Annual Transformers Forum Meet Tour

Every year, since 2011, the nerds from TheTF.Net forum (now a Facebook group, because running a forum proved too much like hard work) have met for a weekend… [more]

Annual Transformers Forum Meet Tour Annual Transformers Forum Meet Tour

Our 2019 Forum Meet took place this weekend, in Cardiff

This weekend saw our annual forum meet being held in the Welsh capital of Cardiff. Each year we meet in a different town or city in the UK, alternating… [more]

Our 2019 Forum Meet took place this weekend, in Cardiff Our 2019 Forum Meet took place this weekend, in Cardiff

Video Footage from Transforce in 2001

Almost 18 years ago (crikey, has it been that long?) we wrote a review of our visit to Transforce in August 2001. It was a seriously hot day, but a great… [more]

Video Footage from Transforce in 2001 Video Footage from Transforce in 2001

Join our Autobot Alliance on Transformers Earth Wars

If you play the mobile game Transformers Earth Wars, and you're looking for a good Autobot Alliance to join, then seek us out in the game. We're called… [more]

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TheTF.Net Northern Meet

It's been six months since we last bothered updating this site. Not because we've lost our love for Transformers, but because we really can't be bothered… [more]

TheTF.Net Northern Meet TheTF.Net Northern Meet
 

Press Release: HASBRO ANNOUNCES LICENSING AGREEMENT WITH DREAMWAVE FOR FIRST TRANSFORMERS COMIC BOOK SERIES SINCE EARLY 90’S

Written by Darren 'Starscream' Jamieson on December 12, 2001 | Features |

Dreamwave also wins rights to produce TRANSFORMERS posters, calendars, lithographs and scrolls

PAWTUCKET, R.I., December 12, 2001 – Hasbro, Inc. (NYSE:HAS) and Dreamwave announced today a licensing agreement awarding Dreamwave the rights to produce a wide-range of TRANSFORMERS-related products in comic book form, as well as posters, calendars, lithographs and scrolls.

The first TRANSFORMERS comic book, based upon the original characters, will be available at retail beginning April, 2002.

“TRANSFORMERS is a classic property, and we are thrilled that we will have the opportunity to use our expertise and passion for this brand as we create a range of comic books, posters, calendars that will be just incredible,” said Pat Lee, President of Dreamwave Productions. “It has always been a dream of mine to draw TRANSFORMERS and now that it has become a reality, I couldn’t be more excited.”

“TRANSFORMERS has captivated the imaginations of millions of kids from the beginning nearly 20 years ago,” said Tom Klusaritz, Vice President, Global Publishing and New Business Development for Hasbro’s Consumer Products Worldwide. “Dreamwave has an outstanding reputation for their intense artwork and overall creativity, and their abilities make them an ideal choice to extend TRANSFORMERS once again into the comic book world.”

Hasbro Consumer Products Worldwide is part of the Hasbro Properties Group, which was established in May 1999 to maximize Hasbro’s vast intellectual properties in a wide range of entertainment-based categories, including visual media, licensing, publishing, promotions and location based entertainment.

Hasbro, Inc. is a worldwide leader in children’s and family leisure time and entertainment products and services, including the design, manufacture and marketing of games and toys ranging from traditional to high-tech. Both internationally and in the U.S., its PLAYSKOOL, TONKA, MILTON BRADLEY, PARKER BROTHERS, TIGER and WIZARDS OF THE COAST brands and products provide the highest quality and most recognizable play experiences in the world.

Founded in 1996 by Pat Lee, Dreamwave Productions exploded onto the comic book scene with their first in-studio offering, Darkminds. Since then, they have produced six ongoing-titles/maxi-series including Warlands and Shidima, which have been printed and sold all over the world. Dreamwave Productions is located in Toronto, Canada.

Scatman Crothers is Jazz

Written by Darren 'Starscream' Jamieson on October 15, 2001 | Features |

We have decide to offer you this in order to pay tribute to the memory of Scatman Crothers, Jazz in the Transformers.

Excerpts taken from “Scatman: An Authorized Biography of Scatman Crothers”. This biography was written by Jim Haskins and Hellen Crothers (Scatman’s widow). Jim Haskins is the author of more than 50 books. He has written reviews for the Gainesville Sun, The New York Times and other publications. He is a professor of English at the University of Florida.

These are the excerpts from the book referring to his work on Transformers.

Page 195, Paragraph 4:

Scatman continued to do voice-overs. Says Steve Tisherman, who left the Schartz agency and founded his own agency in 1983. “He loved voice-overs. It was simple work, the timespan was not vast, and it was fun for him to be himself and be on in front of a mike with a character. He would have done that until the day he dropped. It was the perfect vehicle for him.”

Page 195, Paragraph 5:

Fortunately, such a vehicle came along in The Transformers, an animated three-part series that focused on the battle between the inhabitants of a long-ago mechanical planet called Cybertron. All the inhabitants could transform themselves into other things, and the main plot was a battle between the Autobots, the good guys, and the Decepticons, the bad guys. The show lasted three years, form 1985 to 1988.

Page 196, Paragraph 1:

“The Transformers were toys,” says Tisherman. “They were robots, and you could change their shape into tanks or airplanes by just bending the head and pushing it under. Thus the name ‘The Transformers’ Those toys were very big in the late seventies and early eighties, and the cartoon show was a spin-off. It was a syndicated TV show produced by Sunbow in association with Marvel, which produced the toys. They must have done one hundred and fifty episodes, and there were a lot of characters in the show – it was probably the biggest cast I ever saw. Several clients of mine were in it – Mark Jordan, Joe Leahy, Peter Cullen, in addition to Scatman – and every few months, or cycle period, they would cast for new characters. Scatman was in about fifty of the shows, and Helen is still collecting residuals.”

Page 204, Paragraph 4:

Thanks to the miracle of television, Scatman is often seen in homes across the nation on reruns of Laverne and Shirley, The Love Boat, and the like. His voice is also heard in reruns of the various cartoon shows on which he worked. In addition to keeping his memory alive, these reruns of his shows continue to earn money for Helen. “I still get residuals checks,” she says. “I remember one day I got twelve separate checks for residuals from The Transformers.”

