C2E2: Bobby Curnow Unleashes "Battle Beasts" at IDW

Prepare for war this summer when IDW Publishing's "Battle Beasts" bring their conflict to comic shops! Based on a new toy line with a familiar name, the series features a trio of anthropomorphic animal warriors fighting for the survival of their species on our planet. Writer Bobby Curnow ("Godzilla Legends,") and artist Valerio Schiti ("Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Micro-Series: Donatello") collaborated with Diamond Select Toys to create a whole new world based on the Diamond Select Toy line. If you can't wait until summer and happen to be in Chicago for C2E2, you can get your hands on the ashcan which tells an original story before heroes Vorin, Merk and Gruntos land on the third planet from the sun. Not in Chicago? The ashcan, featuring a cover by Dan Brereton, can also be read on the recently launched Battle Beasts website.

In 2009, Diamond Select Toys captured the name of Battle Beasts. Since then, DST has released only a few figures as exclusives. This is the first big push from the company for the brand, which will debut with a figure of comic star Vorin. A translucent red version of the figure will be available at as a C2E2 exclusive this weekend.

Best known for their popular 2-inch tall MiniMate figures spanning everything from Marvel Comics characters to films like "Platoon," DST's new Battle Beast figures will be released this Fall, with the comic following closely behind. It's a somewhat old school way of doing things, reminiscent of when toy companies would team-up with Marvel or DC Comics to produce comics in tandem with upcoming action figures and playsets. CBR News spoke with Curnow about working with Diamond Select, how the new Beasts differ from the originals and exactly how he landed his gig writing the comic.

CBR News: How did you end up being pegged as the writer to bring the new "Battle Beasts" to comics 

Bobby Curnow: We were talking about upcoming projects here at IDW and "Battle Beasts" came up. I pretty much jumped out of my seat and said, "Mine! Mine!" when it was first discussed. It just seemed like something you could have a lot of fun with, and build an entire world out of. 

After that, I went through a normal pitch process, sending in proposals, revising, etc. I like to think that my enthusiasm for the property came through!

Battle Beasts is a name that carries some weight in the geek community. Can you explain how this new version is related to the original toy line?

This is a brand new Battle Beasts with a new toy line from Diamond Select Toys -- which look super cool, I might add. The core concept of animal-like creatures decked out in awesome armor and weapons is the stuff of pure imagination. Playing with toys is the purest form of storytelling. Look at any kid, or remember your own youth, and it's obvious that toys are the props children use to explore their imagination -- they're telling stories. Basically, we're doing the same thing in comic book form. Our goal is to establish some great characters and throw them into a very dire situation, with stakes that affect the entire world. Plus, we've got a walrus with a big ol' axe. Hard to go wrong there. 

What has the creative process been like, developing the basic concepts behind the toy line and comic with Diamond Select Toys? Did they come to you with a bible, or was that something you developed?

Working with DST has been great. They've got great ideas and understand the potential of the property, which is key. I had an original proposal which centered on a quest for the Beasts on a different planet, and Diamond had a basic story bible that outlined the Beasts coming to Earth. The end product is a pretty even combination of both plots. The Beasts come to Earth to complete their quest. It's one of those instances where combining the two ideas has been seamless and made everything so much better. Having the story take place on Earth certainly makes everything much more relatable and interesting, so i'm glad they wanted to go that route in the first place!

Was artist Valerio Schiti involved with the project from the very beginning?

Valerio is a huge talent, and I think this is the book that really makes people sit up and take notice. I had worked with Valerio on "Infestation 2." I saw his incredible talent and work ethic there, and put him on "TMNT Micro-Series: Donatello." He knocked that out of the park, too. Immediately after that book wrapped, we started prep work on "Battle Beasts." Having just seen Valerio take an animal-person through an action-packed story, it was a complete no-brainer. He was my first choice, and he has not disappointed. His storytelling is exciting, his Beast designs inventive and he makes it a non-stop fun book. 

It's a bit of a twist having Beasts bring their battle to Earth. Are they here when the series opens, or does the story begin on the Beasts' various homeworlds? And who will they be facing off with once they're here?

The first issue will introduce dozens of Beasts landing on Earth, and the first several arcs will explore what happens when a society of extremely powerful creatures decide to make our planet their battleground. It's not going to be pretty! We'll also catch glimpses of the Beasts home worlds, and learn more about where they came from as the series goes on. 

The hero Battle Beasts will be facing off against all the other Battle Beasts. Essentially it's a gold rush on Earth for these powerful artifacts, and it's every Beast for himself. One of the most fun things about the series is seeing how different types of creatures employ different types of fighting. A frog Beast is going to fight different from an elephant Beast!

The Premise of warring tribes of aliens landing on Earth is a classic one from 80s cartoons, is it cool being able to explore that in a more adult or realistic fashion?

Oh yeah! Seeing big angry Beasts making human cities their war zone is always fun. Beyond that, it's an opportunity to explore concepts like what happens when an invasive species is introduced to a new environment, and how a more militaristic society impacts the culture it invades. It's going to be an exciting, action-packed book first and foremost, but I like to think there's some interesting ideas in there as well. That's the aim, at least!

Finally, what can you tell us about leads Vorin, Merk and Gruntos? What are they like and what brought them together?

Vorin, Merk and Gruntos are a rag-tag bunch of Beasts. Their personalities don't mesh perfectly, and they come from different backgrounds. Vorin is the stalwart leader, Merk is a bit of a haughty intellectual and Gruntos is more of a "take life as it comes" type. Despite their differences, they are a brotherhood dedicated to their goal. What is their goal? To understand that, you need a little background. The Battle Beasts are a society that is constantly at war with itself. Combat is valued as the purest pursuit one can partake in life. To fight is to live. 

Vorin, Merk and Gruntos think there can be more to life than endless battle. Their mission is to find a way to break the Beasts out of their endless cycle of war, which makes them rather unpopular with other Beasts! Each of our heroes has a different reason for pursuing this goal, and that's something we'll explore as the series goes on. Not all of them are as altruistic as it may first seem. 

To see where the story begins, pick up the "Battle Beasts" Ashcan at C2E2 this weekend or check out the first issue this summer.

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