Monday, August 28, 2006

Letter from a comics fan circa 1990

I found a letter from another TF comics fan that was sent to me when I was a teenager waaay back around 1990. I thought it would be cool to share here as an example of how we used to communicate back in the G1 days. My commentary follows after the contents of the letter:

I don't have the envelope to figure out the date it was sent from the postmark. I'm estimating it was around 1990 because I scribbled some codes to a Turbografx-16 game I was playing at the time on the letter. I never got back to Clint because by 1990 I wasn't into the comics anymore after having given up with issue #75. I figured if he was motivated enough to write me, he probably wrote to a mess of other people and got his answers from them. I didn't feel too guilty about ignoring the guy because I didn't feel I was much of an expert on anything enough to answer his questions. I think it would be fun to send Clint a postcard and answer his questions all these years later. He'd be in his late 20's by now and he probably doesn't live with his parents anymore, but I'm feeling pretty bad about never getting back to the guy.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Bring on teh robot party!

I finally finished making the last 30 little robot party favors for the robot convention. What a relief. I can finally relax a bit. It was a crazy endeavor, a wild ride, a torturous time and I made it through. It's kind of easy now that the work's done to forget all the hard work I had to do.

The robot convention organizers let the cat out of the bag Monday and they publicly informed various online robot people about the figure. I even got in on a few of the online conversations. The feedback has been very positive. It's nice to know that upon first impression so many toy robot fans are happy with the work I've done. Toy robot fans are very difficult to please, I know. Hopefully the robot will get a few more people to go to the show.

I'm going to the show and I know it'll be a good time. Although I've made the figures for the show these past three years, I've never actually been in attendance. I'll be taking a Greyhound bus to Tacoma, Washington next week to join the fun. It'll be the second toy robot show I've been to this summer. Does going to two toy robot conventions make me a robot nerd? Yes, it does. Next month I'll also be attending the biggest toy robot show of them all. Thankfully they make their own robot party favors.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Damn those heavy mountains!

Every year for the past two years I do this thing where I make these little robot figures for people at a robot fan convention in another state. It takes a lot of work. The figures are all totally scratchbuilt and the process is pretty labor intensive. This year's set of 50 plastic robots consists of over 700 little pieces I have to to make and paint and put together. It takes a lot of time.

Sometimes during the process I feel overwhelmed. When the workload seems enormous I think about how great it'll be once it's all done. When I send the figures off in the mail to the guys running the show, the feeling of accomplishment is unbeatable. There's nothing else like it in the world. But as I write this, that feeling is still a long ways away.

Damn during the times I'm producing this stuff I feel like the Hulk when the Beyonder dropped that mountain on him in the first Secret Wars. It's a ton of work. When I'm looking at hundreds of little resin parts that I just finished casting knowing that I'm not even halfway through the process, it's soul crushing. I don't know where the inspiration to keep going comes from. But I keep going. Hell, I could be dead.

Now that I think about it, if 'Hell I could be dead' is all I'm left with to make light of my current situation I really need to find better ways to cope with my problems.

I can't wait to be done. For the first time since I started doing this I'll be going to the robot convention. I want to be as anonymous as possible so I can get a feel for what the attendees think of all my work. If they think it sucks, well so be it. But if even one person who doesn't know me likes what I've done it'll all be worth it.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

So much for Stormbringer .2

I went to the comic store yesterday and I was pissed. They had four copies left of Stormbringer #2, but all that was left was the black and white Thunderwing cover. These last few months IDW had been pimping the Optimus Prime battle scene cover and I was all excited about getting that one. I guess it sold out before I got to my shop. This is why I hate alternate covers-more often than not if I don't arrive the day that the comics get to the store the cover I want will be gone and all I'm left with are the craptacular ones nobody else liked. Is it so unreasonable to expect that I should be able to walk into my comic store the same week a comic comes out and get the cover that's been advertised in all the promotional materials? So instead of getting the shitty unfinished, half assed Thunderwing cover I didn't like I'm just going to skip buying Stormbringer #2 altogether.

I want to say a couple things about this trend of using the uncolored inks as alternate covers. Instead of calling these 'sketch covers' let's just call them what they really are-half assed attempts by IDW to save a few bucks by not completing the printing process. What you're getting with the retailer incentive to Stormbringer #1 and the Thunderwing variant of #2 is not an artist's sketch, it's uncolored, unfinished art. Art that was taken all the way up to the inking and then left undone. How is this anything less than laziness on the part of IDW? How is unfinished comic cover art supposed to be desireable? What's next? Color it yourself comics shipped with magic markers?

I hope Stormbringer is successful and they sell out of issue #2 but they'll be doing it without me. Stupid crap like this alternate cover BS makes it so easy to support digital comics piracy. At least with torrents I can guarentee I'll get the cover I want.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Stormbringaaaahhhh ichi ban!

This is the script I wrote to guide me during the latest audio commentary segment I recorded for It's my review of IDW's Stormbringer #1. The audio version (which is vastly different) can be found at TFWire's listener soundoff audio archives in their comics section.

In this week's installment of crazysteve comic reviews I want to talk a little about IDW's Transformers: Stormbringer number one. Stormbringer is a four parter, set in the same universe as Infiltration, written by Simon Furman with Don Figureoa doing the pencils. Issue one went on sale the week of July 19th.

