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Old 2011-12-08, 11:59 PM   #1
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Default IDW Transformers Comic Writer Mike Costa Reflects on Transformers

http://www.tfw2005.com/transformers-...ormers-173922/

Interesting stuff...
 
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Old 2011-12-09, 12:34 AM   #2
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Man says that Transformers fans are nuts, Transformers fans proceed to go nuts.
 
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Old 2011-12-09, 03:16 PM   #3
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I must have a listen to the actual podcast to see if he comes across as less of a knob in context.

So the guy didn't really understand the characters motivations, nor why they'd have human personalities (a valid criticism to a certain extent, but if that's a suspension of disbelief you're not willing to make Transformers isn't for you) nor how to make ageless robots relatable. Even if that was just for the first year on the book, that's just about 12 issues written by someone who didn't have the first clue how to do it.

Oh, and Fans (all 100) didn't like the books, not because they're bad but because they don't read enough other comic books to recognise a good one? You'd have thought if the fandom was that small keeping them happy would be a lot easier than IDW have managed it. And all IDW's poor sales are still down to Dreamwave, six years on? Sheer genius.


Fair points... Yes, more dedicated comic fans don't take Transformers seriously. But considering the quality of a lot of the stories that's hardly surprising.
 
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Old 2011-12-09, 04:23 PM   #4
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He comes across as a really nice guy in the actual podcast. A bit sensitive, but not in a particularly bad way.
And the concept for his Smoke & Mirrors comic sounds fun. It's not like he has no good ideas, it's just that none of them go towards his Transformers comic.
 
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Old 2011-12-09, 07:15 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by inflatable dalek View Post

Oh, and Fans (all 100) didn't like the books, not because they're bad but because they don't read enough other comic books to recognise a good one? You'd have thought if the fandom was that small keeping them happy would be a lot easier than IDW have managed it. And all IDW's poor sales are still down to Dreamwave, six years on? Sheer genius.


Fair points... Yes, more dedicated comic fans don't take Transformers seriously. But considering the quality of a lot of the stories that's hardly surprising.

The more comics I read the more I realise how bad IDW's Transformers series are. Not the other way around. Transformers got me into comics and I read a hell of a lot these days, but when you read a lot of stuff that is out there and is fantastic you can appreciate that IDW's TF comics haven't been good in a while. Except LSOTW and Roberts issues.
 
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Old 2011-12-09, 07:28 PM   #6
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Christ, yes. On a structural level, you're lucky to get anything of worth at all from the IDW comics. The artists can draw, and the writers can set scenes, but it's rare indeed to get them both to hang together in a skillful way. Remember how effective and stylish Spotlight: Nightbeat was? Well, that sort of thing doesn't fly well when there's a character slightly off-model in the mix.
 
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Old 2011-12-09, 08:49 PM   #7
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OKay...so I've just sat and read this interview and based on the transcripts Costa sounds like a knob. The repeated impression is he doesn't get these characters or their situation. He can't understand them and doesn't seem to care. So this is only the transcript, I haven't listened to the podcast, but it's left me wondering: why was this guy tapped to write the ongoing? He clearly has no interest so why him? There must be other, more interested people who can produce something far superior? Or are Transformers inherently difficult to write in an interesting way?

"Transformers fans read Transformers comics, and only Transformers comics. They are isolated from the rest of the comic book world"

Really? Cause I'm a fan of the comics and I read a crazy amount of other stuff.

"GI Joe still has respectability, while Transformers does not."
I've heard good things about his GI Joe comics, but I'm not impressed by his TF work. Again, why was he writing this?

Regarding DW "Some of those stories weren’t all that great." Neither were yours mate. And he blames DW for the poor sales under IDW? What world does he live in? If you get a good writer, who writes interesting characters you can make any series successful. There's plenty of examples of that.
 
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Old 2011-12-09, 09:19 PM   #8
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Sorry Dalek, I seem to have repeated all your points. Didn't mean to, I just read it and responded.

Having had a little longer to ponder this I'm amazed by how much of a knob Costa sounds. "None of it was my fault, Robots are impossible to understand, DW f*cked it all up and TF fans don't read any other comics!" Knob.

I'm guessing he never read the groundwork Furman lay down in Infiltration for a reason why these robots are on Earth and have vehicle modes?

