Tuesday, February 23, 2010

On the Prowl

Let's all officially welcome artist E.J. Su back to Transformers, in the form of the SPOTLIGHT: PROWL issue coming soon enough. The first of two new TF-related comics that the now-father-of-three Mr. Su is handling for us. Colors on the interior pages courtesy of Andrew Dalhouse, doing his first work for IDW here.

I was reading some of the online scuttlebutt about this coming Spotlight issue, and the number of erroneous assumptions about what it is, what it means, and why we're doing it was impressive even for the Transformers boards. The nice thing about that is knowing how many "pleasantly surprised" responses we'll see after people read this one.


44 comments:

DanielW said...

Is that Prowl's holoavatar?
I'm loving it already. Law and Order. Order and Logic. Logic and Survival.
The pillars of Prowl's life IMO.

I can't wait to see how Prowl is explored and shown off as being awesome in the issue.

Feikki said...

I'm really waiting for this one because of Su's art!

...and then it saddens me that instead of drawing Prowl he desinged himself, he's drawing it like a friggin' toy!

But anyway, I hope to see Su drawing more TFs.

Mel said...

E.J. drew Prowl like that in Spotlight: Jazz as well, so it's nothing new.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, I'm sure I'll be "pleasantly surprised" at how much it sucks.

Costa, McCarthy... when's the suck going to end, Ryall?

Jon said...

"I was reading some of the online scuttlebutt about this coming Spotlight issue, and the number of erroneous assumptions about what it is, what it means, and why we're doing it was impressive even for the Transformers boards."

Chris, a plea: could you maybe stop laying into fans for mere speculation, cynical or otherwise? Andy has said himself that this story was brought forward to explain an abrupt change in character that people found jarring. It seems you damn every idle theory that isn't a spot-on direct quote as 'erroneous'. Maybe you should think instead about *why* people might reasonable feel cynical and what moves have visibly eroded that cynicism.

I know there's some ungenerous theories about what goes on 'behind the scenes' but there's no need to rise to it, nor to tar everyone with the same brush.

Detour said...

I honestly don't know how "pleasantly surprised" I'll be.

I'm not hard to please. I loved Furman's run on IDW Transformers. I am totally gay for anything Nick Roche can write (Last Stand of the Wreckers is easily my favorite IDW G1 piece yet). The Arrival was a terrific add-on piece to the Animated cartoon. Give me good fiction and I'll be happy.

Sadly, ever since Shane McCarthy came on board, good fiction seems to have taken a backseat. His work was incoherent, fragmented, poorly paced and just plain bad. It didn't help that it was also full of complete misinterpretations and/or rewrites of what Furman had established before him.
(Actually, I'm not being fair... Megatron Origin sucked pretty hard too, it's just a lot easier to ignore)

Mike Costa and Zander Cannon haven't been good, either. Honestly the best thing I can say about them is that they're not Shane McCarthy. They both suffer heavily from protagonists constantly carrying the proverbial "idiot ball", poor characterization, slow, uninteresting plot threads and just awkward dialog.
It doesn't help that there's absolutely no consistancy in character design between the Ongoing and Bumblebee titles... Different art styles are fine but when one guy has Bumblebee in a Sneerformer interpretation of EJ's redesign and the other has him looking like he did in the Sunbow cartoon, it doesn't feel right. Blurr going from an Earth-based vehicle mode in the Ongoing to his old Cybertronian car mode in Bumblebee is even iffier.

On the other hand, Nick Roche and now his writing partner James Roberts have constantly delivered winning stories. Roche's half of AHM #15 was considered almost unanimously as the best story of the entire AHM run, Spotlight: Kup was an engaging story with art that truly carried itself and Last Stand of the Wreckers... well let's just say I'd never been that disappointed in a book delay before, ever.

And therein lies the problem. As I've said before, Roche's AHM story was great, and provided easily the best "logical, by-the-book" Prowl ever. Everyone I spoke to loved him like that. That's why his complete change in behavior in the Ongoing struck to many fans negatively. After all that build-up for Prowl in Roche's tale, why bring him about a complete 180?
Just bringing about a Spotlight explaining the character change isn't really going to smooth things over with the fans. The fans loved Prowl The Prick.

What you guys need to do, really, isn't putting out explanations for changes... rather, you need to have your editors (looking at you, Andy Schmidt!) step up their game and make sure things like continuity and characterization remain consistant and natural. They need to pay attention to the stories and the history and the characters and be sure it all works without having to bring about Spotlights or Codas to explain all those changes the fans aren't even liking to begin with.
The mere fact that this isn't being done already makes a lot of people wonder if IDW even cares about its fiction. Why allow Roche to do a tale showcasing a coldly logical Prowl if it's just going to get tossed out two comics later? Why throw fans off with inconsistant art between two titles that feature events happening concurrently? Why release a "definitive chronology" book that's completely inaccurate to the continuity?
The only answers anyone can find to these questions is "IDW, Ryall and the editors just don't care."
And frankly, that's not how it should be.

