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Terome
2013-12-29, 11:18 AM
So a new comic was announced over Christmas about the winning Frankenstein of a fan poll for a new Classics toy.

http://www.tfw2005.com/transformers-news/comics-16/idw-2014-sneak-peek-transformers-windblade-transformers-4-age-of-extinction-and-more-178984/

This caused some discussion because the toy's character is female:

http://www.tfw2005.com/transformers-news/comics-16/mairghread-scott-comments-on-idw-windblade-comic-178990/

The writer of the upcoming comic is Mairghread Scott, who has been penning the Prime and Rescue Bots shows for a while now along with that Beast Hunters comic, has issued a formal Q & A and the discussion continues:
http://www.tfw2005.com/transformers-news/comics-16/idw-windblade-comic-confirmed-as-4-issue-mini-series-possibly-an-ongoing-178995/

Most of the discussion centres around the old gender-in-Transformers issue. I don't know anyone who is keen to defend the Arcee Spotlight on any grounds and it looks like a torturous and probably unnecessary Barberesque explanation is in the pipeline. It is very much of the zeitgeist as the treatment of female characters in comics is white hot at present. Scott seems to be sensitive to the many touchpoints of the problem.

So maybe we could discuss that. That will almost certainly be better than reading what the average TFW2005 poster has to say.

Skyquake87
2013-12-29, 01:55 PM
Windblade? Thats an awful name. Up there with Windbreaker and Windrazor. Its just too ...windy.

As for female Transformers, I'm all for it. I have absolutely no problems with it. The problem is, we're engrained to think that Transformers are purely robots and should be beyond gender. Yet they all have bodies and characteristics perhaps more closely associated with males, which - whether we like it or not - means there is already an issue of gender implied in Transformers.

Since Beast Wars, (and possibly Generation 2, if you squint) we've been sold the concept of Transformers being a kind of highly evolved technorganic species in which its perfectly sensible to have gender. I think there's only MTMTE thats actually tackled the sorts of relationships Transformers might have on any deep and meaningful level. And thats just resulted in morons mooing about 'Gay Robots'.


Its the way females are portrayed in Transformers that's the clincher. they are pretty much the worst excesses of fiction aimed at boys. Blackarachnia was a femme-fetale, with Arcee and Airazor being forgetable 'good girl' tropes. The Japanese, of course had Arcee cast as little more than a secretary. Prime Arcee has been a triumph, but she's a rare exception. And its probably best not to delve into the awful mess Furman made with Spotlight Arcee. If there was a point where I thought he'd gone totally off the boil, it was with this one issue. Instead of some intelligent writing about gender amongst a bunch of robots, we get 'she's a mad scientist's experiment'. Boo to that.

More widely in comics, females have had something of a rough ride. There might be strong role models out there, but for the longest time, they've been parading around nearly naked. This sort of thing reached its nadir in the 1990s with Image Comics and their jutting boobs and bums. Its been a long road back from that and there are signs that Comicbook writers are getting better at handling women (er,so to speak) with the likes of Kelly Sue DeCommick and Becky Cloonan and Brian Wood writing women convincingly.


I really want John Barber to step the f**k away from Arcee. There's no way on God's Earth he'll make this better.

Cliffjumper
2013-12-29, 02:24 PM
Hah, IDW are ****ing terrible.

Death's Head
2013-12-29, 02:25 PM
Brian Wood is pretty notorious for his handling of women, apparently ;)

I've no problem with the idea of female Transformers; I've always liked the idea of the Transformers as a kind of vampire race - they don't just come to your planet and turn into your cars, planes and animals - they also absorb parts of your culture and society. No reason gender shouldn't be a part of that.

Sadly, with Windblade they seem to have made Starscream's Japanese girlfriend.

Terome
2013-12-29, 03:07 PM
There are two ways I think about this. In-universe, the set-up of Transformers reproducing asexually via their planet farting out sparks once in a blue moon is an idea I am fond of. Arcee being an attempt to 'introduce gender to our species' is a dumb idea that reflects Furman's very dim understanding of how living things work (see also: gene key). Barber seems to have tried to tidy it up a bit by introducing the concept of Nova Prime mucking about with repopulation schemes and Matrix codes and such but there's only so much you can do.

Though really I think Furman had the right approach back in Infiltration where characters like Sunstreaker and Bumblebee had female holo-avatars, presumably that they'd chosen themselves, and this was not in any way remarkable. Only Roberts seems to have remembered this and extended it to say that Whirl and Ultra Magnus also choose to represent themselves as female humans.

Then there's the out-of-universe angle. Barber has had a few problems landed on his desk and I presume from little I know of his character that he quite enjoys solving problems. His first problem is that Hasbro want him to include Starscream's Japanese girlfriend in the comics he edits. His second is that, with the welcome inclusion of more female readers of his comics, the historical approach to gender by those comics and the franchise is in need of revision. The same fanbase that is so enthusiastic about MTMTE is the same that will put him on the wrong side of history if he doesn't listen to them. The third is that the arguments about the inclusion and representation of transgender characters have become more convincing and harder to ignore since Arcee was introduced in the IDW run. The fourth is that he has a compulsion to massage continuity rather than outright change it.

So while I am more interested in the in-universe biology rather than the realities of the market, I understand the need for changes and I do think it is time, culturally, to put that particular house in order. It's a shame that it is this perfect storm that has forced hands as there were at least three perfectly low-effort get-outs set up previously: Transformers pick a gender according to their tastes when associating with organics; a population of NAILS emulated a sexually dimorphic species for a long time; Transformers are natural mimics and change their bodies all the time.

(On that note, I'd like to have Cybertronian modes that weren't the least bit humanoid and for the fashion of tetrapod forms and even specifics like vocal communication to only come in after encountering Earth. But I realise I am a big weirdo in this sense).

Alternatively:

Hah, IDW are ****ing terrible.

