Here's my transcript of the G1 comic creator panel from OTFCC '04. I
was always more of a comic fan as a kid, so this one is truly special
to me. Although I couldn't be there, this is probably my favorite
panel from this convention season. Thanks a billion to my sister for
taping some of the panels from OTFCC for me when she went. Thanks to
Glen for pulling it off, thanks to Simon, Andrew, and Bob for being
there-just thanks. This one was great.
I have to explain that this is an unofficial fanmade transcript and as
such it is subject to errors or innacuracies. I have edited out verbal
pauses, redundancies in speech, and other things for sake of easier
reading. I may have misspelled some words or omitted whole sentences
by accident. In short, if it's wrong it's my fault. There were three
specific areas I was especially unsure about so I wrote what I thought
I heard, I asterisked them, and put footnotes at the end about why I
was unsure of what I wrote.
I start as the announcer has already begun with the introductions.
This is the entire panel all in one shot, and it's about 9,000 words
long or 50k in length.
Announcer: [already talking]...you already know them-Bob Budiansky,
writer extrordinaire [audience applauds] we have Andrew Wildman,
artist extrordinaire [audience applauds] and of course, Simon Furman,
writer extrordinaire [audience applauds]. Being that this is my first
panel that I've ever done, I'll just throw it over to you and let you
guys ask some questions and have some fun for the next, oh, hour.
Bob Budiansky: Actually we decided we'd choreograph it a little.
Announcer: I'll just leave the experts to it!
Bob Budiansky: We didn't choreograph it that much.
Announceer: No problem!
Bob Budiansky: Simon suggested that since this is my very first
Transformers convention and you've already heard him talk ad
infinitum-he's already told you all his stories-that I should give a
little introduction to the very very beginnings of Transformers as far
as the publishing world. So basically what happened, assuming you're
[audience laughs, some say 'That's what we're here for!' and 'That's
what we wanna hear!']
Bob Budiansky: Oh! Okay, well I could always do science...Anyway,
basically what happened was, sometime in the fall of 1983, when I was
an editor on the staff of Marvel Comics, Jim Shooter who was
editor-in-chief and Denny O'Neil who was a senior editor and long time
comic book writer-I wasn't there at this point-somehow they got
together with Hasbro and Hasbro decided to launch this new series
called Transformers, this new toyline. They'd come to Marvel to have
Marvel develop it, just like Marvel had developed G.I. Joe for them a
couple of years earlier. Between the two of them they generated a
treatment, which was a backstory to the Transformers world...
[at this point Andrew Wildman gets up and takes a picture of Bob
talking, which makes the audience laugh. I'm told Andrew did this a
lot at all the panels he was a part of]
Bob Budiansky:...and a whole bunch of character profiles and names and
such. The reason that I'm not quite clear on it is that I wasn't
exactly in the process yet. Once the treatment got through-Hasbro
approved it eventually-once the treatment got through what the names
were, the names of the characters Marvel submitted, Hasbro had a lot
of difficulty with some of the names-there was a lot of names and
whatever character profiles were written at that point, and Denny
didn't want to continue developing it.
So Jim Shooter went around the office looking for a warm body, and
several warm bodies turned him down because frankly at that time he
was looking for editors who had writing experience. Either editors
were too busy doing other things or the deadline was too short, or
they didn't have any interest in involving themselves in a whole new
toyline, or whatever. I was probably the furthest down the hall or
something. I was probably like the third or fourth person Jim Shooter
asked. It was right before Thanksgiving weekend-the week before
Thanksgiving, I remember that. It had to be done over the weekend. I
had to revise..frankly I don't remember...maybe...I think there was
intitially 28 toys in the first toyline or something like that? I had
to revise the majority of them, and so I did. Hasbro basically was
very happy with what I produced. That's how I got involved with
Transformers as an editor at Marvel Comics.
Then from that we launched the four issue limited series, which came
out I guess in early '84? I was the editor on that, and basically that
caught us all by surprise. It was a four issue limited series because
really nobody expected it to go beyond four issues. We had no sense of
how popular Transformers would eventually become and that I would be
here 20 years later. [audience laughs] So after that, I guess soon
into the run of Transformers the limited series, it was decided that
the book would continue as a regular monthly title. We were so naive
back then. You know, nowadays if you took a limited series and a
publishing company continued it, they would have an issue 0 and an
issue 1 and an issue 1a and a chrome cover and all these
different..[audience laughs] All we did was do issue 5. [audience
laughs] We were naive, we just didn't know what we were doing.
In any case it was issue 5 that I stopped editing it and I continued
on the book as the writer until issue 55 with a couple of fill in
issues thrown into the mix. I became immersed in the Transformers
world. Through Marvel, Hasbro came to me to develop all their toys
from then on as far as their personality profiles and their names. So
for the next five years I got involved with naming and writing
profiles for probably..I really don't know how many...over a hundred?
Maybe two hundred of the toys? All the packaging copy that was on the
Hasbro toys during that period. Not every one, but the large majority
of them. I wasn't involved with the movie characters or anything like
that. But the majority of them were things that I worked on with
Then issue 55 was my last issue. Before I got to that I was pretty
well burnt out on Transformers the last year or two because if I tried
to elope...I enjoyed doing it, I enjoyed developing storylines and
characters, (but) every six months or so Hasbro would slap me with
another 50 characters to introduce. It became kind of a burden. I
defintiely wanted to move on and I was begging my editor, Don Daley at
that time, to put me out of my misery but he kept begging me to stay
on. Finally, here's where Simon comes in, finally I happened to take a
trip to England..[turns to Simon] Had we met before? You'd come to the
Marvel offices? [Simon says yes] Yeah, we had met before then. I'd
taken a trip to England and I stopped by the Marvel UK offices, and
you had already been working on the Marvel UK what were eventually
called fill-in issues that would fill in the publication schedule in
England. Simon can take it from there.
