Don Figueroa, at Shinder's in Burnsville, MN
Free Comic Book Day, 05/06/06

I'm not exactly sure how this conversation got started.  Maybe it was because my three year old daughter was climbing up my back when we started this informal interview.  Don was telling me about his two year old niece and nephew when I started recording...

D.F.: ...Sometimes, I have to babysit.  So when I'm drawing, they'll be running around the house. Trying to get to my storage cabinet, trying to open it!  gasp, look out! With your two year old niece and nephew trying to steal your TFs!
Don Figueroa: yeah, then there's another one.  She just turned one and she's just starting to walk right now
U.c: Kind of fun to watch!
DF: going to be a handful when they're all walking around.  I'll have to get locks for my cabinets!
U.c: Haha! That's what I've got!  Wait until they start asking you to transform all of them!
DF: Actually, my nephew, I just got him some Transformers.  He likes some of them.  Some he broke already.  He can't touch the Gen1 stuff!
U.c: Oh no, that's off limits.  Strictly off limits!  Give him some Cybertron Transformers.
DF: Yeah, those he can break, I don't mind cause I can just go and get another off the shelf if I need to.

U.c: Alright, tell us a little about your collection.  You've been collecting for a number of years?
DF: Yes, my first transformer was actually a gift from my cousin; (G1 Insecticon) Bombshell.
U.c: Oh yeah?
DF: Yeah, but I spent more time looking at the catalog than playing with the toy!
U.c: Yeah, I think we all had some years where we were studying that thing!
DF: Just the catalog alone, (I) spent more hours staring at that!  Hoping to get that one and that one and that one...
U.c: Saving your allowance!
DF: Yeah, back then.  I've got most (now), but I still have a ways to go.
U.c: Your collection is not "complete"? heh, join the club! :) Do you collect the new stuff as well as the old?
DF: Oh yeah.  I buy the Japanese stuff.  It's hard getting all those.  Like with the Victory Sabre and all that.  I could pay an arm and a leg for some.  I have them now. But I don'
t want to have to go through that again.  So if it's coming out there and not here.  You know, like the (Japanese-only) Beast Wars 10th Anniversary stuff, I buy those.
U.c: It's a good thing about some of these re-issues. You don't have to shell out 200-300 bucks or more!
DF: I'm still hoping they re-issue (others).  Like Star Convoy.  I bought an original one.  Which was a stupid thing to do. Because you know, not only because the re-issue came out like two years later. It was the only toy that I've bought that I actually had buyer's remorse afterwards.
U.c: With Star Convoy?
DF: Yeah, Well, I had to buy it.  I have this Optimus Prime shrine going on in my collection! So I bought it. It was like what the hell, I had the money, but nngh I didn't really like the toy that much!
U.c: yeah, it's definitely not the best Optimus Prime.
DF: I mean, Powermaster was much more fun than him!  the base mode alone (Star Convoy) it's this funny lookin', I don't know what.
U.c: Not exactly the most posable guy  either.  It hard to imagine drawing him, he's just like this big block standing there.
DF: And the guy that combines with him is ah, this big fat guy that rolls... and Gary something
U.c: Sky Gary ?
DF: The guy that perches over the fat guy.  Doesn't really combine, more he just really lands on him!  I don't know what he is..
U.c: hahaha It's like old-school combination modes!
DF: Yeah, I had more fun with those triple combiner guys, ya know?
U.c: The "Brain Masters"?
DF:  You know Diatlas? That was awesome. I've got that one too.

U.c: So you have like, shelves upon shelves in your house?
DF: ...I have those 4'x7' storage cabinets from Home Depot!  I've got four of them. And it's already full! All of them!  I have to buy another one, but I don't know where to put it!  I'm going to have to end up covering my windows!  And I'm already pale as it is!  I'll be like this Morlock when I walk out of the house!  (hissing and with hand and arm geastures shielding the blinding sunlight from his eyes!)
U.c: (At this point I'm just crackin' up!)  Hahaha, It's great to have brothers for that reason!  I've got 3-4 cabinets worth, he (brother Brian) has 3-4, other bro has a couple more. You can divide things up a little...  You have a sibling?
DF: Yeah I have a brother, but he's not into Transformers, he's into video games.  He's an X-Box guy.
U.c: Bummer, well it's probably too late to get him into a Transformers!
DF: Yeah, well his son, my nephew I'm working on him!
U.c: Heh, in a few more years he'll have shelves of his own!
DF: Actually, I've been getting him those combaticon knock-offs. I'm like here you go!  Give him those, not my originals.

<<Don signing autographs...