Death's Head
2013-12-29, 06:05 PM
(On that note, I'd like to have Cybertronian modes that weren't the least bit humanoid and for the fashion of tetrapod forms and even specifics like vocal communication to only come in after encountering Earth. But I realise I am a big weirdo in this sense)

You'd love Martin McVay's "Back to Basic" fanfics, which take the notion of "naturally occurring gears, pulleys and levers" at face value (while still not contradicting the whole Primus business) and shows prehistoric Cybertronians evolving through a variety of strange forms in an ever-changing Cybertronian landscape in no way fit for humanoid, human-esque life. As a writer he was never that enamoured of the idea of 'sparks', preferring instead the Budiansky angle of brain-modules, downloads, and easy cloning, and he really gets to have fun playing with that.

Hah, IDW are ****ing terrible.

One step forwards (MTMTE; James Roberts in general), two steps backwards (DC, this sort of poorly-realised merchandising).

inflatable dalek
2013-12-29, 08:36 PM
Hah, IDW are ****ing terrible.

The fans are to blame surely if they're the ones who came up with this character?

Of course, as with the Doctor Who Blue Peter stuff this sort of thing can be fun, but Who didn't do a four episode arc entirely focused on the Absorbalof...

With Hasbro obviously having extended more and more influence over the comics over the last two years I wonder how long it'll be before they just cut out the middle man and take the production of them in house as they have with the cartoons?

Still, Scott's work on Beast Hunters seemed to be well received, and someone who's worked on the more kid friendly stuff stands a good chance on not going into the mad transgender bitch stuff.

Red Dave Prime
2013-12-29, 11:42 PM
Hah, IDW are ****ing terrible.

Not sure if thats really fair. Compared to what else, dreamwave? The marvel stuff. IDW aren't doing that bad a job of the comics at the moment. They have their big head slap moments but to call the output ****ing terrible shits on some pretty decent stuff over the last 2 years.

I've no problem with the idea of female Transformers; I've always liked the idea of the Transformers as a kind of vampire race - they don't just come to your planet and turn into your cars, planes and animals - they also absorb parts of your culture and society. No reason gender shouldn't be a part of that.

Yeah, I like that idea too. It works well with them trying to disguise themselves as part of a planets infrastructure.

Death's Head
2013-12-30, 01:17 AM
Plus, Beast Wars had 'animal instincts' as a core part of each beast mode, as seen in 'Call of the Wild' which is not so dissimilar an idea.

Terome
2013-12-30, 04:11 PM
You'd love Martin McVay's "Back to Basic" fanfics, which take the notion of "naturally occurring gears, pulleys and levers" at face value (while still not contradicting the whole Primus business) and shows prehistoric Cybertronians evolving through a variety of strange forms in an ever-changing Cybertronian landscape in no way fit for humanoid, human-esque life. As a writer he was never that enamoured of the idea of 'sparks', preferring instead the Budiansky angle of brain-modules, downloads, and easy cloning, and he really gets to have fun playing with that.


I vaguely remember that. I must have read it long ago, liked it, then morphed it from a story into an idea I thought I might like. Brains!


Dalek: The fans are to blame surely if they're the ones who came up with this character?

Of course, as with the Doctor Who Blue Peter stuff this sort of thing can be fun, but Who didn't do a four episode arc entirely focused on the Absorbalof...

I remember that poll and it wasn't ever the option of something nearly as fun or creative as the Absorbalof coming out of it. It was a series of radio buttons where you'd vote for things like an alt-mode, a single adjective for a personality and, I presume, a gender. 'Female warrior swordmaster jet' is probably about as interesting as it could stretch.

I was thinking this morning about Rattrap in Robots In Disguise and how his presence was explained in an odd way. He's supposed to have an alt-mode of an alien rat-monster rather than a rat, which is no fun for the artists who have to draw him I am sure. I'm left if that was a good idea or unnecessarily complicated. There are lots of ways you could have had him on Earth, even for an extended period. That would make more sense in some regards at it would give an opportunity to work in a grudge against Bumblebee or Prowl and to have some knowledge of Starscream. If he'd been an off-the-books spy or saboteur keeping tabs on the Decepticon Infiltration team or possibly keeping tabs on the likes of Ratchet for Prowl then he's a little bit more established from the get-go rather than a guy who shows up out of nowhere.

What I am getting at is that however this Windblade comic turns out, we can probably rely on the solutions to any discrepencies being a bit like Rattrap - they come out of nowhere with no relationship to anything else. In a way that is very traditional for Transformers. In another it is a shame as a year ago it looked as if all that fussing and fiddling was behind it.

Terome
2013-12-30, 07:36 PM
Furman has released a statement in response to Scott's statement, using the statement of a TFW2005 poster:

http://simonfurman.wordpress.com/2013/12/29/response-to-mairghread-scott/

Somebody get that man away from the computer.

Cliffjumper
2013-12-30, 07:58 PM
Not sure if thats really fair. Compared to what else, dreamwave? The marvel stuff.

Why does it have to be compared to anything in particular? Objectively they have made many many more bad comics than good. What Marvel and Dreamwave can claim in relation to this is neither here nor there.

IDW aren't doing that bad a job of the comics at the moment. They have their big head slap moments but to call the output ****ing terrible shits on some pretty decent stuff over the last 2 years.

I'm guessing there's been a lot of decent stuff that doesn't involve the MTMTE process of taking an obscure character, making them zany comic relief and waiting for the jizz explosion. Which is odd, as I thought RiD was meant to be awful.