Simon Furman: Well, here we were in February 1989...[Bob says
'right'.] Bob was over from the US, so being sociable as we were at
Marvel UK at the time we figured we'll take him out for lunch and
generally just keep him happy. (He's) from the parent company, we've
got to look after ourselves here. So out we went to lunch, sitting in
a restaurant in Compen Garden*, and Bob's basically telling me what he
told you-that he's kind of burnt out on Transformers and hell, the
book's not gonna last more than a few more issues. [audience laughs]
Bob Budiansky: I had run it into the ground pretty much! [audience
Simon Furman: Then he says, 'Simon, do you want it?' and I said, well
how could I refuse such an offer? So of course I was immersed in it
all by then, the UK side of it, and I knew Bob's work inside and out
because we had to loop our stories in and out of the American
continuity just because we were reprinting in the UK comic. I knew all
the storylines, I knew exactly where Bob was with things, so once Bob
said 'Here, take it!', throwing it at me across the table, I thought,
Bob Budiansky: I just wanna say I hope you picked up the tab for that
lunch! [audience laughs]
Simon Furman: Marvel UK probably did. [audience laughs] So that was
where I picked it up from then. I don't even know that Don was
involved in the process of changing writers, really.
Bob Budiansky: Well, as an editor, Don wasn't really involved.
[audience laughs] He's kind of passively watching it go across the
desk and things got published.
Simon Furman: So issue 56 I picked up and face it, to be honest I
didn't think it was going to last a huge amount longer so I thought,
well great, at least it's giving me some license to just go crazy with
this book so the feverent beat started. I'd always been using the
movie characters in the UK comic so I thought, well here we go. Let's
have our apocalyptic Unicron battle in the US comic and maybe wrap it
up with that, but it rolled on. It rolled on for 25 issues. I have no
idea why particularly...[audience laughs] I guess there was enough
there to keep it rolling for people.
In sales terms today, you look at comic books today the top comics are
selling 110, 120 thousand. The original comic book, we had G1
cancelled on 70 thousand, which these days would put it in the top 20
at least. This is how things have changed in the comic industry. That
was a low selling book back then. They used to clear space at Marvel
for new titles just by sort of cutting off anything under 100
thousand, sometimes over 100 thousand.
Bob Budiansky: Right, I used to be the illustrator on the first Ghost
Rider series which ended around 1981, and that was cancelled because
sales had dropped to under 110 thousand.
Simon Furman: So at this point I was working with Jose Delbo on the
series as the established artist. Then around about the same time we
started-both Bob and I got involved in other projects. It was animals
Bob Budiansky: Oh, yes. [audience laughs] Brute Force.
Simon Furman: Brute Force, that's right. Yes.
Bob Budiansky: That convention will be in September, right? [audience
Simon Furman: They were trying to pull Jose off to that book for a
while, so it left a vaccuum for an artist. Now originally my first
suggestion was Geoff Senior, who had done a lot of the UK work and had
actually filled in for Jose a couple of times just for deadline
crunches. Geoff, though, had other commitments at the time so we were
still needing a regular artist for the book. I met with Don Daley and
suggested Andrew for the book. Don had somebody else lined up that he
really wanted to try for the book, so we went with Don's suggestion
and that didn't really work out, so back came Andrew for issue 69. It
should have been 68, but he picked up in 69. That's where Andrew came
into the whole mix.
Andrew Wildman: Yes, I think what happened was Geoff Senior-when he
took up the role, he was only going to do it for four issues...no he
wasn't. He was going to run with it regularly, then he wanted...that's
right...he wanted to take a break from doing it. I wonder how many he
did? [to Simon] What issue did he start on?
Simon Furman: We had to do maybe four or five issues in total, but
they were scattered, they weren't...
Andrew Wildman: Yeah, so he was running with those, then he wanted to
take a break off it to do the Death's Head graphic novel. So he needed
a four issue break and then that's when they asked me to do it. They
asked me to do a two page tryout for it, so I just needed two pages. I
remember talking to Rob Tokar the editor and I'd say, 'Well, what
shall I...' actually I think Don was still there, Rob was the
assistant, though he didn't really hear much from Don. [audience
laughs] It was always Rob. I said, 'How shall I treat this?' and he
gave me a few pointers as to how I should draw it. So I handed in
these two page samples. They looked at them and they just said, 'No,
we're not going to give you the work.' They just turned me down flat.
I'm like, oh, okay, fine.
Then I think that's when they commissioned somebody to do 68 and they
weren't particularly happy with it for some reason with how that had
been working out. So then they came back to me and said, 'Are you
interested in-are you still interested in doing it?' 'Yeah, I really
am!' So they said, 'Okay, well the book's yours.' At that point I
decided I would do what I wanted to do rather than what they'd asked
me to do. I felt I had seen the arrogance in it. [audience laughs]
Well they told me how I should draw. They told me I should draw nice
clean lined robots, not so straight, make 'em look metal and clunky
and all that kind of thing. And that's not how I wanted to do it
So when Nancy gave me the book that was why I then moved into doing
that sort of more organic look that a lot of people either like or
they don't. It seems to be the one thing that people recognize in my
work for amongst some the others. I just really really ran with that.
Then the whole debate about 'Transformers don't have teeth' you know,
[audience laughs] My Transformers have teeth, so get used to it!
[audience laughs] So they hesitated, didn't they? [audience laughs]
But yeah, great, so I ran with it from...well Geoff came in to do the
double sized 75th issue because he'd always expressed a preference to
do that double sized issue.