Hopefully, you'll take what I've said under consideration, Chris.

Skidplates said...

To be honest, I feel that a lot of the editorial backlash in "voice" is due to the increasingly undiplomatic tone that readers are using themselves. Although I am inclined to agree on the face of it with the SPIRIT of a lot of the criticism, at least to a certain extent, I find that fans have become increasingly bombastic, condescending, or arrogant in the *voice* that they use to express their critiques. Mind you, the frustration is understandable and genuine...you guys are passionate about this stuff, and incensed when it doesn't go the way you want it to. But I think you shoot yourselves in the foot with your tone, and would win a lot more flies, if not with honey, than with just laying your opinions out there straightforwardly without such a heavy dollop of cynicism. Either that, I'd recommend finding a more humorous way to express the POV...AHM has stirred up an outrage whose intensity scares me a little at times, and there are plenty of ways to express that in a less humorless or nasty way; take Allsparker Boltax's one-page comic summaries of AHM; I enjoyed AHM, but even I thought those were gold.

Things are just gettin' friggin' MAUDLIN when I read some of the reactions to the comics, folks.

Chris Ryall said...

Detour, ending with something as absurd as "The only answers anyone can find to these questions is "IDW, Ryall and the editors just don't care." tells me to not even try to respond at length. But everyone is welcome to their opinion, however far off-base it might be. When you respond with something like that, I can't see how any words I could reply are going to sway you.

Cattleprod said...

'Detour, ending with something as absurd as "The only answers anyone can find to these questions is "IDW, Ryall and the editors just don't care." tells me to not even try to respond at length.'

Dismissing the messenger doesn't change the fact that this attitude is very widespread. The thing is, we don't WANT to think this. I'd like nothing more for this to be categorically proven wrong.

Telling us how much you care doesn't amount to much if it doesn't come across in the final product. Opinions about Andy Schmidt in particular are heavily shaded by Continuum. LSotW's high quality seems to be the exception, not the rule.

IDW's burned up a LOT of goodwill over the past year and a half, and refusing to respond to valid criticism about wildly inconsistent art styles or Continuum's many errors doesn't help.

Detour said...

Sadly, Chris, I do not want words, but action. Something done so that continuity works and established characterization isn't carelessly tossed out as soon as a new writer comes on board.

As Cattleprod just said... Saying you care doesn't mean much if that care doesn't come across in the final product. Continuum in particular shows an incredible lack of care, which is frightening because it was written by the editor to the TF titles.

Last Stand of the Wreckers is the only good TF comic right now, thanks to dynamic action, great dialog and characters as well as a beautiful blend of drama, action and humor, as well as the fact that Nick Roche actually cares about continuity and characterization and it actually shows in his work.
You need to have Nick do more. And hire more writers like Nick. Guys who are not only passionate about the Transformers they write but also the Transformers they read.

Jeysie said...

I'm with Cattleprod and Detour here. Based on the constant rebooting, ignoring of past continuity, abrupt character changes, inconsistency in art styles and writing, etc., not to mention your dismissive "the Transformers fandom is always wrong" attitude, your claim that saying you don't seem to care is "off-base" just doesn't match up with what we're getting in action.

I second Roche and Roberts' work being the best thing you've got going at the moment, because they show a knack for action, characterization, dialogue, humor, continuity, and interesting & intelligent ideas, and for being truly excited and interested in all of past Transformers lore (not just the old cartoon). These are the things that will get us "unpleaseable fans" excited and buying, and, unfortunately, things the rest of your output is currently lacking.

It used to be that I was excited by every new IDW release and couldn't wait to buy. But other than Last Stand of the Wreckers, I haven't really felt that way in a long time, and I'd like reasons to start feeling that way more often again.

Anonymous said...

I think Roche's writing is a bit overrated. I mean, people act like he's some writing god. I enjoyed Kup and the Prowl/Kup story in AHM was ok. Didn't grab me like it did everyone else. Also LSoTW's has yet to excite me. I actually don't like it. When reading the first issue I got bored. But that's just my opinion and how I feel. Everyone can't be pleased.

So far I'm enjoying Costa's ongoing, not as much as Furman's earlier "ations" though.

I give everything a chance. I read it before I condemn it.

Armagon said...

Chris, while folks like Detour might be a bit outspoken and prone to some hyperbole, it's because they're emotionally invested in the product and WANT it to succeed. So you shouldn't see it as being borne of rancor, but an unintended consequence of being invested and disappointed.

A lot of the underlying criticisms are still valid, even minus the hyperbole. Prowl's characterization in AHM #15 was pretty much universally lauded... so why the change? Transformers is somewhat of a unique franchise in that it's filled to the gills with characters who are underdeveloped. There's really no need to make a character completely 180, as there's likely another character who can fill the gap just as well. Prowl's change right now looks like it's going to be change for change's sake; trying to "force" characterization instead of doing it naturally.

It's never a good idea to continually turn a deaf ear to the people who are most invested in the product and the most likely to stick with it.

