@’s by TRANSFORMERS Editor John Barber !!!
RUSS SHEATH (RS): The series is set in the 'Prime' Universe and shares the same setting as the Transformers Prime animated series. Tell us a little about the Prime Universe and how the characters we know fit into it?
JOHN BARBER (JB): Well, the Prime Universe is the timeline where theTransformers: Prime TV series from Hasbro Studiostakes place, along with the FALL OF CYBERTRON video games from Activision and the novels that Random House publishes, like Exiles and Exodus by Alex Irvine. So if you’re familiar with any of those, you’re already familiar with the characters. The team at Hasbro takes special care to ensure there is continuity between a wide variety of storytelling platforms for the brand.
If you’re a G1 or TRANSFORMERS: ANIMATED or movie fan, the Prime universe really takes pieces of all those timelines and builds the mythology into one coherent continuity. So your favorites are there—Optimus Prime is there, Bumblebee is there, Megatron, Shockwave—but there are surprises and a lot of new takes on the characters and settings.
RS: Having written in the Prime universe yourself what makes that world exciting to work in and how does it differ from the 'regular' Transformers U?
JB: Really, the Prime universe is the regular Transformers universe. It’s funny—I’m 36 years old. When I talk to people my age, people who aren’t necessarily embedded in the day-to-day of the Transformers goings-on, they tend to think of the brand as being a 1980s phenomenon that came back in the 2000s. But when you talk to people in other age groups, people who are younger, they all grew up with Transformers—they all have the same experience we had with the 1980s comics and cartoons and the 1986 movie, except they had that experience with different Transformers worlds. They had it with Beast Wars, or with the Energon trilogy, or any number of other points.
The Transformers story has been going on continuously for a very long time, and I think it’s fair to say the Prime universe is working to take the best elements of every expression and build a world. What’s really exciting is that what we’re doing in the comic is going to impact this world across various mediums. So, it isn’t a case where we’re doing a book that’s subservient to the TV show—we’re doing an all-new story set in that same universe, and the stories we tell are going to be reflected in the shows and the novels and everything else. It’s “canon.” Which is cool, and sort of rare and unique.
RS: The book is a truly cross-media venture tying in with the upcoming game Fall of Cybertron as well as the Transformers Prime series, how much of a 'juggling act' is it to coordinate the story between the different outlets?
JB: Fortunately I get to work with some of the best people in the business. Michael Kelly, who’s Hasbro’s Director of Global Publishing, is a great friend and somebody I get to work with very closely. He coordinates with the Transformers brand team at Hasbro—which contains some really good friends of mine, too. Plus I’ll talk to the folks at Random House, and we’re constantly emailing with everybody at High Moon, who produce FALL OF CYBERTRON, so while there are a lot of moving parts, we’re all talking. And we’re all building toward the same goals of good storytelling and a cohesive worldview.
Also—the new Prime comic is being written by Mike Johnson and Mairghread Scott, both of whom—in addition to being comics writers, both write for thePrime TV show. So they know what’s what.
RS: How does this book tie in with the rest of the Prime Universe?
JB: We’re set in the era when the Transformers characters are abandoning Cybertron. The ships are leaving, and the Dinobots are guarding the evacuation. So we’re closely tied in with the FALL OF CYBERTRON game—and the book is where the Dinobots first appear in the Prime world—plus the Exodus novel, and then most explicitly we’ll be setting up some elements that will play out in the Prime TV show going forward.
RS: The press release offers a compelling tease 'with Optimus Prime and the Ark long gone, the Dinobots are forced to confront Shockwave again - this time with the fate of Cybertron at stake'. Can you tell us more about how we find the Dinobots and the situation that has lead to them in the predicament they are in?
JB: Well not to give away what happens in FALL OF CYBERTRON, but Cybertron falls. There’s a mass evacuation of the planet and our heroes—the Dinobots—are working with some other characters (that will be pretty exciting to glimpse) to make sure everybody gets away. Of course—things don’t go right.
RS: The Dinobots are fan favourites and the 'bruisers' of the Autobot forces, do their characters in 'Prime' vary from the the GI versions?
JB: A little. There are elements from the cartoon, elements from the G1 comic books—the Dinobots, Grimlock especially, were portrayed very differently across those two mediums. Grimlock here is a master strategist—very aggressive, but very smart and cunning—who’s trying to make his way in the world after being vigorously experimented upon by Shockwave. If you like the G1 Dinobots like I do, I do not think you will be let down.
RS: The books called TRANSFORMERS PRIME: RAGE OF THE DINOBOTS, how do we find the Dinobots in this book and what are they 'raging' about?
JB: What have you got?
No, seriously, they have been messed with pretty badly by Shockwave, and their world is falling apart under their dino-feet. They have a lot of rage. And a lot of targets to take their rage out on. The FALL OF CYBERTRON game trailer has offered a major build up to the Dinobots appearance in the Prime universe - is this something fans have been waiting to see in the Prime Universe?
I think so. A year ago, when I became the senior editor at IDW, I remember fielding a question at San Diego Comic-Con about the Dinobots. We hadn’t seen them—in any medium—for a long time, and I was saying how much I wanted to see them back. The truth was that James Roberts and I had already planned to get them back in the comics. We didn’t know about the video game at that point. So, for me personally, as a fan, yeah—I was absolutely ready to see them back.
Visually, Prime merges visuals from the movies and the classic G1 universe and the animated series and games are positively eye melting (in a good way) was it difficult to find an artist who could translate those striking visuals into the 2D realm? It’s always a challenge to find somebody that can draw Transformers at all. They’re really a tough set of characters to draw right, and we’re really luck to get to work with so many artists who do so well with them. Translating the aesthetic of the Prime TV show is a challenge, but one that Agustin Padilla is more than up to.
RS: Thanks for John for taking part, look for TRANSFORMERS PRIME: RAGE OF THE DINOBOTS from IDW in November.
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Proofs, co-edits & common sense provided by Sleazy G