“This is possibly the most bizarre message I’ve ever received in my life, haha! Your project is fascinating, and I’m honored to be a tiny part of it.”
Peter’s Letter in the 80s Marvel comic reads:
I think I have a No-Prize coming. In issue #21 of the TRANSFORMERS, Jetfire dropped ol’ Danny Finkelberg about 6,000 ft. up and then caught him at about a hight of 10ft. Of course there’s a considerable amount of distance between those two points and ‘Finky’ must have gained a lot of speed in the time he fell. Now, the mistake: Since Finky was falling at a tremendous rate of speed, how could he fall into supposedly metal hands without breaking every bone in his body? The explaination? Easy; Wheeljack considered the possibility of the Autobots handling humans often, so he designed a special material which feels soft no matter how hard it is hit. Prime made sure every Autobot had hands coated with this material, so humans would be safe when touched or held by and Autobot.
I hope I have met the qualifications of a No-Prize, which are: to point out a mistake and then provide an explanation that “saves your dignity.”
Make Mine Marvel!
Peter gave me the answers to my questions via e-mail. So, here is Peter Frank, 3o-ish years later.
How did you discover the Transformers?
In May of 1984, I was nine years old. I remember it took a while for those letters to be published, so, I can’t believe I was so young to actually write a letter like that.
At 41 today, I have a five-year-old son and one-year-old daughter, and seeing them now, with their relative experience (or lack thereof), it makes this observation of myself all the more crazy.
I remember a couple things about that letter:
The publisher would reward people if they came up with a good resolution to a perceived flaw, and I remember I really, really thought I’d nailed it.
I was so devastated (no Transformers pun intended) to “disappoint” them that I don’t think it ever occurred to me how incredible it was to actually be published in the back of one of these comics that I cherished so deeply. Your bringing this up really has me seeing it with a different perspective. I’ve never felt lucky to have been published, but I feel like I should, now.
I vividly remember reading their response and lamenting I hadn’t thought through my explanation more thoroughly.
Another funny thing I remember: people often ended their letter with a witty “Until _________, Make Mine Marvel!”, filling in some sort of clever play on words, like “Until Prime tells a lie, make mine marvel…
I’d included my own, though it was edited from the printed version. (I’m sure you’ve read several of these plays on words in reading these letters throughout the issues.)
My horrific attempt at humor was “Until ice box – Make Mine Marvel!”
Obviously I wasn’t able to conjure the level of humor I was hoping to!
It’s a tiny thing, but it’s funny I remember that detail so well.
As far as your questions…
Discovering the Transformers… I cannot remember whether I saw the cartoon or the toys first. There was plenty of both in my life during this time.
I remember my first Transformer toy – Skywarp, a Decepticon plane that wasn’t often in the cartoon. Black and purple, and beautiful, haha.
I had those “friends across the street” whose parents were divorced and so these kids seemed to get everything they wanted. I’d be so pumped about my one awesome toy, and then they’d have a dozen, and all the really good ones.
(Although I did get the Omega Supreme toy one Christmas, which for a little while made me coolest kid on the block.)
It was with those friends that I went (all the way across town, to the “shady movie theater”) to see Transformers: The Movie when it was released.
I’ll never forget the kids in front of us, who every time a new character was introduced (like Soundwave’s new tapes) would yell, “Oh I have that toy! I have that one too! I do!” Hysterical to remember, now.
Where did you get your Transformers comics from?
I grew up (and still live) in a relatively quiet suburban area, however we were close to one of the busier, main roads in the area. About six blocks up the road, at an intersection with another major route, there’s a corner store – Kelly’s Corner Market.
I’d take back roads as far as I could, and then risk the one block along the main drag to get to the store.
Amidst the other comics (and uncovered porn), I’d check for the latest issue of Transformers.
I also got into Hawkeye and Batman, I remember.
That store was my main source, until I figured out I could order subscriptions.
You ask “Who are you today”, but honestly I have no time to even think about that, haha. I imagine a lot of it comes through in this message anyways.
Finally – “Are you still a Transformers fan?”
I’ll say I remain a devoted fan of The Transformers of my time. I don’t pay attention to any of the new incarnations, really.
I learned recently about that company that’s re-releasing the cartoons in high-def, and some release of the movie coming out again soon? I’ll definitely buy that, just to have it.
I may or may not buy a set of the cartoons for my kids. I’ll probably find some episodes online and see how they take to them, when I think they’re old enough.
I wouldn’t invest for myself, however. I have enough hobbies as an adult, and I cherish the memories of that time in my life, enough to not have to go re-experience it all.
If my kids were to get into it, however, I’m sure I would really, really enjoy going through it again, with them.
All that said, I do watch the first Michael Bay movie every once in a while, even though I hate it. “It’s still Transformers”, right?
My take on the live action movies was that they blew it when they made the stories centered around the human characters rather than the robots. I’ve said to many – “I don’t give a shit about the people – the story is supposed to be about the robots!” (which sounds hysterical to rationalize, as an adult).
With the comics – though the box is covered in dust in my basement – I’ll say I’m proud to still have Transformers issues #1 through #55 or so, all bagged and backed. I just opened the box a year ago or so, and they remain in great shape.
I also have a few acquaintances with whom I share our love of the story (usually centered around the movie).
Just today we had an exchange on Facebook about Vince DiNicola’s score (and how incredibly good it is).
I’m going on and on here, but I hope this is somehow fulfilling for you.
Again, I can’t believe I received something in the mail from someone about the letter in that comic.
It’s been great to think about all of this, and to share it with someone who appreciates it like this. Thank you very, very much, for reaching out.
Best of luck with all things!
Many thanks goes out to Peter Frank for his time to respond to me. I really enjoyed his answers.