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I have a deep and abiding love for production bibles. I love to come across the bits and pieces that got changed or simply forgotten about, the bits and pieces that make certain final product elements make so much more sense-- or less sense, as the case may be. In the context of the original Transformers cartoon, which was all about hawking toys to kids and so paid very little mind to silly things like plot consistency and continuity, and which had a huuuge cast of characters to rotate in and out of the spotlight (again often with only a token of consistency), seeing the original intent and measuring it against canon as seen in the media is untold amounts of fun. It's also helpful for developing characters for writing fic, depending on just how obscure or inconsistent they're written in the show.

As you may have guessed, I have been reading said production bible, as presented online through transcripts. Nobody asked, but I've decided to present twenty of my favorite things/the things that most stuck out to me:

Read more... )
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What with the venting I've done about my frustrations with the Transformers comics, I feel I need to take a moment to throw some love toward a branch of Transformers that's been a consistent pick-me-up: Rescue Bots. I mentioned in my bingo post from last month that I started watching it with my mom; well, we finished it the other night. I'm sad to see it ended, not least because it ends on an open note rich with possibilities, but it was a great ride.

I feel like maybe I should feel silly for how much I love it, given that it was aimed at preschool-aged kids, but I don't. I like to unwind with something fun sometimes, and being able to remind myself that it's for kids, even more so than your average Transformers cartoon, helps me to not worry to too much about what's going on. Not that there's much to worry about, honestly. For all that the show's admittedly silly plots run on cartoon science and hand-waving, it's got solid writing, tight continuity, likeable characters and engaging character development.

And, you guys-- there's a musical episode.

It's not perfect, I admit. There are some episodes and creative decisions that leave me scratching my head even keeping in mind that it's a show for small children and some that leave me scratching my head because it's a show for small children. It suffers the usual problem of lacking female characters that all Transformers media does. Some characters didn't get enough play, imnsho. It's reliance on recurring human villains grows somewhat tiresome as the show goes on, even though they're used sparingly. But as a whole, it's a fun, feel-good show that doesn't shy away from genuine emotion. Even the weakest episode have memorable high points and I don't think there were ever two weak episodes in a row.

Of course, it doesn't hurt that I had someone to sit and watch with. I forgot how enjoyable that could be.

Anyway, yeah. I just needed to express these feelings ♥
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Urgh, I knew I would waffle on the Transformers thing. A few days removed from my initial reaction to recent developments, I'm still pissed but I can see that the issue is otherwise solid. And I can better appreciate the parts that I like. But I'm still clinging to certain hopes that I know aren't going anywhere and I know that's only going to disappoint me more on top of the problems I've been having with the series. Urrrgh.
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The realization that something you used to love and look forward to is no longer worth the disappointment it brings can be both freeing and deeply saddening. The latter more than the former, perhaps. Acknowledging that it's time to let go lifted a weight off my shoulders but now it's heavy at my feet, holding me still. I've thought of this series as my One True for so long, with more certainty than any other before it, I can hardly imagine moving forward.
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So, I may have shot myself in the foot with Femslash February.

I mentioned before in my bingo posts that I decided not to do something every day this year, as I have the past... three, I think? I'm going with three. Though I'm pretty sure it was only the last two that I wrote a new fic every day... Anyway. What I did decide to do this year is write and post something specifically for the event every week.

Now, I had no particular plan beyond that. After posting my first weekly fic and beyond, I had no idea. On the day I was meant to post the second fic, I had no idea. Would I post a different ship each week, all in different fandoms? A different ship each week but all from the same fandom? Or maybe just the same universe? Would I do something entirely new each time or do a mix of new stuff and stuff from my WIPs? No idea. So, on the day itself, I set myself to work on some femslash WIPs and also considered some ideas for a new fic. What I ended up doing is possibly the one thing I was certain that I wasn't going to do: I wrote a new fic for the same ship I'd written and posted the week before.

The thing about me is, I get caught up in patterns. And lack thereof. Either things have to be in order or there has to be a precedent for chaos (what an acceptable precedent is exactly depends on the circumstances surrounding it). Last year for Femslash February, I ended up writing a few fics I hadn't intended or even especially wanted to-- not that I regret what I came up with, mind-- because I couldn't, couldn't stand the thought of having repeats of just one fandom or just one character. During Naruto Yuri Week a couple-few years ago, I had a personal hissy fit when connectivity issues delayed me just long enough that my posting skipped a single day. I still can't stand to see all the fics lined up on my Tumblr because of the date mark.  I've been nauseated by the possibility of having the same thing happen again-- and, I'll admit it, sometimes I post "place-holders" when I'm having trouble so that the date is still correct whenever I can post properly. The bad feelings don't typically linger longer than a day-- recurrences aside-- and don't send me spiraling into any especially destructive behaviors, but they're intense while they last and I feel them all over me. So setting myself up like this? Not a great move on my part.

Granted, on the surface, it's not that hard of a hit. The second week was always going to lock me into a decision. Different fandom? That was gonna be my pattern. Different ship in the same fandom or universe? That was gonna be my pattern. By itself, settling into a "same ship each week" pattern isn't that big of a deal. And, heck, I still have some leeway. I can't do two different ships or fandoms for the next two weeks, but I have the option of doing a different ship and/or fandom for both of those two weeks than for the last two.

