Simon Furman has been writing Transformers stories for the better part of 24 years, and in many and varied different media, most recently for Cartoon Network's "Transformers Animated" and IDW Publishing's Transformers line. In the pages of IDW's upcoming "The Transformers: Maximum Dinobots," the titular Transformers find themselves back online and working as a team for the first time in thousands of years, and trying to shake off the influence of the evil Scorponok. CBR News talks to Furman to get the details.
"The Dinobots, a semi-autonomous unit within the Autobot army, find themselves on Earth, having spent about ten thousand years offline, entombed in solidified magma, and played as mind-controlled pawns is a power play instigated by techno-mercenary Scorponok," Furman told CBR. "But it's not as cut and dried as just shaking off some mental shackles, as events 10,000 years ago catch up with them in a big way and may still tear them apart as a team. Forever. Triumph, tragedy and some of the biggest and baddest menaces in the Transformers universe. This one really has got it all!"
There is little doubt the menaces to which Furman refers are Scorponok's Machination/Headmaster army. Autobots Sunstreaker and Hot Rod also factor prominently in the story, in pursuit of the Headmasters'... master.
Furman was a Transformers writer first and a fan second. He was first exposed to everybody's favorite shape-changing robots back in 1985, in the early days of his writing career. "I was a very new writer, having only contributed a few stories to a short-lived British comic called 'Scream,'" Furman explained. "I was happy for the work but it was just a job. I certainly never expected to be still (with a few gaps here and there) writing Transformers nearly 24 years later."
The writer has former "Scream" editor Ian Rimmer to thank for landing his first Transformer writing gig. "After 'Scream' folded, [Rimmer] went to work on staff for Marvel UK, and he knew the editor of 'Transformers-UK' was looking for British writers to contribute original stories," Furman recalled. "He introduced me to Sheila Cranna, and the rest is history."
They say writers are their own harshest critics, but Furman is, in retrospect, decidedly underwhelmed with the quality of his first Transformers tale, "The Enemy Within," which first appeared in "Transformers-UK" #13. "Thankfully, artists John Ridgway and Mike Collins made it just about passable, and at least from there the only way was up," the writer remarked.
Many different comic book companies have licensed the Transformers property, and Furman has found consistent work writing the many and varied incarnations of the robots. As a result, Furman has and continues to write Transformers stories that exist in distinctly different continuities from one another. "It can be hard swapping through the various continuities, but by this point I'm an old hand at it," Furman confessed. "Still, though, if I'm swapping from say 'Transformers Animated' for the UK to 'Beast Wars' for IDW, I need to take a mental step back, a deep breath and then I'm good to go."
Thanks to the encouragement and support of IDW Editor in Chief Chris Ryall, Furman enjoys the experience of personally creating an entire Transformers continuity from the ground up -- his way, a first in the writer's nearly 24 years of writing the property.
While the five-issue "Maximum Dinobots" is rooted is said IDW Transformers continuity, the miniseries remains its own self-contained story. "You really can just pick up issue #1 and jump right in," Furman confirmed. "Everything you need to know is right there in the five-issue series. Honest."
That said, for more details on the back-stories of some of the characters involved, Furman recommends "Spotlight Shockwave," Spotlight Grimlock," "Spotlight Ultra Magnus" and the Headmasters Saga in "Transformers: Devastation."
"Spotlight Shockwave," in fact, was one of the springboards for "Maximum Dinobots," so to Furman's mind it only made sense that "Spotlight Shockwave" artist Nick Roche should also pencil the upcoming "Maximum Dinobots" series. "Apart from being a damn fine artist, [Roche] takes enthusiasm for what he does (and Transformers in general) to whole new level," Furman said. "The stuff Nick's turning in just breathtaking. This is going to be one ass-kicking series!"
"Maximum Dinobots" #1 hits stands this week from IDW Publishing.