An interview with Derek Yaniger – artist on Marvel’s Transformers Generation 2 comic series

Please note that this interview was conducted via email in 2003

What made you decide to become a (comic books) artist?

When I was 11 years old, I bought my first comic book. It was Marvel’s “The Monster of Frankenstein”. Mike Ploog can draw one helluva monster.

How did you “break into” the comics industry, and how hard was it?

In the mid ‘80’s I was in a punk band called Dead Elvis. I had done lots of
art for stickers and t-shirts, so I put it in a portfolio and headed for the Atlanta Comic Convention. Marvel editor Marc Mclauren gave me my first gig, doing a story for Hellraiser.

Who have been your influences?

Frazetta, Rat Fink and Jack Davis.

What are you currently working on?

I do a nutty, retro style nowadays. I do alot of stuff for Hot Rod/Pin Up/Lounge mags. I also sell limited edition prints through a gallery.

What would be a dream project for you?

I’ve been working on a book of Beatnik fairy tales that I would love to illustrate for a shoe box full of twenties.

What qualities do you think comics bring to contemporary entertainment (compared to movies, books or television)?

At least the kids are readin’.

How did you come to work on the Transformers Generation 2 comic?

Rob Tokar, my editor on Web of Spiderman, approached me with the idea. I wasn’t crazy about it, but once I read Simon Furman’s script, I was sold.

Prior to that, did you have any exposure to the Transformers, and what were your thoughts on it?

I knew of it primarily as a toy line, but I had no thoughts on it – but then again, I’m dumb as a bag of doorknobs.

Your style of Transformers is quite unlike anything seen before. What was your approach in portraying the characters?

I was inspired by Simon Bisley’s “ABC Warriors”, and tried to rip him off as much as possible without going to jail.

How did you get away with such violence?

I guess it was approved because nobody cares if a bunch of machines blow the hell out of each other.

… And what was with all the wires?

Oozin’ entrails, baby!

Who were your favourite Transformers characters to draw?

Commander Jhiaxus, Megatron and Maximus Gluteus.

Are you surprised by the longevity of a toy line like The Transformers?

Not really. Marvel sent me a butload of toys for reference when I began the project. They’re damn cool toys!

May your luster never dull, and your wires never cross!

Published by Graham Thomson

Blogger, photographer, worrier.

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