Tuesday, 30 June 2015

Why Transformers 3 is the worst film ever made.

Michael Bay's Transformer films are the worst films ever made. Not the first one so much, that's a perfectly serviceable, if a bit padded, action film. Yes it has zero characterisation and seems to think that posing provocatively over a motorbike is acceptable characterisation for a female character, but there are worse out there.

The rot really starts to set in with the second film. It opens with an exciting chase across China, where an army of axe-wielding Autobots are hunting down two Decepticons who are hiding (and seemingly not doing anyone any harm at all). One of the Decepticons tries to run away, and he is sliced vertically in half for his trouble. The other one dashes for his life, causing huge devastation as he runs away from his pursuers. Then he is felled, and rendered defenceless, at which point Optimus Prime puts a gun to his head and pulls the trigger.

This is the opening of Revenge of the Fallen. It's also not the most problematic section of these movies, though it's a theme that recurs a lot. It's a film in which the hero straps hooks to his hands, screams "Give me your face," and proceeds to use aforementioned hooks to tear the face of the lead villain. This is, apparently, a Good Thing. Even Michael Bay said Revenge of the Fallen was awful though, so what does he give us for Transformers 3?

Saturday, 27 June 2015

Steven Universe Bingo Card Generator

Everyone got very excited about the last set of bingo cards that popped up for the previous Steven Bomb week, but that was just one card! I've made a bingo card that randomly generates from a pool of possible boxes.

It's still a work in progress, but it's a fun way for everyone to have their own cards! I can add more options, leave them in comments below and I'll put them into the rotation. (Also any suggestions to fix some of my Frankenstein coding!)

I've hosted it on an old server I have here as Blogger won't let you run code, hopefully it won't fall over due to a hug of death. If it does, just wait for a bit and it'll bounce back. It doesn't take up much bandwidth so it shouldn't!

If you click on 'share my card' it will generate a link that should be a permalink to that variation, though I don't know how that works if I add more options. 'Print my card' sometimes loses boxes. The Facebook link doesn't want to generate the share code, but the Twitter does.

Thursday, 25 June 2015

Doctor Who Candy Cigarette Cards - Daleks vs Voord!

The 1960s were a different time. For example, children were encouraged to buy delicious candy versions of cigarettes in adorable fake-cigarette packets so they could learn early that smoking is really really cool. For some reason they don't make them any more. I can't imagine why!

In 1964, one of the earliest Doctor Who tie-in merchandise was released in the form of 'Doctor Who and the Daleks Candy Cigarettes', the BBC obviously prioritising licensing material that would help the health of the nation's youth. More exciting than just sweets, the packs of candy cigarettes also included collectible cards that told a story!

These candy cigarettes are also extra healthy as the main ingredient is 'Skaro'. Seriously. Check the packet up top there.

There were fifty cards in total, telling two exciting stories about Dr Who and the Daleks. They are an odd mixture - the original art is quite nice, though they were clearly too cheap to fork out for William Hartnell's likeness. Also they seem to have simply printed the artist directions as the text, complete with some cards telling the artist what to include and how to frame it! All the cards are available as scans at the following album, though sadly they are not in order. I assume this is the album of whoever scanned them originally (if not, let me know so I can link to the original).

Today we will look at the first story, which is seriously the greatest thing ever made. Did you think that the Daleks vs Cybermen in 'Doomsday' was amazing? Well, you've not seen anything yet!

We open in the middle of a pitched battle on the planet Marinus, where the Voord (or 'Voords' if the pluralisation is to be believed) are engaged in a pitch battle with the dreaded Daleks! The Daleks and Voord then decided to join forces to invade Earth in search of a mysterious power. What is this power? We will find out later! (I promise it is good!)

The Voord/Dalek alliance capture Dr Who (for that is his name) and force him to disclose the secret of Ultkron travel, the fiends! Dr Who threatens to pull the big red lever that will destroy the Voord ship (a frankly poor design choice) and so begins a series of capture-escapes the like of which Doctor Who fans are very familiar with.

The Daleks and Voord fall out and have another exciting pitched battle. I bet you never knew you wanted this, did you?

Meanwhile Dr Who escapes in a space rocket but is set upon by the dreaded Chief Voord! Bad Chief Voord! Bad!