Last Stand of the Wreckers is genuinely great. Some of the Spotlights that weren't just bleed-over from the Furman forevergoing were servicable, if no more groundbreaking than some of Budiansky or Earthforce's better moments. AHM had genuine promise to at least bring Transformers comics back towards action-adventure after years of sub-space opera only to get ankled by IDW's flip-flopping and their pathetic need to keep Transformers' moronic fandom onside. Everything else has been a waste of paper.

inflatable dalek
2013-12-30, 08:17 PM
Furman has released a statement in response to Scott's statement, using the statement of a TFW2005 poster:

http://simonfurman.wordpress.com/2013/12/29/response-to-mairghread-scott/

Somebody get that man away from the computer.

Yeah, fair enough him being niffed and wanting right of reply (though to be clear here, I don't think anyone is claiming intentional misogyny or transphobia on his part, it's just a poor story badly told with unfortunate implications as a result) but some of what he's saying there is a bit odd.

I mean, he hates retcons does he? Retcons like the computer program the Creation Matrix being the same thing as the physical bauble The Autobot Matrix of Leadership? Where Optimus Prime got his wound at the start of Arielbots Over America from? That his original body was shot randomly into space rather than fired into the sun?

And that's just off the top of my head and from when he was retconning before there was even a word for it. Not to mention him recently retconning out of existence all the UK and G2 stuff with Regeneration One.


I'm guessing there's been a lot of decent stuff that doesn't involve the MTMTE process of taking an obscure character, making them zany comic relief and waiting for the jizz explosion. Which is odd, as I thought RiD was meant to be awful.

I thought that, as much as you were at pains to remind us all there was nothing in it that hadn't been done in stories outside of Transformers fiction, you mostly enjoyed what you read of MTMTE?

Cliffjumper
2013-12-30, 09:41 PM
It's readable but it's not particularly good. It's HollyOaks with robots.

Denyer
2013-12-30, 11:17 PM
Only time to skim, so not sure who the original author was...

Jazz has been voice by actors from three different races over the years. If, in the next video game, Jazz was voiced by a woman, would you feel the character had been changed at all? If so, you do not perceive Transformers to be asexual. If not, you are a rare, rare bird indeed.

I'd call the alternative batshit insanity. Millions-of-years-old alien robots with a cultural identity predicated on adaptation, and it somehow wouldn't make sense that they pick and choose to mimic whatever culture they're amongst or find interesting?

http://www.tfw2005.com/transformers-news/comics-16/idw-2014-sneak-peek-transformers-windblade-transformers-4-age-of-extinction-and-more-178984/
"Dawn of the Autobots"? Aftermath of Dark Cybertron? Set on Cybertron with Starscream as a major character? Red flags, but if it's a Spotlight/one-shot might pick it up because I'm apparently a glutton for punishment with those. And it's not Barber.

Counting the months until MTMTE hopefully gets back to normal.

Unicron
2013-12-31, 12:18 AM
Oh joy, fan created character gets to show up in comics, and they seem to be going the opposite route of Drift this time. Trying to make the character consequential and important instead of basically just there.

And given the basics of the character, couldn't they have just had her show up in MTMTE and explain her away as a member of the Circle of Light who decided to join up?

Terome
2013-12-31, 10:19 AM
And given the basics of the character, couldn't they have just had her show up in MTMTE and explain her away as a member of the Circle of Light who decided to join up?

That would make far, far too much sense.

inflatable dalek
2013-12-31, 02:41 PM
Though a former Decepticon (as she'd have to be to have joined the Circle) with a big sword would basically be Drift wouldn't she? They're at least trying not to cover exactly the same ground as their last parachuted in character even if the odds are against them.

On Furman's hatred of retcons... The irony itself is Spotlight: Arcee itself was a retcon of all those fembots hanging about on pre-war Cybertron in Megatron: Origin. So if anything, this new story, as a ret-con of a ret-con goes all the way round infinity to being just a con.

And, without wanting to stick the boot in too much... Does anyone else find the putting of the word "Professional" in inverted commas in Furman's spiel far more dickish than anything Scott said about him? If slagging off your colleagues stops you being professional then Furman's comments over the years about Dan Reed, Will Simpson and The Bloke Who Drew The Human Factor would disqualify him as well.

It doesn't help that he seems to be on the verge of going "I'm not sexist... I've a friend who's a woman. And because I respect women so much I've quoted her wholesale without asking first".

Terome
2013-12-31, 03:10 PM
I thought the Circle people were mostly unaligned? Though all I know about the Drift series comes from your summaries and those golden tablets inscribed with the words that came from a hat. Fair play though - she is very Drifty as it is. There's no need to compound that.

The retcon stuff is all the more embarrassing as Scott has said specifically that they aren't going to do that. I think Barber would rather eat his own fingers than allow an out-and-out 'nuh-uh' to go by.

And yeah, using the inverted commas was a terrible way to start. You don't have to go far to find some things that Scott has written. And, as you say, that Auto Assembly podcast you mentioned elsewhere has Roche, Roberts and Barber being very forthright about the problematic nature of Spotlight: Arcee, their unwillingness to defend it and the interesting challenge of pretending it doesn't exist altogether. I guess none of that showed up in Furman's Google Alerts?

It doesn't help that he seems to be on the verge of going "I'm not sexist... I've a friend who's a woman".

If jenbot1980 turns out to be Furman's mum then it all may approach meltdown.

I'm trying to think of a way to boil this down to an inspirational poster. Perhaps a kitten hanging from a tree with the words, 'If a bizarre and unloved piece of work you did five years ago becomes emblematic to a culture you don't undersand for the need of a minor shift in tone for a narrow band of fiction, for god's sake don't argue the toss.'

inflatable dalek
2013-12-31, 03:45 PM
The retcon stuff is all the more embarrassing as Scott has said specifically that they aren't going to do that. I think Barber would rather eat his own fingers than allow an out-and-out 'nuh-uh' to go by.