And reasoning that the fans don't know good comics when they see them cause they only read TF comics. Did he see the response to LSOTW? Or Roberts two issues in the ongoing? Again, knob!
 

Last edited by Neuronutter; 2011-12-09 at 09:32 PM.
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Old 2011-12-09, 09:39 PM   #9
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Sorry Dalek, I seem to have repeated all your points. Didn't mean to, I just read this and responded.

Well, all that was just my reaction to the quotes, I've the full podcast on my MP3 player, but haven't had chance to listen to it yet. The full thing is three hours long (?!), so even if the interview is just half of that there's more than enough room for the quotes to work better in context.

Though I'll stake my claim here (and if the full interview suggests otherwise to me I'll come crawling back apologetically) and say this looks like another IDW Editorial problem. You've got an author who admits he can't get his head around how the characters are portrayed as humanistic (and as said before, that's fair enough IMHO but it's still something you need to accept to write these characters) but was still given the job. How the hell did he manage to make any sort of pitch that sounded good? If he was struggling badly for at least a year, why was he kept on?

And also, even if you accept the Transformers themselves are hard to write for... Why the hell were the humans so badly characterised? Surely Costa has no excuse there? Lets not forget, at the same time Schmidt was going "This comic is aimed at teenagers" Costa was giving us Spike running off from a hooker with his dried spunk running down her leg.
 
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Old 2011-12-09, 10:20 PM   #10
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Hey, at least Spike became a fugative by the end of his run.

Anyway, Costa [I]dose[I] seem to write GI Joe much better than Transformers, which may be where hes comeing with difficulty with writeing them, I mean, there were two, maybe three, good issues in his first year writeing it.
 
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Old 2011-12-09, 10:45 PM   #11
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Though I'll stake my claim here (and if the full interview suggests otherwise to me I'll come crawling back apologetically) and say this looks like another IDW Editorial problem.
Absolutely. I think the editing has been terrible since Ryall left. That's the last time I remember the stories being coherent and the series having direction. Once he left Furman's run seemed to come off the rails, and things haven't improved since.
 
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Old 2011-12-09, 10:52 PM   #12
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Ryall is still in the same position he's always been in though hasn't he? Overall editor? I thought the direct editing of the books has always been in the hands of people directly beneath him? Or was it just that the company was so much smaller back in the early days the Editor in Chief could personally oversee the book? Without digging old issues out of storage I'm not sure, who was it who was the first to answer letters in a comedy cartoon (Nick Roche drawn?) of them as a Transformer? I've a feeling we had something like Tippton-con* at some point but he wasn't the first...



*Possibly a more amusing play on words than the actual gag used.
 
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Old 2011-12-09, 11:32 PM   #13
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Ryall is still in the same position he's always been in though hasn't he? Overall editor? I thought the direct editing of the books has always been in the hands of people directly beneath him? Or was it just that the company was so much smaller back in the early days the Editor in Chief could personally oversee the book? Without digging old issues out of storage I'm not sure, who was it who was the first to answer letters in a comedy cartoon (Nick Roche drawn?) of them as a Transformer? I've a feeling we had something like Tippton-con* at some point but he wasn't the first...



*Possibly a more amusing play on words than the actual gag used.

According to the Collections Ryall and Dan Taylor were editors for Infiltration through Escalation. Then it was Dan Taylor and Andrew Stephen Harris during Devastation. Maximum Dinobots was Andy Schmidt and Denton J. Tipton and Costa's run was these two as well. I think the best series were overseen by Ryall, IMHO.

EDIT: Just looked through some other trades too. Ryall is editor on Locke and Key and has been since the beginning. Probably one of the reasons it's so good.
 
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Old 2011-12-10, 04:22 AM   #14
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Wellp, my early IDW TFs are in front of a Drawerboxes box on the opposite wall of this very room, so it's considerably easier for me to check out....

And, turns out Ryall was in fact the first robot-with-the-head-of-a-man dude, in the back of Infiltration #0, as ...Chrischarger... And he's credited as "editor" of that book. Maybe the company was indeed small enough then that he could personally oversee a few titles, as with Locke and Key? Well, looking further, by issue #1, Taylor had indeed already become his "and"; but still, it does seem like the best days of the series, in large concensus, had him in direct involvement, doesn't it?

None of which affects the fact that Costa sounds like a dope - well, now "knob" does just sound best to me...
 