Anonymous said...

But I think Chris' point is that many people are assuming the characterization Roche gave Prowl in AHM # 15 is being chucked out the window, when we have no idea if that's going to be the case or not. You can't make that assumption based on one action Prowl took in the ongoing series.

-RK

Detour said...

RK:
Andy Schmidt himself said this Spotlight would "explain why Prowl acted so differently in the Ongoing than he did in the Roche issue of AHM".
That's why we know it'll just be an explanation of why he isn't awesome anymore.

DanielW said...

Gotta love Transformers fans.
Someone tries to address incorrect assumptions and all you do is slag them off.
Someone tries to do something new with the franchise. And you slag them off. They listen, despite the abuse, and change stuff - so they get abused again.

HA.
Who'd be an editor or a writer of TF fiction.

Chris Ryall said...

"Chris, while folks like Detour might be a bit outspoken and prone to some hyperbole, it's because they're emotionally invested in the product and WANT it to succeed."

Not sure how anyone could assume that those of us who care about Transformers enough to work on them every day and whose jobs are vested in these books working for the fans could be anything but emotionally invested ourselves. Do you really think fans want these books to succeed more than those of us who've tied our fates to them? Do you not see how leading with these kinds of assumptions makes me reticent to even try to address any of these complaints?

The rancor about Prowl, and the misconstruing of Andy's words in that interview, and the opinions already being set before the Spotlight even arrives tell me there's no point in trying to have reasonable discourse here. What;s reasonable is seeing how the book is and then talking about it, not deciding ahead of time that this book is an apology or a retcon or an explanation. It's not those things. It's delving deeper into Prowl's actions and psyche, so things you don't think are in character now will make sense. The book wasn't added late as an "oh, crap, we messed up, let's try to explain it away" sort of thing, it was something we were going to do as an extension of Prowl's actions in the TF series.

But look at the comments here--I post a few nice pieces of E.J.'s art and the overwhelming negativity, from Feikki saying E.J.'s great work looks like "a friggin' toy" to even more unenlightended comments that me or Andy or IDW don't care, and then people act like they're entitled to an explanation because they don't agree with something? The comics are the explanation. My hope is that everyone keeps reading, and sees that this is all a plan and not an arbitrary whim. But for me to address things here, especially comments that accuse me of not caring, instead of letting them play out in the book as intended isn't going to happen.

I never quite get why comments are always as contentious as they are. I appreciate everyone's passion for the franchise. But understand that WE SHARE IT. We love these characters and are trying to tell good, different, intriguing stories, not screw with you or the characters or the franchise. If everything was explained and made perfect sense at all times, where'd be the point in reading? And if people really plan to stop reading over a story point they don't personally agree with, whether they give us time to show how it plays out or not, well, that makes me question how much they really care. So that trust is a two-way street, folks. We do our best to earn it, and I wish the more vocal of you would realize that whether you agree with what we're doing or not, we're not doing controversial things because we don't care. Quite the contrary.

Jeysie said...

Except that the comics aren't explaining anything so far... we were told we'd get some explanations of things, and it never ended up happening.

I'm willing to watch things play out if there's signs that things are deliberately changing gradually and "naturally". The -ations and now Wreckers have both done this the "right" way, showing character changes over time and seeding little mysteries and hints and acknowledgments that things are different. You always trust you're going to get answers because you can see a progression of changes and mysteries in the stories themselves.

Whereas after the -ations ended, we basically got the story arc that had been building up abruptly cut short, and a new arc that at first completely changed a lot of things and dropped others out of the blue, with the few explanations only coming long after the fact. We've also gotten various retcons and inconsistencies and things like Continuum that were just totally out there. There's just no natural buildup or gradual exposition going on here, no hints that things weren't just changed due to a new writer on board. (Because let's face it, new writers coming in and changing stuff just because is pretty commonplace in comics.)

Maybe it's just that I'm a "character junkie", but when a character starts feeling like they're acting out-of-character and there's no hints within the story that this is odd or will be eventually explained, well, let's just say I've been burned by a lot of bad writing over the years. I run on signs in the story itself that there are mysteries to be explained, not meta-commentary. The same goes for plot developments.

Personally, I find "controversial" and "big deal" events tiresome and wish you wouldn't waste time on them. Just give me solid, consistent, intelligent writing, and I'll be hooked just fine without gimmicks or pointless changeups. If you look at the most-loved things in the fandom like Animated, Beast Wars, Roche's stories, the Fan Club prose etc., you can see it's good writing, continuity, and characterization that's what they all have in common.

I wish you'd stop treating us like enemies and realize we're telling you what's making us unhappy because we want to stop seeing these problems so we can go back to being happy. I sure don't get a kick out of complaining just for the sake of complaining. I mean, personally I'd love if every single IDW story was like Wreckers is at the moment... something I enjoy reading and can't wait for the next installment of and can't think of any problems with it.

DanielW said...

