As a massive proponent of the current greatness of IDW's Transformers comics, I had to make sure I attended this panel at Wondercon on Easter Sunday, and I was intrigued to learn that My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic was the best-selling comic that IDW has ever had. Lots of bronys (bronies?) in attendance, who were happy to know that more spinoffs are planed, like micro-series. Also, there's a lot of G.I. Joe comic stuff in the works, and Transformers has a major event apparently centered around Shockwave called "Dark Cybertron," with the tagline "The Purple Reign Begins." Which is awesome, because they have done amazing things with Shockwave's stunning past.
Here's the liveblog of the panel as it happened.
IDW HASBRO PANEL – EASTER SUNDAY
IDW is making the best Transformers books of all time, so I have to be here at their panel for their Hasbro properties to find out the score. We've got Transformers: Robots In Disguise writer John Barber on hand, as well as Mairghread Scott of Transformers Prime, and Heather Nuhfer of My Little Pony, Amy Mebberson artist on My Little Pony, Livio Ramondelli, artist of Transformers: Monstrosity. Mike Costa is supposed to be here, but is late.
G.I. Joe movie just had the second highest Easter opening ever, and apparently the biggest grossing Bruce Willis film of all time. Go figure! New G.I. Joe book by Fred Van Lente and Steve Kurth. Issue #6 features the origin of Cover Girl. Jamal Igle will be the artist. G.I. Joe has been outed by Cobra so the world knows they exist, and Cover Girl will be the public face. GI Joe Special Missions is a mission impossible covert style stuff that public Joe team can't do. Issue #5? will have Will Rosado art and the return of Zartan, the first time he's teamed up with the Dreadnoks in IDW continuity. GI Joe: The Cobra Files debuts in a few weeks, by Mike Costa and Antonio Fuso. Hardcore GI Joe series, with soul-searing moments in this one. The first issue is one of the best Mike's written, Barber says. G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero continues the original Marvel series by Larry Hama and S.L. Gallant. Larry's having a ball writing it and it's a big hit.
G.I. Joe Sale this weekend on Comixology. DVD preorder of a new GI Joe movie: Cobra Command. Roadblock is burly on the cover.
TRANSFORMERS, suckers: Regeneration One continues by Simon Furman and Andrew Wildman. Picking up from the 80s Transformers series. Wildman will be leaving the book for a while, and Guido Guidi will take over with #93 – and that's really good. He's talented. Wildman will return for #100. Everything's cool with him, but he just got a very good other job.
Transformers Prime: Beast Hunters launches in May. Mairghread Scott with Mike Johnson, Augustin Padilla. The Dinobots from the first Prime series will push forward and in line with the TV series. The Dinobots have gone underground, trying to run a city. But they are Dinobots, so they are not good at that.
TF: More Than Meets The Eye! BEST EVER. The internet will be torn in half by #16. Not necessarily more characters being killed, but it made an intern cry. #17 starts "Remaining Light" that's been building since #1, will go through #22. Non-stop mindblowing event after mindblowing event.
TF: RID: Barber writes it. Devastator on a rampage with Megatron's return. The gestalt is mindless and crushing everything – Cybertron's only city of Iacon. Livio will bring the origin of Shockwave on RID, starting with #17, following up the amazing stuff Roberts did with the "Shadowplay" arc. Barber and Roberts worked closely together on Shockwave's stunning reveal and his secret history.
TF: Monstrosity, Chris Metzen, Flint Dille and Ramondelli, following up Autocracy, which was the origin of Optimus Prime. Monstrosity shows us why the war started, and Megatron fights a lot of monsters and has a terrible time in exile on Junkion. Digital-first. Print version coming afterwards – three chapters of digital per collection.
TF: Spotlight – James Roberts doing a Trailcutter issue and then Hoist ends the story with Matt Frank and Agustin Padilla art. They stand alone but are building towards something new.
Image of Cybertron fading out. "DARK CYBERTRON. THE PURPLE REIGN BEGINS." Shockwave is in control. THE BIGGEST EVENT IN TRANSFORMERS COMICS HISTORY. MOTHER-F-ING SHOCKWAVE.
My Little Pony #1 is the single best selling issue in IDW history. Heather Nuhfer and Amy Mebberson are the MLP team. The ponies are having nightmares, and they'll be bringing in Luna, a fan favorite. It's a little darker than the first arc was. Luna has some unresolved business from when she was Nightmare Moon.
My Little Pony Micro-Series featuring Rainbow Dash, and Rarity, with a cover by Mebberson.
