It’s the Monday after Botcon, and here’s my own potted round up of events over the weekend in Cincinnati. Arrived midday on Thursday, touching base with the likes of Denton J. Tipton and Chris Mowry (from IDW), Aaron Archer from Hasbro and my old mate and sometimes co-collaborator Ben Yee. No duties as such, so just a chance to chill after my whistle-stop visit to NYC. Spent the PM in the company of Denton, Chris, Alex Milne and others. Talked a little shop but mostly just tested the limits of the bar staff’s patience in Champs, the Hyatt’s main hangout. Friday, and things began in earnest with a 10AM IDW panel, attended by myself, Denton, Chris, Marcelo Matere, Alex, Marty Isenberg and Jim Sorenson. Had some ‘teething’ problems with the visual side of the presentation, so while that was getting fixed we opened up a Q&A session, taking the attendees through the likes of the Revelation Spotlights, All Hail Megatron, Reign of Starscream and my new series, Maximum Dinobots. Then it was back to the IDW booth for the first of several signing sessions (which continued across Saturday and Sunday). Friday PM the whole extended IDW family headed to a Brazilian steakhouse (Marcelo’s recommendation I suspect) and then back, inevitably, to Champs (with artist Dan Khanna joining the entourage). Saturday saw repeats of the IDW panel, this time sans technical hitches, and more signing, culminating in the ‘casino’/awards night festivities. A particular highlight was the voice-actor script reading, featuring David Kaye, ‘Bumper’ Robinson and Tara Strong. Hugely entertaining. And yes, then back to Champs. Sunday was, blissfully, a less frenzied affair, and I finally found time to catch up with David Kaye, who I think has attended almost as many Botcons as me. Got to chat (over the weekend as a whole, either at the con or in the bar) to a whole slew of fans and the general consensus seems to be we’re doing a lot right, which is always gratifying/reassuring. Many thanks to Hasbro, who sponsored my trip out, and IDW who looked after me while I was there! Here’s to next year and the 25th Anniversary of TRANSFORMERS!
Since I gave out the info at the IDW panel at Botcon Cincinnati this AM, here’s the confirmation: my next IDW/Transformers series after the Revelation quartet of Spotlights will be… Maximum Dinobots! Spotlight Grimlock sets the scene and Max Dinos is the payoff, the long awaited, fully fledged modern day debut of the Dinobots (last seen in any functional form in Spotlight Shockwave). But it’s far from a happy reunion, and out to spoil the party further is Scorponok and his Machination/Headmaster army. But that’s not all. For the Grimlock and the Dinobots there’s worse to come. Much worse. If it’s all-out battle action you’re after, look no further! More teases as and when I get to the script (w)raps for the respective issues. Artist: TBC!
Also out this week, but only in the UK, on Thursday 24th, is issue #11 of Titan’s Transformers comic/magazine, featuring (in amongst more comic strip, features and competitions) the third part of the apocalyptic Twilight’s Last Gleaming. If you remember, TLG takes an alternate look at post live-action movie events, exploring a near-future in the which Decepticons are the victors and Autobots are an endangered species. Starscream continues his machinations this episode, throwing a spanner in the Autobots’ carefully laid plans to further his own diabolical agenda. Forced into desperate action the moon-based Autobots head for Earth and their respective dates with destiny. And Bumblebee takes on Megatron (no prizes for guessing how that one turns out) and Mikaela takes on Frenzy (not as one-sided as you might think) and Ironhide and Ratchet come up against… well, that’d be telling! Art this issue comes from Paul Ridgon, and it rocks!
Out this week, in store 23rd April in the US (just in time for Botcon)/24th in the UK, is the long-awaited (by me at least) Transformers Spotlight: Grimlock. It had to happen, I suppose. Ever since his supporting role in Spotlight: Shockwave, it’s only ever been a matter of time before the Dinobot commander (an established favourite of mine) got his star turn. And what a turn it is! Not only is it something of a sequel to Spotlight: Shockwave, it’s also something of a prequel (not saying yet to what, but maybe I’ll get to spill the beans at Botcon), and it even ties into the ongoing Escalation/Devastation storyline, featuring, as it does, a certain Scorponok! Oh, and rest assured that despite this after- and fore- shadowing, it’s pretty much a standalone story in its own right too. Reawakened by government alien-spotters Skywatch, Grimlock is not in the best of moods, especially as he soon realises his actions may have doomed his fellow Dinobots… even if they survived their molten end in Spotlight: Shockwave. Enter Scorponok, with an offer that Grimlock may just not be able to refuse! Story is by me, art by Marcelo Matere. For details of all IDW’s Transformers titles, check out their website here.
Here we go with a post-script autopsy of Transformers Spotlight: Hardhead, the second part of the “Revelation” quartet. As spoiler-free as possible but there are some wicked teases. Be warned. Once again, the challenge here was to both create a rounded (complete in one issue) character focus and maintain the breathless, headlong forward pace of the main Revelation/Dead Universe arc (begun in earnest in Spotlight: Cyclonus). Heaps going on, and much of it centres on Nightbeat and Gorlam Prime (the planet from Spotlight: Nightbeat). In many ways, this turned into something of a sequel to Spotlight: Nightbeat (just as part 3, Doubledealer, became a sequel of sorts to Spotlight: Hot Rod), furthering/concluding much of the stuff set up therein. How does Hardhead fit in? Well let’s just say that who he is and what he does within the framework of the IDW/TF-verse makes him the perfect foil for Nightbeat as he investigates his missing memories. Hardhead is, for want of a better expression, a “problem solver.” How that plays into Nightbeat’s predicament provides one of the TF/IDW-verse’s most gobsmacking, heartstopping payoffs to date! Plus, a whole host of Micromasters (how many? Ask Nick Roche. He had to draw all the little beggars). And more on the Autobots’ BIG problem, the furtherance of Arcee’s quest, all-out action from The Wreckers and, of course, Nova/Nemesis Prime (and the rest of the Dead Universe cast). Spotlight: Hardhead ships in July.
Next week (April 17th to be precise) sees the release of issue #4 of Titan’s totally official and highly exclusive Torchwood magazine, which (as well as all the usual interviews and features on the hit show) contains all-new comic strip. This issue we kick off Torchwood’s first big story arc, “Rift War,” a ten-part epic (broken up into smaller, self-contained stories amidst the main thrust) that sees the team face an alien race led by the dread Sanctified, who have declared all-out war on humankind. Why? Because Torchwood, apparently, are to blame for a catastrophic future event, centered around the time and space spanning Rift, one that wipes out an entire civilization. Can it be? Check out “Rift War” for the answers over the coming months. “Rift War part 1″ is written by me, with art by none other than Paul Grist (Jack Staff, Kane). To view some of Paul’s simply amazing pages, click on the thumbnails below. Superlative colour is by Kris Carter.