The only person here "treating someone like an enemy" here Jeysie is you.

Andrew Sorohan said...

"I was reading some of the online scuttlebutt about this coming Spotlight issue, and the number of erroneous assumptions about what it is, what it means, and why we're doing it was impressive even for the Transformers boards. The nice thing about that is knowing how many "pleasantly surprised" responses we'll see after people read this one."

I gotta say, Chris... I'm kinda surprised and disappointed by this statement. It comes off as condescending and derisive towards the very fans who buy your books.

While I understand that it can be frustrating that the fandom makes incorrect assumptions about the comics... these sorts of statements aren't helpful.

You haven't explained what kind of erroneous statements the fandom has made -- or why they're wrong. So this just feels like baiting.

I understand -- you're trying to reassure us that the comic is more than we think it is. But the way you're doing it feels really negative and condescending.

This same negativity towards the fandom has been expressed by a lot of other IDW personalities talking to the media, or on public forums -- and frankly I find it frustrating. I understand how hard it can be to face the criticism that the Transformers fandom can level at you -- but taking your little stabs back at us is not a very professional tone.

This tone is slowly building a sense of 'us and them', where the fandom feels like IDW hates them, so they should hate IDW. It's completely unreasonable -- but the more that IDW representatives talk about how the fandom is wrong, or the fandom doesn't understand, or the fandom is emotional the more frustrated we become -- and the more willing we become (as Detour did here) to point fingers at specific people.

I'll put it plainly. We buy your comics out of a loyalty to the Transformers brand, not out of loyalty to IDW. I think you should keep this in mind when communicating with the fandom.

--Andrew Sorohan
http://www.townsvilletale.com.au/
(In the fandom I'm known as Boltax/Jhiaxus)

Anonymous said...

You transformers people are insane. Buy the books or don't buy them. Ranting isn't going to change the plans of a national publisher. Get a life.

I'd love to see any of you edit a professional comic book without losing your minds.

And as far as the artists or writers go, they DO CARE about the comics, but they don't care about your bullshit complaints.


Cheers chumps!

Jeysie said...

"The only person here 'treating someone like an enemy' here Jeysie is you."

If you consider giving praise and support to the IDW things I'm happy with, and giving constructive criticism about the things I'm not--because I'd love to have everything from IDW be something I'm happy with--as "treating someone like the enemy", then I really miss the Daniel who used to actually be intelligent and wise about people.

If I hated IDW, I wouldn't waste my time saying anything to begin with. Instead I'm trying to point out why many of us are being critical, and why Ryall and Schmidt are coming off as not caring even if they actually don't mean to, so they can not keep giving the wrong impressions.

I think Sorohan expressed my feelings on the matter best here. I can't think of anyone--even the "meanie wiki people"--who are "hating" on IDW just to be haters. We all crave good Transformers comics. We would be totally happy for IDW to deliver them to us, and I can't think of anyone who wouldn't be happy if they got to be able to heap praise on IDW's comics all the time the way they do with other top-notch TF offerings. But we're currently unhappy because we feel like IDW is currently not delivering, and they feel like they keep dismissing us when we try to say what things we'd like to see fixed or see more of.

Especially since the majority of the issues aren't "Trukk not munky!!"-type superficial criticisms. Instead it's often about things like consistent characterization/believable changes, acknowledgement of continuity, proper buildup of changes and mysteries, and other good writing principles. It's just not a matter of unpleaseable hardcore fans here, unless you think only hardcore fans appreciate good writing.

I mean, I wouldn't even consider myself a hardcore fan anyway. I didn't grow up with Transformers. What little advanced/obscure knowledge I have I often learned second-hand from the wiki. Last Stand of the Wreckers is supposedly the "hardcore fans" mini, and I admit I don't know about 80% of the characters as more than just names, and much of the little hardcore refs fly over my head. Yet I'm currently loving it anyway, because Roche and Roberts have been building up the characters in the mini itself, telling me everything I need to know to understand what's currently going on, and giving little hints to upcoming mysteries.

If I got that sort of quality story-telling from IDW all of the time, I'd absolutely happily fork over my money. And Roche, Mowry, Hutch, Su, etc. will tell you I give the creators plenty of praise about the things they're being kick-ass at.

So I say again, we're not the enemy. We're fickle and blunt and have wildly different superficial tastes we disagree on, yes. But we almost always agree on being won over by good writing no matter the superficial details (look at how many people love Animated despite the art style or Beast Wars despite munky instead of trukk, etc.), and are happy to support people giving it to us. We'd all love for IDW to be that company all the time.

Oracle1984 said...

Looking forward to this!!!

The return of EJ Su -- yes!

The return of Spotlights -- yes!

A whole issue devoted entirely to a treasured character -- yes!

Love the Furman/Roche version of Prowl!

Love the Michael Bell/Sunbow version of Prowl!

Do I have two versions sitting on my desk as I type -- er, well, actually no, but you get the idea.

