Transformers fan Graham Thomson has just launched The TFUK Guide – a fan project dedicated to Marvel UK’s comics – and it’s off to a grand start.
“The aim is to build up a comprehensive guide to the Marvel UK Transformers comics,” Graham tells downthetubes.
“The heart of the guide is a monthly digital magazine available to Patreon supporters that features detailed infographics, in-depth guides and reviews and a few special features too.”
Whatever else you can say about the 1980s, it was a decade which produced some pretty memorable toys. Masters of the Universe, Action Force and Star Wars figures were all hugely popular. But no history of toys in the 1980s could possible exclude the Transformers. “Robots in disguise”, the Transformers were gigantic metal beings from another world which could transform into everyday Earthly objects such as a gun, cassette player, lorry or car. And, as Ian Wheeler relates here, pretty much every kid in Britain wanted one.
It was perhaps inevitable that there would be a Transformers comic — pure economics determined that, if nothing else. Comics based on toys made sense for both the toy producers and the comic publishers. The comic would hopefully sell off the back of the toy’s success and the toys would get loads of publicity. Masters of the Universe got its own comic, as did Transformers.
Issue one of the British Transformers, from Marvel UK, a title that lasted for 332 regular isues, had a cover date of 20 September — 3rd October 1984. Starting as a fortnightly, it was edited by the feisty Sheila Cranna, who is perhaps best known for editing Doctor Who Magazine, also published by Marvel UK. Comparing that first edition to the issues which followed, it is clear that it was more magazine-like than later copies, with factual articles on robots in addition to the comic strip. An early cameo appearance by Spider-Man in the Transformers strip in Issue 6 gave the fledgling title a boost and it would soon go weekly. Early back-up strips in the comic included “Machine Man” and “Iron Man”, and there was a jokey cartoon strip in the form of Lew Stringer’s “Robo-Capers”, which would be replaced by the memorable “Combat Colin” when Transformers later absorbed the Marvel version of Action Force.
It will be interesting to read Graham’s take on the comics and see how the project develops.
• Follow photographer Graham Thomson on Twitter: @grahamcaptures
Transformers © and TM Hasbro | With thanks to Jim Marshall for input
The founder of downthetubes, which he established in 1998. John works as a comics and magazine editor, writer, and on promotional work for the Lakes International Comic Art Festival. He is currently editor of Star Trek Explorer, published by Titan – his third tour of duty on the title originally titled Star Trek Magazine.
Working in British comics publishing since the 1980s, his credits include editor of titles such as Doctor Who Magazine, Babylon 5 Magazine, and more. He also edited the comics anthology STRIP Magazine and edited several audio comics for ROK Comics. He has also edited several comic collections, including volumes of “Charley’s War” and “Dan Dare”.
He’s the writer of “Pilgrim: Secrets and Lies” for B7 Comics; “Crucible”, a creator-owned project with 2000AD artist Smuzz; and “Death Duty” and “Skow Dogs” with Dave Hailwood.