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View Full Version : So, a book . . .


Summerhayes
2013-01-28, 02:58 PM
A little while ago on here, the subject of copyright came up and I found myself, as I have a few times, thinking that the history of Transformers would make a good book. I don't mean the fictional history, of Primus or the Quintessons or the Guiding Hand or any of that gubbins; I mean a history of the Transformers brand.

A good chunk of the general public probably think Transformers was a cartoon in the 80s, from which they made a few toys, like with any cartoon, which went away for 20 years and came back as a film in 2007. But the real history, with Hasbro buying up Japanese toys and hiring Marvel to tie it all together, with all the juicy little stories like the legal storm that is Jetfire, is actually a great little tale.

I did a little search on Amazon, but the only non-fiction books I could find about Transformers were the likes of this (http://www.amazon.co.uk/Transformers-Vault-Complete-Featuring-Collectibles/dp/0810998688), or price guides for collectors or engineering books about transformers (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Transformer).

A good few years ago, myself and a friend started writing a book about the history of Nintendo – card company in the 1800s, starts making toys, makes an arcade game, saves an industry – but gave up when I realised there were already a dozen books on the market. But nobody's written a history of Transformers.

So here's my epiphany, the point I've been building up to all this time.

I'm going to write this book.

I very much doubt I'll get approved by Hasbro, or picked up by a genuine publisher. I might not even get many people to read it. But worst case scenario, I might have something half-interesting to put on Kindle or distribute online which the people who already know about Transformers can forward on to their friends and educate the masses. And if I get it out in a year or so, when the 30th anniversary and the 4th movie are happening, the masses might even read it.

So why do I bring this up here? I'm glad you hypothetically asked! Its because I might need some help, for the following reasons;

1)I'm 22 years old. I wasn't there on the front lines, as it were, in 1984 when all this got started. I need the viewpoint of a few of you withered old husks to keep what I'm saying true (That's why I'm writing this now, most of you don't have long left.)
2)You are all much more knowledgeable than me, so people to check what I'm doing and make sure I'm not talking crap the entire time would be useful.
3)I get bored easily and give up on projects like this if I don't have someone else interested, who is reading what I'm doing and making it feel worthwhile.
4)Who knows, someone out there might even want to co-author!

So yeah, what does everybody think? Is it a stupid idea that nobody will read, or am I on to a winner that will let me retire to the Bahamas and drink G&Ts from a coconut for the rest of my days?

P.S I might start a blog if I actually start writing it, to keep people updated and blather on at people who are stupid enough to listen, and to make me feel more like I'm writing a book and not just one of those people who says “I'm writing a book” but who actually just sits and stares at an empty word document between hourly wanks.

P.P.S If I really, really start writing this, and anyone, anywhere gives a crap, I might start a Kickstarter so I can afford to interview people who haven't already been interviewed by every Transformers fan with a Skype account and a Twitter feed.

Denyer
2013-01-28, 07:31 PM
You could be famous in an on-the-counter-at-Waterstones-at-Christmas-and-remaindered-shortly-after kind of way. There isn't money in this sort of thing.

Like with Who, it's unlikely a single book would do justice to the whole concept, so focusing on the creation (maybe a bit at the end plotting the growth and multiplying continuities) is a good tactic. Most of the people are still alive AFAIK. The downside is most we're aware of have given interviews over the years already; it'd probably pay to get the material that can be done written first before approaching them. You also might be clashing with an official history project, although I'd see that as more likely for a 40th or 50th anniversary.

I'm better at proof-reading than actually writing stuff. If I have time, I'd be up for that once you've got some content.

inflatable dalek
2013-01-28, 08:31 PM
There's certainly a market for unofficial books on a franchise- Star Trek and Star Wars have both recently had big chunky "The Real Story" style histories published to critical success (financial success I've no idea, but I'm guessing you're doing it for the love).

In terms of unofficial TF books, there was the Prime Targets volume, but that was a fiction guide.

I think the big hurdle for you (or any of the rest of us who were to try and attempt it) is making the connections and building the bridges to get in touch with those connected with the franchise in order to conduct interviews and collect facts from the horses mouth. The Making of On Her Majesties Secret Service book I mentioned in the Bond thread is excellent, but took the author a decade to put together.

On the other hand, having got the ball rolling, his Living Daylights book only took three years.

Summerhayes
2013-01-28, 09:42 PM
Dalek, did you ever get round to writing any short sci-fi? I seem to recall we both made it our 2012 resolutions and we were gonna proofread/ collaborate with eachother.

