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Nick Roche on Last Bot Standing: "The Timing is Nuts"

Updated: Oct 24, 2022

Comic book writer and artist Nick Roche, talking about IDW Transformers mini-series Last Bot Standing.
Comic creator Nick Roche talks to Transformers fans during a Q&A session at TFNation 2022.

COMIC creator Nick Roche told fans at TFNation 2022 he did not plan for his mini-series, Last Bot Standing, to be IDW’s Transformers swansong.

The writer and artist, whose acclaimed work on the Wreckers trilogy and Maximum Dynobots has made him a fan favourite, spoke to master of ceremonies David Wallace in a wide-ranging Q&A during the event in Birmingham.

Last Bot Standing, which is written by Roche and drawn by E. J. Su, is set in the far future of IDW’s main Transformers continuity and explores the consequences of the long-running Autobot and Decepticon war on the universe.

Roche revealed he had initially pitched the series’ concept to IDW around the time that Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles series The Last Ronin was announced (that comic was published October 2020).

This was two years before Hasbro announced this January that the Transformers property would be moving to another, as yet unnamed, publisher in 2023 after 17 years at IDW.

While Last Bot Standing was not intended by the author to be IDW’s final Transformers tale ever, it’s a fitting end to a revolutionary period that deservedly earned critical and fan praise.

Roche told fans: “The timing is nuts really because this was supposed to be out at the same time as Brian Ruckley's series. The thought was after Last Bot Standing there would be an on-going series happening, followed on by another mini-series. IDW is a space where you can tell stories that are not in continuity and just tell a cool story about a character, so it was never meant to be a swansong for IDW or me or anything - it’s just mad timing.

“I think apart from a Shattered Glass comic, Last Bot Standing is it (for IDW). I think the collection is coming out in October and is officially the last IDW Transformers publication.”

Last Bot Standing is a four-issue series, with the final part published in August and the collected edition set for publication on October 26th.

Initially given the temporary title ‘Old Man Rodimus’ in the planning stage, Roche envisioned it in the same vein as classic comic tales like Hulk: The End, Dark Knight Returns and Old Man Logan.

It features ancient Autobot leader Rodimus discovering something terrible on a far-flung planet.

He added: “It was loosely pitched around the time when The Last Ronin (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles) was announced. I am under no illusion that I am reinventing the wheel, I wanted to do something like Hulk: The End, Old Man Logan or Dark Knight Returns.

“Transformers lends itself well to established tropes like that. You can mix Transformers with The Expendables, and you get The Last Stand of the Wreckers. Once the trope is strong it gives you a clear path to tell a really nice story with the characters.”

The writer and artist couldn’t hide his delight at working with E.J. Su. The artist is an important figure in the history of IDW, with his stunning artwork on Infiltration, Escalation and Devastation helping to establish the publisher's Transformers original continuity.

After deciding not to draw Last Bot Standing himself, Roche told fans he had considered Anna Malkova for the series. However, after being informed by IDW that she was busy on the main Transformers continuity, he leapt at the chance to work with Su.

Roche added: “I didn’t think it was possible (to get E.J. Su). If you are casting for an artist, E.J. Su is your first choice every time. He was the first artist on Transformers when IDW launched and he’s just amazing, he reinvented the wheel.

"IDW asked who I wanted to draw Last Bot Standing. My first choice would’ve been Anna Malkova, without knowing E.J. was available, because she’s MVP on the on-going Transformer story.

"David said he had a real problem with Anna Malkova because he can’t clone her! I was looking around to see who else would be a good fit for a steam punky western and David said: ‘what do you think about E.J. Su?’, I said: ‘I’m on record on what I think about E.J. Su and it’s not for young ears!’ He's just incredible.”

“I really like how versatile his style is. When he started on Infiltration, he was doing such tiny, detailed artwork but he’s widely read in comics and he’s a big Mike Mignola fan. So, in Spotlight Prowl he leaned into heavy blacks and blocky shapes and there’s some of that in Last Bot Standing. He draws really good people and the humans in Last Bot look great. He’s just the man for the job.”

As well as his work on Transformers, Roche has branched out in recent years and published his creator owned comic, Scarenthood, in 2020. He has also recently created artwork on X-Men Unlimited and 2000ad.

He’s also made the leap to television as a character designer on upcoming animated show, Transformers: EarthSpark, which has been co-developed by Entertainment One and Nickleodeon.

Roche has designed new character Thrash, as well as Megatron and the Insecticons. Transformers: EarthSpark features Alan Tudyk as Optimus Prime, Danny Pudi as Bumblebee and Diedrich Bader as scientist Dr. Meridian.

But as a lover of Transformers, Roche will always have a special place in the hearts of the fan community.

He signed off with this heartfelt message to the fans at TFNation: “I just wanted to say thank you so much, it’s been amazing. The fans have been incredible, and I have always felt so supported by the people I have met here and online.

"It made me feel the stuff we have done over the last 17 years mattered. All that mattered to me was to provide entertainment, thank you so much.”



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