Simon Furman Interview

Simon Furman has written numerous Transformer comics, as well as Death's Head, Alpha Flight, She-Hulk, and more from Marvel, as well as many other projects. This month, he returns to the robots in disguise in IDW's Transformers: Infiltration. Westfield's Roger Ash recently caught up with Simon to learn more.

Westfield: What can you tell us about Transformers: Infiltration? Who are the main characters?

Simon Furman: To start off with, I'm trying to turn the spotlight on characters who don't often take center stage. So, in issue #0, and on into #1 & #2, our main protagonist is Autobot medic Ratchet, and on the Decepticon side with have the Battlechargers, Runabout and Runamuck, and Thundercracker. There's no Megatron (until issue #4) and no Optimus Prime (until, really, the big summer 06 'event' storyline). My thinking was this& that Prime and Megatron wouldn't necessarily be there, on the ground. Their presence would only become necessary as things fell apart, or the true scale of Earth's worth became apparent. So, to start off with, we're focusing on the troops, the grunts, and, of course, the humans. I'm taking pains with Infiltration to make sure the human characters are well drawn, properly fleshed out individuals, that you can believe in (and thereby believe their reactions to the incredible stuff they have to deal with). In many ways, they (being teenage runaway Verity Carlo, conspiracy theorist Hunter O'Nion and mechanical savant Jimmy Pink) drive the first couple of issues, the Transformers only gradually filtering in as events escalate. And that's really the key to Infiltration. The Transformers are here, on Earth, but they're dug in, maintaining an entirely covert presence. Once things start to unravel, we start to see more and more of the 'robots in disguise.' I'm determined not to force the pace here.

Westfield: Transformers have been toys, in cartoons, and in comics. Will this book be new reader friendly or will you need to know what has gone before?

Furman: I'm definitely trying to craft something fresh, something that you can come to never having read a Transformers comic, owned a Transformers toy or watched a TV episode. It's also a contemporary take on Transformers. It's set very much in the here and now, with upgraded/dated alt. modes for the Transformers and modern attitudes/frames of reference for the humans. The problem with Transformers, in my opinion, was it was kind of stuck in the 80s, and so was just regarded as nostalgia thing. It's my (and IDW's) aim to make it vital and communicable to today's general reader (including a wider spectrum of older comic fans). The trick is, not alienating the fanbase either. It's a constant balancing act, but so far (I think) so good.

Westfield: What can people look forward to in upcoming issues?

Furman: Revelations - lots of 'em. Like& why the Decepticons are on Earth in the first place. Why they seem to have broken off all contact with the Decepticon High Command. We start to see that as far as the Decepticon playbook (for general infiltration/destabilization/domination) goes, it's pretty much been thrown out the window (by Starscream, of course!) in favor of an entirely more self-serving agenda. And then there's the Autobot response (or lack thereof) to this. Prowl needs some serious convincing (before he calls in the big guns), and Ratchet starts to go to increasing lengths to do just that, in the process putting Verity, Hunter and Jimmy right back in the firing line. What else? Well& there's the Machination, a decidedly shady group of Industrialists and arms dealers, who have their own unique interest in the Transformers, and the foreshadowing of an epic summer 'event' storyline that takes us back to Cybertron! Phew!

Westfield: You're bringing back Death's Head for Marvel. Is there anything you'd like to say about that?

Furman: Only that it's a real dream come true. If I have a true comics offspring, it's Death's Head, and I've been wanting to do something new with the character for years. Okay, it's a new DH (3.0!), but I firmly expect some old character traits to surface, yes? It's also my first Marvel work for a decade or more. It feels a little like coming home. What else can I tell you? A.I.M. plays a big part, as does Captain Universe, and, well, lots of people die. But that's a given, right?

Westfield: Are there any other projects you're working on you'd like to mention?

Furman: My workload at the moment is an eclectic mix of comics, TV animation and editorial work. On the TV side, I've just finished an episode of A.T.O.M and I'm developing a new concept for Disney. Comics-wise, in the more junior category, I'm doing strips for Wallace & Gromit and Power Rangers, and then there's a whole heap of Transformers (G1, Beast Wars, G1 'event) for IDW and Death's Head for Marvel. In addition to that, I'm consultant on a new TF UK project (can't say what yet) and editor on Comics Creators on X-Men for Titan Books. My own company, Wildfur (which is myself and Andrew Wildman& check out www.wildfur.net) is still up and running and out there somewhere, maybe, is Necrowar, for the new owners of Dreamwave. Phew!

Westfield: Any closing comments?

Furman: I need a holiday! Oh, and a big thank you to all the readers and retailers who helped TF Infiltration #0 hit the 100,000 pre-order mark. Yay!