We are pleased to bring you our first (of hopefully many more) interview from the world of Transformers. Today we talk with Livio Ramondelli about his current run on Transformers: Monstrosity, the process behind it, and more! Big thanks to Livio for the interview!
ServoSlag: Before a series like this kicks off, do you get to sit down with the writers and discuss story plots/directions and have input on the book story-wise?
Livio Ramondelli: With Autocracy, Flint and Chris had the story mapped out pretty tightly before I came on board. I added little action beats here and there, but nothing major in terms of story. With Monstrosity, we knew we wanted to continue our story but there was a much looser idea where to go from the end of Autocracy. We sat down and planned it out together. It was really fun to kick ideas around. We initially started with rough beats.. Megatron on a dark quest.. Optimus Prime dealing with a dangerous political arena..Sharkticons..Trypticon..Quintessons..and the story emerged from there.
Later once the series was actually being drawn, we continued to adjust the story toward the end.. altering which characters did what, etc. Chris and Flint have been beyond generous and collaborative in letting me suggest ideas in both of the series. But with Monstrosity, it really felt like I got to add a lot of story elements and that makes the series something I'm really proud of.
ServoSlag: How does the Shockwave Spotlight issue work in this same universe? It looked like the Dinobots got their "dino" alt modes (somewhat) in that series, but it looks like something similar might be happening with them in this book.
Livio Ramondelli: We did our best not to contradict Spotlight: Shockwave. The Dinobots do get Dinosaur Alt-Modes in that issue.. whereas in Monstrosity they are more ''infected'' with something that causes them to manifest beastly forms. In my mind, it's different. They're in control of their Dino modes in a way that they aren't in Monstrosity. It basically came down to us wanting to have the Dinobots in our story and wanting them to resemble in some way classic Dinobots. We didn't want them to turn into tanks or cars. But we hope our story doesn't feel like it contradicts them getting Dinosaur alt-modes millions of years later.
ServoSlag: The last time we saw a Quintesson was at the end of Spotlight Wheelie. How does Pentius play into that thread or is that a story for another time?
Livio Ramondelli: It's been a long time coming to seeing a true Quintesson in IDW. Pentius isn't necessarily tied to the tease we got in Spotlight: Wheelie. We give a few more clues about the Quintesson race from what Pentius says and does, but we definitely wanted to leave a lot more open to explore. The scene when Megatron returns after being dragged beneath an acidic sea by Sharkticons, for example, hints at a major thing the Quintessons are capable of.
ServoSlag: Do you sit down with Flint and Chris and read through back issues or does IDW have a "Transformers Bible" easily accessible to you guys for creative purposes?
Livio Ramondelli: We tend to do our reading separately, but we shoot each other links to things online all the time. We try to meet up for dinner when we can to chat in person. We also see each other on panels so that gives us some time here and there. As for a "Transformers Bible", that would be called John Barber.. who is there to answer our questions whenever we have them. John is an invaluable 4th member of Monstrosity and Autocracy.
ServoSlag: When designing characters for the book, do you get free reign, or does Hasbro have to give their approval before it goes any further?
Livio Ramondelli: We're given a very comfortable reign. Hasbro has been a blast to work with, they've never vetoed a design or a story point we wanted to do.. and they don't even suggest routes or characters for us to use. Michael Kelly and Co. have been just great to us.
ServoSlag: Obviously a third mini series is probably a given at this point. Autocracy was focused on Prime and Monstrosity focuses on Megatron, what can we expect from a third series?
Livio Ramondelli: Without saying too much, I think it's safe to say Chris, Flint and I would love to do a third one to round out the trilogy. Given the time period following where Monstrosity leaves off, it's reasonable to assume that the third series would be a full on war story showing two battle-hardened commanders going head to head.
ServoSlag: What can we expect from the rest of the series?
Livio Ramondelli: It's hopefully not spoiling much from the reveal in issue 6, but Trypticon will arrive in an especially epic and violent fashion. Megatron will return to reclaim his throne and confront Skorponok. The population of Cybertron will be tested in a variety of ways, and Optimus Prime will be brought to his knees by the challenges of governing.
ServoSlag: What are the pros and cons of working on a digital series like this?
Livio Ramondelli: The pros are the immediate access of it..how quickly people can buy it (and therefore much easier for new readers to try it). It never sells out, and is available 24/7. The downsides really aren't too bad. Especially with the eventual printed editions, people can get this story on their shelf as well as their iPad. And the shorter page counts really focus our storytelling to hopefully make every image count.
ServoSlag: What other Transformers comics can we expect from you in the near future?
Livio Ramondelli: I know for certain I'm doing more Robots in Disguise work coming up.. but that's all I can say at the moment!