interviewed in: March 2005
||Don Figueroa originally came to the
attention of Transformers fans with his awesome online comic
Macromasters. Unsurprisingly Don was recruited by Dreamwave
when they got the Transformers licence and, after drawing several
posters, had his first official Transformers work published
War Within, where he got the opportunity to show us how
the Transformers looked before they left Cybertron. Don arguably
went on to become Dreamwave's most popular TF artist and was
working on both the Generation One and the (unpublished) Beast
Wars title when Dreamwave folded. Don now works for Devil's
1. Polls frequently
list you as the most popular of the current Transformers artists...
by a wide margin at that… but which other artists, both on
Transformers and other titles, do you rate?
I don't know if I'm the "most" popular, but I do appreciate
the accolades of my fellow Transfans. As for the other TF artists
out there, I'm a big fan of James Raiz, Joe Ng, and Alex Milne.
I just like different styles when it comes to TFs. Outside of TFs,
I'm also a big fan of Jim Lee, Whilce Portacio, Alex Ross, Joe Quesada
and Frank Miller among others.
2. How would you compare recent
art styles on Transformers to the work done during the Marvel run?
I don't think there were any comics about 'Giant Robots' here in
the US then, though I could be wrong. So most artists then were
more used to drawing humans and probably influenced a lot by "Metallic"
characters like Iron Man, Sentinels or other 'Humans in armour'
as it was translated a lot in their TF drawings.
Today's Transformers artists (like myself) have more references
on how robots and mechs are drawn today and how they would work.
We also understand that, besides androids, robots and mechs really
dont have to be the same proportions as a human, especially when
the robots have car parts as part of their anatomy.
3. What are the top five pieces
you are most proud of from your time at Dreamwave?
The 20th Anniversary Litho: It's my biggest piece yet, though I
never did get to put everybody in there. If I had more time, I would
have included the G2 'bots there, Unicron and other cartoon/comic
characters like Primus, Scrounge, Deceptitran... etc.
The 'War Within' designs: I'm just glad that most of the fans liked
it , I was worried it would be deemed as sacrilege when I drastically
changed their looks.
Armada Unicron Box-art: I'm very surprised that it was deemed worthy
enough to be blown up to a 3 stories high image and be the centrepiece
in the Time's Square Toys R Us revolving billboard. Especially when
the Black-outs occurred, it got stuck there for hours.
Beast Wars: It was probably my best work there yet, but unfortunately...
Armada Starscream Box-art: My first Professional TF work for Dreamwave
4. Are there any particular
characters you love or hate to draw? What would you say is the easiest
TF to draw? The most difficult?
After the 'Sunstorm Saga' I got kinda tired of drawing Seekers
for a while. The easiest to draw is Megatron, a simple, clean, yet
5. Much was made of the "house
style" when it came to Dreamwave's art. How much stylistic
freedom did you have? Was it an issue when you decided not to draw
Optimus Prime with the giant robot-boobs that Pat Lee envisioned?
Actually, there was this one time when Rob Ruffulo became Art director
for Dreamwave, he insisted I draw Prime and Starscream (and probably
all of them) more like how Pat draws them. He even sent his sketches
but I declined. As much as I like Pat's work, I'd rather develop
my own style.
6. With work on G1, War Within,
Armada and Beast Wars, you've been the most adaptable of recent
artists. How does working on the differing continuities compare?
G1 and War Within are probably the easiest for me, G1 only because
I get to work with 'bots who are easily recognisable and I took
some liberties when drawing them, and the War Within because I can
go nuts with it, since there's no existing references available.
Armada and Beast Wars were a bit more challenging because I tend
to use the toys as reference and those toys are very highly detailed.
Miss anything and it'll look ridiculous.
7. How did the different writers
compare to work with?
Simon's very meticulous with his scripts, he's got very precise
descriptions of what happens in every panel, even on the basic shapes
of things from buildings to the way a finger is bent. His dialogue
is very deep as well, almost speech-like.