Yeah, and whatever side you sit on it, the decision to bring in a new female character wasn't IDW's but forced on them by Hasbro via the fans. Short of having Jhiaxus bring out his big Vagina Excavator (and the panel of that... thing pumped into Arcee's groin was probably the most misjudged thing about the whole comic) once again some sort of work round was going to be needed. Considering Furman's 30 year history with licensed properties you'd think that, even if he didn't like the change, he'd at least be more pragmatic as to why it's being done now.

And yeah, using the inverted commas was a terrible way to start. You don't have to go far to find some things that Scott has written. And, as you say, that Auto Assembly podcast you mentioned elsewhere has Roche, Roberts and Barber

Though to clarify, Barber isn't there (though the podcast isn't completely clear as the introductions have been cut off), the guests on the panel were Roberts, Roche, Milne (and apologies for one mistake I've made, it's Nick who says "He only drew it!" rather than Alex himself) and Griffith.

Having relistened to it today (and for anyone who hasn't it is worth hearing because both the lady asking the question and Nick Roche- who does most of the talking- in response are more clear headed and sensible on the subject that most people on the internet have been this week) I was surprised how awkward the atmosphere seemed at that point, I don't remember it getting quite that stilted in the room on the day so without the visual mannerisms something may have gotten lost. On audio only it seems as if everyone else goes Very Very Quiet whilst Roche and Roberts vamp desperately (though still intelligently as said).


I guess none of that showed up in Furman's Google Alerts?

Going by his post he seems to have been completely unaware that the treatment of Arcee was a controversial issue that was widely (though yes, not Universally) disliked as through that and the comments he seems constantly surprised. I don't proclaim to have my finger on the pulse of fandom by any means but I was under the impression most people thought the character and her treatment were terrible.

I mean, I made the point (albeit poorly and briefly) in my review at the time, and if I noticed the unpleasant undertone with my thick head I can't see it being the case everyone else has only just realised.

Lets not forget: Spotlight Arcee is a Transformers comic where a character undergoes an enforced on-panel (complete with big plug in her crotch) sex change against her will and as a result the one and only Transformer who goes by "She" (though the issue never explained that weird bit where all the Autobots have to have it pointed out to them they call her "She" despite not knowing she's a woman...) in all of IDW's fiction to date is a demented psychopath as a result. How can that be read as anything other than fairly horrible in its implications?

I mean, if nothing else, is robot-genital mutilation something we really want from Transformers comics?


I'm trying to think of a way to boil this down to an inspirational poster. Perhaps a kitten hanging from a tree with the words, 'If a bizarre and unloved piece of work you did five years ago becomes emblematic to a culture you don't undersand for the need of a minor shift in tone for a narrow band of fiction, for god's sake don't argue the toss.'

Yep yep and yep. I get he's annoyed and angry, and considering he's had to put up with IDW having a go at him to sell their current stories in the past (the whole "That Mosaic thing was never canon despite what Furman told you" thing which was basically Schmidt calling him a liar) I can more than sympathise with taking an extreme reaction.

But by responding in haste he's only succeeding in making himself look worse. Scott herself seems to have backed away from the whole thing now (or at least has better things to do than argue with people on the internet over New Year's), hopefully Furman will do the same and can regain some dignity.

I think that pretty much puts the nail in the coffin of any post-contracutal obligation Regeneration One stuff work for Furman at IDW in the future then doesn't it?

Oh, and to be completely fair, I don't think Scott's Jazz analogy works as IDW and Marvel are the main (only?) places where the Transformers are definitely genderless. The rest of the franchise is, at best, nebulous on the subject (the films and Prime have never, to the best of my knowledge, come down on where their ladies come from), whilst some others make having them gendered work (the Beast era, despite big boobies and Strika being the only one not to wind up a girlfriend) and some... are just odd. Like the original cartoon where they all have girlfriends and some of them want to bone humans and mermaids but their origins as manufactured goods should really make them definitely genderless. You'd think the cartoon was written by people who had no clue.

So recasting Jazz with a female actress would be more of a problem as he's never firmly been genderless in any of his on screen appearances. Mind, recasting him in a whole new continuity- no big deal at all. After all, of the two Doctor Watson's on screen at the moment it's the one who isn't Tim From The Office that doesn't completely get on my tits.

Knightdramon
2013-12-31, 03:48 PM
Much silliness has occurred in the past few days.

Mostly because frankenstein poll bot had to be shoehorned into IDW's universe and get a comic dedicated to it. And hey, that bot turned out to be a female.

For once, for just this once, I'm siding with Furman. Lots of uncalled atttaks and criticism on his work, even if his way of defending himself comes off a bit weird.

And yes, it would exhume a lot more confidence if the new writer wouldn't come out and say that basically what Furman did sucks. Would it be so hard to say "hey, we've got something new coming up on that" and leave it at that?

Was never a fan of her writing thus far, and the Prime dinobot comics are just a big YAWN from me, but I'm giving her a chance to see what she can cook up.

This is what happens when hasbro realizes something is selling well and wants to tie in toys to it! THOSE BASTARDS :lol:

inflatable dalek
2013-12-31, 04:00 PM
Was never a fan of her writing thus far, and the Prime dinobot comics are just a big YAWN from me, but I'm giving her a chance to see what she can cook up.


Interesting, I've not read them myself but I was under the impression that Beast Hunters was pretty much well liked by everyone who had jumped into it, you contrary fellow you ;)

The main thing I'm keen on is the encouragement of new (to that iteration of the franchise) writers on the main G1 books, it helps keep things fresh and gives more of a chance of finding the next James Roberts/weeding out the next Mike Costa whilst more established hands steer the big stuff.

Of course, with a poisoned challis like this (even beyond the gender thing), any writer may be doomed.

Terome
2013-12-31, 04:21 PM
Considering Furman's 30 year history with licensed properties you'd think that, even if he didn't like the change, he'd at least be more pragmatic as to why it's being done now.

Others have pointed this out, including the man himself, but he's been pointedly sanguine on much more obvious slights. It doesn't look good that this is his breaking point.

