To say that Tom Scioli and John Barber's Transformers vs. GI Joe is an unusual comic is underselling things quite a bit. On paper, it's a natural fit, an ongoing series that follows in the footsteps of earlier books that have combined the two toy lines into one massive interplanetary battle. In practice, though, it's something a lot bigger, a comic that almost assaults the reader by cramming in as much big, wild stuff as it possibly can --- a toy comic so weird, and so great, that it almost feels like it shouldn't exist.
With the book's second storyline well under way, throwing in everything from vikings to old gods to Dinobots (and with a new printing of the amazing American Barbarian on the way this summer), I talked to cowriter, artist and occasional ComicsAlliance guest contributor Tom Scioli about the series. Today, in the first part of the interview, he talks about the exhausting process of fitting it all into 20 pages, and reveals the adaptation he wrote for a Transformers vs. GI Joe movie that does not actually exist.
If you were just going by what was on the covers when you grabbed your Free Comic Book Day titles on Saturday, you might have missed one of the best comics on the stands. I almost did --- as much as I've been enjoying IDW's Transformers comics now that I'm finally reading them, I haven't had much of a chance to watch the new cartoon, and as a result, I skipped over the FCBD tie-in comic when I picked mine up.
It wasn't until I flipped through it later that I realized there was a short story from Tom Scioli and John Barber in there, tying into their GI Joe vs. Transformers ongoing series. And it's amazing.
If you haven't been reading Tom Scioli and John Barber's Transformers vs. G.I. Joe series from IDW, you may be somewhat confused by the images you're about to see. The series is a beautiful, weird thing of beauty that does virtually nothing that a longtime comics reader might expect from a licensed comic book featuring two of the biggest franchises in movies, cartoons and comics.
Instead of focusing on years and years of continuity, Scioli and Barber take these toys out of the toybox and play with them as if that's what they are, filtered through a lens of Jack Kirby, Jim Steranko and lots of other Silver Age artists. It opens up incredible avenues for storytelling. That's what makes it great.
There are a lot of amazing things about Tom Scioli and John Barber's Transformers vs. G.I. Joe, and one of the most amazing is that it somehow keeps getting weirder. I mean, it's been a pretty wild ride since day one, to the point where the fact that it even exists continues to be surprising, but next week, it looks like the bizarreness of a book that's already brought us the Serpentress is going to hit critical mass in an issue that opens with Snake Eyes and Duke -- who is wearing a t-shirt that says DUKE -- battling it out against Robothulhu.
Yes: The Joes are fighting a multi-faced tentacle monster floating in hot pink space, and it is amazing. Check out a preview below!
If you asked me to pick my favorite comics of the year, there's not even a question about it: Transformers vs. G.I. Joe would be at the top of the list. Even aside from my well-known love of America's daring, highly-trained special missions force, writer/artist Tom Scioli and co-writer John Barber have been doing something amazing with this book, creating an ongoing series combining two toy franchises that has the kind of raw, unstoppable energy that you almost never see from corporate comics.
Now, with the first volume of the series hitting shelves this week, I spoke to Scioli and Barber about how they created one of the most transgressive comics of the year, why they think of the Jose as "nasty, destructive creatures," and just how much more they want to push the book until it's as strange as they want it to be.
If there's one thing we've learned from our years on the Internet, it's that there's no aspect of comics that can't be broken down and quantified in a single definitive list, preferably in amounts of five or ten. And since there's no more definitive authority than ComicsAlliance, we're taking it upon ourselves to compile lists of everything you could ever want to know about comics.
This week, we're heading away from the Big Two for a look at some of the scariest bad guys from the world of indie comics. The catch? We're also staying away from horror comics, just to make things a little more interesting!
If there's a Hall of Fame for comic book titles, then Giant-Size Kung Fu Bible Stories deserves its own wing. You put those words in that order on the cover of a comic book, and I'm going to buy it, no questions asked, and I'm pretty sure I'm not exactly alone in that way of thinking. To be honest, though, I will admit to being just a little bit disappointed that it's not an accurate description of the contents. I mean, is there anyone who wouldn't want to read a treasury-sized extravaganza about Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego busting out forbidden martial arts techniques in order to fight their way out of the oven? I would.
That said, what we actually have -- an extra-sized $20 tome edited by Bruce Timm and Erik Larsen -- is still pretty amazing; an anthology of stories from fantastic creators that accomplishes that rare feat of being an anthology book where every single story is highly entertaining, even if they're not about Esau mastering poison styles to take his ultimate revenge on Jacob.
With the possible exception of those Sailor Moon toys that I dropped two hundred bucks on, Transforrmers vs. G.I. Joe #1 was the most exciting purchase I made last weekend at San Diego's Comic-Con International. It was pretty much guaranteed to be that way, too -- the #0 issue that came out on Free Comic Book Day and set up the ongoing story that Tom Scioli and John Barber would be telling was easily one of my favorite comics of the year so far. It was bright and engaging and weird, in exactly the way that a comic based on taking two toy properties and smashing them together to make one big story should be.
As far as weirdness goes, though, this first issue outstrips it by a long shot, and it does it by taking the high concept that I think we all expected from another Transformers vs. G.I. Joe story and turning it upside down, launching it into an entirely new echelon of strangeness. And it is great.
I love my job. I make Transformers vs. G.I.Joe comics on a monthly basis (with the help of my co-writer John Barber). As part of due diligence, it's my duty to see Transformers: Age of Extinction. My ticket is a business expense. I'm making my comic not just for fans of Transformers and G.I.Joe, but for the rest of planet Earth, too. As a Transformers author I need to know how the larger world percieves Transformers so that I can play up to certain expectations and run counter to preconceived notions. In that capacity, I documented my observations about the film.
Summer is in full swing, which means that convention season is upon us once again, and with it, the opportunity to get art from some of your favorite comic book creators. As much as I like digging through back issue bins and hanging out with pals from across the country, filling up my sketchbook is one of the most fun parts of going to conventions. So much, in fact, that I actually had two in circulation this year.
One was continuing my theme of tokusatsu characters like the Power Rangers and Kamen Rider, while the other was just a general collection of favorite characters. Which, as you might expect, ended up with two drawings of Destro. Check out the new pieces below, featuring art from Tom Fowler, Kevin Mellon, Tom Scioli, Jordan Gibson and more!
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