James and Adam are very precise as well and are very heavy with
the panels. Usually having a minimum of 6 per page - that's a lot
of work but they give me more freedom when it comes to certain scenes,
like fights and such. They will even direct me to certain movies
that I can refer to, to make things easier.
All three have been great teachers for me when it comes to storytelling
and it's been an honour to have worked with them.
8. Did the folding of Dreamwave
come as a shock, or was it something you saw coming? How was the
news broken to you? How did you take the eventual news?
I kinda sensed something was wrong when they started getting really
behind with the checks, but I love what I do, and I've been doing
comics for free way before Dreamwave so I didn't really mind, and
a check would sometimes show up once in a while so it never really
bothered me much.
I was also assured everything was cool when I saw Pat in Oklahoma
a month prior to the closing. We even talked about really exciting
stuff planned for the next year and beyond, I guess this is one
of those "too good to be true" moments because less than
a month later, poof! everything's gone... and I had to hear the
bad news from Espen. Nobody bothered to tell me to stop working,
if I had known, I probably wouldn't have sent in the Beast Wars
pages, and now some of them are gone, probably looted from the office.
9. Some fans found the nature
of Dreamwave's press releases to be somewhat self-aggrandising.
Were you restricted at all in terms of what you could and couldn't
say in interviews when working for Dreamwave?
The interviews I did when I worked for Dreamwave were sent to them
first and its probably edited before it was sent to me, so in a
way, yeah! There was some restriction to my interviews and of course
I couldn't talk about storylines or whatever, but that's a given.
10. Looking back, from your
standpoint, what do you feel Dreamwave did well, and what could
they have handled better?
TF wise, I think they did a pretty good job. I can't really comment
on how the non TF titles did or handled.
11. What terms are you on with
the Lee brothers at the moment?
12. Would you work with them
13. It’s no secret that
Andrew Wildman’s pencils were altered for War Within: The
Dark Ages. Some have gone so far as to call it “butchery.”
Did anything you drew wind up altered to a similar extent?
I always tend to draw my humans in a more western style, so when
I did that Armada Free comic book, they told me that my humans needed
to be more "anime" so they altered the faces to conform
with the house style.
14. How did the Devil's Due
job come about?
I've done a couple of Voltron Covers for DDP before, so when Dreamwave
committed seppuku, I contacted Josh [Blaylock] and mentioned my
free agent status. I said that if he ever needs me, just flash a
'D' in the sky and I'm there :)
15. How do the two jobs compare
and can you tell us about any of the work you've got lined up there?
I enjoyed working for Dreamwave for the most part - I love drawing
comics and they gave me a chance at it. DDP is, as of the moment,
still trying to secure the TF licence but they are keeping me fairly
busy with other stuff, character designs, poster art, some TF stuff
for Hasbro... etc.
16. Obviously you found a niche
drawing Transformers. Do you expect any difficulty adapting to non-Transformers
Nah, not really. As long as I have some good reference I can adapt
17. This has been floating around
the net for over a year now and you have a chance to put this rumour
to bed: Did you help with the design for Masterpiece Convoy/20th
Anniversary Optimus Prime? If so, in what capacity?
I helped a bit. The head was based on my drawings as well as the
details all over his body. The engineering's all Hasbro/Takara though.
18. Word Association:
Movie Galvatron: Badass.
Post Movie Galvatron: Screams too much.
A great mind. One of the nicest people I had the pleasure of meeting.
Very good role-model, could have used some killer-instinct though.
Probably the richest guy I know.
Took the easy way out.
Never met him.
Probably the work I'm gonna be best known for.
Thanks again. Not just for agreeing to this interview,
but also for all of the hard work you’ve done for the TF community.
Everyone here at TransFans.co.uk wishes you the best at your new career
at Devil’s Due.
Thanks a bunch, it's been fun.