RE: the Star Comics thing.
Although Star Comics ceased as an imprint, there was still a divide between Marvel's kiddie output and all the rest.
Most Marvel titles in the US featured a regular editorial section, "Bullpen Bulletins", which basically kept readers up to date with goings-on at Marvel.
The Star comics, meanwhile, had an altogether different editorial page, called "Star Signals". Even after Star folded and everything went out under the Marvel banner, the kiddy titles still got the "Star Signals" page and the more mature titles got "Bullpen Bulletins".
Now, Transformers in the US continued to get Bullpen Bulletins EXCEPT for a run between issues 58 (All the Familiar Faces) and 66 (All Fall Down) when Star Signals was used.
This probably indicates that someone at Marvel, around mid-1989, made the official decision that TF was now a kids' title. This period coincides with Marvel adjusting their dating policy on the cover of their comics (issues 58 and 59 were both dated November), so it seems someone in the upper echelons at Marvel was intent on making a few changes at this time.
Bullpen Bulletins resumed in issue 67 (Rhythms of Darkness), quite a grim tale. Possibly the editor-in-chief had a quick read of that issue and decided to reclassify the title as "not kid-friendly" from that point on!
I'd forgotten the Star Signals page but it's a more subtle thing than an outright imprint. My suggestion is more of a gradual push than a formal "This be a kid's title" edict - it's much harder to resist calls to write down with "The cover says Marvel Comics not Star Comics" when that distinction no longer exists.
That said Star could produce some surprises. I think the very last original comics to use the Star imprint were the final two Masters of the Universe issues and they have a two-part story that's incredibly dark as Adam finds himself in a future where He-Man has disappeared and Skeletor has conquered Eternia. It has oppressions, brutality, despair, heroes giving their lives to get weapons to others and more. (In part it seems to be a reaction against both the MOTU movie and She-Ra cartoon, showing both how to do oppressed tyranny & desperate resistance as dark & serious and how to have a showdown in Castle Grayskull with Skeletor - who is even drawn with his movie look.) Maybe the winding down of the imprint meant it was easy to get away with it or perhaps with the MOTU toyline now fading out the audience was assumed to be the remaining kids of 1983.
With regards this issue Stuart has noted the conflict of expectations that is going to bedevil the series in the years to come. There's an expectation in at least the UK comics market that a long running title will almost completely turnover its audience every few years and so it's easy to adjust the focus to match the perceived target audience or just ignore the ageing core fanbase. US comics used to have this as well but for much of the market there was a big shift over to the more long term dedicated fanbase although I suspect this changing approach wasn't applied to titles like Transformers. But Transformers exceptionally did have a strong and vocal longterm fanbase and this will lead to further problems when the series basically overlooks them.
While I will defend this story and the others with the Space hikers as being not that awfull,
Afterall we have seen worse, ( Afterdeath,Showdown, Plight Of The Bumblebee ) and worse is yet to come, ( Cash And Carnage, Monstercon From Mars. The mechanibals two parter and the wrasseling story. )
but this story does kind of limp to a so so conclusion.
Grimock is still an ineffectual tit, who is getting on my nerves.
The combiner battle should be the highlight of the story, and it is but its over too fast.
And Blaster going on the run looking for the Throttlebots, with the protectobots after him would, have made for a far better ending.
The kids also trust Blaster a bit too easily and a bit too fast, but they are the audiance identifiers. And the audiance was already rooting for Blaster, so its best that Budiansky got it over with.
Budiansky is still capable of writing good stories when his heart is in it and his heart currently seems to be mostly in to the Headmasters and Targetmasters, but that wont last.
I get the feeling your not a Jose Delbo fan.
I have difficult imagining why.
Delbo is a solid artist and more dynamic then Perlin. With a good grasp on action scenes and his organics as well as robotics are generally good.
The way he draws damaged Transformers ( ie The Ressurection Gambit et all ) are quite creepy and disturbing.
Delbo's biggest fault is that he takes the profile art quite literally and lifts both package art and profile art quite often.
But I generally welcome Delbo's pencils on the title.
Have to say, I disagree with snowkatt. In a comic filled with robots, it's so hard to get emotion across.
Now, Perlin had a lot of faults, but one thing he was strong at was facial expressions.
'Afterdeath' may not be the best issue ever, but Perlin was brilliant there. Megatron's expressions, especially that smug grin when he used the password, that was brilliant. As was Prime's explosion in the same issue.
But his best work, I'd nominate 'The Cure'. There's one panel, where Blaster says "Hey Throttlebots, shoot your acid in this direction. I don't mind dying, as long as you take the Decepticon triple changers with me."
In that panel, look at the facial expressions of the Decepticons when Blaster says this. The mixture of shock, dread, and utter disbelief has never been more accurately drawn. Astrotrain especially looks like he's pooping bricks.
Perlin was rubbish at a lot of things, but he was the king of faces. He gave those robots personality.
I never said anything about facial expressions or emotions though.
Just that Delbo is generally better at handeling,The Transformers. The alien landscapes and the rather creepy way he draws damaged transformers.
Issue 55 is still nightmare fuel for me.
I was never a fan of Delbo as a kid, but as an adult (ahem) I can really appreciate the detail of his work. I'd love to see some original art up close, shorn of Yomtov's rather endearing colouring.
You generally know what's going on in a Delbo panel, as well: an undersung attribute, I feel. Not to mention everyone's (literally!) on-model.
Wasn't he inked by Dan Reed for Rhythms of Darkness? Either way, it gave his work a nice, different feel - weightier, perhaps. Yomtov was on better form that day, as well!
