100 Letters

I sent my messages into the past and I got replies! More replies then I could have hopped for. I’m so excited to tell you about the results.

returned-letters-1

The people who’ve contacted me as a result of mailing out 100 letters to Transformers fans listed in the Marvel Transformers comic books of the 1980s.

Of the 100 letters I mailed out a few weeks ago, 10 people have responded to me.  39 of the letters have been returned. That leaves 51 floating out in the either somewhere. (I will update these numbers as more information comes in.)

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Over the next few weeks, I’ll be posting my interviews with those who’ve responded to my letters. Sharing their story with you.

This was a really fun project and the fact that I got any responses is amazing to me. I’m looking forward to sharing them with you.

100 Stamps

I believe time travel is possible. I will prove it with 100 stamps. 100 stamps and 100 letters are all I need to send a message back to the 1980s. I think my odds are good that I’ll hear back from someone too.

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I’ve just finished reading and reviewing all 80 issues of Marvel Comics’ Transformers. A comic series which started in 1984 and ended it’s run in 1991. After reading each issue, I looked forward to reading the letters section in the back called TRANS MISSONS. Fans of the Transformers comic would write in and share their thoughts of the most recent issue they had read. Many of them shared their mailing address in hopes of becoming penpals with like minded fans. A neat idea that didn’t always have the intended results.

transmissions_logo

Over the last few years I’ve posted my reviews of these comics, I also posted the letters section. Of course, I omitted peoples addresses, but that didn’t stop a few of those writers (Christine L. Leddon, Steve De Anda, and Jeb Hoge), from contacting me.

This gave me an idea. What are the chances that any of these writers (or family members of these writers), are still at these original addresses? It would be like reaching through time and asking, “Hello? Is anyone home?”

Because I was reading and reviewing these Transformers comics at a decent clip, I was able to enlist YouTube toy reviewer, Peaugh, to help me collect addresses from these old comics. Because of his help, I was able to jump on this project the moment I finished my review of all 80 issues of Transformers.

100_Stamps2

Out of the 100 address that have been collected from the backs of these Transformers comics, I say my odds are good that at least one of them will come back to me. Of course, I hope I hear back from more than one. I would like to conduct more than one interview like I had with those writers who had contacted me previously.

Stamps_Cosmos_2

So with letters written, envelops addressed, and stamps applied. I send forth a message to the 1980s.

“Hello? Is anyone home?”

YOSHICAST #012 – Talking Sketch Covers With Matt Moylan

Thanks for checking out episode #012 of the YOSHICAST! If you want to comment on what you’ve heard on this episode please send an e-mail, leave a comment below, Facebook me, Send me a tweet, or call me up and leave a voice mail. I’d love to hear from you. (360) 610-7047.

On this Episode of the YOSHICAST I chat it up with comic book artist Mat Moylan at TFcon Toronto. We talk about Sketch Covers and working the convention.

SHOW NOTES:

YOSHICAST #011 – Contacting Artists

Thanks for checking out episode #010 of the YOSHICAST! If you want to comment on what you’ve heard on this episode please send an e-mail, leave a comment below, Facebook me, Send me a tweet, or call me up and leave a voice mail. I’d love to hear from you. (360) 610-7047.

On this Episode of the YOSHICAST we go over how to contact an artist to commission a sketch cover. I’ll show off my Derek Yaniger sketch and the whole process to getting it.

SHOW NOTES:

00:09 – Derek Yaniger Sketch Cover
00:17 – Availability of Transformers: Regeneration One issue 96
00:50 – Who Is Derek Yaniger
02:33 – Contacting Derek Yaniger
02:39 – RoboPlastic Apocalypse / Please Save Me Robots (  )

 

A Tale Of Two Sketch Covers

Yesterday, I received two sketch comic book covers I had commissioned. I thought sharing these covers along with the process I went through to get them would compliment my last two YOSHICASTs. (Blank Comic Book Covers and Blank Comic Book Variants)

Coil_DOOM_combo

A few weeks ago, I set out to find the last missing comic book from my Transformers: Regeneration One, collection. Issue 81. A blank cover. It’s a cover I’ve never seen in a store or online.