Though to clarify, Barber isn't there (though the podcast isn't completely clear as the introductions have been cut off), the guests on the panel were Roberts, Roche, Milne (and apologies for one mistake I've made, it's Nick who says "He only drew it!" rather than Alex himself) and Griffith.

Ah, had that wrong then. I'd assumed the American voice talking about RID was Barber but that must have been Griffith. I have heard Barber's voice before and of course it is nothing like Griffith's.

It's interesting too in how Roberts ends the conversation with a mention of Windblade. I get the impression that he's been in the loop on this for a good while.

Going by his post he seems to have been completely unaware that the treatment of Arcee was a controversial issue that was widely (though yes, not Universally) disliked as through that and the comments he seems constantly surprised. I don't proclaim to have my finger on the pulse of fandom by any means but I was under the impression most people thought the character and her treatment were terrible.


He does talk about the criticism it drew at the time. I can't remember what everybody said about it when it was new but I can imagine it would have fallen more neatly into the 'it's not G1' complaints he's saying it attracts now. The conversation surrounding gender and representation in American comics has developed considerably since then and that is what he seems to be painfully unaware of. I guess it is not in his job description to wander about Tumblr taking in the sights and sounds but there are enough clues on Scott's own blog to point to the context he's missed.


Oh, and to be completely fair, I don't think Scott's Jazz analogy works as IDW and Marvel are the main (only?) places where the Transformers are definitely genderless. The rest of the franchise is, at best, nebulous on the subject


Yeah, I do think that is a misstep and I do agree with Furman about comics being without an audio track. Still, you can't blame the reader for associating Jazz with Jazz when there's nothing in the text to tell them otherwise.

A female-voiced Jazz would be pretty cool, actually. I've been thinking about Jazz a lot this week. That 'Communications' function he has sometimes is a real treasure trove of things to think about when a bunch of aliens go about assimilating a worldwide culture well enough to be able to talk to any inhabitant of that world in way they'd understand. Infiltration had him carrying boxes around as part of his duty. You'd think he'd spend days chatting to Verity & co out of professional interest if nothing else.

Knightdramon: For once, for just this once, I'm siding with Furman. Lots of uncalled atttaks and criticism on his work, even if his way of defending himself comes off a bit weird.

I'm not sure Scott was attacking him though. There was plenty of grumbling from internet denizens like us but that shouldn't matter.

But at the end of the day I suppose his only real crime is being out of touch and somewhat clueless on a specific matter. No need for a witch-hunt but it is disappointing.

Re: The Beast Hunters comic - I've read most of it and it's decent but unremarkable. The most interesting thing about it is how much it reads like an episode of a television show. The series pacing is equivalent, I estimate, to one and a half-episodes of a TV show so does feel kind of undercooked as a comic.

I'm all for Scott working in the non-Prime universe. She's got a good ear for characters and a no-nonsense approach to plotting that are both sorely needed over there.

Denyer
2013-12-31, 07:08 PM
I guess none of that showed up in Furman's Google Alerts?
IIRC he was the other side of the room and the PA was pretty damn loud.

Spotlight Arcee is a Transformers comic where a character undergoes an enforced on-panel (complete with big plug in her crotch) sex change against her will
From memory, the character doesn't undergo a change of sex or gender so much as gets forcibly reprogrammed with what an evil lunatic's idea of a female organic might be like.

recasting Jazz with a female actress would be more of a problem as he's never firmly been genderless in any of his on screen appearances
Could imagine Vivica Fox working well. Jazz has a firmer association with human race than gender -- although that's all it is, an association. The character is a really, really old alien robot that turns into things.

Whirl's a cartoon girl with an eyepatch, FFS.

Death's Head
2013-12-31, 08:34 PM
Speaking of the holomatter avatars, Furman was quite happy to give Sunstreaker and Bumblebee female-based ones, so it's clear that in some way he really does believe in his notion of 'genderless' robots. However, as has been said, he seems unaware of how the conversation in comics regarding gender (and representation in general) has moved on and how his views and writing might be perceived, whatever his good intentions.

Denyer
2013-12-31, 09:33 PM
Mmm. [more crossposting from FB] Boils down to it's a good idea if, as a middle-aged middle-class white bloke you're writing and don't want assumptions of ignorance, it's a good idea to not write to stereotypes of what an ignorant middle-aged middle-class white bloke would might put together. Not making a token "female" character a psycho hose beast is a start. Although http://www.thedailymash.co.uk/news/society/check-your-privilege-obviously-a-colossal-pile-of-twat-2013060570924 still holds. [/xposting]

Looking back over the Spotlight, rather than relying on half-memory, it wasn't doing badly until the "you don't even know you're doing it" and CNA bits. There's absolutely no reason Arcee would have what's effectively a reality distortion field that prompts other characters, in-universe, to use a particular pronoun.

inflatable dalek
2014-01-01, 03:21 AM
I will respond to Terome more carefully when I'm more sober (look out for it in 2015), but the mention of holomatter avatars shows up the perfect example of something that made perfect sense in theory but where the execution fell arse over tit.

Now, I'm not saying the fault here had anything to do with Furman (as I doubt he was dictating what sort of speech bubbles should be used), it's just a fine example of a team not quite in synch failing to execute something properly.

By which I mean... All the Transformers in the early IDW stuff had special Transformer speech bubbles, which as a storytelling device is presumably supposed to suggest they have special Transformer-ey voices that are different from humans.

Except... the Holo avatars had the Transformer speech bubbles when they spoke as well, implying that the Transformer was just using their normal ("Human English speaking", natch) voice through the avatar. Which means that, just going by the visual storytelling, not only were Sunstreaker and Bumblebee using "Female" voices normally, but Verity and Hunter were really slightly dim in not noticing something really odd about the way the ambulance driver spoke.