Simon Furman: It was a deadline issue because it was a double sized
issue. It wasn't just...we were running fairly close to deadline all
the way through then. Physically I just don't think Andrew could have
done 75 and...carried on. [audience laughs]
Andrew Wildman: No, I don't know. Maybe, maybe not. No. Simon actually
suggested he come back and do the big apocalyptic issue because he was
good at that stuff. I think I very much felt from my point of view
that that's what Geoff did really well-the really big stuff. And I
think my-what I liked was the more subtle kind of character interplay
and the subtleties of gesture and the detail and all that kind of
thing. So it was quite alright that Geoff did that issue and then I
picked up after it and we ran through until 80! It was meant to go on
longer than that. We'd already pretty much...pretty much decided where
it was going and then suddenly we had to really throw the phone book
at me because they wanted everything that Simon was going to do
wrapped up in like one issue. It became a bit compact, the last issue.
So yeah, there we go. Anything you want to add to that?
Simon Furman: No. If anybody wants now just to ask questions we're
open for all questions. If you can keep them G1, original G1, thanks,
because I'll be there to answer Dreamwave questions this afternoon and
(I'll be) around. So if you could keep it G1 specific, Marvel, (we'd
[audience member: This one is directed to Mr. Furman. Where'd you get
the idea behind the US comic number 70?]
Simon Furman: This would be the one with the sort of mushed together
Megatron and Ratchet?
[audience member: That's it.]
Simon Furman: It just seemed to suggest itself from something that Bob
had already set up in his run. Well, actually, no, it wasn't your run,
sorry. It was the beginning of mine, where..[audience
laughs]..bascially, there's a bit where Ratchet throws himself at
Megatron and they dissapear through this portal, and it just seemed
that it threw open this sort of Frankenstein's monster option for a
story. At the time we had brought back Megatron already and we
thought, well how do we bring back Megatron again and it's dramatic
and it fits? So it made sense just to try and do it in a very
Once Andrew got a hold of it and did the art, because it was fine to
write and it was absolutely wonderful to write in a script, you know,
'They're kind of right together..[audience laughs]...and there's maybe
a limb sticking out here because they still have to kind of amputate
the two legs.' It was fine to write but then I sort of just threw it
to Andrew...[audience laughs] 'Here, you figure it out'. [audience
Andrew Wildman: I went to reference search it-there isn't any (model
reference). Yes, that was a load of fun actually to do that right from
the very beginning because it's really good. As with most comics you
work from reference, they're all previously established characters and
Transformers is very much that. You would have all the previous issues
to look at for official reference, plus some of the model sheets from
the animated movie, whatever. There's lots of those in reference, but
to have-although they were two established characters-to right from
the word 'go', to be able to put something together that was kind of
mine was great! Initially anyway, because Dan was on it.**
And the thing that I think even Rob was surprised at was the level at
which I tried to maintain the continuity on that thing. I pretty much
set my own benchmark by doing that. So when the MegaRatchet character
was established, and then there's some kind of fight scene in there
where he slams them all against the wall, and it's like, bits are
going to fall of there, aren't they? Yes, so I'll make bits fall off,
[audience laughs] but I've got to remember which bits have fallen off.
[audience laughs] And then you've got him shuffling down the corridor
and there's more bits falling off. [audience laughs] So everytime in
the story I made sure that he either looked the same as he had done
before, or that there was another little bit missing, another bit had
fallen out or whatever because that would seem to add to the torment
of the character. It did draw in some ways from a popular movie of the
Simon Furman: Yes, that's right! [laughs]
Andrew Wildman: Or should I not say that? [laughs]
Simon Furman: No no no. There's a line that's almost directly written
off this popular movie. [audience laughs] Or a scene. The little scene
at the end where the MegaRatchet creature sort of grabs the gun and
puts it at its own head. Does anybody know where that scene comes
from? What movie?
[audience member: The Fly? Was it The Fly?]
Simon Furman: Yes! The remake-the Kronenberg remake of The Fly is
basically where I stole that scene wholesale [audience laughs] for the
convictions of the panel. [audience laughs]
[audience member: This question is for Bob. I know this was 20 years
back, but could you give us an idea of what you did to look at a toy,
come up with a name, come up with a backstory of that, the little tech
card and whatnot? Because that's what made Transformers different than
a lot of other toylines, these robots, was that storyline that came
with the toys. I was wondering where you came up with those things.]
Bob Budiansky: Well I pulled names from everywhere. I mean, I looked
at...Here I brought some samples, hold on a second...[audience ooohs
and aaahs as Bob reaches for his stack of notes, character models, and
stuff] I thought if anybody asked a question...[audience laughs] I
never throw anything out, much to the chagrin of my wife. [audience
laughs] We would get...I think in the early days I don't even know if
we got this, we just got the toys. We'd get model sheets from Hasbro,
something like this. It would show them very simply, what they look
like in their various forms. So I'd get an idea of what they did and
then from that I would look for some word that sort of had some
connotation connecting to whether it was a car or a flying vehicle or
an undersea vehicle or a dinosaur or something. I guess I just have a
facility for putting some words together. So I'd come up with names
As far as profiles, I was in the comic book industry for several
years. Before that I read comics when I was kid. I was just able to
grab out of the ether ideas of how to make somebody, have a character
that somebody could build something off of I suppose. Plus the fact
that this is a...One time when I was at Hasbro headquarters-I'd go
there frequently to consult with them about Transformers
development-one of the people I was dealing with there, I can't
remember who it was, maybe one of the account executives or something.
He said to me, 'Were you ever in the military?' [audience laughs]
Because I used to throw all this technical, military-type jargon into
the profiles. He didn't know where I got it from. I have a degree. I
have a degree-a Bachelors of Science in Civil Engineering, which I've
never used. [audience laughs] Except for that-except for coming up
with this jargon for the Transformers. So I told him that's probably
where I got some of these words from, and that I'd sprinkle it
throughout the various profiles I wrote and give them a certain
special feel that did the Transformers. So there you go.
