Botcon 2010 Day 1: Bob Budiansky Panel Roundup!

{mosimage}New TF Hall-Of-Fame Nominee and the Original Transformers Comic Writer Bob Budiansky got his own panel today at Botcon! Learn what THE Transformers writer was thinking at the beginning of the franchise!

  • Covering His History in Transformers:
  • In 1983 Hasbro came to Marvel with Transformers, before he was involved.
  • He showed a scan of the original 8-page Treatment by Jim Shooter
  • The Ark was originally called 'Aunty' and crashed into Mt. Saint Helents instead of St. Hillary.
  • Buster Witwicky was originally (you guessed it!) Spike Witwicky.
  • Starscreams original name was 'Olchtar'.  He apparently fought Space Ghost.
  • There were Last Minute Profiles from Bob after the changes
  • Hasbro originally rejected the name 'Megatron' because they felt it was 'Too Scary'. Budiansky replied, "He's the main bad guy, he's supposed to be scary!'
  • Ratchet was originally 'the best tool gal on Cybertron' – then Hasbro told them there were no girls in Transformers
  • Jaguar became Stalker became Ravage.
  • Budiansky would usually give Hasbro 2or 3 names – "I'd give them two lame ones so they picked the one I liked."
  • Firebolt became Jetfire, probably due to legal reasons.
  • He can't remember whether he named Bumblebee, but Blowout became Cliffjumper and Guzzle became Trailbreak!
  • Right away Hasbro was asking him to do packing bios. He was asked to develop 'Attributes' (the original tech specs). He developed every rating, and then compared them to one another.
  • By 1985 the line was popular so he kept getting more and more products, and he was naming more and more characters. Later on he had the profile model sheets, but originally he just got the original toys. 
  • He showed off Nautilator's moel sheet, and a concept of Snakeskin (who became Iguanus).
  • Bob Budiansky began as a special project editor, but by issue 5, he had become the writer.
  • He showed of US Issue 17, Return to Cybertron: The Smelting Pool.
  • He got a special letter from a special fan – the great Stan Lee!
  • He drew the cover of Scourge of the Scraplets himself.
  • But he didn't like drawing robots – "Generally, if there was a pretty girl on the cover, I tried to draw it."
  • He developed the original Creation Matrix idea in the comic, and came up with new methods of bringing Transfomers into the storyline (such as the space bridge).
  • He draws a connection between Buster absorbing the Creation Matrix… and Sam in Revenge of the Fallen.
  • By 1988, he was begging the editor to let him leave the book. "Having 20, 30, 40 characters added every year to the comic was burning me out." He was stressed out by having to put aside characters for new characters on a regular basis.
  • In February of 89, Budiansky and Furman met up for lunch. Over a few beers, he says, "I don't want to write this book anymore. Do you?" Furman said Yes – but technically it wasn't his call, since it's supposed to be the editors call. But the editor was cool and Furman got the book.

Q&A Summary:

  • Stories that make you say 'What was I thinking?': "I basically left Transformers in 1989- I've moved on to other career things in my life… I was running on fumes by the end." But he likes Carwash of Doom!
  • Straxus, Scrounge and the Smelting Pool: Blaster was Clint Eastwood, Scrounge was based on a movie character he doesn't remember, and he didn't know about Generations Darkmount.
  • A B.S. in Civil Engineering helped provide the technobabble in the profiles.
  • Rejected in Profiles: Hasbro was 98% happy, and rejected names usually for legal reasons and preference, but generally liked the profiles. One guy was named after a part of the female anatomy that he didn't realize, so it was rejected!
  • The Creation Matrix: It was "A plot device that apparently had some persistance."
  • He was aware of other robotlines (like Voltron and Gobots), but wasn't really interested in it.
  • He never felt a burning reason to watch the cartoon.
  • Friction between Earthlings and Robots was a big motivation for him; he wasn't so interested in the space battles.
  • Witwicky as a name: Jim Shooter wrote that and apparently knew somebody named Buster Witwicky.
  • Hasbro didn't force him to push specific characters too often.
  • Post Transformers: In the late 80s, Transformers was dying, at that time, it didn't look like he should stay on Transformers forever, and that he should find other creative pastures.
  • Characters lent themselves to their characters.
  • And yes, he wrote all the quotes; e.g., "Freedom is the right of all sentient beings"!