If you're within driving distance of the Minnesota Twin cities, we're happy to say that our products are now stocked at Shinder's Burnsville.  Click HERE to see OP with Energon Cubes & Unicron/stand close-up, placed in front of the not-exactly-age-appropriate, scantily clad manga babe! (speaking of Japanese imports...) ;) Yowza!

U.c: So is there anything you can tell us about the upcoming series? I don't know if I'm out of bounds to be asking you about that.
DF: Stormbringer, I'm still finishing that one up and um well it's going to fit in with (the) Infiltration (G1 character storyline) following it'll become Escalation when EJ continues the series.  I'm not even sure if it's going to be a continuation of numbering.
U.c: Oh really!? you mean like it might be the infiltration series ends at 6 and Stormbringer might start at #7? (Personally, I think that'd be a good thing!)
DF: Yeah, I'm not sure.  Because of the coverage, it might become its own #1.  I'm not sure.
U.c: But it's part of the same storyline and universe.
DF: Yeah, there's going to be flashbacks and reference to Infiltration.
U.c: I hear it's ALL robots! ALL Cybertron!
DF: Yeah, no pesky humans!
U.c: pfft! Who needs'm?!  Bring on the robots! :)  Do you like drawing robots more than organic things or...?
DF: Actually, I've had a lot of fun drawing Beast Wars.  Especially the furs, I get to draw furs and muscles and all of that stuff! It's not all straight lines.  Which, kinda gets tedious at times, ya know?  But the Beast Wars stuff, I really liked drawing.  I enjoy drawing all the intricate details; even the backgrounds! 
U.c: Yeah, really different scenery!
DF: ha, yeah not all of this jagged metal sticking out everywhere.  Like futuristic blade runner.  It's cool drawing that once in awhile.  But the break with drawing Beast Wars was awesome. I get to draw new things.
U.c: Well, I know I don't speak just for myself when I say that I hope that the Beast Wars comic continues.  We've really enjoyed it.

DF: I hope so too!  I've still got other plots that I want to tackle; like Magnaboss and Tripredacus council, Tripredacus or whatever he's going to be called.  And who else?  Maybe a bit more of the Japanese Beast Wars Neo or Beast Wars II.  That'd be cool to do.  We've already got Magmatron.
U.c: Yeah, there's a lot of story there to be told.  I hope it continues!  It's been very enjoyable.  Is there anything in particular beyond Beast Wars and Stormbringer that you've wanted to do and haven't had a chance yet?

DF: Actually yeah.  I still want to draw this story I did, which is a new Transformer/GI Joe Crossover.  Involving, well I think there's been some pictures on-line, with  Megatron becoming Destro's "Dominator" and Optimus Prime as GI Joe's "Rolling Thunder."  And there's going to be more, like Omega Supreme as Defiant Shuttle and "Tryptidome" combination of Trypticon as the Terror Dome. (I think that's what it was called! I'm a little fuzzy on my GIJoe trivia!)
How long does it take you to draw a single comic, from cover to final page?
DF: when I'm on a roll, I've done a whole book in about 2 .5 weeks, lately it takes a bit longer since I have to ink my own stuff and I do have additional work.
U.c: How far ahead do you have to work?  For example, Beast Wars #4 just hit the shelves today, when did you actually finish drawing it? (last Friday?! :)
DF: I forget, but I think I was almost done with the series when #1 came out.
U.c: Love your original design characters like pre-Beast Wars Razorbeast, Magmatron, War Within everything...!  Tell us about your process of coming up with these new character designs.
DF: well, if I was given a name first, I would come up with an alt mode that reflects the name and make sure it makes sense. (I would'nt want to name a crane Smokescreen or anything silly like that, LOL)  when I have an alt mode, I'll try to figure out a plausible transformation and a robot that would fit with said vehicle mode. I try to experiment sometimes and come up with different transformation like making the wings turn into legs instead of it going on the back (WWRatbat) or the jet Cockpit being on the arm instead on the chest..etc.

U.c: Very cool.  Sounds like you're keeping awfully busy.  Dang, it's so great to have Transformers comics back on the shelves.  Keep up the great work! Thanks for your time out here today!  Look forward to seeing you again at the summer conventions! 


Other recorded bits of conversation...
Don in reference to the Jetfire poster, he explained that this particular image is just 1 of a 4 panel spread.  Among 4 covers to the upcoming Stormbringer series.  I asked if the one arm showing on the left was the Technobot Strafe.  He said, "yes."  I couldn't identify the other blue/green gun/limb, and he would tell! J  What do you think? Any guesses??  Click HERE for larger version of the same poster.

Lukis Bros
Transformers Collector Site