[Audience member: Did you or Hasbro come up with the idea that they
were sort of self-aware robots from an alien planet as opposed to
Bob Budiansky: Well, funny you should say that...[Bob reads from his
notes] "Civil war rages on the planet Cybertron. Destruction is
catastrophic and widespread and yet no life is lost...[audience
laughs]...the inhabitants of Cybertron are all machines. There is no
life on Cybertron save for mechanical electronic creatures." Now I
didn't write that-Jim Shooter wrote that, former editor-in-chief of
Marvel Comics. This is the actual treatment that was approved that I
was handed back in 1983 to base whatever I wrote off of. I don't know
what Hasbro gave Jim Shooter there in his little conversations if they
said like they have to be living robots, they have to come from
another planet. (I) really don't know that. I do know that they put it
all together in this. Basically everything that comes afterwards stems
from this document here, so the armed guards are working over here
right now.*** [audience laughs]
[audience member: Both of you when you were writing seem to have a
special love for Grimlock. Bob did a whole stint where Grimlock became
leader of the Autobots, and then Simon of course, well, 'Me Grimlock
bad ass.' What is it about Grimlock's character that you each find so
compelling? Because it seems as writers you have a special love for
Simon Furman: Actually I've got a question for Bob on this. I want to
know whether he came up with Grimlock's character. I assume so.
Bob Budiansky: Yeah, I did. I just remember kind of a vague memory
but...the Dinobots were being introduced. I wanted to bring them into
the book in a big way. Grimlock was definitely the leader of the
Dinobots. I gave him a big role. I may have gone a little bit too far
over the edge where he was so inhumane. [audience laughs] I might have
been playing with that idea a little too much when I look back at
those issues. I guess sometimes-I think Simon might agree with
this-when you're a writer you come up with an intial story, an initial
characterization in bringing a character into it. But it sort of takes
a life of its own. It leads you down paths you don't expect, so
perhaps in that case Grimlock probably went off and he had more
presence than I initially anticipated.
Simon Furman: I think it's like that old story that nobody really
created Daffy Duck. He developed. He was just a duck that walked on in
one of the Warner Brothers cartoons at one time. He was accepted (by)
writers and he became that character. They added something else, (and)
they added something else, so finally you get Daffy Duck. I think
that's a lot of that way with Transformers. Obvously there was a lot
more put in at the outset with these Transformers characters, but once
they got going in the story sometimes the characters take you in
certain directions. They become the kind of driving force of the
story. Certainly with Grimlock for me. It was as though everytime I
had him in a scene he seemed to suggest story options, he seemed to
lead you in directions. He was just this awesomely bullheaded quality.
Absolutely positive in what he believed, but there was this sort of,
'I will not stop. I have a course of action and I will not stop.' And
once you've got that kind of momentum rolling in a story, the story
tends to roll out of that. So I think that's why I used to like
Grimlock. You could put him in any scene and you would have various
options and exciting options of where it would go from there. He was
just a great character to write.
Bob Budiansky: Yeah, I noticed in recent reviewing-I had to do a cram
session for this convention. I've been reviewing a whole bunch of old
comics. I noticed like when things would happen where Optimus Prime or
a character like that had to make a choice, he had to consider what he
was going to do. If somebody suggested something, he'd go, 'No, that's
not the right option because it might hurt somebody.' Grimlock never
really paused. [audience laughs] You're right-he was bullheaded. He
just went ahead and things were very black and white to him.
[audience member: Mr. Furman, you mentioned that things were rushed at
the end of G1, that you had plans but everything got truncated and you
couldn't get it in. Do you remember specifically things that you wish
you could have done but didn't have the chance to? And specifically
I'm curious about the Action Masters. If you had certain plans with
Simon Furman: I think the ultimate plan with the Action Masters when
we had to bring the Action Masters in-I personally, I'm sorry, Hasbro,
I think they were the dumbest idea. [audience laughs] So here we had
some Transformers that didn't transform. We introduced them in the
story, but always my game plan was to turn them back into real
Transformers afterwards. We had certain amounts of contractual
obligations-bringing in characters as Action Masters. It was always
like the effects of the Nucleon that made them Action Masters was
going to be reversed at some point. I doubt I'd actually formulated
how, but [audience laughs] it was certain. There was certainly going
to be some revolution to that. We had set up this huge storyline with
Grimlock. He had to make his decision to reactivate the Dinobots no
matter what the cost. Just their becoming Action Masters was not going
to be the end of it. There has to be more of a price for this, hence
the whole 'Price of Life' storyline that we did. Unfortunately it
never got into that, it just ended, really, with things like that.
Other things like the Last Autobot-(that) was going to be a
prehistoric Transformers storyline that I'm kind of doing with War
Within a little bit, with the Fallen and the original Transformers,
and it was going to roll out into a something like that there was a
previous set of Transformers that nobody really knew much about.
They'd been hidden away and most of 'em were bad and so forth. So
there were plans but they were largely unformulated. I had large
storyline goalposts set up, but not thought how we were going to
dribble the ball towards the goalpost to get there.
Andrew Wildman: Does anybody understand English football? [audience
[audience member: As you may or may not know, there's some talk about
a new Transformers movie being developed. Has anybody from Dreamworks
approached you or Budiansky about writing the characters, and if not,
would you like the job?]