Page 204, Paragraph 5:

Says Steve Tisherman, “The Transformers is in syndication in both the domestic and foreign markets. The payment is about eighteen dollars an episode, but when you were in fifty of the shows, as Scatman was, it adds up. Hellen asked about my commission, but I told her to forget the commission.”

Page 204, Paragraph 6:

Scatman also continues, in death, to give to charity. “Scat gave to one charity that distributes the contributions to other charities,” says Helen. “Every check I get today, there is something taken out of it.”

Interview: Mike Collins

Written by Darren 'Starscream' Jamieson on September 29, 2001 | Features,Interviews |

TheTransformers.Net managed to catch up with veteran Transformers comic artist Mike Collins. Mike also worked on some of the Transformers ladybird books with Mark Farmer and has recently created a piece of artwork for a deck of charity comic based playing cards – the subject matter? Transformers of course.

You can check out what Mike is up to by visiting his website at www.freakhousegraphics.co.uk

Mike, could you start by introducing yourself and your involvement with Transformers?

I had just broken in to comics (which makes it sound like a criminal act.. and some would say..) and was working regularily for Marvel UK. My art-parter at the time was Mark Farmer, now best known for his inking on pretty much all the top American comic heroes. At the time, Mark was wending a course between comics and illustration. Ladybird Books had approached Sheila Crenna at Marvel UK, looking for an artist to draw their new range of books based on the Transformers toys. Sheila remembered Mark’s painting abilities and asked him if he wanted the gig– he kindly offered that we did it between us: he was happy with doing the finishes, but drew the line at actually having to draw the things. He figured I’d enjoy that!

After that, when John Ridgway was unable to continue on the strip, Sheila and Ian Rimmer remembered that I’d been working on the books and could hit the ground running on the strip, so I got the job ….ironically, without Mark inking! I was keeping him busy on the Ladybird work.

How did you get into the comic industry?

Sheer bloody-mindedness! I always wanted to work in comics, and did all I could -work in fanzines, getting to meet editors, showing my work at conventions, sending in samples… Eventually, my work caught the eye of Alan Moore, who got me work at Marvel UK.

What was the first Transformer you ever drew, and who is your favourite Transformer to draw?

Optimus Prime! And….Optimus Prime!

What Transformers related art, or strip, are you most proud of and why?

Crisis Of Command! With co-writer James Hill, we produced a tale that filled a gap in the American continuity, shortly after Optimus had lost his head (literally) and had it restored. It was an exploration of power, and what it means to those who command… oh, and we blew up a whole lot of stuff! Great art by John Stokes and Geoff Senior and of course, starring Optimus!

What kind of things were you into as a child, and did you ever read comics?

Comics, and Gerry Anderson– and Gerry Anderson comics! TV21 was a weekly transport to a world of outsized ships, planes and spacecraft. Working on Transformers wasn’t too much of a leap after that!

How do you rate the new Transformers Beast Wars, Generation 2 and Car Robots’ compared to the originals: as cartoons and to draw from an artists point of view?

Beat Wars I though was great– haven’t seen Car Robots… isn’t that the one were they’ve basically just slapped a ‘Transformers’ logo over a wholly different show?

How was your relationship with the other Transformers artists and writers, and do you still keep in contact with any of them now?

We used to get on really well- still do when we meet up– it’s one of those things– working in comics, you’re scattered around the country. Certainly when I started on the comic I was living in London so went out drinking with the others on a reasonably regular basis!

How do you rate the story lines in the Transformers comic, as opposed to say, Judge Dredd or Doctor Who?

At the beginning there was a certain amount of filling in the gaps to the US material– but when Simon hit his stride I think he was producing some kicking action… wholesale smash and crash. Of course, when he took over the US comic there was no stopping him!

What would be the process for drawing a single issue of The Transformers? i.e. the time it takes, where you start, rough sketches. From when you received the script to the final art.

Generally, Simon’d write the script, I’d draw it… if new toys were involved, a trip to London was in order for me to pick up the reference… and maybe a few pints too. Very nice way of working! When I wrote a few stories, it’d be a trip in to knock out the ideas with the editor and co-writer, and then -in the case of Crisis- refer to a bit of animation film that we could ‘re-write’ as a scene from our story. The idea being, Marvel could run an ad on TV showing the clip saying “Read the rest of the story in the weekly Transformers Comic!” Don’t think they ever ran the ads though…

How do you relax when you’re not working on comic books?

Uh, I draw. When on holiday, I’ll take a pad with me- it’s a great release just drawing anything, not necessarily in relation to work.

What comics do you prefer to work on, and are there any characters that you dislike drawing?

I love Super-Hero comics, I love science fiction… I particularly like Star Trek and have now drawn strips -and written some- based on every incarnation of the show… hmmm, wonder if they need an artist for Enterprise…Who don’t I like drawing? Well, on Transformer’s it’d have to be the Insecticons…too fiddly!

Lee Sullivan would try to work the Marvel offices into all of his backgrounds. Do you make any subtle ‘in jokes’ in your work such as this?

Well, I always have, and still do, include the Rotunda from Birmingham City Centre in backgrounds. It’s been in Mega-City One, it’s been on Vulcan, Trill and New York. Everywhere. Go look!

What are you working on now?

Harry Potter RPG cards, a graphic novel based on the Phantom, covers (and currently a story) for the regular Star Trek e-books that you can download.

What do you think are the chances of The Transformers comic returning, and would you like to work on them again?

If there was a Transformers comic around again and they wanted me, I’d love a shot at it… it was glorious fun– it’s what comics are all about big improbable action, big robots and high drama.

How difficult was it to draw a Transformers ‘mid Transformation’ as opposed to drawing a human form moving? Are there any similarities?

When the strip went over to the animation models rather than looking like the toys it got a lot easier! They had pretty much human proportions… trying to have Mirage lumbering around was a major feat of logistics and engineering theory…

Have you any advice for anyone wanting to become a comic artist?