There isn't money in this sort of thing.
Oh, I know. But if you try and write for money, it doesn't happen. I could see this becoming a passion project for me though.

Most of the people are still alive AFAIK. The downside is most we're aware of have given interviews over the years already; it'd probably pay to get the material that can be done written first before approaching them.
Oh yeah, definitely. That's the approach I see myself taking. If I can get a bit of interest going with the first draft, I might have more luck with interviews.

If I have time, I'd be up for that once you've got some content.

That would be great bro. The more people give me a kick in the jacksy, the fewer bad habits I'll get in to.

There's certainly a market for unofficial books on a franchise
Yeah, thats what I'm thinking. Its a story worth telling.

I'm guessing you're doing it for the love.

You said it brother!

I think the big hurdle for you is making the connections and building the bridges to get in touch with those connected with the franchise in order to conduct interviews and collect facts from the horses mouth.
Oh, absolutely. But like I said above, I'll try and get some interest going, then start small and build my way up.

On the other hand, having got the ball rolling, his Living Daylights book only took three years.
Well, there you go, my GI JOE follow-up will be piss-easy.

Summerhayes
2013-01-28, 09:50 PM
.

Summerhayes
2013-01-28, 10:01 PM
Sorry for the triple post, I'm not really sure what happened there. I think I hit quote instead of edit.

Denyer
2013-01-28, 10:04 PM
I've seen a couple of decent pitches, although I'm hazy on whether they were 2012.

Summerhayes
2013-01-28, 10:57 PM
I've seen a couple of decent pitches, although I'm hazy on whether they were 2012.

All I really got round to were a few pitches

Cliffjumper
2013-01-29, 10:17 AM
Cool idea, I've always considered doing the same for Gobots but there's too much information not out there.

Summerhayes
2013-01-29, 12:22 PM
Cool idea, I've always considered doing the same for Gobots but there's too much information not out there.

If anything, transformers has the opposite problem- all the information is out there if you care to look. I just like the idea of having it all in one convenient book form.

inflatable dalek
2013-01-29, 08:43 PM
Dalek, did you ever get round to writing any short sci-fi? I seem to recall we both made it our 2012 resolutions and we were gonna proofread/ collaborate with eachother.

Ah yeah, here's some more salt to rub in that open wound. *Breaks down and cries*.

Must actually finish what I start....



Oh, absolutely. But like I said above, I'll try and get some interest going, then start small and build my way up.

Most (of the successful) such books are done by people with some sort of journalistic background, mainly because that's a great way to build up said contacts, be it genre magazines or your own heavily pimped website.

Not that I'd suggest leaving Tesco of course. Where else can you dress up as a banana and fight crime?

Obviously cost is a factor, but Auto Assembly (or any other TF related convention of your choice) is a good place to make friends and build up contacts as well. If you've a website to publish it on I think many of the guests would be happy for a quick interview, nothing earth shattering because of time constraints but it gets your foot in the door as it were and means when you approach those connected to the start of the franchise you can name drop people they may know you've chatted to as well.

Summerhayes
2013-01-29, 09:12 PM
some sort of journalistic background
I worked at the paper . . . for 7 months . . . unpaid.


Not that I'd suggest leaving Tesco of course. Where else can you dress up as a banana and fight crime?
Its purely coincidence myself and Bananaman have never been photographed together.

Obviously cost is a factor, but Auto Assembly (or any other TF related convention of your choice) is a good place to make friends and build up contacts as well. If you've a website to publish it on I think many of the guests would be happy for a quick interview,
Yeah, I always mean to go to AA, so hopefully I'll get there again this year. I'll definitely get a little website going, and like you say share the interviews as I go along.

Summerhayes
2013-01-31, 02:01 PM
Well, my copy of the vault arrived today.it's great fun and touches on the sort of thing I want to cover but definitely leaves room for my book. It's a good read, mind. Can't believe I left it this long to pick out up!

Denyer
2013-01-31, 07:16 PM
When time permits will start collecting links/copies of existing interviews that might be useful to try to map what's already known and disputed.

Summerhayes
2013-02-01, 02:52 PM
Cheers!
I've read most of the Vault (I'm convinced my book doesn't have any competition there) and when I'm done there I'll start searching for bits and bobs to put a timeline together. I also might write an opening chapter just to feel like I'm writing a book. I probably won't even use it, but hey ho.

inflatable dalek
2013-02-01, 08:56 PM
The Vault is a nifty coffee table book, not huge on the depth but in terms of the pretty pictures and and a general overview it does its job well. The only problem I really have with it is how insanely positive it is about everything. Sure, it's an official, celebratory book, I don't expect full on fandom doom and gloom. But anyone reading it would be mistaken for thinking Dreamwave were generally A-OK, which is really pushing it.