Regenone81blank

I started my search at the Transformers Wiki. There I learned this cover was to be used for “Unique hand-draw sketches by Dan Khanna“. I hadn’t heard of Dan Khannah before that search. It turns out Dan is a comic book artist who’s worked for Dreamwave and IDW. Currently he does work for Soap Studios figure series, the TF Imaginarium statue line, and Hasbro.

From the Wiki, I was able to find Dan’s website. I E-Mailed asking if he had any of the blank Regeneration One covers.

“I’m long sold out of covers for regeneration 81.”, he wrote. “believe I have a few blank covers for regeneration 1 issue 93 with rodimus prime in the corner box, which I could draw up a few sketch covers for you if you’d like.”

This was a no brainer. Of course I’d love to have sketches from an artist who worked on Transformers!

Two days and four e-mails later, Dan and I agreed on two sketch ideas. One would be a brand new Transformer. An Autobot named Coil, designed from the TESLA Model S. The other would be a homage to the original DOOM box art.

The Sketch of Coil was the easiest from my point of view. “I would love to have a brand new Transformer drawn in the G1 style.”, I wrote him. “This one does not exist. I would like to see a Tesla Model S and it’s bot mode. Autobot. On the cover I would like written (if you can) “Introducing Coil!” In a later e-mail I added, “With the TESLA sketch, I want to make sure to see the TESLA logo in car mode and in bot mode if it works out along with the Autobot insignia.”

new-tesla-model-s

 

The sketch turned out damn near perfect. Obviously it’s missing the Autobot insignia. Let’s chalk this mistake up to experience. Don’t rush sketch request. Really think it out and spell it out in one clear E-Mail. The more back and forth you have the more likely something wont turn out the way you picture it.

Coil_Front_View_001

The DOOM Box art homage required the most back and forth. “G1 Optimus Prime in place of the center character on the box art.”, I wrote Dan. “Deceptions clawing up at him and another Autobot running up from behind.” I even went so far as to list which Decepticons and where I would like them to be in place of each of the hoard of Devil spawn.

DOOM-Original-Box-Art

Dan kindly told me that was a bit much. We both ended up agreeing on the final design you see here.

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It’s worth noting that if, I didn’t like how I thought the sketch would turn out, I would have told him not to do it.

So, for a grand total of $135.00, I got two unique and fantastic sketches from a true Transformers artist. The Tesla Autobot named, Coil and an homage a truly fantastic game, DOOM.

Transformers Review Issue 80: End of the Road!

Well folks, here we are. Marvel Comics’ Transformers issue 80, entitled ‘End of the Road!’. Everything gets wrapped up in this issue and presented in a quickly made bow. This last issue is the first solid sign I’ve seen that writer, Simon Furman was not ready for the ending of the Transformers comic to come so quickly. In reading this issue I felt like he needed at least one more issue to really wrap everything up cleanly. As it is, the ending of the series feels rushed. A tip of my hat to the whole team for putting something together that made a valiant attempt of finishing story as well as they did. Now, before we get into the review and my thoughts on this finally issue, lets check out this issue’s cover.

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Thanks To 80sTees.com For Sponsoring These Reviews!

This Wildman cover is really well drawn. Starting at the top we have. “#80 in a Four-Issue Limited Series”. is if defiantly telling to Marvel, Hasbro, and the non believers that the Transformers was and is bigger than anyone could have predicted. The marvel box now has the Decepitcon logo in it where Grimlock once stood. Bludgeon has his sword raised in one had and Wheeljack held up by the wires in his other hand. An image that would not have pass comics code if these where people and not bots. It’s gruesome and dark. Smoke and flames fill out the rest of the cover. “When All Hope Is Gone… One Shall Rise!”, could signal to the casual observer that this issue marks the end of the Transformers and the Decepticons win. Until you realize that the background of the cover a shadow of Optimus Prime can be seen. Something I completely missed myself until I started writing this section. “The Epic Conclusion!” is written at the bottom of the comic in red finishing off the cover.

