This article is a part of Licensed Products Theme Month for August 2017, brought to you by the Independent Comics section of ComicsVerse. Be on the look out for more articles about your favorite creative properties!

IDW Publishing collaborated with Schick on SCHICK HYDROBOT AND THE TRANSFORMERS ONE-SHOT, a comic about a razor who provides a close shave by day and fights crime by night. We had the great pleasure of interviewing writer John Barber and artist Steve Kurth who brought this comic to life. Among other topics, we discuss one-shot comics as well as the challenges that come with creating a motion comic. 


ComicsVerse (CV): First of all, can you guys explain what a “one-shot” comic is for someone who might not be familiar with this concept?

John Barber (JB): A “one-shot” is a nickname for a single, stand-alone issue of a comic book. It’s not a series that comes out every month or week. It’s one story with a beginning, middle, and end… but who knows, if people like the SCHICK HYDROBOT AND THE TRANSFORMERS comic book, maybe we’ll do another one someday. You can check out the animated and digital versions for yourself!

Steve Kurth (SK): A “one-shot” is just a one and done, self-contained story that gives you an overall look into the world of these characters.

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CV: John, what was the biggest challenge that you faced with writing this story?

JB: I figure SCHICK HYDROBOT AND THE TRANSFORMERS might get into the hands of those who may or may not be big comics readers. Maybe it will be somebody’s first comic! And that’s a big responsibility. I wanted to make sure we put together a story that was fun and clear to new readers, and also rewarding and enjoyable for long-time fans. Luckily, everybody working on the comic agreed!

Image courtesy of IDW Publishing

Bringing the Schick Hydrobot to Life

CV: Steve, can you describe the process of bringing the Schick Hydrobot to life?

SK: The main thing was tracking down Hydrobot’s reference material. He’s a complicated fella, so making him look accurate was foremost on my mind. After that, it was all about getting him to emote and communicate without the normal trappings of how one would emote and communicate. It’s tricky when a guy can’t talk and has five razor blades for a face.

READ: Want more TRANSFORMERS comic book recommendations? Our review of OPTIMUS PRIME #1 transforms and rolls out!

CV: What kind of challenges does working on a motion comic bring versus a traditional comic?

JB: You have to keep in mind that people will read the comic in different ways. It fell more on Steve Kurth to think ahead, and the great people at Madefire took it from there [to create the motion comic]. I’ve worked with Madefire before on TRANSFORMERS: PUNISHMENT drawn by Livio Ramondelli, and we’ve talked about what works well in motion comics, so it’s almost second-nature by now. By their nature, Transformers invite movement and sound, so it’s cool to have that happen in our story!

SK: The biggest hurdle is the mindset. You have to think in terms of layers. You don’t get to draw your figure in the foreground and not worry about what’s behind them. It’s a bit more work than the average page.

Image courtesy of IDW Publishing

On Working with Corporate Brands and What’s Next

CV: What other brands have you guys collaborated with in the past?

JB: This is my first one as a writer, but I used to edit these “custom comics,” as we call them in the industry, at Marvel. M&Ms: THE SWARM and HOME DEPOT SAFETY HEROES are two I remember really well.

SK: The first job I did for IDW was a one-shot TRANSFORMERS comic that I think was packaged with some of the Hasbro Transformers Toys. Which was great because that was the job that years later brought me to the SCHICK HYDROBOT AND THE TRANSFORMERS crossover.

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CV: If Hydrobot and Bumblebee got into an arm wrestling match, who would win?

JB: It all depends on leverage when the size is that different. Bumblebee’s got the height advantage, but Hydrobot’s wily — small but mighty. He’d be hard to pin down.

Image courtesy of IDW Publishing

CV: Finally, what other ongoing or upcoming projects can you talk about?

JB: I’m writing the OPTIMUS PRIME ongoing series (meaning it’s sort of the opposite of a one-shot — a new issue comes out every month!) at IDW, co-writing the BACK TO THE FUTURE comic with Bob Gale, and I’m writing a couple issues of Marvel’s DOCTOR STRANGE as we speak!

Special thanks to John and Steve for taking time away from their busy schedules for this interview. The SCHICK HYDROBOT AND THE TRANSFORMERS motion and digital comics are available to read online now.  Make sure to follow John Barber on Twitter for his latest adventures. For more of Steve Kurth’s art, visit his blog where you can see cover art and more.     

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