And that's a great example of unintended consequences as Furman clearly didn't intend for Sunstreaker and Bumblebee's avatars to mean anything at all else he wouldn't have been so firm subsequently about the no girls thing, so any significance the person doing the speech bubbles intended by their use... was retconed by Spotlight Arcee. Likely without the author even realising he'd done it.

Mind you, and I fully credit Spengs for pointing this out when it whizzed over my head at the time, Infiltration also has the really weird storytelling device where Hunter introduces himself to Verity... and then tells her how to pronounce his surname. Despite having just said it to her. So either he deliberately pronounced it wrong (which seems odd for someone who has a bugbear about his surname) or he knows he's in a comic and that the other characters can only read what he's saying rather than hear it.

That last idea sounds wonderfully meta, but it's worryingly more like the writer with two decades experience (at that point) found the whole speech bubble idea slightly confusing.

[Lets not even get into the Autobots and Decepticons having different coloured speech bubbles in the early stuff (though I think the Devil's Due Joe crossovers did that first?), was that a lot of effort to signify nothing, or was someone really trying to suggest that whether or not you were a villain depended on the tone of your voice?]

Denyer
2014-01-01, 01:24 PM
Might as well read entrails as read into IDW's ability to keep layout decisions clear...
Furman clearly didn't intend for Sunstreaker and Bumblebee's avatars to mean anything at all else he wouldn't have been so firm subsequently about the no girls thing,
It's a "no girls" and "no boys" thing -- and the avatars do emphasise something specific... that robots don't have much use for sex or gender, except insofar as looking or sounding a particular way can help to interact with (mostly squishy) aliens that do have them.

Cybertronians translating whatever pronoun(s) they use amongst themselves into the "he" of other languages doesn't stretch to them regarding themselves as being analogous to organics in specific other ways.

Although there's room for some extrapolation there -- it tends not to be male organics that play a significant role in the creation of new squishies (if only because in species with dual sexes the ones that carry/lay young get referenced by term A rather than term B) and Cybertronians have the matrix / spark field background, so most might view female organics as more or differently alien to male organics.

Red Dave Prime
2014-01-02, 04:01 PM
It's all a bit silly in my opinion.

The arcee spotlight was an interesting enough take on the idea. Not perfect but I never saw it as something offensive. If you wander down the road of robot gender than it kinda makes a mess of Roberts relationships angle for Domey and Rewind. If i was doing it, I would have female, male and animal shapes for the cybertronians as something they have adapted from other cultures but have it as no real indication of gender, merely another part of the robots personality.

If you start mixing gender in then where do the animals fit in? And if they can be anything why stop at 2 genders - give them five!

As I see it, it should really be just shapes as an extension of the characters personality. Male shape, female shape, rat bat shape - just another aspect.

inflatable dalek
2014-01-02, 08:55 PM
Furman claims* to have sorted out the bumps with Scott now, who'd have thought actually talking to people would be the solution to problems rather than taking pot shots at them over the internet?

Rather sweetly, Furman is either unable or doesn't know how to disable comments on his blog as he's had to keep asking people not to put new posts now he regards it as all sorted (though considering the tone of the original blog complaining about people being rude is a but much IMHO).

Interesting there's no qualification beyond them having spoken, no "I now understand what she was trying to say" or "She's apologised for any offence caused", makes it sound as if he (if not both of them) is still basically thinking the same but has had enough of all the fuss.









*I'm going to take this at face value rather than being all cyncial and thinking someone at IDW had a word about the chances of future work...

Warcry
2014-01-03, 04:34 PM
Furman has always had zero respect for the idea of female robots -- his origin for Arcee in the old UK comics was if anything, even more offensive than the IDW one. In fact, I'd go so far as to say that his writing shows very little respect for women in general. Whether that's down to cutting his teeth as a comic writer in the 80s when the audience was mostly young buys who thought girls had cooties and teenage boys who were eager to objectify them or genuine misogyny on his part, who knows? But while it might not have made waves in the 80s it's certainly got no place in comics in 2014, when a large and growing chunk of the audience are adult women who are understandably put off by that crap.

So I imagine he's more interested in smoothing over troubled waters with IDW than actually apologizing.

If you start mixing gender in then where do the animals fit in? And if they can be anything why stop at 2 genders - give them five!

As I see it, it should really be just shapes as an extension of the characters personality. Male shape, female shape, rat bat shape - just another aspect.
See, I've always figured that Transformers only had a concept of gender tangentially, due to the other races that they deal with. If Arcee looks female to humans and they want to call her "she", why not? And if a random group of aliens on some other planet figure that she looks male and, say, Prowl or Jazz look female, again, who really cares? It's indicative of a major biological trait to us but to them, it's just a quirk of alien language -- all Transformers (in fact, all life forms) would be an "it" in their native language, not a he or she.

Actually, if Transformers were to place as much importance on any aspect of their biology as we do on sex/gender, I think it would be their alt modes. Transforming is the most recognizable trait of the race and one that they all share, and (via Beast Wars) we know that a Transformers' alternate mode influences the way they perceive the world around them. So Arcee wouldn't "defined" in Cybertronian terms as a girl, she'd be defined as a car (or motorcycle in modern forms).

Cliffjumper
2014-01-03, 05:44 PM
Hey, Furman can too write good women characters! They carry guns sometimes and kick arse! Alright, so they tend to be men with tits but still.

Ladies' Night, Prime's Rib, Spotlight Arcee, Space Pirates, Verity... All very much the work of a middle-aged male trying to write women for boys.

EDIT: The "hey, this girl can handle herself almost as well as a chap in a situation, doesn't this surprise you?" thing is actually a bit of a trope in his writing.

Denyer
2014-01-03, 07:15 PM
Hey, Furman can too write good women characters! They carry guns sometimes and kick arse! Alright, so they tend to be men with tits but still.
That's where he's going wrong -- they should be able to control electricity.