The same old dull advice, I’m afraid… draw REAL things… don’t copy another artist’s style…a ‘style’ is just where they’ve made a mistake (to badly quote Neal Adams). Find your own voice. Draw friends, pets, spanners…get a sense of different textures, lighting conditions, learn to draw metal so that it doesn’t look like wood or cloth. Sounds dumb, but think that way and you’ve got half the puzzle solved.

Use reference- everything should feel credible, particularly here in a strip where you’ve got to suspend disbelief. A handy tip… even today, when I draw cars, I still look at my Transformer toys!

We’d like to thank Mike for spending time talking to us about Transformers, and wish hime the best of luck in the future. Remember to check out his website at www.freakhousegraphics.co.uk

Report: Transforce 2001

Written by Darren 'Starscream' Jamieson on September 2, 2001 | Features |

Saturday August 25th saw the Transforce convention in Beckenham, Kent. And it saw much lira make its way out of my wallet in exchange for Transformers goodies. I didn’t know so much existed. The toys and merchandise that could be found there astounded even a great hoarder such as myself. If it’s the toys that interest you most jump to the bottom of the page now for the pictures. If you were unaware of Transforce, you may wish to check out our preview of the event here.

This gathering of Transfans occurred on what must have been one of the hottest days of the year, so hundreds of eager fans jostling together in one room fighting over rare and imported merchandise made for a very humid and faint inducing experience indeed. Luckily they had a bar, and it was cheap. In this bar you could find a giant projection screen with some classic Transformers action adorning it. The U.S. DVD of Villains was one such cartoon shown, and one of my favourites.


The initial bartering for merchandise

The highlight of the convention, besides the rather cheap bar and Carlsberg lager, was the Q&A session with us fans and the gods of Transformers; Simon Furman, Andy Wildman, Lee Sullivan, Steve White and Mike Kazybrid.

Simon and Lee have already been interviewed by TheTransformers.Net, so check out their interviews here: Simon Furman | Lee Sullivan The other guys all agreed to interviews so stay tuned on that one.
Simon Furman and Andy Wildman talked about their current project The Engine which is a website run by the combined company SimFur Productions. Rather than me telling you about this website, just check it out for yourself. http://www.whorunstheengine.net

Andy Wildman also mentioned that he is currently working on a PC game of 2000AD with games developer Rebellion. This will feature comic book style artwork with Judge Dredd in a first person style shooter. For more info on this keep your eye on GAME, they are always first for games news. I mentioned to Andy afterwards how great it would be if there were a Transformers PC game with his artwork, he agreed.

More graphic novels from Titan!
During their Q&A session Simon Furman broke some great news about Titan books. A you may know they have just released the story ‘All Fall Down’ in graphic novel form, and will release ‘End of the Road’ later this year. Titan have now agreed to release four new novels next year. The stories are Matrix Quest, Target 2006 and the G2 comics parts one and two. How’s that for exciting? Strangely many people’s favourite story, Time Wars is not scheduled for release, but you can still read that story here at TheTransformers.Net


Andy Wildman and Simon Furman wait to sign autographs, they’ll have a long wait as Lee Sullivan is holding everyone up with another long story.

Simon also mentioned that Titan were looking into other Transformers projects and possibilities, but he wasn’t going to elaborate on that at this stage. What could he have meant? Maybe Titan publishing original Transformers graphic novels? Perhaps even picking up the comic? Who knows, but be sure that ‘All Fall Down’ has performed well for Titan, and they’re getting behind Transformers firmly.

Alignment
Attendance at the convention was the only way you could secure your copy of Alignment part one, Simon Furman’s conclusion to the Transformers saga started in G2. This is sure to be one of the rarest and most sought after of all comics, getting it signed by the crew also helps. If you haven’t got a copy of this I fear you may never get one, it’s possible that by contacting Transforce you may still be able to order one, but don’t quote me on that. We won’t be featuring this in our comics section either, it was produced at great expense to Transforce and if you want to see a copy you’ll have to go through them.

This artwork for the cover of Alignment from Lee Sullivan was also auctioned off at Transforce, so some lucky fan has this beauty hanging on his wall. If you’d like to own some original Transformers art then check out Lee Sullivan’s gallery here at TheTransformers.Net. You too could have original Transformers comic art on your wall.

The Transforce quiz proved to everyone that just because you know Transformers, doesn’t mean you know Transformers. There was a mixture of G1 and Beast Wars/Machines questions on the initial entry sheet, and I got one right. Plus I was pleased with that.


The jostling for merchandise

Where does he get those wonderful toys?
Now to the stalls, and my word what an array of Transformers merchandise. Be still my twitching wallet. Boxed mint Devastator sets, Sky Lynx, Trypticon and Fortress Maximus. Reissue Megatrons and Primes (more than I paid for mine over the web!) PVC figures and comics. They even had rare ‘Movie’ figures of Rodimus Prime and Galvatron… that talked. Not for sale unfortunately, or is that thankfully?
The most curious thing I found was a Soundwave miniature. There were others too, Trypticon and JRX, but Soundwave caught my eye. He seemed to be the Soundwave we all know and love but much smaller, yet exact in every detail, and of course Transformable. I wannit! Where does he get those wonderful toys?


A reissue Hot-Rod that I just had to buy

My purchases consisted of a reissue Hot-Rod (a must have item in anyone’s eyes) a PVC Grimlock simply because I was curious as to what they were like, and a child’s set of Transformers Pyjamas. For my son before you ask, and he’d better not be sick on them!

The reissue Hot-Rod cost a cool £40.00, which was steep but there was no way I was leaving him there. He had a Taiwan price on him of $2,500 around £25.00, but with shipping and the dreaded import tax I guess I would probably have had to pay around £40.00 anyway. I’m happy.


My son Robbie waits patiently to get his copy of Alignment signed.

Robbie behaved well on the whole, but decided to heckle Lee Sullivan during the Q&A as the heat was getting to him. He then decided to have a siesta while waiting to get his Alignment signed.


The one item I really, really wanted… but not for sale. Curses!

All in all this was a great day for Transformers, it shows that they are more alive today than they ever were, and they will go on living online and in conventions for years to come. Hopefully the name Transformers will make it back to our screens in it’s original G1 format, the toys will hit our shelves and the comic will return… we can hope, but there certainly is a demand for it!