Wizards of the Coast comics. Dungeons and Dragons: Cutter, by R.A. Salvatore, Geno Salvatore, David Baldeon on art. None of these D&D books are getting in the way of Fellows Five, which everyone is waiting for. Magic The Gathering by Matt Forbeck and Martin Coccolo. It's coming to an end with #12.
Costa was late, so he'll talk about G.I. Joe Cobra Files. It picks up from where the current Cobra series left off in January, but it's still a fresh start. Michael Mark is doing covers, and we see Chameleon, a former Cobra agent working with GI Joe, as part of an off-the-books team operating out of a casino called The Gemini that Tomax and Xamot used to own. Tomax is under house arrest there. It's the blackest of black ops. "Tiger Teams" are ex-special forces people who have gone into the private sector, and your company can hire them to break into your own company to test the security. Experts in anti-security measures, and Cobra has one of these in their pockets, and actually steals stuff instead of just pretending to. They're going to break into GI Joe. It's the hardest arc Costa has written since his infamous "backwards" issue. It's still Costa's favorite thing to work on. This is the exact opposite of the Chuckles Undercover In Cobra story, with Chamelon going not undercover into GI Joe. In Cobra Files, the bad guys always win and the good guys are always morally compromised.
Q: Any attempt to crossover all these series? Mebberson says they want to get Jem and the Holograms back in the fold first. Barber says he always worries about going too far with crossovers – My Little Pony and Cobra in the same world? It seems to break things too much. Barber admits that the Avengers/Transformers crossover "was maybe not the best comic we'd ever put out."
Q: A guy talks about a video online of Rainbow Dash vs. Starscream.
Q: What are the problems with getting Jem? Barber says it might be too outrageous. Mebberson says Jem has been too dormant for too long, and licensers are hesitant to do anything when they don't know what they want to do with it themselves. Barber says it's his goal to do that. Costa says a problem is centering it around music, which is one thing you can't do in comics. Scott suggests that would be great for a digital comic.
Q: A woman plugs an artist friend of hers so much that it's probably her son or something. Livio talks about the faculty at his San Francisco art school under Pixar-employed teachers. Study real world shading and stuff – drawing a blanket means practice for drawing Batman's cape. Sequential art is more important than pin-up art as far as getting jobs. Mebberson did webcomics, and she's very self-taught. Set up a tumblr page or deviantart and get fans that way. Barber went to art school, and says the degree is meaningless, but what you learned is everything. He wouldn't say 'don't go to school,' but focus on learning stuff. It matters what you deliver, not the certification. Livio says deviantart is very humbling, and you can find 17 year old kids in Croatia who can do everything better than you. Mebberson says you can also tell when people are cheating there.
Q: Why no GI Joe movie adaptation comic? The prequel comic came out before the ORIGINAL release date of the movie nine months ago. Barber thinks the world for movie adaptations has changed. The tie-ins can be fun to a movie universe, but an adaptation isn't really necessary anymore with the ubiquity of movies on DVD and such. The problem comes from working on the screenplay long before the movie is actually made and will change everything. There's something frustrating about writing a story that the movie will do better and will have $300 million more spent on it.
Q: Any more novelists or Duane Swiercynski doing GI Joe? Nothing yet, but they're not avoiding it.
Q: Where does MLP fall in line with the show continuity-wise? Luna's hair would seem to indicate things, but it's a plot point going somewhere in the books. Twilight Sparkle is still a unicorn without wings. It'll shift in future arcs to line up better. Once Season 4 starts, that's when comics can give Twilight her wings. It's not really meant to sit in continuity all that much.
Q: Any toys based on GI Joe comic characters like Hastag? Barber says "There's not NOT a chance." They weren't designed with that in mind. But if there's enough demand, maybe they will. They made Drift from Transformers. It took 31 years to make Quinn.
Q: Is Dark Cybertron a stand-alone or is it an arc? It's not brief. We'll reveal more later, but it involves all of the Transformers comics that aren't Prime or Regen One and "seems to involve Shockwave."
Q: Any consideration to having Geoff Senior step into Regen One instead of Guidi? Barber shows off a Senior cover, and says he's very busy and hasn't done a lot of TF stuff in a long time. He may do some in the future, but they did talk to him for this, but it didn't work out. Wildman is also continuing on covers as well.
Q: No consideration of Wildman on D&D for a long while either.
Q: Dinobots vs. Cthulu? Scott says it could work – Steampunk TFs vs. Cthulu in Infestation 2.
Q: They wouldn't do adaptations of the movie, since they greenlit the third GI Joe movie, because they have no shelf life, but a comic tied in and set in that movie universe are much more able to thrive.
Q: TF: Rage of the Dinobots trade, Volume 2 of the Prime Universe, will be out in May, before the Beast Hunters starts up.