Have always felt it's somewhat biased in itself to regard, eg, female characters with interests in grain alcohol, ultra-violence and gaudy t-shirts, etc. as blokes. Because TBH that describes most gigs I've been to. (Also, my FB feed currently includes this (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00C7AF7OK/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=B00C7AF7OK&linkCode=as2&tag=natdee-20) with a comment from someone else "Thank **** for that, maybe now people will stop calling me at all hours to ask me to go brand their breakfasts with my red-hot snatch...")

Usually just means someone doesn't like a male writer's female characters.

Not disagreeing that Prime's Rib is a one-note stereotype gag, incidentally...

if Transformers were to place as much importance on any aspect of their biology as we do on sex/gender, I think it would be their alt modes. Transforming is the most recognizable trait of the race and one that they all share, and (via Beast Wars) we know that a Transformers' alternate mode influences the way they perceive the world around them. So Arcee wouldn't "defined" in Cybertronian terms as a girl, she'd be defined as a car
Yup.

Auntie Slag
2014-01-03, 09:05 PM
In one of the early comics a panel had a subnote that said 'loosely translated from Cybertronian'. Since then I've taken the very bland interpretation of robots referring to each other as 'he' simply to be part of that loose translation/simplification,that makes it easier to read for us young humans what buy comics and that.

If Transformers were talking amongst themselves then I'd infer they were talking common Cybertronian, and it was translated for us on the page and using our human naming/sexing quirks. If Buster or whoever was around then they'd switch to English, also observing our naming quirks and whatnot.

So when I read Transformers comics I read them like I was watching alien characters with a babel fish in my ear. If they said "He", that was just the best translation that worked for my brain that was familiar with the two-sex thing.

Also, girl robots wouldn't see the point of fighting. They'd be knitting.

Auntie Slag
2014-01-03, 09:11 PM
That last comment was to underline the fact the whole conceit of Transformers is an absolute joke from the outset. It doesn't mean we can't have lots of fun from a flawed concept, which we do! :)

inflatable dalek
2014-01-03, 09:41 PM
Certainly in Spotlight Arcee none of the cast are speaking English (most of them have never been to Earth for a start...), so it "Cybertronian" being translated for our benefit. Which makes all the fuss about the use of pronouns even sillier as they presumably have one particular "Genderless" pronoun to use for themselves...

Auntie Slag
2014-01-04, 01:36 PM
I've never been a fan of Arcee. To me, robots are robots and there's no sex issue, so no need for a pink feminine proportioned robot. But I can understand the love issue existing between Transformers no problem (which I think is handled so well by Chromedome/Rewind, Blaster/Scrounge and Blaster/Goldbug, and um... yeah).

... What if Blaster has a natural predilection for yellow Transformers? I'd be fine with that. People have reasons for liking what they like, at least you can make a story out of that. Maybe when he first came on-line he saw a yellow robot being beaten and he's had strong paternal feeling towards yellow robots since?

See that's what I find offensive about Transformers. You spend all this time reading the comics, all these years and you still don't have much idea of who really likes hanging out with who.

Who does Seaspray like to spend his time with? Do they celebrate occasions/rememberances together? Do Hound and Sandstorm have a strong rivalry? Do Autobots and Decepticons chat occasionally? Why don't we see these things? A small contingent of Autobots faced off against Galvatron to get Jazz back in Target: 2006. However, was Bluestreak in the back saying;

"You know what? Stuff Jazz, he's a tosser. I'm going to Disneyland".

Tech specs began to mould personalities of these robots and it more or less stopped there. With occasional standout performances e.g. Blaster in The Smelting Pool saga.

And you know what else I find a far more serious concern than Arcee? Character lobotomies. Blaster went from being a stellar character in those stories, got slightly distilled when he teamed up with Goldbug, and after that his personality was just dropped and he became largely generic. I know the argument for this is the constant release of new toys but this is about logic and consistency. Grimlock going from nails hard Dinobot leader to grunting neanderthal.

Why should someone care if someone lives or dies? Ratchet clearly cared about Prowl in the Mechanic story, which was fine. But I'd like to see Swoop choosing to defend Lightspeed over team member Sludge in a ruck.

I guess this is partly why I like Roberts and the fact he establishes a few legitimate relationships (Cyclonus & Tailgate).

There are so many more pressing issues with Transformers than the need to throw in female robots.

Terome
2014-01-04, 04:06 PM
This is me getting fanciful again but the more I learn about wasps the more I figure that the Decepticons as an organisation would only make sense if gender and reproduction were introduced.

The Decepticons have this weird social darwinist philosophy where they are all expected to struggle and triumph over each other to become the Head Decepticon only this very rarely actually happens. That's quite a lot like how many species of wasps behave - the foundress will be the oldest, the one who does the least work, stays at the hive and who stimulates her subordinates to leave the hive to gather food and defend the young. As she spends the most time at the hive, she can eat any eggs that her subordinates lay and can make sure nobody gets at her own.

Her second-in-command will do almost as little work as her and will constantly be fighting and jostling with her to test her for weakness. If you remove the foundress and put her in a fridge for a week, the second-in-command will start to produce a lot more eggs and act exactly like the foundress. Depending on how long you keep the original foundress in the fridge for, there either be a big fight when you return her to the hive or a meek acquiescence to the old status quo.

Interestingly, the second-in-command does get the occasional egg to hatch under the radar of the foundress. It's a good position to be in!

What I am saying is that I think it would explain a lot if Transformers spontaneously changed gender (or activated their cyber-ovaries) based on social hierarchies and that Megatron was the big mama of the Decepticons and that Starscream and co. were struggling for reproduction rights rather than the satisfaction of giving nebulous marching orders.

I don't know where that would lead the Autobots. Maybe they'd have more distributed reproduction rights or lead a voluntarily monastic lifestyle to avoid innocent youths being involved in the conflict. Or maybe they could act like meerkats and Optimus Prime would murder everybody else's young at birth. Everyone likes meerkats.

