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Transformers (Titan Magazine)

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Tf mag 01 2007

I dunno, I think you could fit some more text on that cover...

Transformers is an ongoing monthly magazine published in the United Kingdom by Titan Magazines. It ties in to the 2007 film and features a mix of original comic strips, reprinted strips by IDW Publishing, and regular features and competitions. It is over 50 pages long each month.

Titan picked up the rights to a Transformers comic in 2005 after Panini, publishers of the short-lived UK Armada comic, allowed it to lapse. Titan sat on it, reasoning "bugger Cybertron, let's wait for the upcoming film and make £££££s!". Work began on it in October 2006, though all information on the film was top secret even for Titan until IDW's movie comics began.

According to Steve White, Transformers was seen as "the big one", the title that would get Titan Magazines the attention and kudos of the UK comic industry. [1]

According to the indicia in #10, the comic's average net circulation in 2007 was over 45,000 (meaning it sells more than the average IDW issue). This success led to cover art over stock photo images from #8 (and an original poster for #7), and have it set to last for at least another year. Analysis of the January/June sales for British comics taken from the ABC group, however, showed Transformers' average sales have dropped to 38,733.

Titan produces digest-sized collections of the UK strips under the title Transformers Adventures, and IDW has recently begun reprinting them in monthly form in the United States, under the title Saga of the Allspark, as a tie-in to Reign of Starscream[2]; the first issue sold 11,417 in the direct market [3].

Titan launched a Transformers Animated sister title on October 23rd. Unfortunatly, it proved a commercial flop and folded in January 2009.

Titan Transformers issues:
#1 | #2 | #3 | #4 | #5 | #6 | #7 | #8 | #9 | #10 | #11 | #12 | #13 | #14 | #15 | #16 | #17

Comic stripEdit

Movie Devastator TitanIssue2

I AM THE GOD OF HELLFIRE AND I BRING YOU...

Opening each issue is a 10-page original comic strip. These are written by Simon Furman and illustrated by a mix of artists, many of whom have been seen on other Transformers comics — Geoff Senior, Nick Roche, Staz and Guido Guidi.

Prequels and sequelsEdit

Issues #1–6 were set before the film and were based on specific characters, filling in details of the war and characters (like Braw- I mean Devastator) who were not given much development in the film. The first two strips, starring Optimus and Megatron, tied in to the IDW prequel comic in the same way Marvel UK's stories tied in to the Marvel U.S. series. At the end of #2, four of the characters had been scattered across the galaxy and #3–6 focused on their solo adventures on alien worlds. They also featured characters from the toyline, such as Clocker, in secondary-character roles.

Issues #7–8 were set immediately after the Mission City battle in the film, dealing with leftover plot elements like the whereabouts of Scorponok.

Alternate universeEdit

For issues #9–13, the strip featured an alternate reality story, Twilight's Last Gleaming, where the Decepticons won in the film. This has a sizable cast, covering both characters from the film, as well as ones who only had toy bios like Elita-One, and opens with Sam Witwicky already dead, Optimus Prime missing in action (later found to be offline) and the Decepticons cyberforming the Earth.

TwilightsLastGleaming1

Bloody foreigners, coming over here, taking our jobs...

Rather than just being a 5-part divergence, this alternate reality will roll on into the second year of the title and last until #26. This will allow Titan to do pretty much whatever they want with the cast and universe without having to worry about the plot of the second film. [4]