Transformers_issue80_coverWe jump into this issue night quite where the last one left off. The Autobots have reached the planet Klo and have had their asses handed to them by the Decepticons. Octopunch is tracking down a group of remaining Autobots lead by Grimlock. Prowl is just giving him shit the whole time about how they got into this current situation. He is cut short by the Decepticon tracking party.

Transformers_issue80_ProwlAt another battle location down on the planet, Bludgeon is reading the execution of Wheeljack when the Neo-Knights arrive. They twist some Decepticon metal and before the bad guys can respond in drops Optimus Prime from above. (Action Master Optimus Prime) Bludgeon is caught in disbelief.

Transformers_issue80_BludgeonOptimus Prime is then attacked by the Decepticons, an effort which proves futile. Grimlock and his group of survivors arrive. Bludgeon, realizing hope for himself and the Decepticons is lost, and retreats.

Transformers_issue80_RetreatWith the Decepticons gone, Optimus Prime tells his comrades that Cybertron survived and has been restored by the power of the Matrix. The Autobots plan to help the Klozians rebuild their planet and return the Neo-Knights to Earth before returning to their own planet.

Transformers_issue80_Cybertron

Transmissions Letters This Issue

Transformers_80_ad_TransmissionsTHE END. A strange way to begin, perhaps, but it’s at the end that we now find ourselves. Not by choice–when the axe fell we were as devastated as no doubt many of you were. We (the staff and creators of TRANSFORMERS) know how much the comic meant to our readers, and that only makes it doubly sad that it has come to this. Having read your letters and even met a few of you at a signing in New Jersey, I know you’ve liked what we’ve been doing of late, and that (for many of you, anyway) the story and art had reached an all time high. Does this make it better or worse that we’re finishing now? I don’t know, but I do think we owe you some explanations, some general news, and some comments on the series as a whole. that’s why Rob Tokar kindly turned over the last letters page to me, your humble scribe, so I could tell you what’s what. anyway, before I run out of pace, here goes…

FIRST, WHY? Why cancel now? The BIG question! Unfortunately, the answer is both straight forward and almost belittlingly simple. Though TRANSFORMERS had a dedicated and devoted readership, it was also a worryingly low readership. With the toy no longer a major force, with no Transformers TV show, with many of our original readers suddenly thinking themselves too old to be still picking up the book, our audience had dwindled (and was dwindling still) to a hard core of regular readers. Despite our (and no doubt your) best efforts, new readers just weren’t latching on to the book. The trend was downward, and so (before we got to that sour almost loss making state) the decision was made to pull the plug. It hurt, but at least we were given the chance to wrap things up and go out feeling we’d finished on a high note. No one (not myself, nor Andy, nor Steve, nor Rick, no Nel, nor Rob) gave less than 101% on this last issue and we hope you all enjoyed it. It’s never great reading a final issue, a final page, but far worse to read an indifferent or lackluster finale. We didn’t let the end bow our heads, we hope you do us the favor of not letting it bow yours.

So what does the future hold? For TRANSFORMERS there’s little on the horizon. TRANSFORMERS UK is still running, but that’s just reprinting the stories you’ll have already seen over here and reprinting some old UK stories. Chances are, when this issue has been reprinted in a few months, it too will come to and end. For anyone lucky enough to get hold of a cop of this year’s TRANSFORMERS UK annual (on sale in the latter part of ’91) you’ll find within it’s pages (apart from some nifty reprint British Transformer stories) a text story (illustrated) that picks up from the end of issue #80 and looks onwards into the far future of the Transformers. It’s called “A Distant Time and Place” and it’s written by yours truly. If you can get a hold of a copy do so. I think you’ll enjoy it.

The chances of TRANSFORMERs ever being revived are incredibly small, so we’ll not bother going into that. But there is a slim chance that our resident super-team, the Neo-Knights will go on to greater things. No promises, but Andy and I are (as we speak) putting together and idea for a Neo-Knights (or whatever we decide to rename them) limited series. Don’t hold your breath, but we will give it our best shot.

