Transformers Daily News Source for Transformers 5, Titans Return, Robots in Disguise, Combiner Wars, Generations, Third Party, G1, Beast Wars, Reviews, Comics, Games & More Than Meets the Eye!
TFormers Transformers News and Reviews
facebook twitter Pinterest Tumblr Google+ youtube podcast rss
Interview - Transformers: Animated Writer Marty Isenberg
BaCon - Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Hobbes recently had the opportunity to ask a few questions of Marty Isenberg, Story Editor on the new Transformers: Animated show. He gave us some great insight into the creation of the show, settled at least one fan debate, and hinted at a lot more fun to come from this latest incarnation of Autobot/Decepticon conflict.

Hobbes: How did you get started working in animation?

Marty: My first job out of grad school was a temp job as a receptionist for Fox Kids Network, which was just starting up. The Director of Programming found out I was a writer and handed me a stack of scripts to read and told me I should try pitching stories for their shows. I pitched on a couple of their shows with little success and then about a year later Fox picked up Beetlejuice, which I managed to pitch on successfully and ended up writing seven episodes for them.

Hobbes: How does working on Transformers: Animated compare to your time on Beast Machines?

Marty: It’s a much better set-up because I’m actually in the same building with the production, so I work much more directly with our supervising producer Matt Youngberg and our art director Derrick Wyatt. Beast Machines was produced in Vancouver and I’m located in LA, so there was always a bit of a disconnect that happens when you’re not in proximity with the people who are actually making the show. We also do the voice records here in LA, so I get to attend those (my favorite part of the process) and tweak dialogue in the booth if I need to, whereas I only got to go to the first couple of voice records on Beast Machines.

Also, I’m not jumping into an existing continuity on this show like I was on Beast Machines, so I feel like I have much more freedom on characters, tone and story direction.

Hobbes: Transformers: Animated isn’t in continuity with any other part of the franchise?

Marty: No. Brand spankin’ new continuity with plenty of nods to and influences from previous incarnations. The G1 footage at the beginning of the pilot is a big ol’ wink to the fans, nothing more. Also, I’m surprised nobody caught Ratchet’s first line in reaction to the footage.

Hobbes: What are your responsibilities on Transformers: Animated?

Marty: I am the Story Editor/Head Writer, so I’m responsible for everything written on the show. I develop the story arcs for each season, as well as the individual episode springboards. Then I assign writers for each episode, work with them to flesh out their stories and edit them at each stage of the writing. We have three stages for each script: a five-page story premise that covers the basic beats and shape of the episode; a 10-12 page outline that fleshes out the story into its individual acts and scenes; and finally a script. In addition to editing other writers, I usually write a few episodes per season myself.

Hobbes: When you’re developing the show alongside the toyline with Hasbro, how was the decision made of which of the Transformers characters will be regulars (Prime, Bulkhead, Bumblebee) and which will have “guest star” status (Lockdown, Ultra Magnus, The Dinobots)?

Marty: Most of that was nailed down before I came aboard. I mentioned this in another interview, but Bumblebee was originally Hot Shot and Ratchet was originally Red Alert (and female!). Hot Shot got changed to Bumblebee largely because they knew he was going to be a breakout character in the Michael Bay feature, and also because Matt and Derrick really like Bumblebee. Beyond our core Autobot team, we pretty much let the stories dictate who shows up and how often.

Hobbes: What was the status of the series when you were brought on?

Marty: Hasbro and Cartoon Network had already been developing the show when I was brought in to rewrite the series “bible” that they had put together. Most of the cast of Autobots and Decepticons had been decided upon, although there were some changes made along the way.

The great thing about this series is that the story and toyline have been developed simultaneously. More often than not, Hasbro will conform their toyline to our story and character direction, although they will often influence which characters we use. A number of times in the development I would say I need this type of character to fill this role, who do you suggest? That’s pretty much where Sentinel and Ultra Magnus came from. Blitzwing came from my desire to do a crazy Decepticon character who could transform into anything (ala Beetlejuice or The Mask). When that proved impractical from both a toy and an animation design budget perspective, someone suggested using a triple changer instead. Eventually I came up with the idea to give him three different personalities and I think Derrick came up with the shifting faces to match each personality. It also helps that Matt and Derrick are HUGE Transformers fans, so they have definite opinions on which characters we should use.

Hobbes: How much input in the show’s story structure does Hasbro have and how much input into the toys does the production team have?

Marty: Hasbro has input at every stage, but it’s largely a collaborative process as I described above. They have been really open to the story direction we’ve been doing, so we get incredible support from Hasbro.

Hobbes: When working with Hasbro on a show-by-show basis, do they have script approval or input to the designs of settings or show-only characters (such as Sari)?

Marty: Hasbro has approval on everything, but obviously they put more attention into designs of characters that will actually become toys. We pretty much have figured out which new characters will be appearing when we develop the season arc, so Hasbro can decide which will become toys in their next “wave”. Sometimes we want to throw in cameos from classic characters but can’t because of issues having to do with the live action feature or that for whatever reason they’ve lost the rights to the character name.

Hobbes: What motivated the update of Blackarachnia’s character for the show and will we see more updates of characters from the Beast Era?

Marty: Blackarachnia was in the development before I came on board, so I can’t say why anyone pushed for her, other than she’s a great character. Given that, it was up to me to come up with an explanation as to why a character with a Beast Mode existed in this world. As for other Beast Era characters, you’ll just have to watch and see…

Hobbes: Transformers: Animated already has perhaps the largest human supporting cast of any other Transformer series. How did the decision to populate the city of Detroit so thoroughly come about and can we expect any of the humans to play a vital role in the Autobot/Decepticon conflict?

