Despite its name, Comic-Con International in San Diego brings together disparate fans, including people who love comics, films, and toys. A panel about a comic book line based on a popular toy which is being made into a big budget film is a good bet to pack a room, and IDW's Transformers panel did just that.
Representing IDW at the panel were editor-in-chief Chris Ryall, editor Dan Taylor, artist Don Figueroa, colorist Josh Burcham, and cover artist Klaus Scherwinski.
Ryall headed off the inevitable questions up front: "We can't really say a lot about the movie just yet, but we do have plans for the movie and for the period leading up to the movie."
Ryall pulled up the first image in their slideshow, which featured the main human characters from the current Transformer series – all of them were circled and had slashes going through them. The editor-in-chief then asked the crowd, "How many of you want to see us kill off one or all of these people?"
He was answered with thunderous applause.
He smiled and seemed to have expected this response. Ryall then proceeded to explain how they felt humans were needed to establish scale with the robots. He also quickly added fans will probably be pleased with what is coming up in the Transformer comic line.
After visiting the message boards, Ryall said he came away with the impression that folks were a bit "underwhelmed" with the conclusion of the recent "Transformers: Infiltration" series. He asked the audience if his perception was correct, and there were murmurs of agreement. When questioned why they felt this way, the answers ranged from "too slow" to "not enough" of a favorite Transformer.
The editor-in-chief said he felt confident many of these criticisms wouldn't be a problem in the upcoming "Transformers: Stormbringer," as the book has no humans in it. Ryall indicated that this book ramps things up in a serious way and leads into "Transformers: Escalation" which "is totally about robots and smashing."
Don Figueroa, Josh Burcham, Dan Taylor & Chris Ryall
Chris Ryall & Klaus Scherwinski
In addition, Ryall asked if fans enjoyed the action in the "Beast Wars: The Gathering" miniseries. The crowd reacted very positively and also indicated great appreciation for Figueroa's artwork on the series. The editor mentioned that while many fans were asking for a Beast Wars ongoing, the company's feeling was that "it seems to work better as a miniseries. Get in, tell a good story, and then get out."
He also reminded everyone that a trade of the miniseries will be coming in August, and promised more "Beast Wars" miniseries were on the way.
Next up, Ryall talked about the "Transformers: Hearts of Steel" miniseries, which is in stores now.
"I'm not sure how many more of these we can do between now and the movie," Ryall said, due the fact that books like "Hearts of Steel" have their own continuity which may conflict with the movie continuity.
Ryall showed off some of Figueroa's art from "Transformers: Stormbringer," including covers which will interlock to create an image "that would make George Perez jealous," he joked.
After this, the editor-in-chief announced a "Spotlight" series which will tell self-contained tales of various Transformers.
Responding to a criticism from fans about the number of variant covers offered on books, Ryall promised they were cutting back to no more than two covers per book.
"Transformers: Generations" will reprint old Marvel "Transformer" comics, although not all of them, due to the appearance of certain Marvel characters in certain issues. He said the book should be viewed as a "Best of ..." collection.
A comic adaptation of the animated "Transformers Movie" from the '80s was also announced. The film is being re-released on DVD soon in honor of its twentieth anniversary, and Bob Budiansky (who wrote many of the Marvel "Transformers" comics) would write the four-issue miniseries with Figueroa on art. The first issue of this will appear in October. Figueroa also did the art for the anniversary cover of the DVD.
The slide presentation ended with a poster of the upcoming live-action "Transformers," directed by Michael Bay ("The Rock," "Armageddon").
"You guys have probably heard a little bit about this," Ryall joked. He said they recently had a meeting with Hasbro about the movie, and IDW will be doing some "cool stuff" in relation to the film and for fans to expect film-related books months before the movie, leading into the movie, and at the time of the movie's release next summer.
Dan Taylor told the audience that pages with the Dinobots had already been drawn, he's seen them, and "they look great."