But seriously, I can't wait to see what Costa does with all this. His work on G.I. Joe has been great -- I don't see how he can miss (at least in the eyes of those who come with an open mind).

And EJ's art, as always, looks great.

Anonymous said...

Well of course Prowl looks like a toy. The Transformers are based off toys.

I wonder if someone said this back when. "Oh my god did you see how they drew everyone in Marvels #1. They all look like the toys! I'm never buying this again. Waaaaaahhhhh."

Mel said...

I guess I should have given my opinion on the book itself, and some sort of overall opinion on IDW's output to date --

You guys are doing a great job, and despite some missteps, always have. Without you, I'd have no Transformers comic books to read and be subjected to the constantly negative opinions of the mostly 'unpleasable fanbase'.

There are people out there who read the comics and see the larger picture of what is going on, or at least can appreciate that things take time to be revealed in a monthly format, no matter how 'jarring' it may be.

There are people out there who love what has been done with Prowl, both in AHM and after, and definitely don't want him to be a 'prick'.

I have two versions of Prowl on my desk Oracle1984 -- Universe and World's Smallest Transformers.

Chris Ryall said...

>I gotta say, Chris... I'm kinda surprised and disappointed by this statement. It comes off as condescending and derisive towards the very fans who buy your books.

Not at all. It comes off as me being positive about what we're doing and thinking that people will like them after they read them. There's been lots of pre-judging about the Prowl book and many comments from people who think it's an apology for his actions in TF #1. It's not that at all, it's an extension of why he's acting the way he's acting.

How you somehow construe my comments here as condescending just tells me you're looking to be negative. I'm not. I love interacting with the fans when I can find the time, and I appreciate the passion for the books. I just wish everything wasn't always so picked apart like we have bad intentions or no respect for the fans. That attitude just makes no sense to me.

wade2501 said...

E.J.'s back!

I'm looking forward to this issue. I've never been a fan of Prowl and maybe this will make me one.

Skidplates said...

Getting around to commenting on the actual content of the preview, I'm catching a bit of a Mike Mignola vibe/inspiration from this preview art, and love it for that. (I really like stark shadow/light patterns and precise linework, and EJ has always been Mr. Precision) Very hard-edged and moody. Plus, EJ takes the toy design and makes it look lean and mean here. Costa told a great, dark tale with morally ambiguous protagonists in Cobra, so I'm hoping we see some of that side of Mike's work in this issue. This art bodes well for it.

Detour said...

Okay... First, the anon:
"I'd love to see any of you edit a professional comic book without losing your minds."
I'll take the job. I bet I can do a better job than Schmidt.


Now, Mel...

"Without you, I'd have no Transformers comic books to read"
I truly doubt without IDW, Hasbro wouldn't find another comic book company to license the title.

"and be subjected to the constantly negative opinions of the mostly 'unpleasable fanbase'."
Yes. I'm unpleasable. I'm so unpleasable I loved the -ations. I'm so unpleasable I'm gay for anything Roche. I'm so unpleasable I love EJ Su, Nick Roche, Guido Guidi, Dan Khanna and all those other great IDW artists. I'm so unpleasable I never wasted my money on anything related to Transformers Animated.
It's such a major cop-out for people to outright dismiss criticism as being "an unpleasable fanbase". Please.


And Chris....
"It comes off as me being positive about what we're doing and thinking that people will like them after they read them."¨
Forgive the snarkiness, but didn't you people say the exact same thing about All Hail Megatron?


I'm with Jeysie. I'm here voicing my grievances because I used to love IDW's Transformers output, I was hooked from Infiltration #0.

There were bumpy steps, sure, the Beast Wars output was severely lacking and Megatron Origin was just plain bad, but reading Furman's new take on Generation 1, coupled with side stories from Nick Roche and Klaus Scherwinski made it all so forgivable.

Then you guys decided to go soft reboot and it all went downhill... Sales didn't go up despite AHM's hype. And now with the ongoing it's like the cycle repeating itself.
It really saddens me, because as I said before we used to have a great main book and mediocre "side books".
Ever since AHM, though, it's been the other way around.


Chris, you asked us why we take all you say so negatively? It's probably because there's been very little evidence of what you've said recently in contrast with the actions taken that would make us think positively.
Coda was promised to bridge the gaps between the -ations and AHM, yet the only writer who actually did that was (surprise surprise) Nick Roche. Hell, Shane McCarthy didn't fix any plot holes, he tore new ones with his awful Sunstreaker short in Coda, completely rewriting events that had happened barely a year ago.

And Continuum was a typo-riddled mess that seemed to ignore continuity left and right. When fans took it negatively, Schmidt came out and said that it's because it "wasn't meant for us"... who was it meant for, then? And more to the point, why aren't you aiming to sell your books to your fanbase?
And on that point, why is it you always seem determined to drive said fanbase away to attract hypothetical "new, casual fans"? Why risk losing the loyal readers for new readers who may or may not come?

Well I think I've gone off on a rant again so I'll stop here, but Chris, I really hope you take what I've said into consideration. I wouldn't be posting here if I wasn't a fan of IDW's Transformers.

