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Animefringe Coverage:
Transformers The Comic: An Interview With Pat Lee
By Jake Forbes

When a picture of Transformers done by Dreamwave Productions appeared in Wizard: The Comics Magazine #111, Animefringe had to get to the bottom of it. We tracked down Dreamwave founder and lead artist Pat Lee, and pummeled him with questions until he gave in and answered our demands. It was a lot of work, but in the end we learned a lot about a possible new Transformers comic and a little bit about frogs.

Animefringe:  Now, not too long ago you created a beautiful picture of Optimus Prime, Megatron, and a few other Transformers done Dreamwave style. Is Dreamwave going to be making Transformers comics anytime soon?

Pat Lee:  At this moment, we are working on our main titles Warlands. There's so many things that we are taking on right now with the company and if we further our venture in seek of the Transformers, we are going to do it at a time in which we don't have to rush the job. If we get the license to produce the comic book Transformers, it something that is definitely going to take time.

AF:  What would your role be in any possible Dreamwave Transformers comics?

PL:  I would be positioned as the art director of the book and main penciler. Because there is so much work involved in producing such a title, to make it look our best, I would have my main background artist James, who is notrious here at Dreamwave for producing great background work and have my inker Robby work on the inks.

AF:  Do you find that it's easier to draw robot characters than humans?

PL:  Sometimes I do, but I do prefer drawing humans, less technical and more bouncy with line weights. I think that Transformers is great because they have such human personality traits. Each Transformer has there own characteristics and in a sense are their own leader. It's the reason why us Transformer fans love the whole concept and story of it all because they have such human traits.

AF:  Where would you begin your story? Would you want to tell the origin story again?

PL:  Hmm. It's hard. I wish I were able to design my own Transformers but I don't think they would let me..=) I would draw up all the new cars like the Audi TT or the Honda S2000. I know it won't happen, so I guess I would pitch a new story within the same time frame but play around with the ideas and characters more, allowing deeper story lines and conflicts internally.

AF:  How about location? Would you rather see Autobots and Decepticons duking it out on Cybertron or on Earth?

PL:  I would take the story to another planet if possible, play around with a different story, but of course, there will still be Transformers on Earth, protecting the humans from the Decepticons. There are so many different ways we can tell the story, I wouldn't want to promise anything to the public, unless we actually got the license to produce the comic book.

AF:  Do you know how much of the Transformers timeline is set in stone? I'm sure the timeline isn't Star Wars sacred, but are there certain bits of Transformers lore that you wouldn't be allowed to mess with?

PL:  I'm sure there's a giant bible of transformers history out there somewhere and I' would probably stick to that as mush as possible. There are tons of things fans love and hope to see and I wouldn't want to disappoint anyone. But as far as Transformers history is concerned, up to Tranformers G2 everything that happened happened eg, Unicron, the arc, etc. If things happen, it's most likely going to happen in the future.

AF:  Are there certain bits of Transformers lore that you'd like to do differently?

PL:  Well not really, but I would like to put my two cents into the existing universe, maybe create some new characters or even fill in some history gaps that fans were vexed about from previous series.

AF:  How do you feel about humans in the Transformers world? Is there any room in your vision for Sparkplug and Chip?

PL:  I think humans should have some role in the Transformers universe, whether there a big character or just cannon fodder. In typical American mecha stories, machines kill us all, but in most Japanese mecha we seem to work with them instead.

AF:  What are your thoughts on the movie: Just a cheap way for Hasbro to release a whole slate of new toys, or an under appreciated animated action masterpiece that changed the face of American cartoons with unprecedented levels of violence?

PL:  Personally, I loved the movie, it was way ahead of its time. The characters were unique, and the story was amazing. I admit that there were flaws, but… nothing's perfect.

AF:  Any thoughts on Transformers Beast Wars?

PL:  It was an interesting way of reincarnating the series, but I'm not so sure it worked.

AF:  Which characters would you most want to work with? Just the Golden Age of Prime, Bumblebee, Jazz, Megatron, Starscream, Soundwave, and the rest, or would you work in some of the Triple-changers, Headmasters, and other wacky Transformers?

PL:  I would most like to work with the original Optimus Prime, he's one bad ass mofo. Other than that Sideswipe was a wicked character, too bad that he died in the movie, but who knows? Starscream returned from death, so can sideswipe.

AF:  Do you have a favorite Transformer character?

PL:  Well, my favorite character of all time is Sideswipe. I even have 8 and a half Sideswipe toys (my dog chewed on one of them).

Af:  A least favorite?

PL:  I never really liked Starscream, he's pretty much an idiot.

AF:  If they had to fight again, one-on-one, Megatron vs. Optimus Prime, who would win and why?

PL:  For sure, Prime. Just because he's cool. (and because it was Hotrod that got Prime killed the last time).

AF:  If you could create just one new transformer, what would it turn into?

PL:  That's a tough one. I guess I'd like to see a Lamborghini Diablo show up, either that or a Toyota Supra with a nice body kit.

AF:  What got you into Transformers? Have you always been a fan, or were brought in after the fact by all of the otaku/geek interest?

PL:  It started out with the original cartoon. TV is as addictive as cigarettes. Watching the original series, I just HAD to buy the toys. From then on, it almost became an obsession.

AF:  Do you see anything shady in the way that Transformers comics and cartoons were created in the past, as a vehicle to sell the toys?

PL:  Well the cartoon was amazing, it was only a matter of time before the toys were made. Personally, I think the toys would have sold regardless of the cartoon or comics.

AF:  Would you handle the creation of a licensed comic like Transformers any differently than one of your original titles? Do you feel that you have any obligations to fans, to Hasbro, or to the characters themselves?

PL:  Definitely, Transformers is a big thing. There's a giant fan base for it all around the world. The one thing I would do for sure, is to make the fans happy. I don't think anyone likes to be disappointed.

AF:  Would you like to be involved with future Transformers toys in the same way you were with the Warlands action figures? Would comic book venue exclusive Transformers toys be a possibility?

PL:  There's always a possibility. Seeing a vision come to life is a dream come true. If all goes well, anything could happen. Maybe even another movie.

AF:  Will Transformers fit in with the rest of the Dreamwave lineup?

PL:  Expect it "if it happens" to be a little darker than the original, a lot more cinematic.

AF:  Any parting words?

PL:  The smallest frog is the Gold frog (Psyllophryne Didactyla) of Brazil. It grows to only 9.8 mm (3/8 inch).

Well if Dreamwave Productions gets the Transformers license, it will be in good hands… as long as Pat Lee keeps his frogs out of it. We've already got one frog Transformer, Spittor the Maximal whose tongue becomes a deadly mace, and as far as we're concerned, that's one frog too many.

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