James Roberts, Comics Signing - MTMTE

So, from the (slighty scary?) look on my face, you can see I was in awe at meeting my writing Hero, James Roberts. Currently helming More Than Meets The Eye (one of the two main IDW Transformers series) his work is simultaneously funny, satirical, and dark social commentary all wrapped up into a fun package set against the backdrop of a Quest (or three) in Space. He paid a visit oop North to do a signing at the Manchester branch of the Travelling Man comics store.*

Even if Giant Robots aren't your thing (or even if you think they are not your thing) this Comic is a Masterwork. Since subscribing to Marvel Unlimited late last year, I've been spoiled for choice and have gorged on a fair amount of comics from the House of Ideas. And you know what? Some of them are... pretty awful. Some are fantastic too, of course, but it's like panning for gold.

For someone who naively assumes every comic will be great with child-like abandon, it's been a real learning curve for me this past few months to find one has to wade through a lot of "ok" to find the Fantastic. Or is it actually, mostly, in part that I have been spoiled by a regular monthly dose of world class writing and artwork from the MTMTE team?

MTMTE not only stands well in the company of comics from "the big two" but against some of the greatest comic runs of all time in general. (If you forced me to play DesertIsland Discs with comics, my top 3 would instantly be Watchmen, The Dark Knight Returns & MTMTE).

It is massively, beautifully consistent from issue to issue, and so of course credit has to be given to the regular artists, most notably Alex Milne for delivering the goods every month. It's gorgeous. Just do a google image search, you'll see the level of detail and skill we are talking about here (just try drawing a robot emoting through a faceplate! It's hard!)

MTMTE is rapidly becoming a frequent high flyer in the top ten Comixology charts across the world, and it's only getting bigger as more and more people are realising that something exciting and refreshing is going on with this book.

Of course, I have a giant planet sized inherent bias when it comes to Transformers, but I can honestly make an informed insight, judgement and form a critical argument why More Than Meets The Eye is up there with the greatest Comic stories I've ever read. Indeed, reading what the fandom has dubbed "Season 1" and "Season 2" (due to be finished with Issue 50, out imminently!) the body of work reads like a masterpiece of high drama and science fiction; it's scope is, well, more than meets the eye. (If any existing fans haven't read it in a while or tried this before, reading it all in one long session is a real treat and shows the sheer scope and amazing forward planning at work).

There are far more eloquent blog postings and critical readings of comics and More Than Meets The Eye in particular that are out there. I only set off to post a photo, and here I am waxing lyrical. This isn't the time or space where I attempt to write something similar to those excellent critiques; but I guess I am trying to convey a sense of enthusiasm here. If I did have to make a quick list as to why you should give it a go, I would suggest this;

  • It's scope is huge. There's a real mythology being built here, but crucially, it's accessible to old and new fans alike.
  • Social commentary; taking a kid's toy concept and transforming it into an exploration of the repercussions of a society that decided its citizens role's and place's in that society should be dictated from birth depending what your job class alt-mode is... Sound scarily familiar to some current politics in the real world? It should.
  • It's an emotional roller coaster. Violent (these robots have been at war for 6 million years you know) one moment, laugh out loud comical the next. Then back to Violence. Bot's die. A lot. Tears are regularly shed.
  • I overheard someone at the signing describing it as "It's like Game of Thrones. But better. And with Robots." This is almost perfect, but I would caveat this with, obviously, less nudity. (Though, technically Cybertronians don't wear many clothes...)
  • It's consistent. Every issue has something to say, something to tease and something to show.

In short, I guess I'm trying to say that More Than Meets The Eye, and the writing of James Roberts, is the most exciting thing in comics (for me) right now, and absolutely the best investment of your time you could ever make in terms of comics reading.

So much so, I put my money where my mouth is at the signing and bought a copy of Last Stand of The Wreckers (James Roberts & Nick Roche co-writing) purely as a loan copy for my pals who are yet to read IDW Transformers. I know they won't be disappointed.

So yeah; hopefully that explains the odd look on my face. Meeting the chap who makes you stare menacingly at your own letter box every day unless a Transformers comic comes through it will do that. Still not as weird as the face I pulled when I met the real life Enterprise; so I'll call it a win.


*(Eagle eyed fans may remember that we shot a scene from our feature film Mancattan in Travelling Man, waaay back in 2007. Here's the scene; my acting looks so natural because I was genuinely distracted and trying to speed read as many comics as possible before we had to leave...)