Transformers UK Classics – Interview with James Roberts & Lloyd Young

Fellow Transformers fan, Stuart Webb of The Solar Pool, got a chance to sit down with James Roberts & Lloyd Young for an interview about their work on IDW’s Transformers UK Classic Books! You can hit the break to read some snippets from the interview but click here to get the full version. Enjoy!

Roberts Interview

As well as providing the making of text, how involved are you in the development of the book? Do you have a say in things like design, layout and covers as well?
The cover and contents page designs have been constant throughout, and were conceived entirely in-house at IDW. For every edition I’m asked to give Andy Wildman a detailed cover idea (let’s face it, no one else involved in the production of the book would have asked for Nightstalker and an Autobot Overlord on the cover of Vol 2). You’ll have noticed that with the covers we try to highlight the unique aspects of the UK stories, typically the characters that never featured in the US comics.
I’m responsible for selecting what should go in each volume, from the stories to the non-story scans: posters, letters pages, adverts etc. I re-read the 30 – 40 issues covered by each volume and flag up everything I think would be interesting to fans old and new, such as Transformation pages that trail or tease a big story, or announcements for new toys, or promotion about the original Movie and so on. Letters pages that disclose hitherto unknown ‘in universe’ facts are worth reprinting, too. I’ll choose the front-papers – usually the inside cover of the annual, so that’s easy – and the sequencing of the contents.
I suspect you went into this knowing the entire comic back to front, but has going through it in such depth and becoming more aware of the behind the scenes machinations drastically changed your views of any of the stories?
Probably not drastically, but it did make me appreciate just how experimental Simon was in the way he wrote the early Dinobot stories. Don’t get me wrong, the post-Target: 2006 material is great – who doesn’t love time-travel epics that take two years to unfold, and who doesn’t go weak at the knees at the Unicron War? But when he started out — when he believed that his job was to write around and fill the gaps between the ‘main’ US story, and indeed when he was relatively new to scripting and in thrall to the likes of Chris Claremont and Alan Moore — he produced some arresting, mature stories that played with the form: The Icarus Theory, Dinobot Hunt, Victory, In The National Interest… Great stuff.
I don’t think there was much behind the scenes machinations when it came to the stories. Notwithstanding my comments earlier about Ian Rimmer’s contribution, Simon was on the editorial team while he was writing his stories, so not only was he in a good position to know what boundaries, if any, he was operating within, he was instrumental in establishing those boundaries. I suppose I gained a fresh insight into how dispiriting it was to have to find a way to crowbar the Special Teams into the UK stories so far ahead of the US reprints.
Be a huge tease and give us a hint of an exciting and new fact we’ll be learning in volume 6.
There’s interesting stuff in Volume 6 (did you know that a TF character appeared on the cover of another Marvel UK publication in the late 80s?), but it’s in Volume 7 that there’s a real revelation. Wait until you find out what was originally planned for after issue 212…

Lloyd Young Interview

I understand you and James first came into contact about this series via the TMUK forum, had you known each other before this, and what has the process of working with him (and IDW generally) been like?
As fate would have it, it was only a short time after finding all of the free gifts from the UK series and joining the TMUK forum that I was introduced to the one and only James Roberts.  It was prior to Volume 1 of Transformers Classics UK being released and I received an email with an introduction.  At the time I probably had to re-read it, it’s not often you’re approached to contribute to something that’s dear to you. After James explained what he was trying to achieve, there was no doubt that I wanted to be involved.