What about us? What else are we working on? Well, the more keen-eyed among you may have noticed that of late my name has been cropping up on ROBOCOP and SHE-HULK. John Byrme’s back on SHE-HULK at the moment (hey, you can’t buck competition like that!), but i’m doing a few more issues and when John moves on to something new, well… who knows? I’m writing ROBOTCOP regularly now, and I’m joined there (apart from Robo artist supreme, Lee Sullivan, who’s handling the regular art chores) by none other than that Wild man, Andy. to give Lee a break from the rigors of penciling and inking an issue a month, Andy will be filling in from time to time. He’s already done issue #16 and #20, and (by the time this sees print) will probably be hard at work on issue #24. Look out for them! Stephen Baskerville (Baskers to his friends) is inking a Sleaze Brothers graphic novel for EPIC, and Nel (apat from his many coloring jobs), is busy editing for Marvel and Epic. And a quick scan through any month’s releases from Marvel will reveal the talented Rick PArker still busily lettering away. Is this a parting of the ways for Rob Tokar and me? No, of course not. Rob is currently editing none other that… ROBOCOP! isn’t it strange how these things seem to happen?! Enough with the present and future, lets take this opportunity for a stroll down memory lane, and a retrospective look at the many people involved with the world’s first eight-issue limited series!

Bill Mantlo (plot), Ralph Macchio (script), Frank Springer(pencils), Kim DeMulder (inks), Higgins & Parker (lettering, Nelson Yomtov (coloring), Bob Budiansky, Editor. So read the credit line on the very first issue of a then four-issue limited series. Things have changed a bit since then, but from that original line-up much grew, and the on constant for the series emerged (more on that later). Most notable about that early line-up was the presence of one Robert (Bob) Budiansky, the Editor. Bob, as I’m sure no long-time Transformers fan needs telling, went on to become writer and mainstay on TRANSFORMERS for the next four and a half years, writing not just the comic but also the character biographies for first the toys themselves and then the Transformers Universe entries. Taking over from Jim Salicrup at issue #5, Bob wrote 47 of the next 51 issues, only a fill in by Len aminski (issue #16), a two-part UK story, Man Of Iron (issues #33/34) and a cartoon adaptation by original TF cripter, Ralph Macchio (issue $43) coming between him and a clear run (hey, those deadlines are a pain!). Then it was my turn. Having written almost as much material for the UK TRANSFORMERS comic, my stories threading in with Bob’s stuff (which was reprinted sequentially with the UK stuff), I was possibly the natural choice to continue onwards. This I did for the next twenty five issues, hopefully succeeding in bringing the comic to the sort of conclusion it deserved. But that’s for others to judge.

Well that’s the writers, what about the artists? They range from Frank Springer on the orginal four-issue limited series to Alan Kupperberg to William Johnson (his brief but memorable contribution to TF history still talked about by readers), to Ricard Villamonte, to Herb Trimpe, to Don Perlin (about 20 issues, and featuring the superb inking of Akin and Garvey-who would later come to ink up the TF Universe character shots), to José Delbo who then penciled the book for more than two years, making it very much his own. His detailed style and superb action drawing made him a crowd pleaser almost without compare. Still, if there’s one real contribution I have made to TRANSFORMERS, it’s bringing with me from the UK the artistic talents of Geoff Senior and Andy Wildman. Geoff’s love-it-or-hate-it dynamism and Andy’s incredible animation brought new life to the series, and I feel that they (more than anyone else) ensured that the series went out with a bang!

Letterers too seem to have been on the constant side. Rick Parker was there way back on issue #5, popped in again a few times, and finished up with a long end run on the book. Janice Chiang, Bill Oakley and Jim Massara all did long stints as well.

But it’s our one constant, the one person who’s been with us from issue #1 through to issue #80 who deserves the biggest pat ont he back. Let’s hear it for Transformers colorist supreme, Nel Yomtov! Thanks, Nel-from all of us!

And to round things off, it’s a tip of the hat to the men behind the scense, the editors (Owsley, Carlin, Daley–for forty issues or more–and Tokar), the assistant editors, the Bullpenners and just about e everyone who’s had a hand in the comic that for sever years has been truly, More Than Meets The Eye!