In a moving scene, the Dr Who crashes his ship and tenderly rescues his new friend the Chief Voord. But what are the Daleks after on Earth?

It turns out that the Dalek's master plan is to search for mushrooms. Seriously. This is a real thing that actually happened. The Daleks start foraging in the jungle for mushrooms, but only the Chief Voord has the "secret of the fungi".
The Chief Voord befriends the Daleks again and shows them the mushrooms. Again, this is a real thing that actually happened.

The Chief Voord rides one of the Daleks' hover discs. It is sort of adorable! But now that the Daleks have the mushrooms, can anything stop them?

Oh thank god, all the Daleks just drop down dead. Earth is saved! Dr Who travels back to England in triumph.

Yes, the story isn't really up to much, but it's fascinating as one of the earliest ever Doctor Who spin-offs in any medium. Sure, the Doctor does nothing, the Daleks bumble about before eating mushrooms and dying, but it's got Voord in it. What more do you want?

So remember kids, mushrooms are bad. Now go and eat your candy cigarettes.

Tuesday, 23 June 2015

[Fiction] The Secret of Soylent Green

Sure, there were some Social Justice Warriors who moaned about how pulping down people into some sort of green paste for human consumption was somehow 'unethical', but Soylent Green was just so delicious and cheap, it was hard to actually care. I mean, it's probably hypocritical of me - I'm against turning people into paste as much as the next prole, and I suppose if I had to mush people up into tiny pots then I wouldn't want to eat it...

...But if God didn't want us to eat mushed up people, then he wouldn't have made us so delicious, that's all I'm saying. I might sign a few petitions, but you look at those non Soylent-eating people and wonder how they can get all their essential vitamins and minerals. After all, if not from people, then where?

So there I was, wandering down the street, sucking on a delicious cup of Soylent Green when I was stopped by a market researcher. She asked me for a moment of my time, and having nothing else to do, I agreed.

"It's for testing a new range of Soylent Green!" she said.

My eyes lit up. "Oh great!" I replied. "Is it like that limited edition 'Terrorist' flavour? I felt an extra sense of justice and freedom every time I ate that!"

She stared at me for a moment, before passing me a green pot with a spoon in it. "No." She just shook her head. "Now, taste it and tell me what you think."

I put the spoon in my mouth and greedily swooshed the paste about. "Mmmm!" I mumbled. "I'm getting... hmm. Is it orphan? Foreigner?" I narrowed my eyes. "It isn't zero calories, is it? I've got to watch my sugars, make sure they don't get too low..."

"But does it taste like Soylent?" she asked.

"Of course!" I took another long taste. "Go on, what is it? I bet I can taste some hobo in there, is that the secret ingredient?"

"Ha!" The researcher laughed. "No, no! It's a new recipe. We're going to call it New Soylent. After all the resistance from pressure groups, we've made a version that tastes identical, but..."

My face fell and I felt queasy as she continued to speak.

"...it's made from soy! No mashed up people at all. It's just generically modified to..."

"GENETICALLY MODIFIED?" I threw up violently, and crushed the cup in my hand, dashing it to the ground. "Are you trying to murder me? That's unethical! Immoral! You sick monster!"

She looked genuinely shocked. "No, it's not like that at all. It is safe and tested and far better than mashing people into..."

"SICKO!" I pointed at her, yelling as loud as I could. All around me in the street, people stopped eating their delicious pots of Soylent to stare. "THINK OF THE CHILDREN! SHE'S TRYING TO POISON US WITH GENETICALLY MODIFIED SOY!"

The crowd closed in on the terrified researcher. As her screams filled my ears, I sat down and sighed in relief, taking another mouthful of proper - MORAL - Soylent Green.

Saturday, 20 June 2015

Is this the greatest comic cover of all time?

There are several types of comic covers. One of them is a faithful depiction of the action in the story, previewing events. Another is a more abstract depiction of what the comic is. Sometimes, as Dreamwave was infamous for, they would choose to just make the cover a completely unrelated pinup.

Marvel UK was more adventurous.

