In the summer of 1986, children were traumatized when Optimus Prime sacrificed himself to stop his archrival, Megatron. But it wasn’t Megatron who pulled the trigger, it was a writer named Ron Friedman.
Ron Friedman wrote Transformers: The Movie. He wrote the five-part miniseries that launched GI Joe. He is close friends with Stan Lee and helped Stan develop The Marvel Action Hour, featuring Iron Man and Fantastic Four. He has written episodes of All in the Family, Happy Days, and Fantasy Island. In addition to his writing credentials, Ron is an architect and a teacher at Chapman University.
In 2014, Ron plans to chronicle his experiences as a writer in the memoir, I Killed Optimus Prime. The book promises a fascinating look behind the scenes of the shows that defined our childhood.
I had the privilege of speaking with Ron about his career, his friendship with Stan Lee, what he thought when he first saw the Transformers, how Orson Welles became Unicron, and why he didn’t want to kill Optimus Prime.
So, to kick off the 30th Anniversary of the Transformers, click below to learn about Ron Friedman, the man who wrote the movie.
Optimus Prime was the transcendental figure that is the glue for every legend or story. The transcendental character of big daddy, big brother, your personal champion, the repository of all that is good and worthy. He was the true center of the Autobot family. I think about the gathering of various comic icons and their peers as families. Who was Megatron? The worst possible father figure. He topped King John in the days of Robin Hood. Who was Starscream? He’s Iago, the treacherous second in command, the bad uncle or younger brother who lusts after his older brothers wife. I recognized that I needed to assign family identities to characters in order to create the recognition factor that young people need. They cannot verbalize this; it’s beneath the surface. To remove Optimus Prime, to physically remove Daddy from the family, that’s wasn’t going to work. I told Hasbro and their lieutenants they would have to bring him back but they said no and had “great things planned.” In other words they were going to create new more expensive toys.
Hey Tumblr TF Fans,
So Mairghread took some time to answer some questions a TFW2005 Windblade Fan Page. Thought I’d copy and paste them here in case any of you don’t read that board. Remember too you can always ask her direct at her tumblr mscottwrites.
And here are the answers I have so far:
Mairghread Scott: Gotten a few asks about Windblade’s “Kabuki” elements. This can’t be answered in too much detail yet, but Windblade’s markings do have meaning and are important to both her and her backstory. However, I have no intention of presenting her in any sort of stereotypical geisha or hand-over-her-mouth-anime-girl role. The first art Hasbro released has her with a rather deadly looking sword and a pretty grim expression. Also, she turns into a military jet, so I’m not really seeing her as a very kawaii character.
You can already read my discussion of what I think about Arcee’s origin on my tumblr (also MScottWrites) and I think I’ve established that I don’t intend for Windblade to originate from the same place. (Plus, I’m pretty sure John Barber would string me up by my toes if I did.) I don’t want to address it more than that because…you know…spoilers, but I can say that I’m much more interested in writing new stories than ret-conning old ones.
Smart money would say IDW did not go to trouble they have to launch Windblade the way they’re doing if she was going to be the only other fembot in all of TF continuity. Just saying.
As to how long we have, I’ll be blunt: We’ve got a 4 issue mini-series that everyone is praying will become an ongoing, but, like every other comic, we have got to prove ourselves from Issue 1. That means we need pre-orders and A LOT of them. Not: ‘I’ll pick it up when I’m at my shop.’ Not ‘I’ll borrow from a friend’ if you want Windblade to keep going the ONLY way to do that is to get your store to pre-order it. Tell them to order lots of it and get your friends to pre-order too. If you don’t have a story, BUY it on Comixology or a similar app, but encourage your friends who do have a store to pre-order and buy. I’ll try to provide a little help when the official solicitation is released to make it easier on those new to the process.
In terms of how Windblade views other transformers and their genders: well, this is a bit spoiler-y, but she’s not exactly going to be shocked that guy transformers exist and since they are all still robots, gender is still going to be a lot less pressing to them than it is to us. Also, you know, it’s Transformers, so I’m pretty sure there are going to be more pressing issues for everyone than ‘date night.’
