Last year, San Diego-based publisher IDW launched GI Joe: A Real American Hero, a new comic book series picking up right where the ‘80s and ‘90s series produced by previous license holder Marvel left off back in 1994. It’s even written by Larry Hama, who was responsible for the bulk of the original run.
Now a movement is growing online for IDW to give the same treatment to another one of their licensed properties based on a beloved ‘80s cartoon and toy line: Transformers.
It all started with prolific Transformers writer Simon Furman publishing the latest of his periodic Q&As with fans on his blog late last month. When asked if he’d be interested in revisiting the original Marvel series — which ran for 80 issues from 1984 to 1991 — in the same manner as the A Real American Hero title, Furman responded, “I actually would like to pick up the baton from Marvel issue #80 and run with it again. There was a lot we never got to do, that I’d like to revisit or just to take the next big steps with all that we’d set up in the previous 20 or so issues.”
Fans — and Transformers-dedicated sites including Transformer World and Seibertron — picked up on this, and assembled a petition online asking IDW and senior editor Andy Schmidt for just such a series, written by Furman, who wrote issues #56-#80 of the Marvel series. As of Monday evening, it’s at 1,202 signatures.
Furman told Newsarama that he’s “surprised and delighted” over the response.
“It’s a great feeling to think that there’s this huge groundswell of support for the continuation of a series that is now 20 years old,” Furman wrote via email. “Clearly, we must have been doing something right back then. But my experience with Transformers comics fans, across countless conventions, discussion forums and feedback on my blog, is that they’re just incredibly devoted and loyal to those original stories, storylines and characters.”Artist Andrew Wildman, like Furman a Marvel UK veteran and the illustrator of most of the Marvel title’s final year, has also chimed in on the situation via his own blog, saying that a series based on the original continuity had already previously been discussed with IDW, “until the current economic situation put the breaks on it.”
Furman said that Wildman is “100 percent on board” with a possible new comic, and adds that circumstances around the original series ending left a lot of room to pursue further developments.
“The end, when it came, was sudden (the title was selling 70,000+ when it was cancelled — those were the days!) and a lot had to be crushed into an issue or two, so there’s still so much we never really got to do or explore,” Furman wrote. “The idea of actually getting to grips again with characters and situations we kind of left hanging is hugely exciting.”
The closest thing to a public acknowledgement on the petition thus far from IDW was publisher and editor-in-chief Chris Ryall tweeting last week, “If you can get the petition to 10,000 signatures/pre-orders, I'll give you an exclusive cover for issue 81 …” in response to a Twitter account associated with the fan movement. Sale figure-indexing site The Comics Chronicles reports that in January 2011, IDW’s Transformers #15 sold an estimated 10,159 copies.
Furman stresses that though he would like to see this new series happen, it’s in no way meant to be seen as a slight on IDW’s current Transformers ongoing series, written by Mike Costa, and that both could offer something different for fans of robots in disguise.“I love what’s happening in the current G1 ongoing — heck, I practically built the IDW Transformers-verse — but comics have changed in 20 years, so there’s a kind of older head on the storytelling process and it feels to me there’s room for the best of both worlds, with that approach and one that harks back more to the 80s/90s brand of comic storytelling,” Furman wrote.
Though 20 years removed from Marvel's Transformers #80, Furman says that he has plenty more to say about those characters and situations, and feels that the petition is evidence that there are definitely fans still interested.
“The latter 25 issues I wrote of the US title had a creative freedom that maybe the previous issues never had, largely because writer Bob Budiansky had to compress an awful lot of new toy characters into a limited space, and that gave us the scope to go wild with the concept and really impose a sweeping, epic and intergalactic feel to things,” Furman wrote. “Fans really responded to that, and I think the Unicron storyline and its double-sized conclusion really made an impact on them that endures to this day. I just think people would like to recapture some of that full tilt, no-holds-barred, gung-ho space-opera spirit that epitomized the Transformers comic back then.”Marvel followed up the 80-issue Transformers run back in 1993 with the Furman-written Transformers: Generation 2, which only lasted a year. On his blog, Furman said that he thought the time for that particular series had passed, calling it, “very, well… 90s.”
“I think there’s lots of great stuff in G2, and I certainly don’t want to disregard it completely (I think there’s material there that could easily fold into whatever we might do with a G1 continuation), but given a straight choice, I’d opt for G1 #81 over G2 #13, just because that original run had a defining, epochal quality to it that just inspires me to see if it can be pushed to another level,” Furman wrote.
As of publication, IDW has not responded to Newsarama’s requests for a comment on the story sent on April 7 and late Sunday night.