Sunday, November 27, 2011

Author's Reflections- Comic #1


I guess to start out I’ll just say I had been wanting to
make a comic strip for quite some time before I finally did it. I went through
several ideas first…initially I had the idea of totally unashamedly ripping off
Family Guy and South Park. The strip was going to be called “The Family Bots’
Playground” and was going to feature Energon Optimus Prime as the Peter Griffin
character, Universe Blackarachnia as Lois Griffin, G1 Sludge as Chris Griffin,
Universe Strika as Meg Griffin and the Pretender Grimlock robot as Stewie. The
South Park Element was going to be four Minibots: Bumblebee, Cliffjumper,
Cosmos and Wheelie as the four main boys…naturally Wheelie was the one taking
the place of Kenny, who would be killed in every strip. I was gung-ho about the
idea until I sat down to write the first strip and realized it was stupid to
just rip off the ideas of TV shows no matter how much I liked them. Besides,
it’s not like I couldn’t throw little tidbits of dialogue and jokes from them
into the strip I ended up making anyway as an homage here and there. So I moved
forward past a couple other ideas I really wasn’t happy with in the least.
Finally, after watching the 1986 Transformers G1 animated movie I had the idea
to change some key scenes, and treat it as a “What If?” type of scenario. It
was around that time that the Classics toyline was released which featured
modern engineering and updates of G1 characters I was absolutely ecstatic
about. With my initial main cast set up with the first wave of Classics, I wanted
to throw in an assortment of background characters from all generations of
Transformer toys, but after a few strips there was nothing I could do but work
them in as main characters as well.

But enough of an introduction, let’s move on to talking about
the first strip!

I never had the G1 toy as a kid but I always liked Megatron
growing up. Then the movie came along and killed off most of the old
characters. When Megatron was upgraded into Galvatron I was disappointed but
when I saw the first thing he did was ice Starscream I thought it was awesome.
I got the toy and finally had a Decepticon leader. Then I saw his portrayal in
the cartoon in Season 3. I worship Frank Welker for his voice talents, but I
absolutely hate Galvatron’s screechy voice (compared to Leonard Nimoy’s cold,
calculating contribution for the movie). Plus the character being insane was a
good idea for about three episodes then it got annoying. SO I knew for the
first strip I had to pander to my own selfish desires and instead of having
Unicron reformat Megatron into Galvatron, he’d just give his old body a bit of
an upgrade into the Classics Megatron toy.

The ‘Peanut Gallery’ as they’ve come to be known was a
complete and utter afterthought. I realized I only had two panels for the first
strip and didn’t really want to make the joke stretch on longer so I thought it
would be amusing to have two Transformers comment on it being so lame at the
end. My main inspiration was a combination of the two old guys from the Muppet
Show and the robots from Mystery Science Theater. I chose Hound and Cliffjumper
not because they’re my favorite characters, but because of their interaction at
the very beginning of the G1 cartoon. Hound’s good-natured characterization in
those first few episodes before he melted into obscurity gave him the
optimistic tone, one who would defend even my dumbest plot points and dialogue,
and chastising naughty words and situations. Cliffjumper, being impetuous and
borderline arrogant on the cartoon, combined with his portrayal in a later
episode in which he accused Mirage of being a traitor the entire time led to
him being the pessimist in the duo. When writing my strips I most definitely
pick up on all the idiotic plot points and stupid things going on, so
Cliffjumper is my way of poking fun at myself.

Then came Hot Shot.

A little bit of a backstory: When I first got back
into collecting Transformer toys in late 2001 the Robots in Disguise line was
on the shelves. They featured fantastic Japanese engineering, complicated
transformations with great articulation for posing purposes. I ate it up and
proceeded to buy as many of these toys as I possibly could over the course of
the next year. In August 2002, the Armada toyline was released. I bought Hot
Shot and a helicopter character named Cyclonus when I first saw them at Fred
Meyer. I was excited to get these new toys so I couldn’t wait until I got home
and opened them in the car in the parking lot. In my eyes Hot Shot was an
inarticulate yellow lump of plastic and a massive letdown when compared to the
Robots in Disguise toys that had been released a year prior. I loathed it for
the next four years, even though the engineering improved slightly through the
rest of Armada and drastically improved in the following lines, Energon and
Cybertron. My original purpose of including Hot Shot and making the Peanut
Gallery a trio was to make Hot Shot mentally retarded and to completely make
fun of him and rip him apart. Not the most noble of intents, but I needed to
get out some aggression! The character went over so well, I immediately eased
up on the aggression and…yes…even began liking the toy with the
characterization I had given it. It’s funny how those things happen isn’t it?

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