Transformers 233's cover is the only serious comic cover that I can think of that is dedicated solely to the free gift rather than the contents of the comic. Clearly the editor saw that the issue was printing some late-run Budiansky, some Micromaster story and some Action Force reprint, and decided that the highlight of the issue was the temporary tattoo on the front of it.

Yes, UK 232 attempted to blaze that trail, proudly displaying a large image of Thunderwing fruitlessly searching for Micromasters, bemoaning his lack of a magnifying glass, ironically unaware of the cheap magnifying glass out of a cracker that was sellotaped to the cover, but that at least bore some reference to the story within.

There is nothing about this cover, save perhaps for Iguanus looking on proudly, that relates to the inside of the magazine. And why should it? My god, owning this comic could literally make you become a Pretender! As the chap on the cover had obviously purchased the comic already to get his tattoo, the reader can relate to him as an avatar of the perfect Transformer reader. Look how rugged he is - clearly we are all cut from his mold. And he is best friends with the Decepticon Pretenders, too! Does this mean all readers of the Transformers comic are in league with the Decepticons? (The master-narrative cuts deep - we all know that Dreadwind and Hi-Test were on the editorial staff during this period).

What other comic cover is dedicated to the reader in such a way? None, save from when Time Magazine couldn't decide on Man of the Year and so just stuck a shiny cover on and proclaimed "YOU!" But this is more special, I feel. In this one issue, this one week, we the reader became the story. We became part of something far, far greater.

And that is why I have kept my pretender tattoo, safe until the day comes where I need it. For that, I am grateful.

Thursday, 18 June 2015

Operation: Cold Slither - Cobra Commander's Only Good Plan

 GI Joe was always a difficult thing to love: whilst absurdly popular in America, it was aggressively marketed as American, almost telling every single other country in the world that they weren't allowed to like the "real American heroes" for the crime of not being American. You could turn up and stare in to the windows if you liked, but you weren't really invited to the party.

There was a good attempt at localisation for a while, where the franchise was rebranded as 'Action Force: International Heroes' which went a long way towards making the pro-Americana more palatable (for me at least) but at some point in the late eighties/early nineties they gave up on that and changed it to GI Joe everywhere.

There's a good argument that perhaps GI Joe wouldn't be a dead brand today if it was called 'Action Force' again, as America hasn't exactly been the most popular country in the world. That said, terrorism isn't a particularly child-friendly topic, especially in this post-9/11 age.

As the episode 'Cold Slither' shows us, they just don't make terrorists like they used to!

For someone living in Europe, the GI Joe cartoon wasn't something that really happened. There was an attempt at rebranding it 'Action Force' which required the hilarious step of having someone dub over every mention of 'GI Joe' with 'Action Force' in an unconvincing manner, and it mainly sat as a direct-to-video series. This was a shame, as it turned out the cartoon was quite brilliant at times.
Terrorism was still a real and dangerous thing in the eighties, and so rather than make something po-faced and slightly tasteless for kids TV, the writers decided to go for broke and make COBRA the most ridiculous terrorist organisation imaginable.

Speaking of going for broke, the  episode opens with Cobra Commander facing bankrupcy. GI Joe has become too good at raiding Cobra's cash reserves and he can't pay his troops any more. In a disasterous turn of events, all his men start queuing up outside the offices of social services (still in full Cobra uniform) and the bank calls in the creditors. Cobra Commander has just one day to raise $200 million, or Cobra is finished!

(At this point it is important to note that Cobra is funded by the evil Tomax and Xamot, who in between being the evil acrobatic commanders of the elite Crimson Guard, sit around in suits and run Extensive Enterprises, a big corporation. GI Joe know they're there, in fact one episode had GI Joe raid Extensive Enterprises, only to be turned away by Tomax and Xamot who informed them that it wasn't illegal to fund terrorist organisations. GI Joe left defeated.)

GI Joe take the opportunity to launch an assault on Cobra's main base, only to discover that it's already been foreclosed and is being auctioned off to various dictators in order to raise funds. Cobra Commander's skipped town and it turns out that he's been bolstering his army with cardboard cutouts.

If anything, Cobra Commander's financial woes are ahead of their time, reflecting the recent worldwide financial crisis. If only Obama had come up with a plan as clever as Cobra Commander's!
What is Cobra Commander's plan for raising $200 million in a day? As an evil terrorist mastermind who has an army with lasers, jets and tanks, one would imagine he is about to launch a daring assault on the world's banking system, or Fort Knox. But that's not how Cobra Commander rolls.