Interview: Simon Furman

Written by Darren 'Starscream' Jamieson on July 15, 2001 | Features,Interviews |

We here at TheTransformers.Net have been talking to long time Transformers writer, guru and personal idol Simon Furman. Simon has found us a little slot in his busy schedule to talk to us about his time as Editor on Marvel’s The Transformers comic, and what he’s up to these days – which includes more Transformers you’ll be pleased to hear. So without further ado we’ll question the man, the mirth and the legend that isSimon Furman.

Simon’s note to TheTransformers.Net:
“Hi Darren, Thanks for your patience here. It’s been a mind-blowingly busy time, and I’m only just starting to work through a mountain of correspondence. Let’s go with the Q&A stuff (which I hope will also answer your other questions):”

Can you start by introducing yourself, and your role on Marvel’s The Transformers?

I started writing for the UK Transformers comic back in 1985 (in issue #13, a story called ‘The Enemy Within’). At this point, I’d done relatively little script work (some ‘creepy’ stories for Scream, an IPC comic) and Transformers I knew only vaguely from some TV ad spots. Nevertheless, when TF UK editor Shiela Cranna was pitching around for writers to originate new UK TF material (there just wasn’t enough US comic strip to sustain a fortnightly, as it was then, reprint title) I sent in a batch of story ideas. She liked a few of them, and I found these ‘toys’ were surprisingly interesting. Since then I’ve written many, many UK TF stories, and in 1989 I took over on the US TF comic.

The script writing industry is remarkably difficult to break into successfully, how did you mange it?

I really got into scriptwriting through the back door. I was working for IPC Magazines as a competitions journalist (writing copy for a wide range of magazines and comics, everything from My Guy to Popular Gardening, Woman’s Own to Buster). Back then IPC published a whole range of comics (2000 AD, Buster, Roy of the Rovers, Whizzer & Chips, Battle and so on). A lot of the stuff I did was for the comics bit, and eventually they asked me to come aboard as assistant editor on a companion comic to 2000 AD called Scream. It featured originated strips, and I got a first hand look at how to write for comics. They let me write a few myself (some episodes of the Dracula Files, a thing called Terror of the Cats and various one-shot stories). Looking back, they were pretty terrible, but I knew even then that this was what I wanted to do.

What influenced you to move into writing?

I’ve always been writing, ever since I was a kid. One very early school report praised my imagination AND my imaginative spelling! So I was always looking to write, in some way, or for something. The first idea was to be a full fledged journalist, but I was never sure I had the incisiveness necessary. As with most people, I sort of stumbled sideways into what I really wanted to be doing.

Have you, or did you at any time have aspirations to move into movie scripts?

It’d be great to do so, but I’m a realist. Getting a movie script written is one thing, getting someone to even look at it, let alone pick it up, is whole other thing. For the moment, I’m happy writing stuff for TV. But who knows, down the line a bit, if I get the right contacts…

The characterisation within the Transformers comic was well rounded, particularly those of Ultra Magnus and Rodimus Prime being hounded by self doubt and feelings of inadequacy. How did you come up with the characters for the Transformers, and are they based on anyone, fact or fiction?

To be honest, all the basic character stuff was already locked in. The character profiles were pretty well rounded, so all I had to do was run with that. What I did, was simply to flesh them out, give them rough edges and flaws and bright spots that people would be able to associate with. I’d approach anything (or any character) the same way, you have to make it as real as possible, even within the realm of sci-fi/fantasy.

In ‘Time Wars’ in particular a lot of main stream characters were killed off, how much of a problem was it to gain permission to eliminate nearly half of Hasbro’s Transformers toy line?

Permission, mmm. Did we ever ask permission? Certainly by the time we got to Time Wars, Hasbro weren’t over-scrutinising what we were doing. So we just did.

Have you written any scripts, or synopsis for Transformers comic stories that never made it to print, and if so, what were they?

The only TF story outline I remember submitting that never made it into print (and just as well) was a April Fools’ gag we tried on Hasbro US. It had giant nuns, mechanical sheep, school buses being squished underfoot and everyone died at the end. Rob Tokar (the editor of TF US) swears he has a copy of this, somewhere. If he ever finds it, I’ll be first in line to read it. Hasbro’s comment on all of this was, ‘but what happens afterwards?’. Sigh.

What things do you have to consider when writing for a comic as opposed to writing a short story, novel or script?

Comics have to be very in your face. In a novel (not that I’ve written any) or a short story, you’ve time and space to build up mood and atmosphere, in a comic you’ve got to grab the reader on page 1 (or at least lead them onto page 2). You’ve also got to think a lot more about page-to-page structure, about the way your story breaks down over 11 or 22 pages. You’ve also got to be able to visualise everything, from the way people look to how you want each panel staged and shot. It’s very like doing a film or a TV script, which was why I found the transition to TV animation straightforward. There are a few differences. In comics, you can afford to have characters stop and chat, in animation you have to keep them on the run all the time. You’ve a 22 minutes to pack a whole lot into, so any exposition has to be moving with the action. One thing I prefer about prose, as opposed to script, is that to an extent you’re opening it up to the reader to visualise, to flesh out. There are a lot more blanks for the reader to fill in, comics (or animation) does all that in the artwork.

What relationship do you now have with the old team from the Transformers comic?

I’m still in touch with a lot of the artists who worked on Transformers. Andy Wildman and I are still actively working together (see below), and I still regularly see Geoff Senior, Bryan Hitch, Barry Kitson, John Higgins and Lee Sullivan. A little more geographically removed are the likes of Mike Collins and Jeff Anderson, but we still keep in touch (I saw Mike at the recent Bristol comics con). Rob Tokar and I, though some 6,000 miles distant, are still very good friends. There was a really good team spirit that seemed to come with working on Transformers, UK and US, and it endures to this day.

In your own opinion, what is your favourite Transformers story, and do they compare well with other comics that you have written?

I still think my best TF stuff was the run from #69-80 of the US comic, the whole Unicron saga. It still holds up today, and I’m not sure I’ve ever bettered it (or had a better time doing it) since, in or out of TF. Of the UK strips, I love the Target 2006s and Time Wars and their ilk. I was always happiest writing stories which featured Galvatron, Unicron and Death’s Head (or a combination thereof).