Death's Head
2014-01-05, 02:52 AM
I've never been a fan of Arcee. To me, robots are robots and there's no sex issue, so no need for a pink feminine proportioned robot. But I can understand the love issue existing between Transformers no problem (which I think is handled so well by Chromedome/Rewind, Blaster/Scrounge and Blaster/Goldbug, and um... yeah).

... What if Blaster has a natural predilection for yellow Transformers? I'd be fine with that. People have reasons for liking what they like, at least you can make a story out of that. Maybe when he first came on-line he saw a yellow robot being beaten and he's had strong paternal feeling towards yellow robots since?

See that's what I find offensive about Transformers. You spend all this time reading the comics, all these years and you still don't have much idea of who really likes hanging out with who.

Who does Seaspray like to spend his time with? Do they celebrate occasions/rememberances together? Do Hound and Sandstorm have a strong rivalry? Do Autobots and Decepticons chat occasionally? Why don't we see these things? A small contingent of Autobots faced off against Galvatron to get Jazz back in Target: 2006. However, was Bluestreak in the back saying;

"You know what? Stuff Jazz, he's a tosser. I'm going to Disneyland".

Tech specs began to mould personalities of these robots and it more or less stopped there. With occasional standout performances e.g. Blaster in The Smelting Pool saga.

And you know what else I find a far more serious concern than Arcee? Character lobotomies. Blaster went from being a stellar character in those stories, got slightly distilled when he teamed up with Goldbug, and after that his personality was just dropped and he became largely generic. I know the argument for this is the constant release of new toys but this is about logic and consistency. Grimlock going from nails hard Dinobot leader to grunting neanderthal.

Why should someone care if someone lives or dies? Ratchet clearly cared about Prowl in the Mechanic story, which was fine. But I'd like to see Swoop choosing to defend Lightspeed over team member Sludge in a ruck.

I guess this is partly why I like Roberts and the fact he establishes a few legitimate relationships (Cyclonus & Tailgate).

There are so many more pressing issues with Transformers than the need to throw in female robots.

As the kids today say, I want to plus-one this so hard.

Death's Head
2014-01-05, 03:01 AM
To elaborate slightly, we all seem to have realised that when it comes to film and, particularly, television (and comics), we live in character-based times. Back in the bad old days of 2005-2006 Doctor Who fandom this would have been called "soap." Now it's just what drama is.

James is tapping into this so well with MTMTE; we're not just intrigued in the ongoing plots entirely for the plot's sake - no, it's because of what it means for the characters that we've come to love.

Essentially, James is writing Transformers in a similar, character-based vein to what we're seeing all over television drama and this is why his work is digging its claws so deep into people, and even finding fans outside of the traditional places one might usually discover fans of giant transforming robots. It's a fantastic thing, that should be embraced, but I fear there always going to be people that get mortally offended that Ultra Magnus is actually a smaller robot, hiding within the shell of a larger one...

Denyer
2014-02-09, 12:13 PM
http://www.themarysue.com/windblade-interview-mairghread-scott/

Terome
2014-02-09, 06:02 PM
I quite like those character designs. Starscream has never looked better, in my opinion.

So it looks as though enough hints have been dropped: Windblade and co. are likely to be newborns or non-Cybertronians. Hopefully this means that they will be able to ask questions in the manner of Tailgate about more interesting things than 'who is in charge' that we can enjoy unpacking.

inflatable dalek
2014-02-09, 07:12 PM
Considering the IDW Transformers have a serious problem with most (all) of their procreation methods having been lost or destroyed, I wonder if mad old Alpha Trion has come up with a new way to create Transformers and thus keep the race going that just happens to include gender as a side effect?

Terome
2014-02-09, 07:19 PM
Considering the IDW Transformers have a serious problem with most (all) of their procreation methods having been lost or destroyed, I wonder if mad old Alpha Trion has come up with a new way to create Transformers and thus keep the race going that just happens to include gender as a side effect?

That sounds as plausible as anything. Maybe Windblade and co. are hybrids with some other mechanical race that had gender as standard? That was a plot point for a Transformery race called the Mmrnmhrm in Star Control 2, for anyone who would recognise such a reference.

Kungfu Dinobot
2014-02-10, 03:29 AM
I'll be honest, I'm pretty fond of riot-cop Chromia.

Red Dave Prime
2014-02-10, 02:00 PM
Considering the IDW Transformers have a serious problem with most (all) of their procreation methods having been lost or destroyed, I wonder if mad old Alpha Trion has come up with a new way to create Transformers and thus keep the race going that just happens to include gender as a side effect?

I like this idea and it could lead to some intresting plot lines as the cybertronians adjust to the new status quo.

Of course, it would take away some of the charm of the Dome/rewind and cyclonus/tailgate relationships. I like the idea of robots being asexual but sentient enough to need and desire long term companionship.

Denyer
2014-02-10, 08:51 PM
Makes complete sense that Cybertronians will take aspects of organic culture for a spin, whether it's their vehicles, media or body shells and pronouns, etc, etc. -- but mixing in binary gender roles, and particularly reproductive analogues, is likely to lead to crap writing even if one or two writers can be trusted to make something of it other than stereotypes.

By this point I'm following writers rather than IDW continuity, which as a whole hasn't been salvageable for years now. Dark Cybertron is a muddy soup as to who actually came up with what.

Kungfu Dinobot
2014-02-13, 03:51 AM
On the topic of Windblade, she doesn't sound like a terrible character, but then the competition is pre-propaganda-officer'd Drift, so there isn't much to brag about. At least Scott isn't telling us she's a three-sworded Buddha (oxymoron, I know) who hangs out with the biggest baddest Autobots because she's SOOOOOOOOO AWESUM LOL!