Anonymous said...

"Then you guys decided to go soft reboot and it all went downhill... Sales didn't go up despite AHM's hype."

Ok, couple of things Detour since you brought the sales issue and Chris has said repeatedly he doesn't like to discuss those things.

1. All we have to go on as fans are the ICV2 sales ESTIMATES. I can't bold that last word enough. Those figures are estimates, not actual sales numbers. So when Chris came out and said that AHM # 1 sold really well and higher than TF's comics have in some time, I believe that. I don't believe for one second that the estimates shown for AHM # 1 or the Ongoing were accurate but were underestimated.

If you read the bottom of the ICV2 pages it also states a few things like the chart doesn't account for Diamond UK distribution which can account for significant sales AND IDW IS NOT listed as a publisher that distributes 100% of their comics through Diamond. Which means they may use other distribution outlets further accounting for the underestimates of sales of their titles.

So only IDW knows how much they are selling. If ations series were doing great, as a buisness, why would IDW cut that short? It must have been shedding readers for IDW to have felt the need to change things up with AHM for the viability of the franchise. Because IDW can see what preorders on titles are months in advance, we can't. They can see how well the issues are tracking in stores, we can't. They can see what titles are getting more reorders than other titles, we can't.

There's a lot we as fans don't know. Sure we can look at the ICV2estimates for an idea on how things are trending, it that. But for you to make that statement above is highly inaccurate.

IDW just didn't flippantly decide one day, oh, let's get rid of Furmans Ations run even though it sells great and the fans love it. No, they make the best decisions they can so that they can continue to produce TF comics and we can enjoy them, which I do.

-RK

Cattleprod said...

Going back to Detour's initial post, it really seems that his key point wasn't "IDW doesn't care", but "people THINK IDW doesn't care, and here's an extensive list of reasons why.

His criticisms echoed those of many others, including myself, and simply dismissing them out of hand does little to shake our opinion. I want to know WHY you think he's wrong.

Look at Chee's artwork in the Bumblebee series. There's been much discussion about how it doesn't mesh at all with Figueroa's work in the ongoing, but I think a far more important point is how it contradicts Zander Cannon's script itself.

In #2, it's mentioned several times that Bumblebee's Skywatch badge is in the center of his chest, covering his Autobot symbol. Blurr specifically asks why his symbol had been replaced, and the gunshot that disable the badge is said to have hit 'dead center'.

In #3, we meet a man with an obviously Indian name. His daughter is named Serena, and I eventually suspected that she was intended to be the IDW-verse's version of Sari. It took a while to realize this because she appeared to be quite clearly Caucasian.

Again, these are simply two complaints amidst a sea of them. The fact that the head editor wrote something as error filled as Continuum raised a lot red flags on its own. I'd honestly like to find out that it was mistakenly published with the unedited first draft text. The notion that IDW was genuinely pleased with how it turned out fuels a lot of the fire.

We WANT to know that IDW is aware of these problems and will avoid them in the future. I complain because I'd much prefer a product that gives me no reason to.

Cattleprod said...

Sorry, I forgot the last sentence of one of the paragraphs, it should read as follows:

In #2, it's mentioned several times that Bumblebee's Skywatch badge is in the center of his chest, covering his Autobot symbol. Blurr specifically asks why his symbol had been replaced, and the gunshot that disable the badge is said to have hit 'dead center'. The badge itself is drawn on the corner of Bumblebee's chest, away from the center, leaving his symbol clearly visible.

Chris Ryall said...

I gotta move on and go make comics and annoy other people now, but really, I do appreciate all your comments, good or bad. Like I say, I know you all really care about the characters and that's why you take us to task. And I do the same on my end, talk to the editors about making sure everything jibes and that we do as good as possible on everything. With monthly comics, things will occasionally slip by, or art styles won't mesh as well as people would like and any number of other things that make people pull their hair out. But we do all expend great effort in producing these books, and strive to make you, Hasbro, retailers, everyone happy with them.

At times, that doesn't happen. And you lash out negatively. And I'm human, and react less well to biased negativity or comments about books people haven't read yet. But at the end of it, know we do read the comments and if we fall down in one issue, we pick ourselves up and move forward on the next.

Now, let's at least all move on up the Blog to today's entry, about TF #4, so everyone can at least weigh in on a book that's actually already been released.

Jon said...

Chris, just a few brief points, if you find time to read them:

"But look at the comments here--I post a few nice pieces of E.J.'s art and the overwhelming negativity ... I never quite get why comments are always as contentious as they are."

The eruption of comments on this thread is, I would postulate, purely down to your comments in the post, which I, among others, found unnecessarily derisive. Certainly that was all I was responding to.

"Do you really think fans want these books to succeed more than those of us who've tied our fates to them?"

I don't think anyone believes this. What people find themselves thinking, perhaps, is that your strategy for success relies more on focusing on the accompanying publicity than knuckling down on the quality. This is how they might interpret relaunching a title with different writers in a way that harms the existing storyline.