IDW has been promoting Stormbringer as "cover-to-cover giant robot action with guaranteed no humans!" and well hey I'm all about that. Furman is truly in his element writing these robots. He's back to his old ways of burning things, blowing crap up, and killing robots. You can tell it's Simon writing about war, but this time he's focusing on the consequences to the environment that the centuries long Transformers war has had on Cybertron. This is an environmentally concious Simon Furman, but he's not writing delivering his message as in your face as a Captain Planet cartoon. The concept of a burnt out, shut down Cybertron might be something we've seen before in the Dreamwave books, but with Stormbringer Furman explores the actual scope of the environmental damage to the planet. There's a mysterious and dramatic tone to the book. It has those elements of a science fiction thriller movie.

The art is stunning-sharp and crisp with really interesting character designs, but that's Don for you. I almost take the quality for granted. Josh Burcham who does colors deserves a mention. The book has this dark atmosphere whether the robots are in their spaceships or on Cybertron. He portrays the blackness of space well. It reminds me of the first Alien movie. Stormbringer's darkness stands in strong contrast to the bright colorful world of Infiltration. The flashback portions of Stormbringer have a muted tonality that looks like a sepia filter is being used on the camera. So I like Josh's work a lot.

Stormbringer number one came out with only three variant covers. Cover A is a wraparound featuring Jetfire and the Technobots and Cover B features Thunderwing emerging from a fiery inferno. The retailer incentive looks to be the raw pencils from cover A uncolored, but I don't know if it's the entire wraparound scene or just the front cover portion. IDW announced that Stormbringer number one sold out in its first week of release. I know at my comic store, cover A with Jetfire sold out first.

That reminds me. I was talking to Don at Iacon One last month and he said he wasn't satisfied with the initial promo art for Stormbringer. You might remember the image. It featured a mostly blackened out Cybertron against a deep crimson red backdrop. The same image is used for the inside front cover of the book. It's a version of the planet with large spears and spike looking structures jutting unimaginably far out from the surface of the planet. It's a look that dates back to the very earliest depictions of Cybertron from the G1 cartoon and Don told me he didn't care for it. He asked me to imagine how huge those structures would be if they actually existed. They'd be gigantic monoliths hundreds of miles tall, which he felt was rather silly. So the Cybertron that actually appears within the pages of Stormbringer is Don's own design. It's a more realistic rendition that's unlike any other version of Cybertron you've seen before. If you look closely you'll see he got rid of the spikes.

At Iacon One Don told me a couple of other things about the designs he was using in Stormbringer. I asked why the robot modes were different but similar to his War Within designs, and he said he came up with these looks for the characters because he wanted to do something unique for the IDW comics. The War Within look defined the Dreamwave era somewhat and he wanted to come up with something new for the new company.

At IDW's website,, there are two really nice Stormbringer wallpapers for your desktop. One is the Jetfire cover variant to issue number one and the other is a depiction of Optimus Prime fighting alongside Omega Supreme from the inside of issue one. The Optimus scene is from one of those flashbacks done in the muted tones I mentioned earlier, so it looks great on a desktop.

Well that's it for my meta bits commentary of Stormbringer number one. Did I mention there's a throtllebot in it? Stormbringer number two is scheduled to hit the week of August ninth, which is next week as I record this. So until then, this is crazysteve saying if you can't bring the storm, just bring the crazy!

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Like fathers like toys

I have a theory that the more obsessive adult male collectors of boys' action figures are subconsciously amassing not toys, but little plastic father figures to replace or supplement the lame dad they had as a kid. It's like Optimus Prime is the dad these people wish they had instead of their real fathers. I think it's true for many single adult male figure collectors and some of these stories would support my idea.

I also think that for adult males in childless relationships action figure collections become inadvertent replacements for children, essentially making TRU the baby momma of several thousand geeks. That's kind of where I'm at right now!

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Botcon 2006-I'm in

Well I got the free time I wanted from work so I sent out my Botcon registration yesterday. I sent it via regular mail with the hopes that I can still make it into the Wednesday customizing class. I called today and the representative said there were four slots left. I'll be holding my breath. I think Shawn's recent announcement of which molds will be used (and all the ensuing board buzz) pretty much guarentees the Wednesday class will fill over the next few days.

I signed up at Primus level and opted for the extra bagged set in addition to the boxed one with the plan of selling them both to offset the cost of attending. I was totally aware that not getting the toys or signing up for the class would've more than halved the cost of attending. Those things are worth it to me for the extra dimension of fun they bring to participating in the convention.

Filling out the registration form was kind of tricky. I had to ask the club what the pre-reg deadline was and whether or not paying the nonmember registration fee made me a club member. So there were some things I think they can make a little clearer on the form. In the end I signed up for the club not because it was something I wanted to do, but because I figured I might as well get something for the extra $40 I would have paid as a non-member.

After the Nemesis Prime situation I figured not giving the club my credit card details was in my best interest so I paid by money order. That means it'll take a bit longer for my pre-reg to get there and people who fax in their preregs with credit card info may beat me to getting those last slots in the Wednesday customizing class, but that's cool. Sending my pre-reg via snail mail and hoping the class doesn't fill is like rolling dice-but I'm feeling lucky.

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Evil King Macrocranios was voted king by the evil peoples of the Kingdom of Macrocrania. They listen to Iron Maiden all day and try to take pictures of ghosts with their webcams.