Marty: The Detroit aspect was part of the development before I came on board, but I embraced it whole-heartedly. Early on, the decision was made to play this more like a superhero show than a “robot gang war” show. We also set out to make this a more fun show, and part of that fun was the “strangers in a strange land” aspect of the Autobots trying to fit in with Earth cultures. We gave our characters Earth interests and hobbies (Prowl – nature, Bumblebee – pop culture, Bulkhead – well, you’ll see).

The other thing is most Transformers series put the conflict out in the middle of nowhere, so the scale of the giant robots was completely lost. A populated city provides a constant sense of scale and we try to have fun with that as much as possible.

My contribution was putting our Autobot team much lower on the Cybertronian food chain than previous incarnations. I figured it would be more interesting to see characters who were nobodies on their home planet be treated as heroes on Earth. That, coupled with the decision to bring in the Decepticons one at a time, required our heroes to deal with more “local” threats at first. All of this added up to more human interaction.

The humans will continue to play a vital role in our series, even as the Decepticons become more prominent.

Hobbes: To the best of your knowledge, how many seasons of Transformers: Animated can we expect to see?

Marty: We can EXPECT to see two seasons so far. We can HOPE to see many more, but so far nothing official has been decided. I’m still working on the show, so that should give you some clue.

Transformers: Animated has been delivering a consistent mix of nostalgic fun and new thrills, and it’s good to know that the show has a solid run ahead of it.

Hobbes: TFormers extends its thanks to Mr. Isenberg for taking time out of his busy schedule to speak with us.

last 10 shown - scroll to view more   TFormers Member Comments
2:31 pm

well, i would say based on this weeks episode title... expect to see Black Arachnia... Saturday  
1:19 pm

Actually, I guess I'm the only one to catch the first line... it was funny! but I wonder who the other Beast era character is going to be.... maybe Silverbolt? or Dinobot? Bring on the Decepticons, the human villains are boring! 
Father Time
6:34 am

( . Y . )
5:54 am

Great interview! 
3:21 am

Good interview and now we know why Bumblebee is so cocky. He's really Hotshot. I can't wait for them to introduce Black Arachnia!! 
»  Read ALL Forums Posts & Replies
»  Post a Comment on This Story!  (membership required)

More Animated News
Transformers Animated seems to still hold a significant place in people's hearts, because Chris McFeely has posted to Twitter that "Trial and Error," the TFNation-exclusive fan-produced conclusion to the Animated story, will be seeing a second printing due to overwhelming demand! Excellent news for those of us who couldn't go to England to get a copy. Keep reading for the announcement!
Transformers Animated debuted in the US in late 2007 with the TV show on Cartoon Network. While we're several months from the exact anniversary of Animated, in Japan a new art book has been released, featuring works by various artists celebrating the series that still holds a special place to many fans. Masabon has shared a selection of interior pages from the book on his personal Photobucket account so that all those of us outside of Japan can have a taste of what's inside. Photobucket is less than user-friendly, so we've mirrored the pages in our gallery - keep reading to take a look and for a list of artists! UPDATED: Masabon wanted us to be certain that it was understood that this is an unofficial fan work, created by fans and without participation from Hasbro or TakaraTomy. Thanks to him for the clarification!
It's not unusual for figures to sit at pharmacies like Rite-Aid, where Deluxes were cresting $20 back when they were $12-13. But a find by Ben Yee, of BWTF fame, may well take the cake: he just found Transformers Animated Deluxe Lockdown! So if you're looking for overpriced 8 year-old Deluxes, check out your local drug store. Keep reading to see Ben's tweet and photo!
In a bit of a blast from the past, The Allspark has today released a copy they've obtained of an early iteration of the series bible for Transformers Animated. The document is dated to late March of 2006, almost two years before the series debuted on Cartoon Network. Cntaining a lot of development notes, plus some episode outlines and various stages of character concept art, it's a very interesting read. It's available to download as a PDF, and you can find the link to that below!
As Combaticon Awareness Week winds down, we find ourselves looking at the Combaticons as solo acts. For today we'll look at Swindle's healthy and illustrious solo career - along with a minor cameo from Brawl. We'll have more details on this fantastic deal after the break!

Toy Fair 2018 Transformers News!

Optimus Prime #17
#18 Generations - IDW Comic Book
Optimus Prime Annual 2018
Generations IDW Comic Book
Optimus Prime #16
Generations IDW Comic Book
Optimus Prime Issue 15
Generations IDW Comic Book
Generations Power of The Primes Legends Class Figure

Quad Barrel Shotgun TakaraTomy Campaign Item In Hand Pictures
Quad Barrel Shotgun TakaraTomy Campaign Item In Hand Pictures

Transformers LG-EX Greatshot Legends Mini-Comic Page Images
Transformers LG-EX Greatshot Legends Mini-Comic Page Images

Optimus Primal Beast Wars Maximal Joins Transformers Forged to Fight
Optimus Primal  Beast Wars Maximal Joins Transformers Forged to Fight


Entertainment News International (ENI) is the popular culture network for fans all around the world. Get the scoop on all the popular comics, games, movies, toys, and more every day!
Action Figures
Star Wars
© 2018 Entertainment News International - All images, trademarks, logos, video, brands and images used on this website are registered trademarks of their respective companies and or owners. All Rights Reserved. Data has been shared for news reporting purposes only. All content sourced by fans, online websites, and or other fan community sources. Entertainment News International is not responsible for reporting errors, inaccuracies, omissions, and or other liablities related to news shared here. We do our best to keep tabs on infringements. If some of your content was shared by accident. To have it removed right away, please [ Contact Us ].