Back in July of 2007 during the heyday of the first Transformers film, I got the chance to talk with Flint Dille, writer of many 80’s Hasbro properties including Transformers the Movie. Currently working in the Video Game industry, he authored episodes of G.I. Joe, Transformers, Visionaries and was the writer, producer and developer of my personal favorite cartoon – INHUMANOIDS! Below is part one of the chat and interview! Enjoy!
Gregg: Alrighty. So thanks again, for uh, allowing me talk to you!
Flint: No problem.
Gregg: Let me get the fan boy-gushing out of the way here, first. It’s a big deal for me. I grew up with all the stuff you did with Marvel Entertainment and Sunbow.
Gregg: Of which my favorite episode of GI Joe I’ll be bringing up here later on, “Skeletons in the Closet.”
Flint: *laughs* That’s funny…
Gregg: Yeah – it’s a tremendously-tremendously favorite episode of mine!
Flint: Thanks. Thank-you.
Gregg: Yeah – so I guess things have busy with you over the last year or so with these old properties, especially Transformers…
Flint: Yeah! What’s really funny is – yeah – I do a lot of video games now and, uh, I just did the Transformers video game, which most of my stuff did not make it into the game just ’cause they really had to get their act to together just to make the game and they didn’t have a lot of time to get everything done. That’s the problem with movie video games; you just have so little time.
Gregg: Right, yeah – you have that short window; you get the game out, and the shelf life of the game, if it’s anything like the [movie] toy business, after the movie is like 6 months to a year.
Flint: Yeah, because all of sudden, you know, new platforms and… games have a very short shelf-life. It’s a very high-intensity shelf-life, but a very short one.
Gregg: I myself am not a terribly big video game player, which surprises a lot of people, but growing up we had an Atari 2600…
Gregg: …and from the 2600 went on to the 8-Bit Nintendo NES, which I still have and still use occasionally just because those are the classics…
Gregg: …and they’re still tremendously entertaining! My brother is the big video game player in the family – having an X-Box 360, the new Playstation. I can barely keep up with it. Yeah, I was surprised to find out that I hadn’t seen a lot of television and film work from you, but that you had been active in the video game industry for quite awhile now. How did you make that leap over; how did you make that transition?
Flint: Well it really wasn’t a transition. What happened was I was designing games the whole time that I was doing Transformers and GI Joe and all that, I was designing games over at TSR, doing everything from D&D modules to interactive novels to stuff like that, so it just kind of morphed over there.
Gregg: That’s awesome!
Flint: Yeah and when CD-ROMs came out it was like “Hey! I can do everything all at one time now! I don’t have to skit two careers!”
Gregg: Right! So you used to write your gaming with TSR when you working at Sunbow?
Flint: Yeah I was writing games with Gary Gygax, the guy who created Dungeons and Dragons.
Gregg: Oh that’s very cool…
Flint: Yeah, it was! I quite literally would go from the Sunbow office up to the converted stable we were working in. It was very cool.
Gregg: To this day I’m a huge gamer! Occasionally we’ll bust out the D&D, but we do more miniature skirmishes; stuff like that.
Flint: Well yeah, we would play Chainmail…
Gregg: Oh yeah-yeah-yeah!
Flint: Hex-tiles and Chainmail; Medieval Chainmail soldiers. D&D came out of Chainmail. We’d be setting up these weird Chainmail games – it was a very fun period.
Gregg: Sorry to leap all over the place here…
Gregg: How did you start with Sunbow productions?
Flint: Well, oh. I had just gotten done on development on a thing called “Droids” over at Lucasfilm and Steve Gerber called me up and said “Hey! Would you mind ghost-editing a few episodes of GI Joe?” He had fallen behind because he was the first story editor, and I went over there and did that, and the guys said “Hey you wanna’ jump on board?” and I said “Alright.” The next thing you knew, I was a producer and after about, I dunno’, six months, I figured my life would just be doing Joe for a couple of years. Tom (Griffin) said “Hey we need you over on Transformers. We’re competing with a show called Go-Bots.” They wanted to give Transformers a little more edge; make it a little older, and so I went over and did that job.
Gregg: And the rest is kinda’ history, I guess.
Flint: I did the movie and then I did the first mini-series on Transformers following that and they asked if I wanted to come and do Inhumanoids. And as I was doing Inhumanoids, I was quitting smoking. I was going through nicotine withdrawal the whole time so it sorta’ shows up in the script.
Gregg: It’s kinda like its own little horror story right there!
Flint: What’s funny is Inhumanoids was originally done for Super Sunday which had, y’know, Robotix and…Jem and Inhumanoids! You’d have 7 minutes of each… and it would be continuity in each one and that’s a tough medium to write, y’know you have seven minutes, but then you have teasers and trailers showing what’s next and then your main titles so you really got five minutes of episodes.
Flint: And you somehow have to tie it all together.
Gregg: I remember after Super Sunday broke up, Inhumanoids was spun off into its own series. Was Super Sunday a showcase? Like “Okay! Let’s do one segment of this, this and this and see how the popularity runs and then branch it out?”
Flint: Yeah – it was sort-of like that. It was also – the toys weren’t out yet – so it was to build-up the toys, because remember this was all toy-driven. Then we’d release it as a show.
To be continued in part two, where the topic of the Inhumanoids is expanded!