Titan books have struck a deal to publish classic Transformers comics in graphic novel form, do you think this deal will lead to a possible return of the Transformers comic?

I’d love to say yes, but the realist in me doubts it. It’s certainly a step in the right direction. The Titan collections (which coincidentally collect TF US #69-80) arrive at an ideal time, especially with the US TV series TF: Robots in Disguise (a re-tool of the Japanese ‘manga’ TF series) airing this autum in the US. Maybe it’ll spur someone into thinking it’s a good idea again.
There are plenty of people pushing for this, but it’s going to take a big publisher (Marvel, Top Cow, Dark Horse, someone like that) to come on board and make it happen. The two Titan paperback collections, All Fall Down and End of the Road (new interlocking cover art by Andy Wildman) are out this August and November respectively. The first one looks fab, and if you’re lucky enough to be visiting this year’s Botcon US you’ll see (and have a chance to buy) the hardback cover variant edition (with art by Geoff Senior).

What advice can you give to someone wanting to move into, what is essentially, a fiercely competitive industry?

My advice to anyone trying to break into comics (or associated industries), be they writer or artist, is always have a back-up plan. It’s hard to break in, and once you’re in it’s sometimes hard to stay busy. So make sure that while you’re pitching ideas to publishers you’re also doing something that pays. A lot of artists and writers, myself included, have diversified into advertising, commercial art, non-fiction, reviews, and so on.

What are you working on right now?

Right now, and the focus of as much of my attention as time allows, is the web-based (for the moment at least) project (long in various stages of development) I’ve been working on with Andy Wildman. It’s called the Engine: Industrial Strength, and after several false starts it’s now set to debut this August, though the site will go on line in July. The site: www.whorunstheengine.net will feature new story material (presented in the form of text and visuals, all of which will have an element or two of interactiveness about them) and regular updates on what Andy and I are up to (plus new art, TF-related stuff, video interviews, background and a whole bunch of great stuff).

Alignment is exclusively available to pre-registrants of Transforce 2001. Writer – Simon Furman Illustrated by Geoff Senior, Lee Sullivan, Andrew Wildman, Jeff Anderson and other great Transformers names.

I’ve also just written a non-fiction companion book to an upcoming (this Autumn) Channel 4 series called Extinct!, which recreates (CGI-wise) extinct beasties such as the Sabre-toothed Tiger and the Mammoth. Other stuff includes development work for a TV series that may or may not be, and so is still very much under wraps, and a new TF story for this year’s Transforce con. It’s called Alignment (part one of two), and it features (finally) the continuation of, and resolution to, the whole Liege Maximo storyline (begun fleetingly in issue #12 of TF Gen 2 comic). It’s big, it’s epic, and it’ll be published as part of the convention booklet this year. Do not miss it. And that’s it.

Hope that’s OK. I’ll nag Geoff about his Q&A, but he’s also been v.v.busy.
Best, Simon Furman.

We’d like to thank Simon for taking the time to talk to us, and wish him the best of luck with his future projects – all of which we wait with baited breath to see.

Transformers The Movie Region 2 DVD: The Inside Story

Written by Darren 'Starscream' Jamieson on June 1, 2001 | Features |

On Tuesday 28th May we travelled down to the small town of Thame in Oxford to visit the offices of Maverick Entertainment. The people responsible for the DVD release of Transformers the movie. They had asked us at TheTransformers.Net to act as creative consultants on the forthcoming release. We had to think about it, for about a microsecond!

We donned our Transformers apparel, smoothed on the shades and set off to make Transformers history.With the blasting sounds of The Touch emanating from the speakers, we rode in style down the M4, armed with the long list of e-mails from Transformers fans with their suggestions on special features. Thanks for that all of you who wrote in, particularly Stuart Denyer! Top of the list was the much repeated request for an isolated music track, or soundtrack CD.
Daz Jamieson of TheTransformers.Net, sporting his Movie T-shirt

Walking into Maverick’s tiny offices the first thing that hits you is the 80’s animation filled notice board, all of which Maverick have the rights to. It was like a trip back in time where animation was based on character and story line, unlike today. (Tip from the inside, GI Joe and Visionaries may be next) Check out the list at the bottom of the page for all of Maverick’s catalogue. If there’s anything that you’d like to see released, just e-mail me and ask!


Sunbow’s presentation pack on Transformers, a very collectible booklet

All right, I can here your impatience. Let’s back to Transformers The Movie and its special features? What will we get on the DVD? The fact of the matter is that Maverick own the rights to anything that has been produced under the Transformers banner, including the movie trailer and any rare Japanese episodes. I can hear your excitement. It’s just a question of whether they can get hold of everything in time for the release, which incidentally is now scheduled for June 25th but it may go back again if they can get hold of the extra features. A kind of good news brings bad scenario, but it will be worth the wait.

Here is the list of material that they have to use right now:

Transformers: The Movie 1×90 mins
Transformers Original 98 x 30 mins
Transformers Takara 115 x 30 mins
Transformers G2 52 x 30 mins

The rare episode Scramble City is something that they have the rights to, and are now searching for for inclusion on the DVD, thanks for bringing that one up again you fans!

So you may have to wait a little longer for the DVD, and you don’t want to wait until July? Well you won’t have to, the movie is also being release on VHS together with the Takara episode, and this will definitely come out on June 25th whether the DVD is ready or not. Check out the cover art for the VHS:


The VHS cover, with a subtle Autobot logo and those magic words: Special Collector’s Edition

Now here’s some exclusive news for you… Widescreen!

Now I will pause while you gather your breath. Maverick have discussed the widescreen issue with Rhino home video in the States. It was part of Rhino’s original brief to get hold of the Widescreen version for their dvd release, which does exist. Their brief said that the original theatrical version was presented in widescreen, and they should use this previously unavailable version on their DVD. However they couldn’t secure it, but now Maverick are also trying to find this holiest of holy grails. We’ll have the results of that search for you as soon as they are known. Keep those fingers crossed.

