BOTCON  AT  DISNEY
(griffin's 2010 BotCon report)


PANEL - BOB BUDIANSKY (both panels)


FRIDAY 25 JUNE - 11AM

Matt Drew (?) (Hasbro Marketting), Bob Budiansky.

Bob was the Staff Editor for Marvel at the time Hasbro approached them (in 1983) to develop characters and story for their new Transformers toyline (Marvel had been doing their GIJoe comic at the time).
He ended up writing bios for most of the character profiles in the first few years, editted the first four issues, wrote the next 51 issues of the original comic, and even drew a few covers as well.

Editor Jim Shooter created the original 'treatment' (8-page concept/storyline) for the Transformers toyline, but had to pass the project onto someone else.  Bob was the 4th choice (the other 3 declined), and was given the project just before the July Independance Day long weekend in 1983. He not only editted the original treatment, he also wrote up all the first series character profiles during that long weekend.

Treatment pages 1 and 3 (the slides went up too fast for my camera to focus and take a photo of every page)
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Treatment pages 4 and 6.
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Treatment page 8.

Some of the editted changes to Jim Shooter's Treatment:
'Aunty' was changed to 'The Ark' (but was still used in the UK comic)
'Mount St Helens' (a real mountain) was changed to 'Mount St Hillary' (a ficticious mountain)
'Spike' was changed to 'Buster' (but was still used in the cartoon)
'Ulchtar' (pronounced 'ulk-tar') was changed to 'Starscream'

The name 'Megatron' was originally rejected by Hasbro, as it was sounded too scary.  Bob simply told them, 'he's the leader of the bad guys, he's supposed to sound scary', and they accepted the name.
Most of the profiles and characteristics were accepted by Hasbro (said that about 98% of everything he submitted was accepted).  Some changes though:
Ratchet was originally a female character (but was rejected, due to being a boys' toyline)
Stalker was changed to Ravage
Fireball was changed to Jetfire
Blowout was changed to Cliffjumper
Guzzle was changed to Trailbreaker
Sprint was changed to Windcharger
Spinout was changed to Sunstreaker
Slazer was changed to Laserbeak
Jazzz was modified to Jazz

Copies of his first hand-written profile drafts. (Close up on Ratchet's profile, calling her a 'gal')
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Profiles were also going to include power ratings on the packaging, so Bob did up those as well.
His hand-written table, with some of the unchanged names.

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The table Hasbro did up and returned to him.

He then showed us what he would be sent each year from Hasbro - a product listing of new toys with descriptions, for him to create names and profiles.

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He would also get images of the toys, sometimes actual toys, or just model-sheets/designs of future toys to work from...

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(Snakeskin would have just been a working title for the Iganus toy, from Hasbro's end)
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For his work on the comic though, it was only originally meant to be a 4-issue mini-series.  It's success prompted it to continue after issue 4.

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Since Bob was only the editor for the mini-series, he wrote out a 10 page plot for the writers to use.
When he took over writing duties, his two favourite issues were 'Smelting Pot' and 'Decepticon Graffiti'.  The latter of the two even earnt him a fan letter from legendary Stan Lee.

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Onto his drawing credits... He sketched out a few covers of the comic

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Which ended up as this:

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Which ended up as this:

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Which ended up as this:

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And this...

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Ended up like this:

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He commented that he liked drawing humans (females especially), rather than robots.

The Transformers Universe ended up publishing all his full profiles (the full profiles were written for the brief techspecs, not expanded from the techspecs at a later time.
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His original Treatment for the Headmaster mini-series comic.

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And his original creation of the 'Creation Matrix', as one possible means of introducing characters to the comic. (the date is wrong though, as it was first mentioned in the comic in June 1985, and he mentions creating it in the 'first year', which would be 83 or 84).

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The result was a similar storyline in Issue 11, that was in the 2009 Movie (Sam/Buster absorbs the Matrix/Allspark).

Around 1988/89, Bob begged to leave the comic, as Hasbro were throwing him too many new characters each year to work with.
He actually offered the full-time writer position to Simon Furman (who was writing the UK Transformers stories) over a couple of beers, despite not being authorised to offer it to anyone.
Fortunately, his editor at the time was happy with the idea, and Bob left after issue 55.

Questions

His Career after Transformers - he worked at Marvel until 1996 as a Staff editor, artist and writer.  He then went onto work as a graphic designer to the present day.

He wrote all the Transformers Techspec quotes during his time.

The Character of Blaster was modelled on Clint Eastwood.

His Civil Engineering background inspired his thinking, before Primus or Quintessons were later created to explain origins of the race.

Bob has never watched the Transformers Cartoon, ever.

Jim Shooter knew someone called Spike/Buster Witwicky, which is where the name came from.

IDW approached Bob a while back to write something for Transformers if he ever wanted to, but just hasn't had any ideas to want to do.
 

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SUNDAY 27 JUNE - 10AM

Bob Budiansky and Greg Lombardo (Hasbro Marketing)

I came in late, because I had some other things do in the Dealer Room first..
As such, I missed the chance to take photos of the slides I missed in their first panel (they showed the same slides).
I arrived just as they were on the last few slides.

Questions

Bob grew up on something called 'Metal Man', which never died, no matter how much damage was inflicted on it - so treated Transformers the same way.

He created Circuit Breaker.  Since Hasbro had as part of their agreement that any character that shows up in the TFs comic, belonged to Hasbro, they included her in a single page of Marvel's Secret Wars comic, so that Marvel could own her and use her later if they ever wanted to. (never happened though)

His impressions of then and now with things like Transformers - he sees TV and Movies as the more important marketting tool, than comics now.
But since Hasbro's current portfolio of toy brands is so expansive, they haven't needed to launch any new action figure brands lately, so couldn't comment on how it differs from the 80s launch of Transformers.

Non-word character names - most were just looking at the model sheets and inspired by something visual.  Other names were romanesque, because of the first name generated before Bob was tasked to naming characters - Optimus Prime.

Super Powers - a means to distinguish between the different characters.  Plus, they weren't allowed to shoot bullets (censorship requirement).

Dinobot names - the four, single-syllable 'S' names were intentional, to identify them as part of the one group. Grimlock had a different name to signify him as the leader of the group.

He occasionally got some toys from Hasbro for reference (but doesn't sound like it was very often)

The Gen1 comic that used a cartoon episode (the one set in 2006), was due to him not being able to make the deadline for that month, so it was a last minute fill-in issue.

Spiderman was used by Jim Shooter as a way to promote the Transformers comic, but Hasbro didn't like the idea because the Spiderman toys at that time were being produced by Mattel.  They saw it more as being promoting their rival toy company, rather than seeing the value of Marvel's flagship character promoting their new comic.  In the end, a compromise was reached, in that Marvel could use the black-costume Spiderman in the TFs comic, because it was not being released as a toy at that time (by Mattel).

Bob was meant to write the GIJoe Vs Transformers mini-series comic, but ended up just overseeing it.

When someone commented about IDW's poor form of consistency between issues with their TFs characters/forms, Bob commented that it is always the Editor's job to catch and correct inconsistencies.

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griffin @ otca.com.au

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