I've no doubt you would fiercely contest that but I think it's important you get a clearer picture of the POV you're fighting against.

"The rancor about Prowl, and the misconstruing of Andy's words in that interview, and the opinions already being set before the Spotlight even arrives ..."

Again I make the point about tarring everyone with the same brush and your conflating 'assumptions' and 'opinions already being set' with speculation.

Let me put this to you: there are plenty of threads that speculate, sometimes emotively, about what will happen to a particular character in a story, or where the plot will go. Are you equally concerned about these 'erroneous assumptions'? It's simply human to try to construe beyond the limits of one's knowledge.

"It's delving deeper into Prowl's actions and psyche, so things you don't think are in character now will make sense."

Two points: first of all you, while I'm sure this is unintentional, you seem to be admitting here that as things stand, things don't make sense. Semantics maybe, but that might be telling.

More importantly, please understand that the real 'rancour', as you put it, comes from the idea that however well this delves into Prowl's psyche, if the end result is that Prowl is transformed from his AHM15 portrayal to a more, shall we say, 'clean' figure, that seems like wasted potential. Just that *possibility* (without need of an assumption) worries some people.

Final point, in the hope of reaching an understanding: the language sometimes used in confusing, partly because it's informed by emotion, but I think what is generally criticised is errors of judgement. No one thinks you're all callous or scheming or workshy of anything like that. It's just sometimes fans feel a particular series of decisions (say, the ones Andy made when composing Continuum) are really bad calls and have a tough time reconciling this with the idea that someone is a reliable custodian of the fiction.

As I say, I know you would passionate disagree with this, but I just want you to better understand the nature of the negativity you perceive.

If you've got to the end of this, thank you for reading.

Feikki said...

Ryall: "But look at the comments here--I post a few nice pieces of E.J.'s art and the overwhelming negativity, from Feikki saying E.J.'s great work looks like "a friggin' toy""

I knew I should've written a longer (and slightly more sugar coated) post... Instead of being as a whining-nothing-satisfies-me-raving-fanboy. I tried to just say that I myself like much more seeing Transformers drawn as the reallife vehicles they're trying to imitate. I didn't mean to bash on E.J. personally. Since I hate it also when Don Fig does it...

For me the most exciting thing in the Transformers is the "Robots in Disguise" aspect. I'd love to see more hiding TF's in the middle of people. I'd love to see this "disguise" and "alt-mode" stuff used more innovatively and rich. It's just interesting to see and imagine Transformers interacting and coping among us on the Earth. Space operas like Strombringer have different interesting aspects. The bigger the battle the better there, no worries if Tf's don't have real world non toy looking altmodes there.

I don't understand what is the point in drawing into comic book vehicles that look like toys that try to look like real word vehicles. Ok, so do understand the point. It's selling these friggin toys to people... But what makes you think real looking cars and military vehicles wouldn't do the same trick.

I've had this problem ever since I saw Don Figueroa's art in DW's Generation 1 vol.3. It's not aimed to E.J. only. I like very much both these guys' art! But I wished they draw cars not toys.

Cheers.

P.S.Optimus is trukk not toy! ;)

Detour said...

Chris, again...
"art styles won't mesh as well as people would like"

The problem isn't a variety of art styles. I love EJ's art, I love Nick's art, I love Guido's art... they all have different styles.

The problem is the character models are being dramatically changed. While I don't like Don's new Sneerformer art style, it wouldn't be so bad if he and Chee would work from the same character models. Back in the old days Geoff Senior, Andy Wildman and Jose Delbo all had very different art styles... but they still worked from the same character models.
Because, again, Blurr went from having an Earth car mode in the ongoing to having a Cybertronian car mode in the Bumblebee mini.

Jon said...

Sorry to butt in again. I just wanted to lend support to this part of Detour's last post:

"The problem isn't a variety of art styles. I love EJ's art, I love Nick's art, I love Guido's art... they all have different styles."

Again, no doubt you won't agree with the position, Chris, but please understand that it's been of great concern to a lot of us that the 'company' line (ie. what you've said and others at IDW have said) appears to completely ignore the difference between style and character model.

I really don't think anyone objects to a variety of styles. But in the past, EJ would draw Don's and Nick's designs, Don draw EJ's and Nick draw pretty much everyone else's. Design change was a plot point - something to pay attention to.

I, for one, just don't understand why that approach was abandoned. All the TF artists seemed to do a great job mixing their own style with other artists' designs. Did they complain? Was it a headache to manage? I'd be really interested to know the reason for the switch.

Mel said...

It's such a major cop-out for people to outright dismiss criticism as being "an unpleasable fanbase". Please.