Aww Shit, what are we gonna do now?

Which version? Is it foul mouthed Spike, or friendly Spike? The answer is friendly Spike, the swearing has been removed and the opening and closing voice-over is included. The rating of the film being ‘U’. They are toying with the idea of putting both versions on the disc, but this is unlikely as there are more important features to look for.

More Transformers on DVD?

I said Maverick have the rights to everything Transformers related, and you should have seen their videos. The complete 5 seasons of Transformers, and some Japanese seasons, and generation 2. Wow. They asked what was the best way to release them, and what should they release first. Yeah, like I was really going to say all of it, right now!

Well, we told them straight, release season 1 as a complete box set, all 16 episodes from More Than Meets The Eye part 1 to Heavy Metal Wars. Then release season 2, and so on. We convinced them, and I’m happy to inform you that you can expect season 1 to be released in the UK some time in the Autumn, just in time for Christmas!

One fan wrote in and suggested, just as a joke, that he wanted a free Optimus Prime toy with every DVD, funny huh? We told this to Maverick and they didn’t laugh. They took it seriously.

Now I know you need to draw breath.

They are actually planning to get a limited number of toys licensed by Hasbro to include with the season 1 boxset. Be still my beating heart. These will be somewhat sought after I feel. This is only in the planning stage, and will need to be run through Hasbro first, but what an idea. We gave this our unequivocal thumbs up.


Mike Diprose of Maverick Entertainment, check out all of those Transformers videos behind him

Freebies, for our approval.

Maverick gave us a set of VHS videos of the entire first series to look at and we have say that we were very impressed. Not to mention grateful. The first series, for those that haven’t seen it in a while, or seen it properly (web streaming aside) consists of some superb episodes, Dinobot War being a particular highlight. What happens when the Dinobots take on Optimus Prime, a damn fine battle occurs that’s what.

The Movie DVD

All right, when all’s said and done this is what you really want to know. Here is the list of Special Features that Maverick are looking to include, as features are confirmed we will add them to the list.

Japanese Takara episode [CONFIRMED]
Widescreen version
Transformers: The Movie Trailer
The Touch music video
Isolated music track
Character profiles
Concept art
Promo film shown to investors
Toy commercials
Feature commentary
Storyboards
Interviews
R.I.P List – all those killed in the movie

We will be receiving a paper edit of the DVD’s structure and special features shortly from Maverick, for our approval. As soon as any more features are confirmed or new ones are suggested we’ll let you know right here.

Once again we’d like to thank all of the fans who e-mailed their suggestions and ideas to us, together we’ve made certain of a great DVD (and VHS) release. Thanks guys!

More from Maverick Entertainment

Here is the complete list of all the animated series that Maverick have the rights to, If anyone fondly remembers any of these series, e-mail me and I’ll let Maverick know. Who knows, your favourites could get the DVD treatment.

Story Keepers
Bobbie the Bus
Sing Something Simple
You and Me
Spuds in Duds
Glofriends
Moondreamers
Potato Head Kids
Great Space Coaster
My Little Pony Original
My Little Pony Tales
My Little Pony Movie
The Nudnik Show
Bucky O’Hare
Conan & the Young Warrior
Connan the Adventurer
GI Joe
GI Joe The Movie
Inhumanoids
Inhumanoids The Movie
Jem
Jem The Movie
Robotix The Movie
Tales from the Crypt Keeper
Transformers
Transformers The Movie
Visionaries
Visionaries The Movie
Xuxa
Puff the Magic Dragon
Frank & Eddie
Puzzle Place
Salty’s Lighthouse
Angel Wings
Brothers Flub
Fat Dog Mendoza
Megababies
Wonderous Myths & Legends

Press Release: HEROIC AUTOBOTS AND EVIL DECEPTICONS BATTLE IT OUT IN TRANSFORMERS HEROES AND TRANSFORMERS VILLAINS

Written by Big Bot on April 25, 2001 | Features |

TRANSFORMERS VILLAINS – THE ULTIMATE DOOM And TRANSFORMERS HEROES – REBIRTH On DVD And VHS On May 8 LOS ANGELES — Hot Rod and Cyclonus are ready for battle once again in TRANSFORMERS: HEROES andTRANSFORMERS: VILLAINS from Rhino Home Video.

Under its new Rhinomation imprint, Rhino Home Video will release both titles to DVD and VHS on May 8. Both DVD and VHS releases contain three episodes each, with the DVD featuring animated menu screens and animated chapter breaks. The DVD lists for $19.95 and the VHS for $9.95. All are available through retail outlets and at www.rhino.com. First appearing as an animated TV commercial for the Marvel comic book in spring of ’84, with three original episodes airing a few months later, Transformers became a big hit. In 1985 Transformers began to air daily on television nationwide. Millions of years ago, from the planet Cybertron came the Transformers, mighty machinery able to transform from ordinary trucks, planes, and others vehicles into powerful living robots with advanced armory and super technology. Two types of Transformers came into play, the power hungry Decepticons and the peace seeking Autobots. The Earth became the battleground in an age-old struggle for control of the universe.

TRANSFORMERS: HEROES Rebirth (three episodes)-The Decepticons succeed in their attack on Autobot City to steal the key to Cybertron’s plasma chamber. A team of ten Decepticons and ten Autobots, along with the chamber key, end up on the planet of Nebulos. Like all planets, it has two factions: good and evil. The Autobots are in a compromising situation as half of them nearly get destroyed and many others are captured by the Decepticons. The Autobots must now plot to save themselves, but there may not be enough of them to succeed.

TRANSFORMERS: VILLAINS The Ultimate Doom (three episodes)-Megatron plots to bring Cybertron into Earth’s orbit and harness it’s destructive energy. With the help of a human scientist, he plans to use hypnotized humans implanted with his hypno-chips to serve the Decepticons, and he captures Sparkplug to use as a guinea pig. On Earth, the Autobots are planning a journey to Cybertron to rescue Sparkplug. Wheeljack develops a countermeasure for the hypno-chips and must find a way to stop Megatron.