Regular featuresEdit

  • Autobot vs Decepticon Smackdown — last seen in #5, this pitted two characters against each other and gave a list of their strengths and weaknesses. The outcome of the fight was left up to the reader to decide.
  • Top Gear — this section provided competitions to win Transformers merchandise, as well as telling readers about awesome new stuff it'd be cool to have.
  • Character Profiles — an in-depth description of an individual character's personality, history, abilities and weaknesses. Originally these were taken from Transformers: The Movie Guide, but from #8 (Bonecrusher) they've been new creations. As of issue 14, the profiles have switched to the wider Transformers franchise.
  • Letters Page — Letters and fan-art from readers, with a prize for the Star Letter. Originally called Mech Mail, it was renamed Star Screams in #7 and the mail is now answered by "Starscream" (a traditional gimmick).
  • Artobots — a special section for readers' fan-art.
  • Posters — a pull-out poster in the centre pages. Generally it's a poster version of the front cover, though #7 featured an original image by Geoff Senior.
  • How To Draw... — This feature instructs small children how to draw the incredibly fiddly and complicated movie-verse Transformers. "If you found this one a bit difficult to draw... well, it's all part of Megatron's evil plans!" It's also shown how to draw sequential art and cover images.
  • Free Gift! — a cheap item that is hopefully desirable enough to convince a child to buy the comic. Free gifts have included a target-shooting game, Autobot/Decepticon dog tags, and a notebook & pen. They are always large enough to take up a significant amount of space on the cover they are stuck to, necessitating some pretty ugly graphic layouts that cover the illustrations with text in order to leave a large blank space for the gift to be attached to so it won't obscure anything important. This makes the covers look really freaking bad when you take the gift off; a quick perusal of the cover images on their relevant articles will make immediately apparent the frequent emptiness of the bottom left-hand corner in particular. According to editor Steve White, coming up with free gifts is "a nightmare for our marketing department, who have no real experience on a more male-orientated older title and have to come up with ideas that don't just rely on some piece of cheap plastic... However, they're constrained as much by money — yes, we'd love to have a Minicon on the first issue, but we have to get real." [5]

ReprintsEdit

To fill out the pages while keeping costs down, the magazine reprints comics published by IDW. The reprints are cut into 5–8 pages segments (though one was once 10 pages), deliberately shorter than the UK strip so it's clear which is the primary story.

The reprints for Volume 1 included:

AudienceEdit

The primary audience of Transformers is, of course, young children — as well as the features and editorial sections being written in juvenile tones (and the presence of free gifts), the letters page is full of kids sending in their praises, photos of their collections, suggestions for stories, and drawings of their own characters. Steve White has openly admitted it's a "junior" title, though they attempt not to talk down to the audience, citing this as a flaw in the short-lived Panini Armada title.

There is, however, a sizable minority of older fans and this is openly recognized in both interviews and in the comic itself. This generally does not affect the content, with the exception of a competition in #7 for the Best of Simon Furman trade, with the question being: what robot bounty hunter Furman had made.

Multi-continuityEdit

IDW Megatron Magmatron

Transformers Mag — heroically teaching small children that BW Megatron is a badass.

While the current focus of the comic is, obviously, the film, the title has also made substantial references to the Generation One franchise. #1 had a feature on the animated movie and its DVD, trades of IDW's comics are promoted and offered as competition prizes, and the odd reference is made to G1 and older fans who may remember it. As of #14, it began reprinting the G1 prequel story Megatron Origin, while informing the young'uns that G1 is a wildly different variation of the mythos they know and love.

IDW's Beast Wars comics are one of the main reprints, being chosen by Steve White for marketing reasons as the Beast Machines DVD boxsets were being released at the same time as the film [6]; Beast Wars itself had been repeated in full on a loop on Channel 5 in recent years, making it familiar to the target audience. Young readers in the letter's page have written in mentioning it (and #7 had a fan-art of Cheetor), Beast Wars character profiles began in #14, and Starscream has alluded that Simon Furman as a Maximal in the form of "a strategically-shaved ape", especially his head! There have also been two competitions to win the UK Beast Machines DVD boxsets.

The new Transformers Animated cartoon received a minor feature in #10, with further information in subsequent issues to coincide with the show airing on UK satellite TV. In #13 it got a 12-page "Pull Out Special" that contained information, plugged merchandise, and hyped an upcoming Animated comic, part one of which will be written by Simon Furman, start a story arc and introduce a new character. Issue 17 will feature a 6 page story written by Furman, starring the Dinobots. [7]

LinksEdit

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