We Interview Simon Furman – To the Death!
The legendary team of SIMON FURMAN and GEOFF SENIOR, two folks doubtlessly directly responsible for a hefty portion of what you love about the Transformers brand, have been hard at work on a new epic sci-fi comic book saga available soon digitally in widescreen format! Simon was kind enough to talk to me a bit about this new project “To The Death” and more!
Check out the interview below!
-Hi Simon, thank you so much for taking the time to chat with us all! How have you been and what have you been up to?
- SF) Super-busy but all good thanks. Lots of plates spinning, among them (of course) To The Death, but also The Chimeran (a screen/comic property being developed by Paul Goodenough, Richard Bazley and Star Wars producer Gary Kurtz), and Spirit of the Pharaoh (a multi-media project being developed by Terry Jervis), plus Transformers: Earth Wars, Marvel Fact-Files and… well, you get the idea. Pretty full on.
-You are indeed one busy man, and we all are thankful for that! So lets jump right into it, can you tell us a bit about this latest collaboration with Geoff Senior, “To The Death”?
- SF) Well, in a nutshell, it’s one man (of ideals) against the system, a battle he can’t possibly win but he’s determined to make the attempt (which may be enough in itself), because the bad guys have taken away from him the reason(s) to keep on living.
-Sounds like the perfect story-cocktail! How did this idea come about? Can you tell us a bit about the process?
- SF) It came out of both of us wanting to do something new and original (that was ours!), but that also kind of channeled our past ‘greatest’ hits (like Dragon’s Claws, Death’s Head and a pinch of Transformers). But we didn’t want to do it with a traditional comic format/delivery model, so web/digital seemed the way to go. We decided to format it completely for the web (not kind of un-make a traditional comic and remodel it), so I wrote a succession of ‘screenplays’ that Geoff turned into ‘widescreen’ frames, like a movie shooting board – only detailed and full colour, and we just let the story find its own pace and length. It was very liberating, and gave us the freedom to let the story evolve as we told it, and go back and change our minds or polish. Geoff could choose to condense or expand the action without having to count panels or pages.
-So just what is the world like in the year 2674?
- SF) The world (of 2674) is this: governments have collapsed (or become irrelevant) and the Corporations have taken over, and in the way of Corporations they’ve bled the planet dry to line their own pockets first and foremost, to the point where Earth’s days are numbered. The populace are kept in a kind of sensory stupor by an all-consuming, immersive/interactive game that allows them to ‘join’ the off world wars that are being waged to keep Earth going in terms of energy sources, raw materials, etc. But one subversive organisation is fighting back, because the stakes are even bigger than anyone imagined, and our lead character – Aleksy Dryagin (a combat vet of the off world wars) – is a symbol they hope will act as a rallying cry to the sedated masses, and his doomed tilt the spark to a flame.
-What are some of your inspirations for the story-line, either fictitious or real-world?
- SF) All the best sci-fi is really just a kind of distorted mirror on the world we live in today, and To The Death is no exception. There are very real questions (today) about the power corporations wield and how much governments kowtow to them (and apply a different set of rules), and just how much wider the gap between the haves and have-nots is getting. So if there’s a message, it’s a cautionary one about letting corporations dictate the social and economic structure of the world we live in. Beyond that, there’s the submersive aspect to gaming. And in terms of look and feel, we wanted that rough edged future of 2000 AD and the gritty combat of Aliens.
-Are there any elements or themes that fans of your previous work may recognize when reading it? (Death’s Head, Transformers, Dragon’s Claws)
- SF) Plenty… and a few Easter Eggs that fans of those will be sure to pick up. Right down to our hired ’soldier of fortune’ (don’t call him a bounty-hunter!) Killatoa. And for the TF fans there are some meaty mechs involved in the off world war battlefields. It’s got something for everyone.
-Going back to the format, the platform/the way we will be able to read this comic is innovative and far more cinematic than the average web comic fans may be used to. Can you tell us a bit about the decision to go this route and that process?
