Interview with Simon Furman – Part 1

{mosimage} Whether you've been a fan of Transformers comic books for 25 years or for 5, you've more than likely read a story by Simon Furman. G1, G2, IDW, Titan, the writer has dipped his pen in the Transformers well plenty of times throughout the years to make a significant impact on all types of Autobots and Decepticons. So then what would it look like if he were to return to those original robots from Cybertron that some of us read about in the 1980's? Simon Furman wants you to sign a petition to find out!

The idea is to go back to the original comic book series and start up again at #81. (The original series lasted 80 issues!) Interested? Then read on and find out even more details about the proposed revival!


Allspark: The petition to relaunch the Marvel-era Transformers from issue #81 is gathering pace, now over 1900 signatures. Any word from IDW on a green light for this?

Si mon Furman: Not yet. There have been small rumbles of a response, but nothing remotely definite. It’s strange, given what sales are like on like on comics in today’s market, that a firm base of nearly 2,000 from one internet fan campaign hasn’t pushed the button on this already. The fans want it. The pros want it. Sure, 2,000 (in and of itself) isn’t enough to support a title, but with licensed comics getting by on sales of 10,000, a 20 per cent initial sign up seems like a hugely positive indicator of sales to come on an actual launch. And it’s not like this is an untried formula for IDW. Sales on G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero (Larry Hama’s continuation of the Marvel series) continue to hold up.

AS: The impression we’re getting is that even before the petition started up, there was talk of a continuation. Anything you can share on this?

SF: Yeah, it was talked about. In fact, more than talked about. IDW editor Andy Schmidt (now heading to Hasbro — we’ll miss you, Andy) and I threw the idea around some months before the petition. I went through a few drafts of a relaunch/continuation strategy and we got something we were both happy with. Andrew (Wildman) was in the mix too. He was very keen for this happen and be involved. We both felt that 2011 (20 years after issue #80 was published) was the perfect time to do this. Not sure why it snarled at this point. A new movie always slightly tightens the available publishing slots. It’s no secret that Hasbro doesn’t like too many conflicting/diverse TF titles around a movie launch, but we all thought/hoped that once the DOTM hubbub had been and gone, #81 would have been next on the IDW slate. Right now, it doesn’t seem to be going that way.

AS: Had the continuation you discussed with IDW been green-lit, what tack would the story have taken? Would it literally have picked up the day after #80 ended, story-wise, or at some point in the future?

SF: The plan was, and may still be, you never know, to move the story clock on to the present day, so 20 years would have elapsed since the close of #80. Time for things to settle down. For Cybertron to be at peace (and lull everyone, Optimus Prime included, into a false sense of security). And for the the Decepticons to have licked their wounds and come back fighting. In giant robot terms, 20 years is the blink of an eye, but of course in human terms a whole lot could have happened. And has! In fact, the whole thrust of the continuation (or at the initial arc, which we were calling ‘The War to End All Wars’) was that Optimus Prime had rather taken his eye off the ball in terms of Earth, and would come to regret that, big time! The story would have taken Prime through his darkest hours yet, as his culpability (albeit in a somewhat head-in-the-sand fashion) in the catastrophe on Earth becomes apparent and the spiral of tumultuous events begun there begins to spin out of the control on a galactic/universal level.

AS: Did Andy (Schmidt) give you any brief to work to or was the field pretty clear for you to write whatever story you wanted to?

SF: Andy’s a very hands-on kind of editor, and he’s very, very attached to those original stories and characters. So of course he had his own feel for how the continuation should play and, particularly, what characters should be in there. In early drafts, in an effort to not just mercilessly cannibalize the big cast hitters, I tried to do something a little more out of left field with the story. But Andy wanted the core cast front and center, and very much to pull together cohesively any dangling threads from the last clutch of Marvel issues, and when I retooled things I realized he was 100 per cent right. This was the story we needed to tell! Andrew (Wildman) was interested in kind of a ‘passing of the torch’ story, in which Optimus Prime would be mentoring Hot Rod (in whom he senses a potential successor, much to everyone else’s incredulity) and then Hot Rod would have to step up — without any Matrix-induced transformation to Rodimus Prime — and show what he was really made of. We managed to preserve that character arc from early drafts and transfer it to what, in the end, everyone was happy with. So it was very much a melting pot of what we all wanted to see – myself , Andy and Andrew.

AS: Was there a defined end in sight when you were planning out this first story arc, or did you have a kind of open-ended/ongoing series in mind?

 SF: We hedged our bets. In case we only got maybe a five or six issue series, we made the arc as contained and self-supporting as possible. Neither Andrew (Wildman) or I necessarily wanted to make this our life’s work again, so both of us would have been happy with that. A proper conclusion that we never got first time around. But that said, neither did we intend to wrap things up in too neat a bow. If the series took off and fans were behind it, the option was for another arc, another upscaling of things. And while I had no intention to try and link G1 #80 with Generation 2 #1, this was where some of the G2 elements would probably have come into play. It was never my intention to ignore it completely, but G2 (or the essence of it) would just have rolled seamlessly (I hope) into the ongoing G1 story. And again, it wouldn’t have been the G2 story rehashed, but a new take featuring some of the story concepts and characters from those 12 issues.

AS: So where next? Is there still a chance that we’ll get to see Transformers (Classic) #81?

SF: I hope so. I think so! The petition and the sheer passion and endeavour (on the part of the fans, and in particular the organizers – IDW forumites Bassbot and DecepticonsRule) has renewed my fading hopes and enthusiasm for the project. If nothing else, it’s made the powers-that-be at IDW sit up and take note. In the end, maybe numbers will count. Maybe the fans will have their say and War to End All Wars will see the light of day. I really hope we can get the petition to 3,000, 4,000 — whatever it takes to make IDW/Hasbro push the button. In other words — sign the petition! Make your vote count. Oh no, I sound like a politician!!

Stay tuned for Part 2! 


Did you like what you read?

Sign the petition today! Or Visit the "We Want Simon Furman and Transformers #81" Facebook page. Then click here to share your thoughts on the matter!