Simon Furman - Part 1 'The Past'
interviewed in: August 2004

Simon Furman began his association with the Transformers when he wrote his first issue of the UK comic, issue 13, in 1985, and he has maintained his connection with the Robots in Disguise ever since. Simon continued to work for Marvel until the end of the Generation 2 series and thereafter maintained his ties by writing the occasional Beast Wars episodes and convention comics. This lasted until the Transformers' recent resurgence, which now sees Simon writing both the War Within and Energon (previously Armada) for Dreamwave. Much of Simon's original Marvel work has now been republished by Titan Books, most recently in the Second GenerationTPB and he has also recently written the epic Transformers: The Ultimate Guide for Dorling Kindersley. Last but by no means least (phew!) Simon also runs Wildfur Productions with Andrew Wildman.


Hi Simon

Thanks again for agreeing to do this interview for us. As this is going to be a two-part interview we thought we would attempt to split things into 'past and present'. If it's ok with you we'll indulge our (not particularly well hidden) inner children and start with the past, i.e. your time at Marvel...

1. First up, how confident were you of utilising or killing off characters in the UK strip when Bob Budiansky was still working on the US comic? For instance, removing Skids to Limbo seemed a bold move, as was including the Autobot Triple Changers and Deluxe Autobots as part of The Wreckers' line up. Did you have any contact with Bob over such things?

To be honest, we took a lot of calculated (or, sometimes, not so calculated) risks with the UK stories, because often we only had the loosest idea of what was coming up in the next batch of US stories. Sometimes we’d get overviews or scripts from the US office, but generally we just saw finished issues (as actual comics) or advance (Xeroxed) b/w pages, if we were lucky… as and when they were circulated. To an extent, I’d try and anticipate where Bob was going, and trust in the law of numbers. As new characters were introduced (in the US series), others were necessarily sidelined, so we tried to pick those out. Sometimes we got it right, other times not. Our contact with Bob himself was almost non-existent in the early days.

2. Several prominent characters in the UK exclusive stories, such as Swoop and the Predacons were unavailable in this country. Was this intentional, coincidence, or were you unaware of the release schedules for the toys and simply worked in characters as you saw fit?

We largely took our cue from what characters were being introduced into the US storyline. If there was a release schedule for the toys in the UK, we rarely saw it. There were odd occasions where Hasbro UK would actually get it together and coordinate a story with a toy release. The Special Teams (in UK #63-65) story was one such instance, and in that case (because we were some way off reprinting the corresponding US issues) we had to work them in somehow (chronologically ahead of time). Same with Headmasters. But in the case of Swoop and the Predacons, I don’t think I was consciously aware (at the time) that we were dealing with toys not generally available in the UK. They were just extant characters, and therefore fair game. The advent of the Wreckers showed a definite change of mindset. There we just went hell for leather for it, regardless. It could have been messy, but it worked out OK. Those were characters Bob had barely, if at all, touched on. They worked a bit like the movie characters after that, where we felt they were pretty much ‘ours,’ to do with as we will.

3. Why do you feel continuity suffered more instead of less, between Marvel UK and US when you took over the US book?

The problem was, we were badly out of synch with the US material reprints by the time I was also writing the US comic. I was trying my hardest to craft semi-crossover stories (like the Deathbringer two-parter with US #65) and then the UK comic would run a batch of old UK reprint material and completely throw it out. I realised I was making matters worse (and more confusing) and not better, and pretty much stopped trying to directly tie the two together. Looking back, as I try my hardest not to do, it’s very hard to tie the Earthforce stories into a specific time frame (in terms of the US continuity), because (if I’m brutally honest) I didn’t try too hard to make it work in the first place. By that point, I was just trying to tell a bunch of fun UK stories that didn’t necessarily impact on the larger (US) storyline. How was I to know 15 or so years later people would be trying to reconcile it all?

4. The Marvel UK editorial originally promised a monthly comic as of issue 333, complete with a new 5 page story each issue written by yourself. Do you know why this never came to be, and what, if anything, had you planned story wise? Would we have seen a continuation of Earthforce for example?