Please nothing. It's not an unfair assessment to call many of the people who choose to post their thoughts about IDW's Transformers an unpleasable fanbase, since they simply never seem to be pleased. The term is self-explanatory. No one is 'dismissing' criticizm here, though. I just don't happen to share the opinion of the majority of posters here. It is fine to criticize, and believe me, I'm not in love with everything IDW has put out...rather, I realize they are doing their level best, and we get this stuff in a monthly format (pertaining to criticisms of the ongoing) so some details have to wait to be explained.

Many of the posts above treat their criticisms as hard fact, when they are merely opinions. And you know what opinions are like, mine included. I merely wanted to get mine in there, to show that not EVERYONE feels the way you guys seem to feel. Dissenters tend to be more vocal than supporters, and I took my chance to break that particular jinx.

Cattleprod said...

Mel, I posted this over on IDW's board, but it seems pretty relevant to your post. Just let me preface this with the suggestion that your perception might be do to the fact that people generally *don't complain* if they're happy with a product.



I like Simon Furman. I like E.J. Su. I like Nick Roche, Guido Guidi, Chris Mowry, Alex Milne, Marcelo Matere, Marty Isenberg, Emiliano Santalucia, Dario Brizuela, Casey Coller, Robby Musso, Andrew Griffith, Dan Khanna, Andrew Wildman, Boo, and Klaus Scherwinski.

I like good writing. I like consistent characterization. I like stories that build logically on what's come before. I like characters capable of expressing emotions. I like concurrently running stories that compliment rather than contradict each other. I like it when a continuity I've grown invested in is treated with respect. If liking all these things makes me a 'hater', then so be it.

I've been following this series for over 4 years, I wouldn't still be here if I didn't enjoy some aspect of it. I know they're capable of producing better material. I WANT them to produce better material. Burying your head in the sand and dismissing the readership as 'unpleasable' when they don't like material as genuinely substandard as Continuum doesn't help anyone.

Jeysie said...

"Please nothing. It's not an unfair assessment to call many of the people who choose to post their thoughts about IDW's Transformers an unpleasable fanbase, since they simply never seem to be pleased."

You mean the unpleaseable fanbase currently loving the heck out of Last Stand of the Wreckers, and promoting the mini in their sigs, webpages, and on the Wiki? The unpleaseable fanbase that loved the Allspark Almanac and Animated in general? The unpleaseable fanbase that's been lauding the recent TFCC fiction?

Yes, we're so unpleaseable that we tend to band together in near-unanimous praise for every bit of really awesome TF storytelling we get.

I'm with Detour: It's a inaccurate cop-out to dismiss legitimate criticism as us being "unpleaseable".

E.J.Su said...

and there I thought there were 40 comments welcoming me back. ;)

Jeysie said...

*chuckles and pats*

Well, I have to say your art alone will likely get me to pick this up anyway, EJ. I miss having you on the art regularly, though I've no doubt you're busy with your wee ones.

Detour said...

I love your art, EJ....

But good art is useless in comics unless it has a good story to go with it.

Mel said...

cop-out also copout ( ) n. Slang A failure to fulfill a commitment or responsibility or to face a difficulty squarely.

I am not 'copping out'. It's you people who are using the term cop-out that are doing it. I just don't agree with your opinion(s), and many of the criticms leveled against IDW are personal preference in terms of story points (in examples like Prowl in the ongoing). I don't have as big a problem with the issues leveled against AHM, as it is clear the writer did things in story that reflected his personal preference and not necessarily what the characters would do in a given circumstance, but hey...it was his story. I didn't like certain aspects of AHM, and I stated my grievances, but that pretty much was the end of it. Droning on and on about it and just not moving on and letting the new material speak for itself simply never occured to me...but maybe I just don't expect 'perfection'. It's not a cop-out to treat the company that puts out the material charitably if I actually enjoy the material for what it is. I guess everybody isn't capable of that.

To the poster who pulled out LSTOW, do you really want to use that as your example of clemency on being accused of being an 'unpleasable fanbase'? Really?

Is anyone here blind enough to think that whatever Nick Roche (and Mr. James Roberts) came up with wouldn't be instantly championed by the TF community after SL: Kup and AHM 15? It is well deserved, but it's certainly no suprise it would hit all the fanboy buttons. It's written specificially for old-school diehards like us. Detour even says he or she is 'totally gay for anything Nick Roche can write (Last Stand of the Wreckers is easily my favorite IDW G1 piece yet).'


I like how you are totally willing to make me out as the enemy (by telling me i'm copping out rather than just disagreeing with me) because I actually LIKE what IDW is doing and decided to speak up about it. To me, you all are just stuck on your mostly negative opinions because you WANT to be, historically. You say 'we want great TF stories, and would love them if they were great, but these aren't it'. So what is, then? Because I've been reading these stories since I was a little kid, and these are by far the overall best TF stories ever produced, in any medium. It is not and will never be 'great literature'. The subject matter simply doesn't support it. However, within that 'limitation', some thoroughly enjoyable stories have been told since IDW took up the license, but the complaining has been here all the time.

On the other hand, I complete agree with Detour when he says 'But good art is useless in comics unless it has a good story to go with it.'

Truer words, man, truer words.