First Strike Creator Interview & Cover Gallery: David A. Rodriguez

 

IDW Publishing is putting you in touch with the incredible creators who are lined up to take First Strike, A Hasbro Comic Event, to the next level. This week we introduce David Rodriguez, co-writer on First Strikeavailable this August!

 

  • The crossover of the year is here! Earth is finally ready to officially join the Cybertronian Council of Worlds and appoint their first representative to the Council. Too bad the ceremony is interrupted by a massive explosion and the forces of COBRA! Now it’s up to Scarlett, Optimus Prime, G.I. Joe and the Autobots to save two worlds!



 

 

  • First Strike #0: A Cover art by Max Dunbar with colors by Ander Zarate
  • First Strike #1: A Cover art by Freddie E. Williams II with colors by Jeremy Colwell
  • First Strike #1: B Cover art by Max Dunbar with colors by Ander Zarate

 

  1. Tell us about yourself. How long have you been working with Hasbro characters?
I have been a Game Designer/Writer for about 16 years now. I’ve written for video games like Hunter: The Reckoning, Skylanders and Transformers: War for Cybertron. So, that would mean the official first time I got to work with Hasbro characters was in 2010. I have to say that writing lines that Peter Cullen actually said in a booth was one of the highlights of my career. At one point during the recording he paused and asked me, “Was that what you were looking for?” and I was just glad he couldn’t see my face. Because I was grinning like an idiot and thinking “Yes, sir. Everything you do is perfect!”
Most recently I finished a near two-year run on the Skylanders comic series with Ron Marz for IDW and I also wrote the M.A.S.K. annual. I had a great time playing in that sandbox again.


  1. After Revolution, the world as we know it has gone through a lot of changes. Where does First Strike pick up?
First Strike begins with Earth being sworn in as the newest member of the Council of Worlds on Cybertron itself. As you can imagine, not everyone is super-psyched for this to happen and they make sure their disappointment is heard… through copious use of cybernetic ninjas.


  1. When did you first start working on First Strike? What has laying the groundwork for this series been like?
We started on this project back in January. That’s when all the introductions happened and the early discussions about the natural events that would flow out of Revolutionaries and the induction of Earth into the Council. It’s a big project and there are a lot of moving parts to manage, a lot of characters, and motivations at play. But everyone has had a very welcoming and collaborative attitude. There’s been feedback and assistance from every Hasbro team at IDW, and they’ve been great to work with.


  1. What are the biggest challenges you faced while working on First Strike?
I’d have to reference all of those moving parts from the last question! There are dozens of characters involved in this story and we had to not only make sure we were doing right by them, we also had to make sure we kept track of their state by the end of Revolutionaries and leading into First Strike. Fortunately, our editors are quick to answer any question we have. Or at least track down the person who has the answer and shake them until they tell us which weapon Quick-Kick prefers to use. (Side Note: I officially know what a meteor hammer is now.)

 

  1. Revolution featured a number of jaw-dropping moments. Can you let us in on anything big we can expect from First Strike?
I’m not sure what we’re clear to say this early on. But I can say that this isn’t just an “event” series, the Hasbro universe is going to be permanently changed, in a meaningful way by the end of First Strike. Hopefully we can get some jaws and f-bombs to drop.


  1. When working with characters with such a long history, how do you raise the bar and bring readers something they haven’t seen before?
I think the best thing we can do for the readers, and luckily Mairghread and David Hedgecock have been a big advocate for this as well, is to make sure that we are engaging all the characters in this story with emotional stakes that resonate with our readers. Sure, we can put Cybertron at risk with a huge, summer blockbuster style event and visuals, but without that relatable, human backbone to the story, it feels hollow. We are going to do our best to deliver that experience to fans.

 

  1. You’re a writer with an incredibly varied background. How does working on comics compare to some of the other mediums you’ve written for?
What is great about working in comics is that, even on the largest projects, you are still only working with a handful of people.  That makes it easier for us to collaborate, adjust and focus on crafting something that plays to everyone’s strengths. And if we need to make changes, respond to notes, we can do it quickly. But making changes in a game, where you have an overhead of a 150+ person team that you need to keep in the loop, and multiple, interdependent systems that need to be shredded and rebuilt, is a little more challenging.
Also, if you have a kickass artist who excels at drawing battle scenes (and lucky for us we have Max Dunbar on the team) the budget for our story becomes exponentially larger. Game cinematics and movies don’t scale nearly as easily!


  1. Which Hasbro character are you most excited to be working with? Anybody you’ve wanted to write for a long time that you’ll finally be scripting?
Scarlett has always been a favorite. I was glad that I got to use her in the M.A.S.K Annual and she has a large part in First Strike. She is just a fantastic character to write. But part of the fun of First Strike is the opportunity to discover and expand on characters I wasn’t as familiar with growing up and exploring how they interact with each other.  But don’t be surprised if you see Sunstreaker, he is, after all, the prettiest damn Transformer that ever rolled out.


  1. Can you tell us a little bit about the villains we’ll be dealing with in First Strike?
It was important to us that every villain involved in this story had a clear reason to be participating. We knew what they had to gain, why there were taking such a huge risk and what skills/resources they brought to the table. Their objective might seem impossible, but this a group of individuals who have put years of thought and effort into a plan to take down the Transformers. What is terrifying is that they actually have what it takes to pull this off.


  1. If you could be any Transformer, which one would you be?
Oh, I would totally want to be Shockwave. Not only is his design incredible, but he might be the most stone-cold, ghost-faced, unflappable character in the entire Hasbro universe. I don’t know if you remember, but Megatron called him from Earth after 4 million years and Shockwave picked up on the FIRST RING.
No hemming and hawing, or “Where the hell you been?!” He was just “Yes, Lord Megatron.” 4 million years and he didn’t blink. That’s just badass.

 

Original interview by Chase Marotz

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