Cobra Commander puts on a clever disguise of an overcoat and shades (whilst keeping his Cobra Commander costume on) and he and Firefly beat up a midget in order to steal a million dollars. With a suitcase full of cash, Cobra Commander speeds to Zartan's house, where he uses the money to hire Zartan and his Dreadnoks for Operation: Cold Slither.

Operation: Cold Slither consists of Zartan and the Dreadnoks forming a rock'n'roll band in order to subjugate the nation's youth.

Yes. This is a thing that happened.

Zartan is a pretty loyal henchman to Cobra Commander, so it's unclear why Cobra Commander felt the need to steal a million dollars just to hire him. It's also unclear why Zartan and the Dreadnoks - feared mercenaries - are the perfect frontmen for a rock'n'roll band. Was there really no-one else who Cobra Commander could hire for less than a million dollars?

As it happens, Zartan's band is pretty amazing, and so completely justifies the million that Cobra Commander spent on them. You've got to invest to make money after all! Just like a real rock'n'roll band they perform whilst using chainsaws and flamethrowers to smash up all the equipment, and they reach the top 20 in three days. Cobra Commander's financiers cancel his debt in order to get a slice of this hot new band.

Soon the nation's youth are obsessed with Cold Slither. It's being played in all the classrooms at school, and they reach number one. Has Cobra Commander hit upon a working alternative to international terrorism?

Meanwhile, with Cobra defeated, GI Joe are pretty bored. They're stuck playing golf and having barbeques because they have no-one to fight. Soon they too will be queuing up for social services. Various GI Joe members (including Shipwreck and his parrot) become hardcore Cold Slither fans, not recognising the faces of Zartan and the Dreadnoks (Zartan is the master of disguise, but clearly Cold Slither is a project close to his heart, as he performs as himself). The hypnotic nature of rock'n'roll compels the Joes to go AWOL, breaking out of the base in a hail of laser fire, so that they can...
...Attend a concert.

This is Cobra Commander's endgame. Make a cool rock'n'roll band, and once it has dominated the music scene, use subliminal messages to force everyone to go to concerts. To be fair, this isn't especially evil as this is pretty much what every band does.

Back at GI Joe headquarters, Duke shows himself to be a giant square by not knowing what Cold Slither is, assuming it is something to do with Cobra. The other Joes tell him that he's dumb, and just because the band is snake-themed and the frontman is Zartan and he sings about how great a terrorist organisation Cobra is, doesn't mean that it's anything to do with Cobra as it's a rock band.

Duke then acts even more square by sending the military police to arrest all the AWOL Joes who have gone to the concert, as this is cutting into their important duties of playing golf and having barbeques.

The military police arrive to arrest Shipwreck and co, and they become Cold Slither fans too. The extent of the conditioning is to make them feel mellow. Everyone at the concert starts to fall to their knees and shout "all hail Cobra" but really, what rock and roll concert doesn't that happen at?

Cobra Commander's plan is going well, right? He's got a really popular band, he's got obsessive fans, and he can just sit back and rake in the cash from merchandise and ticket sales. It's going well. Too well. In order to ruin his good progress, he reveals to the world that Cold Slither is indeed a front for Cobra, and that he's holding everyone in the stadium hostage, demanding that the world pay him "one hundred billion dollars" for their release.

Oh Cobra Commander, you had it and you threw it all away.

The Dreadnoks get too rock'n'roll and wander off stage in the middle of their song. Boring killjoy GI Joe show that they are THE MAN by infiltrating as groupies and beating up Cold Slither. They wave a gun in the general direction of Cobra Commander's face. Cobra Commander reacts by jumping out of a window and running away.

GI Joe use the opportunity to play their own song on stage. It's not as good as Cobra's band.
Cold Slither is a fantastic episode, which shows that no-one has any intention of taking anything about the show seriously. GI Joe works when it recognises its inherent ridiculousness. It fails when it starts to believe that the Village People fighting snake-themed terrorists is in any way, shape or form a gritty, realistic drama.

