
Milne: What first got me interested in comics was the art. I'm a very visual person, so it was the art of a comic that drew me in. Later on, as I grew up story also became an important part of the equation, but art still remains at the top of my list. My favorite thing about working in comics is being able to visually tell the story the way I see it in my head when I first read a script, and share that with others.
FCBD: Many newcomers will pick up comics for the first time on FCBD—what was the first comic you remember reading?
Barber: I first started reading comics with G.I. Joe and Transformers—Transformers was the first series I followed from issue 1. I was a little kid back then, I had no idea those comics were based on the toys—I mean, Batman and Spider-Man had toys and tv shows and cartoons and Underoos, so I never questioned any sort of “which came first” until later. And I’m grateful for that—much as I love superheroes (and I really do!) I’m glad my first encounters with comics were military stories and science fiction stories, because it gave me a better perspective on the different kinds of stories you can do in comics.
Milne: The first comic I remember reading was Uncanny X-Men #238. I'm sure I was too young at the time to fully understand what was going on. I remember my aunt had given me some more child-friendly comics for my birthday and I had taken them to school with me. Well a friend had this Uncanny X-Men issue and I traded all the comics my aunt gave me (4 of them) for this one Uncanny X-Men book. I was hooked on getting comics after that.
FCBD: Tell us why everyone should read comics!
Barber: Comics are a great medium that works across a ton of platforms and are accessible and offer a ton of possibilities. If you’ve got a pen and paper, you can make one. If you have a phone, you can distribute it to every corner of the globe. It’s magical to see this stuff come to life. I love big crossover giant-scale stories by comics superstars, and I love quite intimate stories by people I’ve never heard of.
Milne: I personally feel it's a good way to get into reading. For some people looking at a wall of text can be a little overwhelming, while a comic book adds a visual component to the mix which can help the reader understand more of what the story is trying to communicate without having to read a description. There are also so many comics out there today for people to enjoy with a vast multitude of stories. To me, it's an underrated medium that deserves more respect than it gets. It's an excellent way to tell stories and a tradition that should be preserved.
FCBD: What is your favorite part about Free Comic Book Day? What do you think is the best part of Free Comic Book Day?
Barber: I love meeting fans, and people who are interested in comics and are maybe about to become fans. It’s great to see people of all walks of life coming together because of something they love. I think if you obsess over bad news and awful people online day after day—because that seems to somehow eclipse the good stuff out there—when you walk in to a FCBD or a good convention, you remember why you—and people everywhere—love this medium.
Milne: My favorite part of Free Comic Book Day is seeing the amount of people who come out to celebrate comics. A lot of comic shops I know will have special events taking place, and it's just a fun time to be had. Some comic shops invite creators to set up and then we get a chance to interact with fans where they don't have to pay to get into a convention to see us. I've just found it an overall enjoyable experience.
FCBD: Where do you plan to spend Free Comic Book Day?
Barber: You know what? That is a great question. I’m not sure yet!
Milne: I'm going to be at my local comic shop for the whole day. They usually have a few tables set up for a bunch of creators they invite. So, I will be there helping to promote the Unicron book. I wish I was able to visit more comic shops near me to also sign and promote the Unicron book, but Free Comic Book Day is only one day a year.