Simon Furman has earned himself a reputation as comics' leading robot author. The writer of countless and largely definitive Transformers stories over the last two decades, Furman is set to add another prestigious property to his robot résumé: The Terminator. This June, Dynamite Entertainment brings James Cameron's classic creation to the comics page in "Terminator 2: Infinity," the new five-issue series written by Furman with art by "New Battlestar Galactica's" Nigel Raynor. CBR News interfaced with Furman and Dynamite president Nick Barucci to obtain detailed files on the new Terminator project.
"Terminator 2: Infinity" is set after the events of the "Terminator 3" film, Furman explained. "So, no Sarah Connor. She's dead. No visual likenesses of Arnie either (though we have an Arnie-style Terminator in a key role). John Connor is the main focus here, he drives the entire 5-issue series." Indeed, Furman sees all the "Terminator" films as John Connor's story – with Terminators. "Even the first [film], before he's born, it's all about him. With 'Terminator Infinity,' though, I had an overall 'high concept' idea, I looked at very much as the next stage in John's story.
"The main theme is the onus and burden of responsibility, especially on young shoulders. Knowing your destiny and achieving it are two very different things, especially when confronted time and again with the truism "the future's not set." It's about screening out others' expectations and, ultimately, doing what's best/right for you."
The series introduces a brand new Terminator model, the T-Infinity, "unlike anything we've seen before," and will feature some exciting twists on the Terminator storyline. "We finally get to see the price of all this temporal tinkering Skynet (and, to a lesser extent, the resistance) have been doing in ['Terminator'] 1-3. That crisis, in the further future of 2030 or so, drives the action in 2009 or so, as John emerges from Crystal Peak. For once, John's not the primary target of the (bad) Terminator involved." Furman also added, "Oh, and there's a cameo appearance from a certain Kyle Reese. Honest."
Furman is approaching "Terminator 2: Infinity" as if it's the next movie in the series. "Of course, some future sequel (though I don't believe anything's planned, beyond the Sarah Connor TV series but that doesn't impact) might erase Infinity out of existence, but as it stands, this is in-continuity and utterly canon."
Dynamite had been working on obtaining the "Terminator 2" license for well over a year. "We fought hard for it for a variety of reasons," said Dynamite president Nick Barucci. "First and foremost is the Terminator Universe in which we can tell stories. Mainstream fiction and films – from films like 'Children of Men' to books like 'The Road' – are exploring the 'post-apocalyptic' genre and the Terminator films have that as their backbone. We're picking up humanity's pieces in our story and that's a story we feel is most definitely worth telling."
The "Terminator 2" distinction, as opposed to general Terminator-related products, is one made by the nature of the licensing business. Nick Barucci explained, "As with any license, things are split for a variety of reasons, so yes, we have 'Terminator 2' as our license, but our editorial and creative teams have found that when working with time-travel – as we are here with 'Terminator 2: Infinity'– we have a lot of room to tell stories that fit into the overall schematic of the Terminator Universe."
Incidentally, Barucci indicated to CBR News that Dynamite, who's been making forays into original material, would be further diversifying their product in the future. "We're working on finding the balance as we head into 2007 and map out 2008, so our publishing is more fluid than others, but licensed books will remain a vital part of our overall line, but you'll be seeing more variety."
Having obtained the coveted license to the robot epic, the next step for Dynamite was to secure the right talent. "I was asked, by Dynamite, pretty much right out of the blue," said Simon Furman. "The only direct contact I'd had with Nick Barucci before was a signing I'd done for Dynamic Forces, so the offer of pitching for a Terminator series was as out of the blue as it was welcome. In the roundabout way of things, it didn't happen at once. I pitched for something else, that didn't happen. I pitched for something else that got put on hold (though I'm hopeful that one will fly in due course). Then suddenly we were all go on 'Terminator 2.' This business!"
A freelance writer since 1984, Furman's worked on characters and titles including "Death's Head," "Dragon's Claws," "Alpha Flight," Robocop, Thundercats, She-Hulk and Ronan just to name a few. Still, despite his vast experience and years in the business, Furman's reaction to the Terminator gig was anything but jaded. "Are you kidding? I wouldn't quite have paid them to work on this book, but it was close. I'm a huge fan of the movies, the first two especially. The idea of (even in comic book form) contributing something to this fantastic conceptual mix was just mind-blowing. I love the first movie. More than the second (despite the fact, strangely, that the second is a better, more fully realized movie). The original Terminator was so raw and visceral and revolutionary. There's not a wasted scene or moment in the entire 90 plus minutes. I saw it so many times I almost knew it by heart, a fact that I was reminded of when we kind of reprised a scene in the first issue of Terminator - Infinity. I didn't even have to check I had the dialogue right. I did check, but hey, any excuse to watch it again."
Barucci was just as pleased to have Furman on board. "Aside from having made his name on franchises like the Transformers, Simon is a top notch writer and creator. He was our first choice and his pitch was perfect to start our series. We also have him working on a 'T2' cross-over that should be announced later this year, and out in stores next year."
Dynamite plans to promote "Terminator 2: Infinity" as aggressively as possible. "We work every license and title to the maximum of our ability," said Barucci. "From getting the word out through mainstream outlets like MGM's massive mailing list or the Highlander fan list, or our promotional efforts with SCIFI on 'Painkiller Jane' -- we expect to be able to reach out with T2 in a similar fashion. The awareness is greater on 'T2' than most!"
However, with greater awareness comes perhaps greater quibbling, and nobody can quibble like a robot lover. Hardcore Terminator fans are likely to have passionate opinions about Dynamite's new series, but Furman is just as hardcore, and hopes his fellow fans will give "Infinity" a chance. "I wholly understand the trepidation and even hostility on the part of the diehard fans. I've had a lot of experience with that on Transformers. If you tamper, if you deviate, some people will hate you for it. But, as a writer/creator, neither am I willing to just tread water. If people read and don't like, fine. But please don't dismiss what we're doing out of hand. You might just miss something good, you never know."
As for why the writer does so much work on robot characters, we asked him what the attraction is. "Honestly, nothing," Furman confessed. "If the Transformers hadn't (already) been great characters in their own right, I doubt I'd have stayed doing this as long as I have. It's all about character, whether they're humans, mutants, robots, cyborgs or Turtles!" That's right, Furman has some work coming up with the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, as well as stories involving Nick Park's Wallace & Gromit and lots more Transformers including "Devastation," "Beast Wars, "The Ascending, "Spotlight" and "Transformers UK." Furman also has a film script doing the rounds, with another on the way. And speaking of films, there was little chance Furman was going to get out of this interview without a comment on Michael Bay's forthcoming "Transformers" film.
"I did the movie prequel comics (with Chris Ryall) and I wrote the Visual Guide for Dorling Kindersley," Furman said. "As for the movie itself, it's been a case of 'convince me.' I was neither pro nor anti when the project was announced/confirmed. The more I saw, the more I liked it, until recently I saw four complete segments (about 20 minutes of the movie). Fantastic. Blew me away. I'm convinced."
Furman summed up what it is about the Terminator and his/their stories that have made them popular for so long. "Terminator, I think, plays into a deep rooted distrust we have of machines (and putting too much faith/control in them). We need machines, but we are also, at heart, afraid of the technology. That's what Terminator is about."
"Terminator 2: Infinity" #1 ships in June from Dynamite Entertainment.
CBR Contributing Writer Chris Ulrich contributed to this article.
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