Andrew Wildman: I was going to write the whole thing. [audience
Bob Budiansky: I want to leave my phone number for anybody who wants
me involved. [audience laughs]
Simon Furman: When this was first booted-the idea-I did get in touch
with Don Murphy and spoke to Don Murphy. So I made the contact which I
need to follow up, but I assume if there is any role it will be a
purely advisory kind of background role. Yes, if it caught on I'd love
to, I'm there! [audience laughs]
[audience member: This is for everybody, generally. I noticed that in
the cartoon there was a Spike Witwicky, in the comic there was a
Buster Witwicky, and then when Fortress Maximus was introduced because
of the name of the toy there had to be a Spike Witwicky. Why was there
a Buster instead of a Spike in the first place? And when Spike was
introduced, where was the idea to make him a peacenik? Where did that
come from? Also, gentlemen, I like the way Fortress Maximus was
drawn-very well. Especially in the battle with Galvatron.][audience
oohs and aahs]
Andrew Wildman: I've been praying for that. [audience laughs]
Simon Furman: Oh, yeah. I asked Bob about the Jetfire/Skyfire thing.
He came up with something-
Bob Budiansky: Well actually I have some clues about Spike and Buster
right here. Jim Shooter wrote this and it talks about Spike by his
name and then crossed out in my handwriting (is) 'Buster'...[audience
laughs]...at several times. Somebody, probably somebody at Hasbro,
didn't like the name Spike and made me change it to Buster. Whether
they communicated to me either directly or through computer I don't
know. But literally it's my handwriting crossing out the typed word
'Spike'. So I'm assuming that at some point this treatment got through
to Saban or whoever without my crossouts. [audience laughs] So he
became Spike in the cartoon.
[audience member: Where did the idea come from to make him a
Bob Budiansky: In the comic?
[audience member: When he was introduced and became the head of
Bob Budiansky: I totally can't believe that actually I wrote it.
[laughs] I don't remember. Let's see if I remember...Thanks for coming
out...wait! [audience laughs] Let me see my notes again! I don't...I
don't really recall writing that.
[audience member: I know this was a job for you guys but did you find
yourself enjoying the concepts or design such that you own any of
Bob Budiansky: Did I ever own them?
[audience member: Yeah, did you enjoy the concept or design...did any
of you guys get any of these toys? Do you own any of them?]
Bob Budiansky: Own the TOYS, oh, alright. I thought you said own THEM,
like own Optimus Prime's name! [audience laughs] I'd get a nickel off
of every toy sold! [audience laughs] When I was involved with the
Transformers basically I got product from Hasbro...samples, but I had
some of them.
[audience member: Are they in a place of prominent display at your
Bob Budiansky: You'd probably be dissapointed to know where they're
being held in my home. [audience laughs] Sorry, I didn't want to
destroy any illusions that you may have had.
Simon Furman: Well then you shouldn't point to me because when we
worked in the Marvel UK offices we had a complete set of toys, or at
least if not complete we certainly had all the main characters.
[sighs] Why didn't I keep those? [audience laughs] We just sort of
left them in the office for people to clear out at some point. So,
yeah. We got to the end of Transformers and we really thought it was
the end. We didn't know...we couldn't have known that several years
later it was gonna come back in a big way and that people were gonna
be still here all those years later still really into it. So we just
kinda let it go in more ways than one.
Andrew Wildman: I never had any. [audience laughs]
[audience member: I just wanted to say that...I think that comic book
writers...I think a lot of people underestimate the amount of talent
that's required to produce a comic book because as a novelist or
someone who writes books, you have 800 pages to describe an intimate
background and atmosphere and you guys just have these little bitty
paper things and you've gotta have your art...and you only have those
little bubbles and sometimes you gotta jam a really big story into a
limited amount of space and I think that takes a lot of talent.]
Bob Budiansky: Thank you.
Simon Furman: Coming from a UK comics background, this was kind of
drummed into us right away because we come from a sort of format where
you didn't have 22 pages to tell a story. You'd have maybe three or
four pages. You've gotta cram an awful lot in. You've gotta compress
your story to the point where nothing is wasted, so by the time I came
to write American comics for Marvel it was great. Having 22 pages was
a luxury. [audience laughs]
Andrew Wildman: As an artist as well, the process of making the jump
from the UK comic to the American comic was great. Given, Transformers
was my first American work just to let you know. With the UK writing
it was every page was described, every panel was described to say what
was in there, what exactly the dialogue was because they had to be
that precise about what was happening. But with 22 pages I guess you
could leave enough there to do a broader overview of what was going
on, and then as the artist you have the opportunity to then move back
around and play with scenes and take on...I don't know...I guess it
feels like you're more involved. So yes, I love working in there. Lots
more you can do with the art.
Bob Budiansky: One thing that's obviously different between a novel
and a comic book is a comic book has pictures. It really carries the
burden. Comics are a visual medium. Also since I was an illustrator so
you can believe this-the more you can let the pictures tell the story,
the better the comic. No matter how good the writer is, you don't
wanna get too bogged down in a long, gritty, written expositional kind
of comic. You want it to move so it's interesting. I can always
achieve that as a writer, but that was a little difficult.
Simon Furman: There was an interesting difference in styles when I
came to Marvel US because the Marvel method was to work in what they
call plot style, which was largely to drop four or five pages into one
description of what's happening there. So you do a sort of overview
almost of what's gonna happen on pages 6 to 10 or whatever, so much of
all the emphasis is on the artist to sort out the pacing, the
construction of the pages, what you're going to give emphasis to on
the page. With full script-which is more the UK version, although now
I know it's a lot more prevalent on both sides of the Atlantic-you
nail down everything. You put the dialogue in there from the start,
which you don't do plot style. You may make suggestions, but largely
you just leave it open for the artist to interpret. You see the pages
and then you come in with the dialogue so it's a very different
process for the writer. They basically present you with pages
sometimes wonderfully that you look at and go, 'Wow! I never saw that
coming, that's brilliant, I can do wonderful things with that!'
Sometimes though, the guy's drawn a big head, a full page, and I have
no room to put any dialogue. [audience laughs] It happened to me on
one comic, not Transformers I'll ad, this just happened in a part
where my description for two pages would be probably about six or
eight panels and it came up with one big head shot and a couple of
smaller panels under it, so it gets difficult at that point.