Everything about the episode works. It’s crazy, but everyone in the show acts as if it is the most logical progression of events possible with all the conviction of the more ‘serious’ episodes. In a way it is the most logical extension of the series premise: if you can’t have gritty drama, you can go in the other direction.

Cobra Commander's insane response to his money problems are inspired, especially in the fact that it's probably the best plan he's ever had. If he'd just kept it up, he could have conquered the world via music. Sadly it was not to be.

Back home in his house where he lives with all his Dreadnoks, does Zartan sit back while sipping grape juice and listen to his Cold Slither cassettes, wistfully remembering the days when he was a rock'n'roll legend?

I like to think so.

Tuesday, 16 June 2015

[Comic] My Little Transformers

The Transformers: Mosaic project is a fan-based project to get artists and writers working together to create fancomics.

This was a comic I made way back in March 2011 when My Little Pony was something new and exciting! How time flies! I had to struggle to find anyone to help make it (and ended up doing all of it myself) and then it become one of (if not the) most popular comic in the entire project. Funny how things work out!

Thursday, 11 June 2015

When Fanon Beats Canon: JaAm

This is Hot Shot! He was one of the main characters in the Transformers Armada, Energon and Cybertron franchises from about 2002-06. He was the Bumblebee style character - a kid-like soldier who matures into a confident and capable leader, taking over from Optimus Prime when he's busy being dead.

When Armada was being developed, people had high hopes. This was the first vehicle-based Transformers show made by Hasbro in years. (The previous one, Robots in Disguise, was entirely Japanese-designed, and so full of repaints of old figures and insanely complex new ones). Hasbro had been designing and developing these toys for years. We were convinced we would get the pinnacle of Transformers.

Then we got this:
Yes, the Hot Shot toy was pretty horrendous. He had a face fixed in a baffling grin, arms that only flapped side to side, and horrible misshapen limbs. His elbows rotated on a little hinge offset to edges. It was really, really weird! Apparently, the original design which looked far better had to be scrapped at a really late stage and this was rushed in as a quick alternative. (For the record, the Armada figures for the most part were actually brilliant and actually fun unlike the overdesigned stuff foisted on kids today, but I digress).

The toy came with a minicomic, which was written simultaneously in three languages. As a joke, I rewrote the comic so that Hot Shot, instead of being a brave but brash warrior, was in fact an insane drooling idiot who complained about his lack of articulation and lusted after jam (or 'JaAm')
It was funny at the time, though in hindsight it's not that funny. If you really want, you can read the whole thing here: http://www.marshmallowsupernova.com/2008/10/armada-real-story_26.html

It seemed to strike a chord though. Suddenly my site was getting hits. Lots of hits. Hundreds of thousands of hits! (Currently the comic is hosted on a different page than the original). People were talking about it everywhere! Every time Hot Shot appeared people would comment "yUm jAaM" or "wHy mY sHoUlDeRs hUrT?" It reached an insane memeic saturation where it literally penetrated the entire Transformer fanbase. One of the big sites decided to change their review ratings to pictures of Hot Shot being happy about jam (for good toys) or crying about his hurting shoulders (for bad toys).

It goes to show you can never work out what will be a hit. That comic took me about 20 minutes to do. I've slaved away on other things for months and years with barely a mention. Such is life.
Anyway, time marched on. In 2009, Hasbro released a new Hot Shot toy! It was the first Hot Shot in about three years, and the first Armada Hot Shot since 2002. Brilliant!
What was the bio on the back though? Did Hasbro use their existing characterisation as detailed in all their cartoon shows, comics and previous literature?

Uh, no. They used mine. Hot Shot is now no longer a heroic leader-type, he is a drooling fool who loves 'jAaM'. And what's this on the toy?

Look at his numberplate!

Fanon successfully beat canon. The insane saturation of my jam comic pretty much made it impossible for anyone to think about Hot Shot without also thinking about him as a lovable crazy jam loving robot. I got not one, but two nods to my comic on the actual figure and packaging! How cool is that!

Of course, the downside is that there was never any official thanks. No, "Hey Blue, this thing you did was cool, and packaging our toy like this shifted a load more of them because everyone was talking about. Have a free one!" I can totally understand that, because legally Hasbro aren't allowed to take fan-submitted ideas. They did in this case, but they're not supposed to. Not officially allowed to. That's fine. I'd rather have the nod than not at all!

