With the release yesterday of the on-going Transformers #31, the writing reign of Transformers scribe Mike Costa has come to its own conclusion. Having written a total of 35 issues of Transformers, Mike Costa, interviewing with the The Underbase Podcast, proudly stated how honored and how “really cool” it is to know that only Transformers legends Simon Furman and Bob Budiansky have written more issues of this timeless comic than he has.
As Mike Costa departs, he leaves a legacy of change behind him, not only in the stories he wrote for Transformers, but also with contraversy over some of the things he’s stated over the years. He makes a point to touch on some of the things from his tenure with Transformers in the Podcast which we have summarized after the jump for our viewers.
You can find the PodCast in question on iTunes by searching for “The Underbase”. We’ve listened to the PodCast, and we’ve written a summary of some of his statements (as well as quotes) for you to read. Check it out after the jump. And if you’re a fan of PodCasts, don’t forget about TFW2005’s WTF@TFW PodCast, which you can find download links to by clicking here. Image courtesy of Mike Costa’s TFWiki.net profile page. Here is only a summary of some the topics touched on in the podcast. For full details, check the podcast out for yourself.
Regarding Various Characters and Storylines[/u]
– Everyone’s favorite Insecticon Swarm pet “Bob” was actually never intended to be named “Bob”. The truth is, Mike Costa wanted to name the character “Spike” (because, duh, he has spikes all over him). When Rodimus first meets with Ironhide and Sunstreaker on Cybertron, and they introduce him to their pet “Spike”, it would be a meta-joke moment, which Costa thinks would have been very funny, where Rodimus is shocked because of the situation on Earth with human “Spike”. The “powers that be upstairs” eventually nixed the idea, stating it would be too confusing. A short list of names was given, including “George”, but eventually they settled on “Bob”.
– Spotlight Prowl was released much earlier than intended by Andy Schmidt because of the confusion generated by Prowl’s character change. The Spotlight’s intent was to explain the change in the character’s thinking and action. Originally, Spotlight Prowl was written to be a background/pre-cursor story to the recent “Police Action” storyline.
– The “CHAOS” arc was actually intended to be its own mini-series, but after IDW did some number crunching, they realized that Transformers mini-series don’t sell well at all, and they decided to move it in to the regular on-going series. The reason the art is different was because as it was being set-up it was set-up to be a mini-series. Originally, Mike Costa wrote the story in mind for Don Figueroa to do, as he goes on to say, “Don is drawing at his best when he’s drawing Transformers. I thought it would be awesome – a bunch of Transformers on the Transformers home world of Cybertron drawn by Don. Unfortunately, Don left and it didn’t work out.”
– Mike Costa’s official last day working on Transformers was the same as former editor Andy Schmidt (now with Hasbro) – the Saturday of BotCon 2011, when he turned in his final draft for the last issue in the “CHAOS” story. The first issue of the “CHAOS” story was completed in mid-January, 2011.
– The storyline after “CHAOS” that Mike Costa invisioned involved the “Knights of Cybertron”, but he had a tough time doing anything more than just planning it. “I was never in to it though, it was old business to me, it’s hard to make stuff that happened a long, long time ago dynamic.” James is now taking over that storyline.
Mike Costa Quotes and Self-Reflection on Writing Transformers[/u]
– During his first year writing The Transformers, Mike says he got really burnt out, stating that writing for Transformers was “tough and not fun”. He goes on to state: “The characters are so difficult to understand.” He compares a human coming back after serving only 2 years in a war and their entire psyche is destroyed, their life changed. But these characters are robots that are millions of years old fighting a war that’s a million years old. He goes on to state: “They don’t get hungry, they don’t get tired, they don’t have women, they don’t have relationships that they value, because they don’t have females that they can love, maybe brotherly love but how, they don’t have parents?”
– “All the basic things that motivate a person in any kind of adventure story that motivate them, these characters do not have them. You have to manufacture them. Why would a robot that’s millions of years old have a personality like a human? That’s insane.”
Mike continues to discuss what he found challenging about writing for Transformers.
– “Transformers are toys. They are toys. That’s why they’re giant robots that turn in to cars. They’re toys. There’s no reason a robot would turn in to a car, they’re toys. I guess you could come up with reasons for it – a lot of writers have – it’s just so strange.”
– “Cars and trucks in a comic book aren’t expressive – there’s no character to a car.”
– “My job as a writer is to understand why characters are doing certain things – beyond why they are doing things in a certain moment – to who they are as people, but that’s where questions start getting really confusing, because these ‘things’ aren’t people.”
Mike continues on about the popularity of Transformers comics, and of course, the fans who read (and praise/complain) them:
– “Transformers fans read Transformers comics, and only Transformers comics. They are isolated from the rest of the comic book world.”
– “Most Transformers fans don’t read comics.”
– In the comic book community, Transformers are not looked upon favorably. They are looked upon as being silly and “not-serious” comics. GI Joe is taken seriously. “GI Joe still has respectability, while Transformers does not.”
– Mike Costa blames the fall of popularity with Transformers comics not on himself or anyone with IDW Publishing, but with Dreamwave Comics, and the implosion that company had that effected the creators, the retailers, and of course, the fans. He goes on to state: “Some of those stories weren’t all that great.”
– “I don’t think these books will be number 1 again. They target their market, and their market is shrinking, and there’s a lot of people in that market that are unpleasant.”
– Mike Costa goes on to state that (a lot of) Transformers comic fans are very arrogant and hostile, painting a picture that they will continue to buy something simply to continue to hate it. He goes on to add that this happens with most properties, but Transformers fans are more vocal. He does add that it’s this same attitude and desire to be heard that kept the franchise alive in the 90’s all the way to the 2007 movie.
– He also states that from what he can see, there’s very little agreement between comic fans on what they dislike about Transformers comics. A group of them may all dislike the comic, but none of them agree exactly on what they dislike about it.
– “The most harsh fans suffer from tunnel vision and lack perspective.” At first this statement was applied only to Transformers comics, but he continues on and ends up referencing “in their world”, or their life, so to speak.
– Mike briefly touches upon the cry from fans on message boards regarding “Why don’t they listen to the fans!?”. “There’s probably about a total of 100 active posters across ALL the Transformers message forums on the Internet.”
EDITOR’S NOTE:[/u] At the time of this article, TFW2005.COM in the last 24 hours had over 6,000 unique registered users online browsing the boards, which does not include many, many thousands of visitors that are not registered that browsed the site and forums.[/i]
– Mike continues on… “Why aren’t we listening to the fans? It means we’re not listening to you and the other 20 people that post on message boards.”
There’s even more content to be found and listened to on the actual podcast, so if you’re interested in hearing the whole thing for yourself, please look up the Underbase podcast.
What do you think of the story choices, and of course, some of the statements made by the now former Transformers comic writer? Sound off!