Interview: More Than Meets The Eye's Adam Patyk

There is hardly a Transformers fan today that has not been keeping up with the new comics from Dreamwave in one form or another. Just a little more than a year ago, they exploded on the scene with license in hand, giving the entire Transformers fan base a shot of adrenaline that shows no sign of letting up soon. One of the newest and more unique offerings from Dreamwave has been their More Than Meets The Eye Transformers profiles books. The series of eight comic style books are focused on giving each and every character in the Generation 1 universe a bio and spec, explaining the unique aspects of their personality. We had the pleasure of interviewing Adam Paytk, the writer behind the series, on what makes him and all these wonderful characters tick.

TFormers: Tell us something about your background and how you got here?

Adam: Born and raised in the Detroit area, and worked in various forms of journalism for many years. I got my first degree in business and marketing and went on to work as a marketing manager. After a while, I wanted to do something more creative, so I went back for another degree, which eventually led me to New York, publishing and comics.

TFormers: How long have you been into Transformers?

Adam: Down since day one! I still remember freaking out when I saw the first animated commercials.

TFormers: What's you favorite aspect of the series?

Adam: Transformers has amazing scope. Its such an incredible playground of different genres: its a war story, a cosmic tale, and a character-driven drama all in one, with elements of horror, mystery, and everything in-between.

TFormers: What is it about Transformers that sets them apart from other toy lines?

Adam: Basically, its the characters. The gimmick of the toys is fun, but the fact that each one came with that individual bio on the box helped differentiate Transformers from similar lines. In the store, you'd check out which toys looked cool and then youd read the boxes and be like, Holy s***! These guys are awesome! They made an impression. Nobody really remembers the whack, generic Go-Bots, but everyone knows their favorite Transformers personality. It made the Transformers universe feel like a fully formed world right off the bat, because you had these characters with their unique quirks and personalities to fill it out.

TFormers: For those who are not familiar with the series, can you tell what its all about in your own words?

Adam: Transformers: More Than Meets The Eye is basically the definitive reference guide to the G1 toy characters personalities, set against the backdrop of Dreamwaves Transformers comic universe.

TFormers: How did the project come about, and how did you end up writing the profiles for MTMTE?

Adam: Dreamwave's original plan for the series was altered to a new format to help make it more marketable and more readable, so all the original text was entirely discarded. I had met the guys at Dreamwave, so they knew how passionate I was about giving the property the right treatment, plus I had previous editorial experience on comic projects. When the opportunity came to go in a new direction with the writing, they approached me to get onboard and I gladly accepted.

TFormers: Thats quite a daunting job to writing new profiles for so many characters. How did you prepare for the task?

Adam: You mean over the past 20 years (damn, has it really been that long?) of loving Transformers?

TFormers: What is it that you are looking to do different from the profiles we have seen in the past?

Adam: We wanted to make them all consistent within themselves and within the ongoing storyline, plus illustrate the connections that link the characters in the series dramatically. I think that between Brad, Simon and myself theres an unprecedented push to really treat the universe with respect, and build it up to the status it deserves. There's a lot of variety in how the profiles are presented, and by whom. Oh, this is also the first time there's been a comic framing device to give the profiles a context.

TFormers: What is the general process for creating a profile?

Adam: It depends on the character. It basically starts with whatever exists: toy bio, tech specs, quote, media appearances, etc. If theres no bio, then I work something out of the quote. If theres no quote then the fun begins and I have to make it up entirely, ha. I write em up, Brad checks them out and gives me suggestions (like adding a reference to some plot point or expanding more on some trait), and so on. Sometimes Ill play with the toy of whomever I'm writing about to really get into the spirit of things, ha

TFormers: How much influence do you draw from the existing character profiles?

Adam: They're the basis for most write-ups (when they're consistent or exist at all). The goal is to capture the essence of the main characters. Starscream isn't going to be described as a trustworthy friend, and Beachcomber won't arbitrarily become a gat-wielding warmonger. Sometimes tweaking occurs (when a profile doesnt exist, or when the tech specs and bio don't match up, etc.), but for the established characters its an extrapolation of what people know and love about these guys.