Last edited by LKW; 2011-12-10 at 04:34 AM. Reason: clarity here and there
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Old 2011-12-10, 12:51 PM   #15
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And, turns out Ryall was in fact the first robot-with-the-head-of-a-man dude, in the back of Infiltration #0, as ...Chrischarger... And he's credited as "editor" of that book. Maybe the company was indeed small enough then that he could personally oversee a few titles, as with Locke and Key? Well, looking further, by issue #1, Taylor had indeed already become his "and"; but still, it does seem like the best days of the series, in large concensus, had him in direct involvement, doesn't it?
That's the way I read it. I think Ryall had a far better reign over the series and more control over where the stories were going. I have to wonder who gave the green light to AHM and Costa's run.

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None of which affects the fact that Costa sounds like a dope - well, now "knob" does just sound best to me...
I think "knob" is exactly the right word to describe how Costa comes across in the transcripts of this interview.
 
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Old 2011-12-10, 01:00 PM   #16
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Still haven't had time to listen to the full interview, at the aforementioned three hours it may be a while before I do.

"Chrischarger"? That doesn't even work as a pun.

Quote:
That's the way I read it. I think Ryall had a far better reign over the series and more control over where the stories were going. I have to wonder who gave the green light to AHM and Costa's run.
I've also thought Andy Schmidt came across as the real incompetent one. And by strange coincidence in interviews he also seems to be Grade A Knob Cheese as well.
 
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Old 2011-12-11, 05:32 PM   #17
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I have received the impression that something strange and crazy went down on Andrew Stephen Harris' watch and that now to even speak his name in the IDW offices could mean a thrashing. Although maybe the truth is far less exciting than that.

But hot damn, he must have been something if Andrew Schidmt can get away with the murder he did. I know he gets credit for greenlighting Wreckers, but I reckon that if he'd had his way entirely it would have been as forgettable as the Bumblebee series he greenlit at exactly the same time.

So I'd say that Costa's only crime is that he was poorly managed as a resource. The moment Ongoing #4 came out, he should have been put on between-arc duties for character-focused spotlight (but not Spotlight) issues where he could meet some of these fairly interesting challenges of the franchise without having to worry about steering the ship.
 
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Old 2011-12-11, 09:11 PM   #18
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Blame the editors by all means ( i certainly have over the past few runs) but you have to throw a lot of blame at costa for taking a job writing about a subject he had no passion for. At all. Thats the one thing that comes clearly through in the interview. I cant understand why he even agreed to take the position.

And while I can agree that some of the criticism was maybe overly harsh, its fair to say thats the same of most things on the net. But that doesnt overlook the fact that he clearly didnt prepare himself with regard to the characters and storys that people had followed. Prime and prowl were probably the worst offences but Hot rod/ rodimus & Jazz were also badly written.

Whatever, its best he moved on. Say whatever about furman and mccarthy but I think both had passion for what they did. I'd still rate AHM over most of Costas run (although in fairness to him, he did have the better individual issues) and if Furman could only have been a bit faster and managed to finish off his plot threads probably, than the "-tion" era would have been seen as mostly a triumph.

Best of luck to Barber and Roberts. I fear that Barber in particular has a very hard task to make his story interesting, but I'll be on board. For a while anyway
 
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Old 2011-12-11, 09:25 PM   #19
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I have received the impression that something strange and crazy went down on Andrew Stephen Harris' watch and that now to even speak his name in the IDW offices could mean a thrashing. Although maybe the truth is far less exciting than that.
What sort of thing? I didn't hear anything about this.
 
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Old 2011-12-11, 09:33 PM   #20
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What sort of thing? I didn't hear anything about this.
IIRC he was (fairly or unfairly) the fall guy for the sheer ineptitude of the Beast Wars Sourcebook (we're talking the many colouring mistakes and typos rather than some of the stupider decisions such as hiring Ben Yee to write it when he doesn't know the difference between a character profile and a synopsis of some episodes) and the high general level of basic proof reading errors around that time.


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Blame the editors by all means ( i certainly have over the past few runs) but you have to throw a lot of blame at costa for taking a job writing about a subject he had no passion for. At all. Thats the one thing that comes clearly through in the interview. I cant understand why he even agreed to take the position.
I don't begrudge him taking the job, it's the peril of being a freelance writer, unless you're really well established or independently wealthy you're not really in a position to turn down work if someone's daft enough to offer it to you.
 
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