TRANSFORMERS: HEROES – REBIRTH Pre-order Date: April 17, 2001 Total Running Time: 150 minutes Street Date: May, 8, 2001 Sug. Retail Price:VHS: $9.95 Cat#: 970050 DVD: $19.95

TRANSFORMERS: VILLAINS – THE ULTIMATE DOOM Pre-order Date: April 17, 2001 Total Running Time: 150 minutes Street Date: May, 8, 2001 Sug. Retail Price:VHS: $9.95 Cat#: 970049 DVD: $19.95

Press Release: TITAN BOOKS TO PUBLISH CLASSIC TRANSFORMERS COMIC MATERIAL!

Written by Darren 'Starscream' Jamieson on April 5, 2001 | Features |

Titan Books, the leading publisher of graphic novels in the UK, has agreed a deal with Hasbro to publish trade paperback collections featuring The Transformers, based on the hugely popular toy line, animated series and movie!

Return with Titan to the late 1980s, before Beast Wars and Beast Machines, when the ‘Robots in Disguise’ were truly ‘More Than Meets the Eye’! Re-live the ongoing battle between the heroic Autobots, led by Optimus Prime, and the might of Megatron’s evil Decepticons. Originally published in single-issue form by Marvel Comics, USA, the two titles – The Transformers: All Fall Down and The Transformers: End of the Road, collect the apocalyptic Unicron storyline from issues #69-80.

Transformers writer, Simon Furman, says: “It’s a dream come true to finally see these issues collected and re-published. I’d been writing Transformers for several years, both for the US and the UK, but this for me was when it all really kicked into top gear. At this stage in the saga, we (artist Andrew Wildman and myself) had been given a whole lot more latitude to really go epic on Transformers and basically wreak a whole lot of havok and kill a lot of characters. So we did.”

Transformers artist, Andrew Wildman, says: “The opportunity to draw Transformers was an exciting one. For me, particularly, it was the challenge of taking a bunch of tin boxes and breathing life into them that I relished. I could see at once there was more potential here than first met the eye, so to speak, and Simon and I gave them the depth of character they deserved. For me, this was the best fun I ever had in comics. Fond memories indeed.”

The series launches in August with The Transformers: All Fall Down, by Simon Furman, Andrew Wildman and Stephen Baskerville, and continues in November with The Transformers: End of the Road, by Simon Furman, Andrew Wildman, Geoff Senior and Stephen Baskerville.

Interview: Lee Sullivan

Written by Darren 'Starscream' Jamieson on March 2, 2001 | Features,Interviews |

TheTransformers.Net were lucky enough to catch up with veteran Transformers comic artist Lee Sullivan. Lee is the man responsible for two of the stories in our comics section, ‘Time Wars’ and ‘Space Pirates’. He took time out of his busy Thunderbirds and Doctor Who schedule to regail us with tales of the Transformers era, and what we’ve got to look forward to in the near future. So without further ado, let’s meet Lee Sullivan…

Could you start by introducing yourself?

My name is Lee Sullivan, and I’ve been a freelance illustrator since 1983.

How did you get into the comic industry?

For school I trained at college as a wildlife and technical illustrator; spent five years as a graphic artist for British Aerospace in Stevenage, Hertfordshire, England; then spent a further five years or so working for the advertising industry on a freelance basis. During that last period I met John Higgins in my local art shop, who was looking for someone to help him with lettering on a strip he was producing for a music magazine. John was very kind and took me to see some magazine editors and eventually into marvel UK. I remember John was taking in a colour painting of snowbound Transformers for an annual. I showed my work to Ian Rimmer who was editing Transformers at that point; he commissioned me to produce my first Transformers cover.

What was the first Transformer you ever drew, and what is your favourite Transformer to draw?

Simon Furman took over the editing of the title shortly thereafter; I continued to provide colour covers for Transformers and Thundercats. Eventually I asked to draw a strip for Transformers, which became the story ‘Altered Image’. This featured in the 1988 annual.

What Transformers art, or strip, are you most proud of and why?

There was a cover – 118 I believe – with Galvatron kneeling, pointing his particle cannon out at us. The strip art I was most pleased with was the last page of the penultimate episode of ‘Space Pirates’, where Metroplex awakens. Somebody else liked this too as it vanished from the Marvel offices, a shame as it was one of the few pieces I would have put on my wall at home.

What kind of things were you into as a child, and did you read comics?

Pretty much the same things as now – Doctor Who, Star Trek, Thunderbirds and most Gerry Anderson-related stuff, including the comics which featured all of the previously mentioned: TV comic; Countdown; TV 21 etc. plus The Eagle comic featuring Dan Dare. I also used to read UK reprints of US Marvel and DC Comics.

How do you rate the new Transformers ‘Beast Wars, Generation 2 and Car Robots’ compared to the originals?

I am not familiar with the last two, I saw a little of the ‘Beast Wars’ series, and I believe I drew some of the newer characters for the Botcon 2000 booklet. I never really saw the original Transformers TV series, I did see The Movie which was good fun. It’s all a little after my time, I’m afraid, but I am sure that I would have been into it had I been younger. Of course, in that case I would never have drawn for the comic!

How was your relationship with the other Transformers artists and writers, and do you still keep in contact with any of them now?

A lot of us used to meet up at a pub in London every month or so, which was a nice thing for freelancers to do – to feel that you were part of the process, not just on your own. My Doctor Who career started in the pub, for instance. I think we all got on very well, which is slightly strange, really, as in the fact we were all competitors. But there was so much work available in those days and the big leap was to work for the US, which again many of us did. And, I freely admit, we were all very, very drunk. We have met up at various conventions and we keep loosely in touch – although this past year alone I’ve managed to miss both Simon’s wedding and birthday bash, which takes some doing, but I’ll see him soon, no doubt.

How do you rate the story lines in the Transformers comic, as opposed to say, Judge Dredd or Doctor Who?