TFormers: Which version of the character do you try to capture the most: comic, cartoon or toy if we can make such a distinction?

Adam: I try to figure out what the definitive version of the character is and then expand on that. For example, Tracks had virtually no role in the comics, but his toy bio and cartoon appearances were classic, so I'd work from those and add whatevers needed.

TFormers: It must be hard to be short and concise when writing the profile for some of the characters. How do you know when you've written just enough?

Adam: I'm aware of the space constraints of the design, so I try to get as much info in there as possible and still leave room for the awesome art you know, the real reason people buy the book. ;)

TFormers: Why are the combiner groups in there together?

Adam: The Combiners are special units that were always designed to work together; they're very strongly associated with each other. Same thing with the Dinobots and Insecticons. It also managed to cut down on the number of times wed run guys with the same name in a row.

TFormers: Were there any characters you guys forgot about or left out on purpose?

Adam: Forgot about? Not intentionally. As for left out, there may be a few things, information-wise, that are omitted because of major upcoming storylines. There's a lot of exciting stuff looming on the horizon! But there aren't any big G1 toy characters that we specifically chose to leave out that I recall.

TFormers: What's the hardest part of writing a profile?

Adam: Sometimes you know exactly what a character is all about in your head, but you have a hard time explaining it precisely in words. Or, on the opposite end of the spectrum, there are times when there's absolutely no information available on a Transformer!

TFormers: What character has been the most difficult to do so far?

Adam: There have been a couple tough ones (including a few that had to be made from scratch), but probably Optimus Prime. We all know Optimus, but how do you accurately encapsulate this amazing leader in one write-up? Then Brad suggested doing it from Ironhide's perspective, which really helped me flesh out how Primes troops would view him.

TFormers: Are there plans to go beyond the G1 series? Can we expect to see Japanese G1, Beasts and other series down the road?

Adam: If MTMTE continues to do well, there's a good chance. Im not sure if we'd do Japanese G1 (although there MAY be something in the works with them), but Robots in Disguise, Armada and Beast Wars (how cool will that one be?!) are all in the planning stages. So buy the books and let Dreamwave know you wanna see more!

TFormers: I am sure you know how scrutinizing the fans are. How much do you cater to the really picky guys and still keep it interesting for newbies too?

Adam: When we were plotting how to do the series, we decided that it wasn't going to be written specifically for hard-core fans. Some people will find fault with things no matter whatsometimes because they've invested so much of themselves into an unknown character that they cant accept any other interpretation. We just want the series to produce a nicely illustrated, enjoyable read that furthers the characters and story and stays absolutely true to the essence of Transformers. So far, the readers seem to have responded really positively to the approach, which Im thrilled about.

TFormers: What has it been like working with Dreamwave?

Adam: They've been great, they've really given me a chance to do a lot of things Ive always wanted to do in a fun, creative atmosphere. Except when they use the electric shocks to make me write faster. That just isn't cool. Ha

TFormers: Do you have any input on the artwork the artists create?

Adam: Yeah, I try to go over as much of the art as possible before its finalized, although its difficult with the amount of other editorial stuff I have to do. I think the art is excellent (come on how could it not be with guys like Pat Lee, Don and all the excellent newcomers working on it?), but one thing I've been trying to do is steer it more toward a reference shot look, since this is essentially a reference text about the Transformers. The problem is that a lot of the artists are so dynamic that its difficult for them to draw a static shot!

TFormers:How has it been working with Brad Mick?

Adam: Brad's a good friend, and we're on the same wavelength with what we want to see. We've been working together closely on the Transformers stuff to make sure its consistent and keeps improving plus we keep each other in check.

TFormers:Got any plans to do anything else with Transformers in the future?

Adam: I dont think Transformers are going anywhere, and neither am I! I love the Transformers universe, so Im not looking to leave it any time soon. In fact, Brad and I are developing an upcoming TF project that should be pretty exciting for fans wanting to see more of Cybertrons secondary cast take center stage.

TFormers: Finally, are you Autobot or Decepticon?

Adam: I think most people (and characters) are a mix; it just depends on which you choose. I'd say 80% Autobot and only 20% Decepticon. I hope.

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