Andrew Wildman: One advantage with the full script, the UK way of
doing it as opposed to-although I prefer the American plot (style)-one
advantage with the full script is that you have all the dialogue there
because I always like to use gesture and expression and get a lot of
character into it. With the full script, you have the opportunity
to-it's not lip synch as such, but you can get an expression or a
mouth shape that in some way expresses what's in the balloon. With the
American plot way sometimes they'll give you an indication of a line,
but generally you don't have all the dialogue so you end up with what
a lot of people used to call the 'Alleluia chorus' where these
characters are going...[makes an open mouthed expression][audience
laughs]...which cuts down on some of the most essential emotion that
[audience member: How far ahead did you plan out the story arcs you
were writing and were there any characters that you enjoyed writing
more than the others?]
Bob Budiansky: How far ahead did I plan out a story arc? I think it
varied. Sometimes I'd be able to plan out like 6 months in advance and
sometimes it was issue to issue. It really depended on a lot of
things, like for instance if Hasbro was bringing in a whole new line
of toys and I knew I had to get them into the comic book, so I had to
start planning ahead to fit them into some storyline. It kind of
varied depending on various external circumstances as well as whatever
I had in mind already. What was the other?
[audience member: Just what particular characters did you enjoy
Bob Budiansky: Oh, umm...
[audience member: Other than Grimlock.][audience laughs]
Bob Budiansky: Actually I didn't care about him. [audience laughs] I
think it was Blaster and Ratchet earlier on, and who else...who else
did I write? [audience laughs] All of them! I loved them all!
[audience laughs] Shockwave...Starscream later on. I think I had some
fun with Ratbat although maybe you...[audience laughs]...he was the
accountant, the old bean counter. Probably a few others, but half the
cast was always guarding, so I don't know much about them.
Simon Furman: We had an interesting situation on the UK comic because
we were having to tie in our stories into Bob's. We would sometimes
have a peek and either we'd know lots of stuff was coming up and
things that were happening so that we could plan, we could use these
characters because Bob's not using them. Other times we had nothing.
So we had to sort of run these stories thinking, 'Oh god I hope he's
not going to bring Megatron back!' [audience laughs] So you know,
sometimes we just had to take a shot in the dark but other times we
did have some advance info on what Bob was doing.
[audience member: Bob, there's often been unfair talk about the G1
comic where people always focus on Micromaster Wrestling and Car Wash
of Doom.] [audience laughs]
Bob Budiansky: I like Car Wash! [audience laughs]
[audience member: Can you say something in contrast about the dark
storylines that you ran as well? I mean, you cut Prime's head off. Can
you just talk a little about the contrast between when you wrote the
light stories as opposed to the dark stories?]
Bob Budiansky: Oh, okay, well I wanted to have fun with the book. I
wanted my readers to have fun. I was with Marvel for almost 20 years
and it seemed like there was this trend growing where everytime you'd
read a comic you felt like you were just dragged in the gutter. All
these horrible, awful, things were happening to people and life was
the reader's comic toggle.*
Although it's obvious Transformers was two sides involved in a war
that lasted forever, pretty brutal, I didn't want it to just be about
that. Also I wanted to play off the obvious things already in my book.
I really wanted to play off of that. Here are a bunch of alien, giant,
extremely dangerous robots walking around the earth. Although that may
call for some very serious situations, it could also create some fish
out of water situations. Like you mentioned a couple of the more
notorious stories I wrote about. [audience laughs] So I wanted to
throw that in there to kind of just mix it up, that anybody reading
Transformers didn't necessarily know what to expect from issue to
issue. Even in some of the darker stories I think I always tried to
sprinkle in some humorous side, some sarcasm sometimes, some
wisecracks, something to sort of lighten it up, to give it a more full
[audience member: Andy, regarding the style you drew the Transfomers
where you made them more organic looking-was that partly because you
wanted to make them more expressive?]
Andrew Wildman: Well the War Within 2 graphic novel is coming up soon
and they asked me to write the introduction to it. That kind of
relates to what I write in that. A lot of people ask me those kind of
questions. In as much as I didn't actually want to do Transformers in
the first place, and I know that's not a very popular thing to say,
but I didn't know anything about Transformers really. I mean, I'd done
some of the UK stuff purely because I was looking for work.
One of the things the UK staff wanted to do for Hasbro was
Thundercats. Back then we didn't have that many titles in the UK and
they were all licensed, all that toy stuff. The Thundercats was the
book that everybody wanted to get onto because Thundercats was the one
that was more superhero in nature. It was like drawing superheores. We
all had these great aspirations of working [in a swooning voice] for
Marvel in America! [audience laughs] We wanted nothing more.
Then I did the Transformers in the UK and it was fine as paying work,
so then I get the opportunity to work for Marvel US, which was
fantastic, but I would rather have done a book other than
Transformers. Some of that is why I took this organic approach because
I wanted to draw real people. A lot of people have said that they look
like real people in robot costumes. That's largely the reason for it,
as you'll read in the introduction to the War Within graphic novel. I
feel very differently about that now, now that I look back on it, but
that's how I felt at the time. It's just because I wanted to draw real
[audience member: And Simon, can you talk a little about how you came
up with Death's Head?]
Simon Furman: Death's Head was an interesting one. Death's Head was
going to be a launch aimed soley at Marvel UK, never to touch the
pages of Transformers. It was a pitch I'd had around for several
months. I drummed up the various powers that be at Marvel UK. Marvel
UK at the time were gearing up to originate an American format comic
book. I wanted one of those to be Death's Head.
The straight fact was I doubt anybody there thought the idea of a guy
who killed people for a living was a good idea for a comic book.
