A major staple of Saturday morning animated entertainment was one that set a standard for contemporary Anime and brought it to the masses – Robotech. At London Film & Comic Con 2017 we caught up with Tommy Yune, Creative Director of Harmony Gold USA for a chat about their collaboration with Titan Comics to bring us a new run of the comic book.
Welcome! For those that are not in the know, or who may have forgotten, tell us what Robotech is and where it came from?
Robotech is a science fiction Anime series that brought a lot of viewers into the genre of Japanese animation through the eighties animated show. We are guests here of LFCC with Titan Comics for the launch of their new comic book series, Robotech, which has already been a big hit in its opening month. It is written by Brian Wood (DMZ, Northlanders), and illustrated by Marco Turini (Artifacts), and it’s not just another Robotech series. It’s a very good chance for new fans to jump in and at the same time for old fans to enjoy Robotech again but with a new take on the storyline.
So, it’s not a reboot, it’s essentially a ‘retelling’ of the original stories?
Some fans will call it a reboot but I tell these fans that as a series stands the test of time and has been around for a long time, like Batman for example — when you start to enter that kind of pantheon of long existing franchises a reboot is inevitable. There’s going to be many talented creators who will bring a different take to the table. We now have Brian Wood, a very well respected writer, bringing an interesting take on the tale, and we want to surprise fans with exciting developments.
What is the story of Robotech?
Robotech is a multi-generational saga. It all begins with the premise of ‘what if alien technology accidentally came to Earth and humans had no choice but to adapt this technology to defend ourselves from an alien invasion now that aliens are aware of Earth’s existence. As a result humans use this tech to create giant transforming robots to defend us against fearsome aliens and their technology.
What is interesting is that when you talk about transforming robots people immediately wonder “aren’t you talking about Transformers?” but then they key difference here is that the robots are driven by human pilots, who are the heroes of the stories. The drama is much more reminiscent of ‘Star Wars’.
As you say, the title has been brought to Titans Comics, so it’s come to the Western world, how are the more ‘hardcore’ fans of the original series going to feel about it coming into a greater audience?
The original animated series which aired in 1985 and was brought to many markets around the world, to something like over 200 markets in the United States, so for a syndicated series it did extraordinarily well. When you talk about the ‘hardcore’ fans – there are some fans that like a series to remain small and inclusive, almost forming a cult following, they feel somewhat possessive about it, so when it opens up to a wider range of fans there’s going to be trepidation about it. There are some fans who enjoy Robotech going into the mainstream but with SONY’s involvement we’re at a point of no return where fans will notice new licenses coming in left and right, a lot more new products, and we think fans are going to be pleased with the much wider range of products. Fans who used to complain that collectors toys were very hard to find will find that there is a huge selection to choose from.
Now that the comic is out there and doing so well already, what changes or developments would you like to see that weren’t seen in the original run?
I don’t have to say what I would like to see as Titan are already creating the world that we want to see and we are looking forward to it greatly.
One thing that you’ll notice in this new take is that within comics now there are these bold interpretations, much like how the Flintstones have been rebooted to be a lot more realistic or mature. With SONY developing a live action movie of Robotech, Titan felt that now is a better time than ever to take advantage of the tone and produce a pretty gritty, realistic story on Robotech for a cinematic audience. Instead of it taking place in 1999 (it was originally conceived as a ‘near -future’ speculative sci-fi series) it will have new continuity and see a harder, darker take, and create new, different situations for the characters.
Let’s talk about the characters. Who and what should we be keeping an eye out for?
Rick and Roy, of course. The way their relationship is presented, again, is different than it was before but they’ll retain the qualities that are familiar to mainstay fans. Also, Minmei, who is usually a very happy-go-lucky person, but here she is going to be tougher and more streetwise. Another aspect to look-out for are the Invid, who appeared in the New Generation series, are an alien race that can evolve rapidly to adapt to the environment of any planet. If I say anything else on the matter it’ll reveal some spoilers, so I’ll leave it there. Robotech presents lots of twists and turns.
Would there be more progressive relationships between the characters, respective of the times in which we live?
Yes, progressive and more conflict and drama. One of the strengths that Brian Wood has brought to the title is his innate ability to create character driven stories.
The first issue’s cover was illustrated by the talented Stanley Lau aka Artgerm. Did he have a vested interest in Robotech before coming on board for the gig?
Stanley Lau is one of the best illustrators in the industry. We are so very pleased he did a cover for us. A lot of the artists who have worked on the comic book are not just simply doing it because it’s a job, they are fans and they love the material.
It’s clear just how much work has gone into developing these stories over the many years Robotech, the comic, animated series and merchandise have been around, and it’s all down to the many talented people who have brought it all to life. As Tommy says, “we are all standing on the shoulders of giants“. The new comics are every bit as rich as the originals series’ were and a whole lot more thanks to the creative marriage of Woods and Turini. We are very eager to see where this series will take us.
To keep up or look back at the entire run of the series pick up new the comic and trade paper backs from Titan Comics.
Watch out for future reviews of Robotech from Machinima SBOC.