- SF) As discussed, we wanted something that fitted your monitor or tablet or phone, and was designed specifically to be viewed that way. So we adopted the ‘widescreen’ frame by frame approach, so you can kind of pick your own viewing pace for the ‘episodes’. It’s traditional comics in some ways – it has word balloons, narrative captions and sound effects, and there’s no ‘motion’ elements involved. But everything else about it is first and foremost web-publishing. Only the Kickstarter exclusive graphic novel is going to be print and paper. And the only way to get that is via the Kickstarter campaign.
-Clearly everyone reading here are big fans of your previous works and have been inspired by the stories you tell. What are some of the stories that inspired you in your youth and in the years since?
- SF) I was a huge Marvel fan as an impressionable youngster, and pretty much grew up on the comics of Stan Lee, Steve Ditko and Jack Kirby (among others). So that was a BIG influence. And when I cam back to comics it was Alan Moore and Chris Claremont. So those are my writing mainstays, the ones I’ve tried to emulate I suppose. But there’s also that kind of nihilistic dystopian thing that British creators (often in 2000 AD) do so well, and I’ve always tried to channel that vibe into my work. To The Death has that ‘heritage’ by the bucketful.
-And how can fans learn more about To The Death?
- SF) Firstly by going to the website itself (to-the-death.com), and (from Sept 10) reading the free-to-view first episode – not to mention immersing yourself in all the amazing background material you’ll find there, plus details of our Kickstarter campaign (https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1036284509/to-the-death-forged-by-fire-an-original-graphic-no?ref=user_menu) for the original graphic novel, To The Death: Forged By Fire (the only print version of To The Death you can get your hands on – a standalone story that won’t be available digitally). Or you can go to our Facebook page (tothedeathcomic).
-Thank you so much for your time, and for all the amazing things you have created over the years!!
- SF) You’re welcome, and I hope your readers enjoy To The Death.
To The Death launches on September 10th with the first webisode free-to-view on the To The Death website: www.to-the-death.com, and will be released in 18 action-packed downloadable webisodes and a limited edition Original Graphic Novel after the kickstarter campaign.
To learn more about the campaign and how to get the printed graphic novel, visit:
SIMON FURMAN – (from https://simonfurman.wordpress.com)
Simon Furman is a writer for comic books and TV animation, his name inextricably linked to Transformers, the 80s toy phenomenon. He has written literally hundreds of stories about the war-torn ‘robots in disguise’, for Marvel Comics (US and UK), Dreamwave and most recently Transformers: Infiltration, Escalation, Devastation & Revelation, Maximum Dinobots, Beast Wars: The Gathering/The Ascending, Transformers: Stormbringer and Transformers: Spotlight for IDW Publishing. His other comic book credits include Doctor Who, Dragon’s Claws, Death’s Head, Alpha Flight, Turok, She-Hulk, Robocop and What If? In the TV animation field, Furman has written for shows such as Beast Wars,Roswell Conspiracies, Dan Dare, X-Men: Evolution, Alien Racersand A.T.O.M. Editorially,Furman oversees Titan Books’ range of Transformers titles and their ‘Comics Creators’ series (which includesComics Creators on X-Men and Writers on Comics Scriptwriting 2). Furman’s recent/current writing work includes StarCraft (for Wildstorm),Transformers: Nefarious (for IDW), Terminator — Revolution (for Dynamite), Ronan and Death’s Head 3.0 (both for Marvel),Transformers UK, Wallace & Gromit and Torchwood. He is also the author of numerous books, including Rad Robots, Transformers: The Ultimate Guide, You Can Draw Transformers, Transformers: Top Trumps and a Doctor Who audio adventure (‘The Axis of Insanity’). Furman is currently lead writer and script supervisor for the upcoming animated TV show The Matt Hatter Chronicles.
For more on Frank Todaro
Frank currently plays the role of Starscream in Hasbro's latest animated series Transformers: Combiner Wars.