Posts Tagged ‘80s toy crossover’

Recently I interviewed author Erik Burnham, who wrote the Transformers Ghostbusters comic book crossover, which I’ve previously reviewed here.

How did the crossover originate? I know there was a special toy made recently of the Ecto-1 that was a Transformer. Did it start with that?/Who proposed the crossover? 

It was pretty much that simple. Both Ghostbusters and Transformers celebrated their 35th anniversary in 2019, so a couple years before that, they decided to do the toy. Since IDW had both comic licenses, it felt like a fun thing to do. My Ghostbusters editor asked me to come up with a story, I saw the  design of the toy (even before he had a name!) And we built it out from there.  

The main character Eco-tron was a very interesting new Autobot. How did you come to develop him as a character?

He was trickier, since unlike every other character in the book he’s brand new and didn’t already have a voice in peoples’ heads. I had an idea of the type of character he would be and started to write him that way; kind of particular and nerdy. Dan Schoening said his dialog sounded to him like David Hyde Pierce, and when Dan said that, it came together for me. The voice started to have more of a particular rhythm, and that voice in my head informed the character and how he’d interact. 

Without spoiling anything, the opening scene of the crossover makes a pretty major and immediate shift in the status quo of Transformers. How did that idea come about? Was their resistance from Hasbro on this, or anything else in the story? 

There was no resistance. There are two ways to do these kinds of crossovers of characters from “different worlds.” I’ll use Marvel and DC as an example. In Green Lantern/Silver Surfer, the characters came from two different universes. The was a story element that allowed one character to bridge over to the other. In Spider-Man/Batman, meanwhile, for the purposes of the story, they had ALWAYS existed in the same world and knew of each other. Spider-Man made a joke about Superman, and so on. Either one would have worked, and given past Ghostbusters crossovers, people were expecting it to be a multidimensional story. I decided to turn that on its head by putting (a version) of the Transformers we know and love into the Ghostbusters’ universe and running from there. 

Speaking of status quo, there seemed to be an adjustment to the timeline of the Transformers franchise. Was there any special reason for this? 

Partly that was me misremembering — we did catch it! — but then decided, since we were changing the history of Cybertron a bit, we might as well change a few more things. 

The art style for the Transformers was straight from the G1 cartoons. The Ghostbusters characters however, were drawn in the style for the more recent comics. Is there any reason you are aware of that the art style from the 80’s cartoon could not be used? 

The Real Ghostbusters (the 1980s cartoon) is a distinct and different entity. The comic book designs (because of likeness rights of the actors) are the “movie” versions. The ones folks saw in 1984, and whose anniversary it is, just filtered through Dan’s comic book design. (He can draw the likenesses of the actors perfectly, but that adds more time to the schedule if, say, someone didn’t like how their eye looked in one panel. It would have to be redrawn until approved, and that easts up time.) 

RGB showed up in 1986 or so. They’re similar but slightly different in characterization (as made sense for an animated adaptation.) So that’s why Blonde Egon and his colorful crew weren’t there. 

One of the villains was a pretty deep cut into Transformers lore. How did that particular character come to be included?

Actually, Hasbro suggested we might throw him in, for fun. We made some changes to make him a little more Ghostbustery (while also using the version TF fans were familiar with.) They let me get away with so much, I took the input happily. 

There’s a blink if you miss it Quintessons  easter egg in the story. Care to elaborate on that? 

The short version is: Dan Schoening loves easter eggs. Things that are fun for him to draw and can be discovered over multiple reads. I’ve asked him on occasion to draw things in – so has our ace colorist Luis Antonio Delgado – but about 80% of those background gags are Dan. He basically thought it would be a hoot to throw in. (Sometimes it’s just that simple!) 

The story ends with another new status quo for the Transformers. Were there any talks/were there any plans for a sequel? 

We talked some possible ideas for it, high concept type stuff. There’s a starting point if they decide they want to do it. 

Transformers Ghostbusters: Ghosts of Cybertron is currently available from IDW comics.

These days in the comic book world licenses to many popular franchises are spread out among several independent publishers. In the late 80s it was not the case. Many big toy and other franchises had comics published by Marvel. These include,

Transformers
G.I. Joe
He-man
Star Wars
Inhumanoids
Air Raiders
Chuck Norris and His Karate Commandos
Silverhawks
Thundercats
Visionaries
Defenders of the Earth (A King Features cartoon featuring The Phantom, Flash Gordon, and Mandrake the Magician, who together fought the forces of Ming the Merciless, Flash Gordan’s arch enemy.)

Also in the early 80s they published original stories about Indiana Jones. That series ended in 1986, but they still had the rights in 1989 as they adapted The Last Crusade.

Now I’ll guess that they would not have allowed to crossover with Star Wars. Still had the owners of the other properties allowed, (4 of the above properties were from Habsro) there could have been a huge crossover between all of the above characters and the Marvel Universe. Pretty much all the big 80s franchises are listed above, so it could have been the crossover of the decade. For the record, Transformers did cross with Spiderman, as well as G.I. Joe. So potentially more could have happened.

Finally if DC possibly could have been thrown into the mix, they could have thrown in their own characters. They also published in the late 80s, M.A.S.K. Spiral Zone, C.O.P.S. Centurions, and Doc Savage. The Shadow was also passed back and forth between Marvel and DC at the time. So if all the legal wrangling could have been pulled off, the two companies could have published the biggest crossover ever.