I just would have liked them to at least reply to my email, or sneakily post me one. The figure was only released in America, so I had to pay crazy import fees to get hold of mine. Oh well!

Tuesday, 9 June 2015

XCOM vs My Little Pony

As a bit of fun, I decided to make an all-pony team in my latest  XCOM game. I'm playing the Classic Ironman version, which is difficult plus you can't reload if it goes wrong. All decisions are final! After a disastrous mission on board an alien battleship where I lost most of my best soldiers, I thought "What the hell, let's go pony!"

All your favourite characters, now with big guns! Applejack, Rainbow Dash and Twilight are support class, Fluttershy is the heavy, Rarity is the assault and Pinkie Pie is the sniper. I also gave Pinkie Pie my one archangel armour so she can fly (in retrospect it would have been funnier if that were Twilight, ho ho) while everyone else has to make do with a mix of titan armour for extra protection and skeleton armour for extra dodging ability.

Weapons are a mix of laser and plasma, so these bad boys should pack a punch! The aliens won't know what hit them! That's XCOM, baby!

Thursday, 4 June 2015

[Flashback] Defenders of the Earth

Defenders of the Earth is an incredibly bizarre cartoon that in no way shape or form should work, but does anyway precisely because of the self-assured swagger it carried itself with. The Defenders of the Earth were a team of superheroes put together not through any thematic or artistic ideas but simply because the same company owned the licenses for all four characters and they thought it was a good idea to scrape them all together and put them in the same show.

So in the fantastical future year of 2015, Flash Gordon (a space adventurer), the Phantom (a gritty pulp adventurer who fights pirates in Africa), Mandrake (a magician who fights crime) and Lothar (a strongman) team up because they are all owned by King Features Syndicate and battle Ming the Merciless.

It sounds absolutely terrible, but then you see the intro and realise it is actually amazing.

Tuesday, 2 June 2015

Jem and Adaption Decay

I'm a bit late to the whole Jem party. The trailer for the new movie came out two weeks ago now, and everyone has been falling over themselves to make "It's truly outrageous" comments about how outraged they are, hilariously parroting the catchphrase of the original cartoon. I mean yes, it is outrageous. It's... well, take a look at the trailer if you're one of the few people not to have seen it yet (and then head to Youtube and downvote it along with the rest of the internet).

My experience of Jem is limited mainly to having to sit through the cartoon intro on every Sunbow video (they'd run through them all, it was pretty awesome actually) and having watched one episode (an incredibly racist one where the writer seemed to be convinced that England was still run along feudal lines like a medieval society). Even so, I was actually outraged at the trailer.

Yes, it's not for me. I get that. I'm a 30ish year old male, and this is a film aimed at tweens. It's unreasonable to expect that sort of film to cater for me (and probably a bit worrying if it did). But this seems to exemplify the complete and utter lack of respect towards audiences in the spirit of money-grabbing that's more and more prevalent nowadays.

The original Jem was about an 80's rockstar with a secret identity. She had a supercomputer and holographic earrings and had adventures fighting crime and travelling in time and all that sort of stuff. It was very glam. Very 80's. It was a small child's idea of what a rock'n'roll lifestyle was like, where fame and excess was measured via robots and dinosaurs rather than sex and drugs.

The new film is about a girl who becomes Youtube-famous and lands a recording contract, where the evil music company make her take on the new identity of 'Jem' and abandon her friends and it's all about being who you are yadda yadda.

At this point I want to say that obviously that's just what I've gleaned from the trailer and it might be some enormous troll. I'd be happy to eat my words at that point. It's possible that it's a perfectly good film with a decent moral and there's nothing wrong with it at all.

Only someone's gone and slapped the Jem IP onto it. They're both... musicians, I guess? That's enough, isn't it? Sure, it looks like the moral of the film is going to be a 'Don't let others tell you who to be, you must be yourself' which I guess means Jem is a Bad Thing rather than the empowered superheroic alter ego, spectacularly missing the point of the original. And indeed, missing anything at all from the original apart from pink hair and a guitar.