I confess I don’t know. I didn’t even, to the best of my somewhat unreliable memory, remember ever being approached with that possibility. They probably just assumed I’d do it… and they were probably right. Certainly, I’d have liked to do more, as I felt it all tailed off a bit. Those last few UK stories have ‘limited lifespan, why bother?’ written all over them. I’m not proud of that. But, like I say, who’d have thought anyone would even notice?

5. Moving on to Generation 2, what further plans did you originally have for it beyond the 12 issue arc? Would Jhiaxus still have met his end in issue 12?

Oh yeah. Jhiaxus was only ever meant to be a one-arc character. I continually wanted to shift the focus and scale of the saga, and I didn’t want to keep running with non-toy characters to the extent where Hasbro might kick up a fuss. The next story arc would have been something like ‘Alignment’ turned out to be, though whether I’d have wrapped the Liege Maximo story in the next 12-issue chunk is debatable. I definitely wanted to keep upping the scale and scope of the threat. I do remember having Galvatron very much in mind to be the wild card in whatever happened next.

6. Do you think there will ever be an official continuation of the G2 storyline? Do you think one is needed after Alignment?

I feel now, after Alignment, I’ve done with G2. I’ve told that story, brought it to a (to me, at least) satisfactory conclusion. I think the question now, as far as Dreamwave continuity goes, is what exactly is G2? It’s… G1 really, just a bit later on. Given there’s a G1 ongoing book, I assume any G2 characters will appear there in due course. It was fun to use the G2(ish) Turbomasters in War Within 3, which starts to move everything into a cohesive G1 (rather than G1/G2).

7. Looking back on your Marvel work, do you see any missed opportunities, or anything you would have done differently?

No, not really. I’m sure (as the writer I am now) I’d approach certain storytelling aspects differently, but I’m a firm believer in once it’s done, it’s done (even to the extent where after I send a script off, bar a dialogue polish at artwork stage, that’s it… I don’t start running back over it in my mind wondering if I should have done this or that differently). So no, there’s nothing I’d change. I can see now how things might have been done better or to greater effect, but I can happily treat them as an archaeologist treats artefacts recovered from a dig site. Those stories there come from the ’87 era, and show developmental stage ‘B’ of writer Simon Furman. They’re frozen now in time. There’s a few old stories I’d rather never saw the light of day in trade paperback collections (some of my very earliest work for TF UK), but even these are just me learning to stand upright. As for missed opportunities, I’ve written so much Transformers stuff, I’m pretty sure I covered all or most of the bases somewhere along the line. And anything I didn’t do then, thanks to Dreamwave and OTFCC and iBooks and Panini UK and so on, I can do now… only differently.

8. You brought Andrew Wildman back to Transformers after all these years. Are there any other Marvel UK artists you think its possible to work with again?

Well, I’ve already worked again with Lee Sullivan (on the Wildfur produced Transformers mini-comic for the Atari game release), and it’s not so terribly long ago that I last worked with Geoff (Senior), on the Botcon 2000 comic. Plus, Geoff’s done covers for the Titan reprints, as has Lee and a bunch of other, former Transformers, artists (Barry Kitson, Bryan Hitch). I’m in touch with most of the artists from back then, so anything’s possible.

9. And now, if we may be so bold, the fanboy questions. Firstly - why didn't the Autobots just set Omega Supreme on Galvatron in Target 2006?

Er… pass. He was off on a special mission… somewhere… doing something else… honest.

10. How come Galvatron had memories in Time Wars, even though that Megatron was just a clone?

Hang on… Galvatron is created from Megatron in the future, by which point he’s no longer a clone. Right? I’m confused now. Don’t ask me questions like this!

11. And last but by no means least, whatever happened to present day Ultra Magnus after Deadly Games?

He settled down on Cybertron and raised two Scraplets and a Mechannibal.

Don't forget to check out part 2 of our interview with Simon here!

Next Generation TPB from
Titan Books.

Simon's first issue for
Marvel, UK #13

...and his last G2 #12.

Titan Books: You can see a full list of Titan's Transformers TPB's here. Andrew Wildman and Simon Furman's production company. The site includes updates on their current activities as well as information on services and properties.
The Engine: Industrial Strength
: Andrew and Simon's online graphical story telling project. Check it out.
: check out DW's site here.
: Dorling Kindersley's website, with specific infromation about the top notch Transformers: The Ultimate Guide here.