Easier to read, but more confusing! the age range was slightly younger, but I can certainly say that when Simon was writing scripts he was writing them with an older market in mind. Although comics are fun things, part of the fun is in stretching the audience – not talking down to them, so basically we threw everything we had into the strips. Simon did an incredible job of tying together the various US comicbook and TV series storylines, plus of course, the movie’s future timeline. Dovetailing all of that with the British storylines was enough to drive anyone mad – but Simon survived unscathed and I’m sure that the appeal of Transformers the comic so long after the event is mostly due to his skills. He then went on to produce scripts for the US comic. An interesting aspect of drawing robots, as opposed to people, is that we were able to show things like eyeballs being sucked out of sockets (see ‘Time Wars’) to an age range that wouldn’t normally get to see that sort of thing. In a story that I drew for 2000AD, I was able to dice someone up with a laser beam – I can’t imagine that happening in Thunderbirds, for example!

What would be the process for drawing a single issue of The Transformers? i.e. the time it takes, where you start, rough sketches. From when you received the script to the final art.

As I said, Transformers was the first comic I drew and I had a very steep learning curve – so the methods I used then were transferred from my ordinary illustration techniques. I developed a system of drawing each panel as a separate thumbnail, which helped me visualise how they might be combined as a page worth of drawings – and decide how big one should be against another. From a thumbnail of the page layout I then produced a full-sized pencil version which I then traced onto CS10 paper (used for technical illustration) using blue pencil, which doesn’t register at the line photography stage. I then inked over the blue pencils to produce the final image. At each significant stage the editor would get to see the drawings, and edit them! I think we used to have something like three weeks to produce one episode; as the comic was weekly that is why there was a rotation of artists, notwithstanding the US reprint. Strip illustration demands that you vary angles and distance of shot in the same way as a movie, with the added restriction that the characters usually have to be placed left to right and top to bottom in the order in which they speak, which was the hardest thing for me to learn, but when I got into my stride it used to take about a day and a half per page. By ‘Time Wars’ I was using a brush instead of a dip pen, which speeded the process up to about a page a day. I’m back to using a pen, and my speed hasn’t really increased, but I’m a lot more careful about the quality of the drawing these days. Or so I like to think.

How do you relax when you’re not working on comic books?

The usual stuff – cinema going, meals with friends, sleeping. I also own three saxophones, which I entertain my neighbours with by playing rather badly, but enthusiastically.

What comics do you prefer to work on, and are there any characters that you dislike drawing?

A: Ones that I am paid for! Not quite as cynical as it sounds – I regard myself as a commercial illustrator rather than as a comic book artist. drawing comics is a part of what I do professionally, and for a while was the main thing, but now my work has returned to a broader base.

B: I dislike drawing characters that are very complicated or just plain silly. In the later part of my time on Transformers, there was a character with a Trident; also some that split in half which I didn’t care much for. (Octopunch not much of a favourite then – webmaster)

On the cover of Transformers #205, the final part of Time Wars (drawn by Andy Wildman), there is a toaster placed among the dead Autobots. Do you make any subtle ‘in jokes’ in your work such as this?

If you look at my Transformers web page you’ll see me describe some! If I have time I nearly always put ‘in-jokes’ into my work, it amuses me and hopefully others, but maybe not for a decade or so. In one of the later stories there was a trio of Transformers running Cybertron that I had to make up, one of them would convert into a Dalek, if you look closely. There was a ‘Spitting Image’ mickey-take of Transformers in their Giant Komic Book published in 1988, which
I drew. It was called ‘The Merchandisors – Battle for the Pocket Money’ and the three characters I designed for that strip feature somewhere in the crowd of a Transformers strip . . . it’s up to you guys to work all this stuff out!

What do you think of the online Transformers community keeping the Transformers alive, and the fact that much of your work is available to see on many web sites (including this one)?

It’s an interesting phenomenon. I’m pleased, but not really surprised, as a fan of things like Doctor Who I always assumed it was inevitable that readers would come to revisit their past interests. It is a stage that most(ly) young men go through – in my experience it is merely a precursor to a much longer second childhood. Ask my wife! With the advent of electronic media the fan world has really blossomed; communication is much quicker between enthusiasts and
the ability to manipulate old material as well as to generate new works has been a literal revolution. You all know from this very web site how much easier it is for a community to come into being and operate effectively. As for my work being available, part of me thinks ‘hey! I’m not being paid’, but really I see the usage as a nice compliment – and sometimes publishers are quite good at reprinting stories without paying anyway . . .

What are you working on now?

As of now, April 2001, I’m producing a regular strip for Thunderbirds comic – again, revisiting my past – and every month providing a preview illustration for the Big Finish Doctor Who audio adventures in Doctor Who Magazine, as well as (this month) a one-off full-colour comic strip for the latter. Outside of comics I do a fair amount of work for children’s educational publishing, so I’m always hitting the next generation!

What do you think are the chances of The Transformers comic returning, and would you like to work on them again?

Any kind of publication that is based on a licensed product can only exist if there is a sufficient demand for the product itself. Transformers, I believe, are current again, and the fact that a cult following exists means that is more attractive for someone to take out a licence now than it was, say, five years ago. Also there is a back catalogue of comic book material which could be reprinted, making it cheaper than starting from scratch. However, I’m told that it is very unlikely that the ‘ film’ of the British comic survive; unless someone takes the trouble to scan all the old comics and re-colour using today’s technology, I doubt that we will see my old stuff back on the shelves. Curses! It is possible that the US Marvel material survives as they have extensive storage facilities. Cost is the main factor determining whether any publication exists or not – if there is high demand for the Transformers product itself , then I would say that a publication would not be far behind; the higher the demand – the more likely new material would be produced. I would have no problem with the idea of drawing Transformers again; work I produced for Transforce and Botcon last year was quite enjoyable.

Have you any advice for anyone wanting to become a comic artist?

There is an overwhelming temptation to say ‘don’t’! You have to be lucky as well as able to do the work, and there are always far more people wanting to be comics artists then there are places to fill. I would certainly advise that any illustrator should have many strings to their bow. Today, no career path you choose is certain, so it pays to keep your options open and to stay flexible. Keep abreast of the new developments – although I still physically draw my pages and colour using my real airbrush, inks and watercolours, I tweak and add to the artwork in Photoshop before sending it by e-mail. No doubt more changes will happen, it’s a case of ‘adapt or die’ – easy when you start out, less so the longer you survive! In a nutshell – good luck and keep on, er, Transforming!

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