I'd be willing to bet actual money that this was a completely original script which then got hooked with a property name people remember in order to get funding. Much like how the Will Smith 'I, Robot' film was an adaption of 'I, Robot' in that it had robots in it (never mind that the plot was the exact opposite in ethos to the Asimov story). The film industry is terrified of originality, everything needs to be based off something else or attached to an existing property because apparently people are so stupid they won't want to see something new.

Jem is probably the most bizarre case I've ever seen of this, which is why I actually bothered to sit down and write about it in the first case. It is baffling why anyone even bothered to make it. Who is the film aimed at? What benefit does making it a Jem film actually give? Films like this generally have two audiences:
  • New: This film is aimed at the tween audience. None of them would have ever heard of Jem. None would even be aware of it as a thing, and if they were, 80's glam is hardly a cool thing with the kids of today. There's no benefit to simply using the Jem name (as opposed to, say, using the IP to make a proper adaption of the ideas) because there's literally no resonance. I'd understand if Jem was a 00's or even 90's property, but the 80's is just too long ago.
  • Old: People who are familiar with the original will want to see the new version. This is such an obvious 'we slapped some familiar names on a completely unrelated script' that anyone familiar enough with Jem to care to see a film would definately want to steer far away.

I genuinely don't see any benefit at all, only drawbacks. Nothing about using the IP helps the film in any way, and the only additional publicity is people who remember the original moaning about how betrayed they feel. But hey, new stuff is scary so randomly claim it's somehow an adaption of an existing property. That's what shows the real disrespect to audiences, basically trying to trick people into watching an unrelated film by claiming it's something they know or love, and it's something that's happening more and more as studios decide they want to take less risks. Every popular thing started from nothing at some point, apparently that's not good enough any more.
I want a job in Hollywood. Here are my pitches for films of beloved 80's properties:

He-Man: Adam is the school nerd, but he's secretly getting in shape for a bodybuilding contest. But so is his nemesis, a malnourished kid that everyone calls 'Skeletor'.

My Little Pony: The exciting life of a farmhand.

Jayce and the Wheeled Warriors: Jayce is a college kid with the coolest band on campus, The Lightning League. But can he beat The Monster Minds in a battle of the bands?

Ulysses 31: Ulysses is on holiday in Greece and loses his son, with hilarious consequences!

Visionaries: The heroic Leoric must battle the evil Darkstorm... at the school spelling bee! Can they and their teams spell the really hard words given to them by Headmaster Merklynn?

Transformers: Truck driver Dave 'Optimus' Prime has to deliver a shipment of electronic Transformers across the country, but Sheriff Megan Tron is on his tail!

She-Ra: Adora is a nerdy girl with an oppressive mother who forces her to enter beauty pagents as 'She-Ra'. Can Adora be convinced to be herself and leave behind the harmful 'She-Ra' persona?

Monday, 1 June 2015

[Fiction] The Unmade Transformers Spotlight: Dirge Script

Spotlight: Dirge was a comic that sadly never got off the ground. Way back in 2010ish there was a lot of moaning about the direction that IDW was taking with 'All Hail Megatron', so I thought that rather than moan I would write what I'd like to see the line do. I ended up writing a complete 22 page script which I thought was rather great, with the intent of turning it into an Auto Assembly fanzine. Sadly I could never find an artist interested in helping out.

Still, here is the complete Spotlight: Dirge for your entertainment. Personally all these years later I still think it's pretty great and sad that I could never get it off the ground. Perhaps if it was about popular characters... I mean yes, no-one knows any of the characters in this, but I love obscure characters. It's always a shame when someone refuses to read something because "I don't know who the characters are." Buddy, that's the point of reading it, to find out. Fandoms aren't good at that concept.

But, you know, if anyone has a hankering to illustrate even one panel, be my guest!

Dirge was a Decepticon who was all about fear. I had the idea of making him into a psychologist investigator (the way his brown wings drape down his back and legs look almost like a trenchcoat).

Spotlight: Dirge is about how Dirge's attempts to live a quiet life are foiled when he's forced to go on a mission to investigate the mysterious Autobot terror cell known as 'Quickswitch'. The only clue is the prisoner in cell 42, but he's not talking to anyone. And neither will Dirge be if he's not careful.

View the script here