[audience laughs] It'd spearhead a new line. Even though he was a
robot and he killed other robot beings and so forth, I just don't
think that anybody thought this was a strong frontrunner. So in the
end I was determined to show that this character could work, but we
had limited options of where he could be. For one, he existed as a
pitch and a couple of sketches from Geoff. So we had to do something
with him, and the answer was, well, let's put him in Transformers.
That immediately opens up a huge problem in the fact that as soon as
you put him into Transformers you run (into) these copyright problems
with Hasbro. Sometimes they make you make a specific copyright outside
of that. You might have got him featured first in Transformers (so) he
might be a Hasbro property. We came up with the idea of running a one
page strip, just a sort of jokey, throwaway one page strip that we ran
in Dragon's Claws which was the first launch in the new line. In the
meantime we put him into Transformers having decided that he was now
Marvel copyright. We felt free to put him into Transformers.
Transformers stuff came out first. He got his own sort of personality
and style in Transformers, so when it came to do the Death's Head
comic finally he was sort of fully rounded and ready. It just sort of
grew organically out of that.
Andrew Wildman: I think Death's Head is a metaphor for Simon Furman,
really. [audience laughs] It's so obvious. He kills characters for a
living. [audience laughs]
[audience member: Bob, your issue number 24, Afterdeath, where Optimus
Prime dies, I find personally from a science fiction point of view and
from a character point of view it was some of your greatest work.
Especially given the integrity you showed in Optimus Prime. He went
and sacrificed himself where anybody else in his shoes would have
said, oh hey great, here's my way out. You showed the integrity of
that character. Where'd you get the idea to do that, and also, did
Hasbro tell you you had to kill off Optimus Prime?]
Bob Budiansky: I'm sure Hasbro didn't tell me to do that. My feeling
about Optimus Prime and I guess Megatron, too, was I didn't want them
to dominate. There's so many characters, I didn't want them to
dominate the book. They're the leaders, they're in charge of
everything. I wanted to move them off and (have the) status change for
a while. I think what inspired Afterdeath and other stories maybe
similar like that was I just wanted to find an original way, a
surprising way to get the characters out of the picture for a while.
Keep the fans-the fans would know it-he's still out there, how is he
gonna bring 'em back? Try to keep that suspense going for a while.
That's what was pushing me to do a story like Afterdeath, really.
As far as the integrity he showed, that's just who he was. He had to
make that awful decision to sacrifice himself.
[audience member: Thank you.]
Bob Budiansky: You're welcome.
[audience member: Simon, can you retell your April Fool's joke on
Hasbro and is that treatment still around somewhere?]
Simon Furman: What I will do is steer you towards a site called
ComicCulture.com ( http://www.comicculture.com ). Go check out that.
The third issue of comic culture, which is a magazine put out by Rob
Tokar, has the definitive (story). We still don't have the actual
April Fool's gag. Does everybody know about this? Is this a story
I've..[audience member shouts 'Go ahead'] Okay.
Basically, when I was on the book we decided that as a gag to see how
friendly Hasbro were going to be with us, how much attention they were
paying to the book, and how much we could get away with we thought
we'd play an April Fool's gag on them. We'd come up with the most
ridiculous, atrocious, unpublishable story outline we could think of.
Rob just said, 'Put anything in there you want. Anything. Anything
ridiculous, no matter how ridiculous it is.
So I came up with-I think we did it as something like the overview for
issue 72 to 73. Issue 72 was about four pages worth of just
typewritten notes on what was going to happen in there. We had giant
giant cigar smoking nuns duking it out with Megatron, crushing kids in
prayers. [audience laughs] We had mechanical sheep on the Ark stuffed
with explosives that nobody dared touch until Kup is overcome by
urges. [audience laughs] We'd get carried away with it and blow up the
whole Ark and all its occupants, and so on and so on. We rolled out
ridiculousness after ridiculousness. The final bit was the little note
for issue 73. 'And then there were Nun' we called it, the 'none'
spelled as in 'n-u-n'. [audience laughs] It sort of comes out we wrote
'Oops, they're all dead!' for the story upbrief from that episode. We
sent it off to Hasbro with a memo saying, 'Cheers, 4-1-(90)'.
Whichever year it was. I think it was '90, something like that? So off
it went to Hasbro.
We waited. Rob by now was getting just a little bit worried about
this, wondering-would we just get a terrible reaction to this or would
they get the joke? Days go by and nothing from Hasbro on his desk. Rob
is getting more and more worried and I'm just the writer, I was just
following orders, so...[audience laughs]. Finally he picks up the
phone to Hasbro and asks them about the story pitch. So he finds the
contact at Hasbro, who says, 'Yeah, yeah, I got it. Yeah, it seems
good, it's pretty cool. We just have a few concerns.' [audience
laughs] So Rob's thinking they got the gag. But (then they ask) 'So
what happens after this? They're all dead!' [audience laughs] Rob
thought this has got to stop (but) he didn't know what to say or do.
They hadn't got the joke. He had to find out how to break it to him
now that it's a joke. So he tried to steer them towards (the truth).
[as Rob] 'Have a look at the memo. What's the date?'
[as Hasbro] 'Yes, 4-1-90.'
[as Rob] 'Okay, and what's that?'
[as Hasbro] 'Well, it's the first of April.' [audience laughs]
[as Rob] 'Yes, WHAT'S THAT?'
[as Hasbro] 'Well, it was a Sunday.' [audience laughs]
[as Rob] 'NO!'
Then finally they give him some hell. They call up and they say
there's silence on the phone. [audience laughs] They got the news.
It's sort of Rob hell. They submit him to the worst. And then finally,
Rob's thinking of clearing out his desk already, [audience laughs] and
then finally the guy just breaks out laughing and he says. 'You guys!