It's a great thing to get signed though.

Summerhayes
2013-03-14, 11:36 AM
Okay, update time! Probably long overdue.

The first thing I went about doing was putting together a timeline, from the founding of Hasbro up to the release of, say Trans4mers next year. I got pretty far with it, but then my computer crashed and I lost the file. It took me a while to get the motivation together to do it again, but when I got round to it it turned out the wiki already did one. (http://tfwiki.net/wiki/Transformers_timeline) So I'm using that as the spine of my research now, which is pretty ideal.

From there, I went on to make a list of, to me, at the moment, the 20 most important people in the history of the series. Or rather, the people whom it will most benefit me to have direct quotes from.

Hassenfeld Brothers Henry and Helal
George Dunsay
Henry Orenstein
Joe Bacal
Jay Bacal
Tom Griffin
Pat Lee
Margaret Loesch
Tom DeSanto
Lorenzo di Bonaventura
Bob Budiansky
Simon Furman
Steven Spielberg
Michael Bay
Shia Lebouf
Megan Fox
Peter Cullen
Nobuyuki Okude
Denny O'Neil
Jim Shooter

And now what I'm doing is gathering up every interview, editorial, quote, soundbite, anecdote or biography I can of these few people. A cursory glance at the list will tell you that I leave a big gap in the middle; I basically go straight from the origins of the original comic/ cartoon/ toyline to the origins of the film. But I'm barely getting started, and I just want to be in a position where I'm doing something. So I'll add more and more people to my list as I go, I'm sure.

I've also left out Orci and Kurtzman for now because, although they're undoubtedly important, I don't like them and I don't want to deal with their crap at the moment.

So there you go, that's what I've been doing when I haven't been doing when I haven't been mucking about with shit like this. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rJncsIitEvU)

BUT WAIT!

You might ask.

HOW CAN I, YOUR CASUAL INTERNET ACQUAINTANCE AND DEDICATED FAN/ STALKER ASSIST YOU?

Well, I'm glad you asked! You can assist me by finding every interview or article you can on the folks I mention above, be it from dedicated news services or pokey little underground podcast, and shoving it down my throat. Post the links here, email them to me, PM me, tweet me, whatever. Hit me up!

Cheers guys!

Denyer
2013-03-14, 06:59 PM
This weekend's kind of taken up with two websites and a work programme, but am not ignoring you. Grab what you can from links on wiki entries and I'll rummage around in what passes for my memory and in anything I might have saved over the last decade that may no longer be online

Cliffjumper
2013-03-14, 07:07 PM
Will have a kick around my old data discs when I get chance to get them down from the attic.

Summerhayes
2013-03-14, 07:11 PM
I am not ignoring you.
Cheers man. I know :)
Grab what you can from links on wiki entries
This is what I've been doing so far. After that I think I'll move on to Googling names.

Will have a kick around my old data discs when I get chance to get them down from the attic.
Ta. Don't rush or anything; if you hadn't guessed, I take a while to get going with this sort of thing ;)

inflatable dalek
2013-03-14, 08:36 PM
Jim Shooter talks about his involvement with Transformers in two blogs, the first of which is here (despite his not being the most popular of people from what I was reading recently his blog is generally pretty reliable, he's good at backing up claims with evidence and so on):

http://www.jimshooter.com/2011/06/secret-origin-of-transformers-part-1.html

Possibly more fun than helpful, but this thread where I confidently predict Megan Fox has far more chance of being in the third film than the man (or woman) with the job of rubbing her panties in his (or her) face has a link with some claims about the behind the scenes problems:


http://tfarchive.com/community/showthread.php?t=47497

Summerhayes
2013-03-15, 09:28 AM
http://tfarchive.com/community/showthread.php?t=47497
Dafuq did I just read? I love this board.

inflatable dalek
2013-03-15, 03:07 PM
There's been several good interviews with the bloke from Ghosbusters 2 and All McBeal over recent years, but this podcast is probably the definitive Bob Budiansky interview:

http://moonbase2.libsyn.com/the-moonbase-2-podcast-interviews-bob-budiansky-

Someone really needs to scan the box of stuff in his basement.