The GeeksverseBattle Beasts And Bobby Curnow

Battle Beasts And Bobby Curnow
Published on Wednesday, September 19, 2012 by

The Battle Beasts are back and IDW is presenting their adventures. The man chronicling those adventure is Bobby Curnow.

The ‘Verse: Comics and toys have long been associated with each other. Usually it’s been a comic adaption of a particular toy line. With Battle Beasts it seems that the two are working together, reflecting the same story. How did this come about and how did it end up at IDW? How did you come to be working on the book?

Bobby Curnow: I believe it was Diamond Select Toy’s intention to have an integrated launch. An “attack on all front” approach, to put attention on the line. Diamond contacted IDW to see if we were interested in doing the comics (presumably, because we handle licensed comics pretty well). I work as an editor at IDW, and when I heard about the property I jumped at the chance to work on it, scooping it up very selfishly for myself. I was a fan of the toys as a child, and thought they had a lot of storytelling potential. From there, I submitted a proposal to Diamond and worked with the team there on developing it.

Licensed properties usually have a lot of hands in the pie. Sometimes the property owners are pretty strict and tight with the control and sometimes they back off. How’s it been working with Diamond? How closely do you work with them to develop the story?

It’s been very good working with Diamond. I’d say they were more hands on in the early stages. My original pitch took place completely off world, but they wanted to bring the action to Earth, which I think is smart— makes things more immediate and relatable. So we worked together closely to develop the basic framework. From there they’ve given minimal script notes. I’ve agreed with almost all of it… Diamond Select Toys has smart folks over there, and they’ve noted some things that did indeed fall a little flat, or felt a bit inorganic. It’s been great to get their input.

The first Battle Beasts mini-series will be over before the toys are on the shelves. Is there a second one coming, timed to coincide with the release of the mini-mates?

Unfortunately at this time it looks like we’ll be wrapping up with issue #4. It’s my hope that the good word-of-mouth will continue to spread, and we’ll find a lot of converts with the collected TPB and get a shot with another mini-series. I don’t think that’s an unusual approach to a property like this. So I’m hopeful and optimistic we’ll be able to continue, though there are no concrete plans as of now. When you read the ending of #4, it closes this first story, but hopefully makes it very obvious that there’s a lot more story still to be told.

The stars of the series are talking animals. Is it any different writing a book starring the Beasts then it is one starring human characters?

No, not really. The Beasts come from a different culture, but they have pretty understandable goals and personalities. I look at their backstory, personality, current situation, and let that determine how they would act, same as a human character. Besides, I edit books like TMNT, Godzilla and My Little Pony, so I’m pretty well-versed in non-human characters!

There are so many Beasts in the series, more then the first release of the toys, are the designs something that came from You and Valerio or did Diamond give you a bunch of ones to pick from?

It’s mostly Valerio and I. DST were great and didn’t have a list of animals we had to hit or anything like that. They showed some initial basic toy designs, and we incorporated some of them into the story. For the most part though, I wrote the Beasts I wanted to see, and Valerio had full reign over designing them. Which he did wonderfully, I might add!

How much of the first wave of Battle Beast minimates were based on yours and Valerio’s designs? Did Diamond change any plans on their end to match your proposal?

I’m pretty sure that all of the first wave come from characters we came up with, except the dragonfly Zik (whom I wrote a cameo for in the first panel of BB #3, I believe). There was some back and forth as to the design of the main characters. I can’t speak as to what Diamond’s plans were for the roll out. They turned out great though! Even my wife wants a Bliss figure, and she’s far from the target audience for this!

How much did the animal forms shape the personalities?

The personalities came first, and from there, I thought of animals that seemed to fit that general personality. Thus you have the noble, stubborn ram, the quick, calculating falcon, and the lovable powerhouse goof in the walrus.

Was Bliss and her brother your additions to the storyline or did Diamond already have human characters in mind? Are they based on anyone?

The basic idea of a brother and sister was Diamond’s idea, and they were instrumental in Tate’s development. I don’t think they’re based on anyone specifically, but you’d have to dig into my subconscious for the true answer to that question. Bliss evolved pretty naturally as I did character work on her… seeing her develop has been one the most enjoyable aspects of the series to me. As for their character design, I think it’s pretty easy to see Zooey Deschanel in Bliss. Perhaps a little harder to see is the visual influence for Tate. Both Valerio and I are big Breaking Bad fans, so Valerio put a bit of a Jesse Pinkman vibe to him. A younger Jesse, at least!

I have to admit that I was skeptical about the series at first. Licensed comics haven’t always been that good. But I’ve really been liking the series so far. It’s very well crafted and I’m liking the characters. How would you describe the series to someone that is skeptical about it? Why should they pick it up?

Thanks so much for the kind words, and I think that’s a very understandable initial reaction.

My outlook is that at a bare minimum, a comic book should be fun. It should be entertaining. So there’s crazy action in the book, with some fantastic characters. At the same time, if the reader is going to stay with the book, they have to not only be entertained, but they also have to care. Our goal has been to create some interesting, sympathetic characters and put them into some surprising, dangerous situations, and throw some plot curveballs at them.

So that’s all a long way of saying it’s a fun fantasy concept with relatable characters. If you want to see walrus fight a squid with axes and swords… this is perhaps the only place where you can do that!!

Lastly, I don’t know a single person who doesn’t love Valerio’s art. He’s a super-star in the making, and I count my lucky stars I get to work with him. Read Battle Beasts now, so five years from now when EVERYONE loves Valerio you can say you knew him before they did!

Speaking of Valerio, his art and designs for the series are great. Where did IDW find him and what’s he working on next?

I was looking for a fill-in artist for the ‘prologue’ pages of our Infestation 2 event. The main artist of Infestation, David Messina, showed me a couple people who seemed like they might be a good fit… he wanted to work with someone he knew, and I was happy to oblige. I really dug Valerio’s stuff and chose him. He did great, fast, reliable work. He subsequently did a D & D book, and I used him again on the TMNT Donatello Micro-series. He’s fast, reliable, easy to work with, and knocks out anything you give him. An editor’s dream!

It was recently announced that Valerio will be working on “Journey into Mystery” at Marvel, thwarting my plans to keep a monopoly on his talents. Damn you, Marvel!! Seriously though, I know I’ll be working with Valerio again one day, and I look forward to it.

I was hoping to hear about the next Battle Beasts series. Hopefully we’ll be able to get more. Would be nice if it followed the old Marvel’s Transformers model, 4 issue mini-series then 80 issues of ongoing. Any chance of Diamond doing mini-comics in the minimates?

I’d love to do more. In many ways I feel like we’re just finishing setting up the world… there’s plenty left to explore. Right now there’s no concrete plans for more. But I hope people who enjoy the series spread the word and buy the collection. If there’s enough demand, we’ll be back!

Thanks to Bobby for talking with us and if you aren’t already, make sure you pick up Battle Beasts, you’ll be pleasantly surprised by it. Also be on the look out for the minimates from Diamond Select Toys.

One Response
    • I’m hoping IDW follows the original ‘Transformers’ model as well — 4 issue mini-series establishing the world and setting up a back story for the initial wave of toys… and then years of deep, dark, crazy science fiction/fantasy that helps define the line. I love Valerio’s work, and will definitely be looking out for him on more Marvel books.

      I hope this does well enough to continue, because the story possibilities are endless.

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