You got us! Oh, I gotta do this on some other guy at Hasbro!'
[audience laughs] So there you go. It kind of told us two things. They
were pretty good guys, they could take a joke. And they really weren't
loooking at what we were doing. [audience laughs]
Andrew Wildman: They did right after that. [audience laughs]
Simon Furman: So Rob tells this whole story and about some other cover
problems they had with Hasbro when they had to reattach heads to
bodies, even though he had Headmasters which lift off completely from
the shoulders. If you go to ComicCulture.com
(http://www.comicculture.com ), check out issue 3 of the ComicCulture
magazine that's coming out because Rob did a whole piece on that which
is just fabulous. He remembers it far, far better than me, the actual
detail of went on in the storyline.
[audience member: This is for Andrew. I want you to know that I felt
your art was my favorite of the original.]
Andrew Wildman: Thank you.
[audience member: Are there any issues that stand out to you,
representative of what you thought were your best issues, including
the UK stuff?]
Andrew Wildman: Erhm, I don't remember much about the UK stuff. I
don't know why I don't. [audience laughs] Um, 70 I think is the first
one, just that whole beginning stuff and the whole flying scenario
that say something-that was really good. The kind of work that I
was...all artists do this...they look at other work, other artists.
They never rip it off, but I mean you're influenced by things or you
see things that other people do that you think, 'That's a really
appropiate way of expressing a certain scene or whatever'. You draw on
those things. There was a particular artist whose work-I won't tell
you who it is, by the way-that I was looking at at the time seemed so
relevant to how I wanted to portray that. So I worked really hard on
that issue and probably the one after because I wanted to make an
impression because I really wanted to tell the story well. I was very
very satisfied with that.
Simon was right, at a point it did become a rush towards the end. I
liked all that stuff with...Simon was saying the way that some of the
storylines were probably gonna carry on with the Nucleon thing. The
planet where Grimlock went to and there's that little character, and
all the foliage was made out of metal-I can't even remember what
that's all about. [audience laughs] I was looking forward to doing
more of that, having a planet filled with organic but metal as well.
It was great. It just gave me more opportunities to put those
ridiculous, like posters and tape drives and vacuum cleaners in the
background, [audience laughs] sort of heathen stuff going on. So that
[OTFCC staff: One more question.]
Simon Furman: Yes, one more question.
[audience member: This is for Bob. I know you're an artist also. I was
wondering if you designed any of the original characters you wrote in
the comic like Straxus or Scrounge or anyone like that.]
Bob Budiansky: I don't believe I designed either one of them. I think
I gave a more detailed description of Scrounge. I did design some of
the characters, not the Transformers themselves obviously-they came
from Hasbro. But I designed Circuit Breaker, the original character
sketch for that. I remember I think initially getting pages back from
Don Perlin when I did the issues about the Scraplets. It wasn't what I
percieved, so I sent back some sketches to that. I also had to draw
the cover to that one (issue 29) to merely show this is what I wanted
them to look like-mischievous kind of a devil. Then there were several
characters scattered throughout there that are based on people at the
Marvel offices. There was the Robot Master character was based on a
Marvel former editor/writer, there was a character named the Mechanic
that was based on a Marvel editor. [audience laughs] He looked like
that, he actually was very heavy. There was probably another bunch of
characters that were named after people, like a lot of my relatives
were in there. [audience laughs] I just threw in names of people I
knew here and there.
Simon Furman: I just want to add a blatant plug. That sketch for
Circuit Breaker is featured in the upcoming Titan collection, Maximum
Force. We've also got some of Bob's original cover sketches in
upcoming Titan collections. So we're working hard to put some extra
bonuses here in these collections. Like I said, we've got a lot of
Bob's original art from Transformers. I think Andrew has one more
thing to say before we wrap up here.
Andrew Wildman: Oh, me, yes. Something that I would have like to have
seen when I was trying to get into comics, and something that I never
really had the opportunity to see, was original penciled artwork.
You'd usually get inked up, colored, printed, and there you go, see
the finished art in stores. If you're lucky, occasionally you'll see
pages of finished, inked artwork. Since I would have liked to seen
that when I was trying to get into comics, we've put together a whole
series of packs based on the War Within 2 series. You can order these
off of the Wildfur website (http://www.wildfur.net ). Each pack
contains an issue of whichever issue it is signed by myself and Simon.
Then what we've also put together are booklets that have got a copy of
Simon's original script so you can see how the script is all put
together, then copies of all the penciled artwork before it got inked
and covered. So if anyone is interested in that kind of thing and how
it was put together, come talk to us, we'll show you these. You can
have a see what they're like and you can pick it up and hang on to it.
Simon Furman: We will just say there are a very limited number at one
of the dealer tables today, over at Paul's stand, which is the one
with the UK flags on it. [audience laughs] You'll know it. We have got
one of each, they're very limited because we just couldn't lug a lot
of stuff over. If people really want to go and look at what these are,
they're on Paul's table. But you can order one besides.
Bob Budiansky: I will say on my behalf, with this coming to an end, if
people see me wandering around and if your questions haven't been
answered, feel free to walk up and ask, okay?
Andrew Wildman: I've also got, if anybody is interested in buying
original artwork, I've brought with me the only remaining pages of the
original Marvel stuff that I've got. So I'm going to be there if
anybody's interested in buying or just having a look at some of that!
Simon Furman: Okay, thank you very much! [audience applauds][end of
* 'Compen Garden'-not sure if I got the name of the locale correct
** I think I'm mishearing this because 'Dan' doesn't make sense. Could
he mean the colorist? Nel Yomotov was the colorist on issue 70, but it
doesn't sound like Andrew's saying Nel. I left it as I thought it
*** 'working over here right now'-might be wrong due to audience
crazysteve with rubber tires