Did we do well? Yeah, I’d say so. Eighty issues of the regular series, three limited series, a series and book of Transformers Universe, 300 odd issues of Transformers UK, reprints around the world. All this from a dreaded ‘toy title’. books which generally have a very limited life span. But then I guess all concerned with the book over its long history have always known that it was more than that. Like ROM and THE MICRONAUTS before it, TRANSFORMERS took on a life of its own, and I am confident that it (the worlds, characters and situations introduced) will live on beyond its cancellation in the hearts and minds of those who read it and created it. For me, personally, IT NEVER ENDS!

Thank you, one and all…and God bless!

– Simon Furman, 1991

The fat lady has indeed sung. It’s the final curtain call- the last hurrah.

I asked Rob if it would be OK to write a few words about the book, being that I’ve been associated with TRANSFORMERS longer than just about anyone else. Y’see, I’m the fella they’ve shackled to a drawing board these past six and a half years, coloring every single issue of the book. Throw in the TRANSFORMERS universe series, the G.I. Joe crossover, the movie adaptation and the HEAD-MASTERS mini series and you’ve got one bleary-eyed workaholic. When the series first started in early 1984, robots were pretty hot—lots of toy manufacturers had big toy lines, there were other robot comics, TV cartoon series–you name it. And we caught a lot of flak for publishing “another stupid comic about robots.” Yet, as the robot craze subsided, sales on our book continued to be very healthy. We had made a point: a well written and handsomely illustrated comic could outlast the fad. In effect, the book had taken on a very substantial life of it’s own.

There wee some pretty unique issues along the way. I remember one in which a couple of hoods find a gun in a garbage dump and it turns out to be Megatron. Surprises! Another one that comes to mind, naturally, was issue #1. The art and coloring had been done, but at the last minute a decision was made by the powers that were to make wholesale changes on the entire book. I remember putting in some serious weekend hours on that one.

It’s been a real treat having toiled on TRANSFORMERS for its entire run. Over the years, I’ve gotten tons of fain mail, and whenever I’m at a comics conventions, someone is sure to say, “Hey, aren’t you that guy who…”
Yup, Sure am.
Bye, Bye.
-Nel Yomtov, 1991

My Thoughts On This Issue

Well lets get the obvious out of the way. With every page the story felt more and more rushed. It’s sad, but this series could have ended a lot worse than it did and I’m pleased with the results. I wish I knew more about what was happening behind the scenes. Maybe someone will write a tell all book and I’ll finally know.

I didn’t get my Optimus Prime back. I got Action Master Prime that tried really hard to look like the original Optimus Prime. Bummed out by this, but oh well.

Bludgeon’s farewell speech bothered me a lot. In one breath he states he and the Decepticons are going to live in Solitary Exile that honor demands. Then in the next breath says, “…and live to fight another day!” It just didn’t flow right and makes the first half of his speech worthless to me as a reader.

Honestly, its a good issue. Not the greatest, not even great. Under the circumstances it’s understandable.

Thanks to everyone that followed along with me while I did the Transformers classic comics reviews. What did everyone think of this issue? Heck, what did you all think of the whole 80 issue run? Lets chat below.

Before I close out here, I would just like to leave a note that, after a short break, I plan on reviewing the 12 Transformers Generation 2 comics next. As well as the 4 or so G.I Joe comics that lead to Generation 2.

Ads This Issue.

YOSHICAST #010: Blank Comic Book Variants

Thanks for checking out episode #010 of the YOSHICAST! If you want to comment on what you’ve heard on this episode please send an e-mail, leave a comment below, Facebook me, Send me a tweet, or call me up and leave a voice mail. I’d love to hear from you. (360) 610-7047.

On this Episode of the YOSHICAST we talk about the variants one can find in blank comic book covers. Transformers: Regeneration One and its multiple blank covers are used as examples of variations one might find.

SHOW NOTES:

00:21 – What is Transformers: Regeneration One
01:26 – Transformers: Regen 1 Issue 81
03:10 – Transformers: Regen 1 Issue 92
04:22 – Transformers: Regen 1 Issue 96
05:14 – Transformers: Regen 1 Issue 100
07:01 – X-Files
07:38 – Rick and Morty