Yomtov seemed to have a preference for artists.
His color work with Senior was filled with simple block colored characters, with almost no shading.
And when you go to his work with Wildman and Baskerville and its like a wholly different colorist.
The difference is like night and day.
Personally i feel Senior's UK work is better then his US work.
Senior's lines really benefitted from the superior UK colouring. Mind you, On the Edge of Extinction is marvellous - it'd still look good, even if they let me colour it with crayons.
As I'll probably talk about on Friday, Delbo is such a lovable old Santa Clause of a Grandfather it's going to feel somewhat mean not being hugely kind to his work (though IIRC it doesn't start off too bad), but for me personally it suffers from some awkward poses- characters are often standing as if their top half is about to fall backwards off their waist- and his empty vaccant souless eyes.
Though to be fair, that last one works great for characters like Galvatron.
His art is also second only to Springer's Headmasters work for just shoving random characters in anywhere regardless of whether they should be there or not. Even the weakest of the prior artists didn't do things like having the Battlechargers hanging about on the Ark. Working out which characters are actually supposed to be in a story is going to get much, much harder.
IIRC Reed drew the American cover to Back From the Dead but never worked on interiors.
"Working out which characters are actually supposed to be in a story is going to get much, much harder."
Indeed. The number of arguments there have been over some of the more awkwardly drawn background characters, not helped by Yomtov's colours, is absurd.
Some of the "shouldn't be there" appearances may not be Delbo's fault but the information supplied to him - it's not unusual on long running titles or big event series for artists to not get a detailed chronology of every single character and so the group shots wind up including characters who should be dead, on alien worlds, specifically tied up on Earth, in new costumes and so forth. I can well believe he had no idea characters like Outback and the Jumpstarters weren't meant to be used - and the famous big panel in Totalled! may have been drawn to a list.
(And there's a surprising number of resurrections off panel around this time - not just the 1984 Autobots but also Brawl. So even a death scene doesn't mean too much.)
But the Battlechargers on the Ark... I'm not sure what's going on there.
God knows where I got that idea from then - there's definitely something different in his work in those issues. Maybe it is just the subdued colour palette?
My love for Delbo knows no bounds. You just can't go wrong doing the Delbo 'backwards angled pose' down the pub while holding a pint in one hand and positioning the other hand in the special Delbo Fingers Pose. Earn the respect of your peers! Especially if you shout: "NOOOO! RATCHET! WHY DID YOU HAVE TO DIE???!!!" at the same time. Always a winner.
Dan Reed inked most of Matrix Quest Part 3: Deadly Obsession! (Al Williamson inked pages 1-4) over The Delbo's pencils. Danny Bulandi inked Delbo's pencils for Rhythm of Darkness!
Ah, that's where I've got confused then. Very fond of the art on Deadly Obsession as well. Broad-minded, insane, or just wildly uncritical - you, the reader, decide!
"You just can't go wrong doing the Delbo 'backwards angled pose' down the pub while holding a pint in one hand and positioning the other hand in the special Delbo Fingers Pose"
I also sometimes get confused about art credits. I guess you could say I don't know my arse from my Delbo...
What a terrible cover! And what a waste considering the US cover showed the same events but was so much better-drawn. Probably Frank Springer’s best “Transformers” work.
As you pointed out Star Comics was both the imprint for Marvel’s children’s titles and also for their toy-based titles, and these were not always the same thing. “Visionaries” was a Star title even though it was written in a rather serious and dark tone. (The suffering of the Prysmosian people after the collapse of their high-tech civilisation is depicted pretty starkly. I can’t even read it when I’m not mentally braced for it.)
It’s unfortunate that we have to spend so much time with the Space-Hikers but it’s good that Blaster gets to be less of a jerk. For a while, anyway. He’s back to his old ways by the time he teams up with Jessie to visit Club Con.
Good point about the ageing of the fandom. I would have been about ten when “Transformers” first appeared in toy, TV, and comic form, and from what I remember, I seemed to be at the oldest edge of the fandom, as people only one year older than me weren’t that interested in “Transformers” but people up to six years younger than me were. YMMV.
However I have mixed feelings about having the writing style age along with the fans. It’s good to avoid kiddification but when the comics consciously tried to be darker and more badass it felt forced and uncool. Unfortunately by then it was the 1990s and it was mandatory.
Perlin’s “Transformers” art was a little sloppy and was never terribly on-model but compared to comic books today he was great. Also, I loved his cover for the (US) issue where the Autobot Pretenders meet Primus, which IIRC is his *really* last work for the series.
When you said “he’ll be missed more than you might expect” I worried that we were in for Delbo-bashing and the last line seems to show I was right…unless it turns out you don’t like Sky Lynx?
I’m glad to see some defense of José Delbo in this comments section. I also like Delbo. That thing where characters disconnect at the waist was a little odd but it doesn’t bother me, and his art was generally on-model and solidly-constructed. In terms of who came the closest to the quality of the cartoon, it would be a tie between Delbo and Senior. Delbo drew excellent humans and beautiful hands (human and robot). If you get the chance to check out his “Wonder Woman” issues from the late seventies/early eighties, that probably shows him at his best.
He’s a solid penciler who doesn’t need a great inker to save his work, but his work can be ruined by a bad inker, as happened in “World’s Finest.” So it’s nice when he’s paired with a great inker like Dave Hunt (which will happen during “Transformers”).
Stuart Webb. Who knows everything about nothing and not a lot about that.
Action Force/G.I. Joe