Anyone looking for a tease in terms of the ‘wrath’ I mentioned. Hmmm… how about TFBH having murder, cannibalism, societal collapse, PTSD, and the (perceived) apocalypse itself? That I wrote ‘Stronger, Faster’ and ‘Hurt’ and can’t even make it through a Rescue Bots episode without putting someone’s life in danger. So, while I am shooting to make TF Windblade a little more hopeful than my normal work, danger and excitement should probably be expected.
Regarding a toy: I’m pretty sure Hasbro made some kind of announcement on this, but that’s really their domain.
In terms of the poll that made Windblade, I’ve never been shown any numbers so I can’t speak officially. Just from my own business sense, I’m not sure why a company would ask people to make the transformers they want to buy and then not go with the most popular option. But, as I said, that would be a question for toy.
Anyway, we’re lining up some good interviews so keep your eyes peeled for more on the book itself, but these should answer some of the more specific questions floating around out there.
'Til All Are One,
gorgynoid wrote:Hey congrats on the new comic! I voted for a lady robot like 50 times on that poll. I really hope you're ignoring (or retconning) Jhiaxus "making" ladybots out of guybots. Peace, and have a great Christmas!
Thank you for voting 50 times. Don’t do it during any kind of real election, but thanks for doing it here. I don’t want to spoil anything, but I would like to assure you that Windblade is not female by accident, or by force, or against her will, or just for kicks. That’s not how it works for biological women on Earth and that’s not how it’s gonna work on Cybertron. Anybody has a problem with that, you know where I am.
mryarra wrote:I am SO excited about how the Windblade comic is looking right now, and the creative team. There is a sore lack of ladies in the IDW verse and Windblade herself looks like she could make a really interesting character. Also, just as a heads-up, "biological woman" is considered to be a pretty transphobic term, and so really isn't a good way to refer to people.
Dang it, good point!
Okay, Internet…please, please know that I am doing all in my power to talk about the gender of non-reproductive alien robots in the most respectful terms possible, but it can get really tough. (ex. Is Arcee a transgendered woman even though she was made female against her will?).
The term “genetically female” seems wrong because they don’t reproduce (so don’t pass on genes) so I chose “biologically female” to convey the same sense in a more accurate way (ie most fans would say TFormers are alive, even though that is also debatable in science).
I have since been informed, by people wiser than I, that the technical term for Windblade would be a cisgender woman so I’m going to go with that unless someone knows a better term, or we can agree to invent one. Regardless, know that I am doing all in my power to make this character and her story something all TF fans can enjoy and celebrate together. My goal is always maximum inclusion, so should I stick my digital foot in my mouth again, please let me know so I can correct myself.
Til All Are One,
TDB: With Transformers: Age of Extinction, did you agree to do that one for your kids?
MW: Well, it was exciting because it was the first time my kids were really interested in a movie I was doing. Any time they see me with a gun, like Contraband or Pain & Gain, they want to see that, too, but they can’t because of the language and all that stuff. But I loved working with Michael Bay, and I thought he had a really interesting way to make it new, different, and fresh. Plus, being in movies that have the potential to be hugely successful allows me to make smaller movies that I’m really passionate about.
TDB: What’s going to make this Transformers different? The first one was OK, but then the sequels were a total mess.
MW: It was a tighter script, and its own stand-alone thing. I think the emotional core of it, the human element, is going to be extremely powerful. It’s an ordinary man trying to do extraordinary things to save his daughter and keep her alive—and this boyfriend he didn’t know anything about. He’d had a child when he was in high school and his wife passed away, and the promise he’d made to her was that she wouldn’t date any boys until she graduated and that she’d be at the graduation—because we weren’t due to the pregnancy. So there’s an anchor to it and a realness to it that I like a lot.
...I hurt my neck in Hong Kong, and it hasn’t gotten better yet. I just woke up in the morning and couldn’t move, but still had to shoot 10 days of crazy action."
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