My problem comes with the ship itself. Anode/Lug-- or Anolug-- from IDW's Transformers title Lost Light. The characters were only introduced two issues ago but I love them both and I'm sailing into the sunset on this ship. There are a few reasons why I jumped so eagerly aboard, but my course is definitely informed at this point by spite. There's a theory going around, a distressingly plausible theory, that one of the characters doesn't actually exist. People have pointed out that no one but her partner ever addresses her directly and the one time her partner addresses her directly in front of someone, that someone responds as though she spoke to him; plot movement-wise, every scene she's in works perfectly well without her. The next issue looks like it might be set to confirm one way or the other.

This is where my feelings and my thoughts get snarled. As I said, this is a ship I'm very fond of. There's a big part of me that wants to write them for as long as canon's good for it. But while I'm writing every day, I've set myself into the pattern this month of only posting finished fics on my main accounts for Femslash February. If I'm going to write and post for it before canon shoots a canonball through it, therefore, it's going to be for Femslash February. Thus, again, one fic per week. The new issue of the comic is due to come out on the twenty-second of this month, the day after I'd post the third fic. And there's no indication of the delays that habitually plague this title because of freaking course there freaking isn't.

Still, on the surface, not that much of a problem. It'd hardly be the first non-canon ship I've sailed well beyond its compatibility with canon. See also: Most of my Naruto and Harry Potter ships, for starters. Except. Notice how I said I'm sailing this ship into the sunset, not that I'll go down with it? That's because I'm not sure I will-- can-- go down with it. If the Not Real theory is correct, how it's handled (is she a grief-projected play of Dead All Along? Is she a purely imaginary friend?) might very well send me hurtling overboard. Some ships, canon can legitimately ruin for me and no amount of Canon Discontinuity will fix them in my mind. It doesn't happen often, in the grand scheme of things, and even I'm not one hundred percent sure of what elements hit those buttons in my brain. But I can feel the fingers of canon hovering over those buttons in this case. Which means that if I post a third Anolug fic for the third week of FemFeb and then the new issue sinks the ship, I'm left floundering for the next week.

Of course, I can still commit myself to a different ship for the next two weeks instead. But if the new issue doesn't ruin my ship, I'm likely going to feel the disappointment of changing ships without strict need very keenly. On top of that, I'm just not feeling any other ship right now in a "produce content for two consecutive weeks" way. And then topping it off, I do already have an idea for another Anolug fic that I'm actually looking forward to writing... Time will tell, I suppose.
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This is an established general fact, but the evidence currently on the table regards IDW Publishing's run of Transformers comics. What's so wrong with IDW's Transformers collections, asks absolutely no one? Well, I'll tell you.
 
A bit of context first: IDW has been putting out Transformers comics steadily since acquiring the license in 2004, starting off their run on the brand with a succession of miniseries and one-shot character-centric Spotlights set in a rebooted Gen One universe that took cues from Marvel's Ultimate universe, written and built primarily by Transformers veteran Simon Furman. These books sold, but weren't drawing the warm reception that the company hoped for. In 2008, they switched tracks. While still putting out miniseries and one-shots, they tugged the reigns from Furman's hands and passed them along to newcomer Shane McCarthy, who revamped IDW's main output with ongoing title All Hail Megatron. Telling a story somewhat more inspired by that of the original cartoon, it was intended as a jumping-on point for new fans, especially casual fans more familiar with the cartoon universe. It, uh. It didn't go over well. Reconfigured as a maxiseries, the title wrapped up in 2009 after sixteen issues. It was soon followed by yet another intended jumping-on point ongoing, this time titled simply The Transformers, helmed by another newcomer, Mike Costa. It... wasn't terribly well-received either, though it ran nearly twice as many issues as its predecessor. IDW took another chance on yet another jumping-on point and found the third time to be the charm. One-shot The Death of Optimus Prime set the stage for twin ongoings Robots in Disguise and More than Meets the Eye, penned by John Barber and James Roberts respectively, both still running today-- though Robots in Disguise has been through a renaming and both titles are set to be renamed and renumbered in October-- and both critical and fan darlings.
 
Of these two, it's More than Meets the Eye that holds my heart. I was introduced to the series through [community profile] scans_daily  and finally checked it out proper thanks to Humble Bundle offering, as I recall, all then-current volumes and issues available-- in digital, natch. I've been following pretty faithfully since then, also in digital. More and more, however, I've been craving the series in hard copy. For all digital's advantages, I like to have something to hold sometimes when I'm reading. Having a physical copy also grants me the option of lending the title out to people I've been trying to get to read it. And, at a glance, I'm in luck! IDW is pretty quick to collect their titles in trade, and in a small variety of options even. So, again no one asks, what's the problem? A combination of questionable choices on the publisher's behalf and my own picky aesthetic preferences.
 
More than Meets the Eye is available in nine-- soon to be ten-- volumes. Only, no, it actually isn't. Remember those Spotlight one-shots I mentioned earlier? Those pretty much came to a halt back in 2009, with only one being published in 2010 and then only because the story, originally intended as part of the ongoing The Transformers, was needed to placate irate fans of the title character (Prowl) after a questionable bit of characterization. The Spotlight line made a brief comeback in 2012, however, as a series of pack-in tie-ins to the Transformers Generations toyline as well as forming together a soft prequel to the then-upcoming Dark Cybertron event. Two of the six titles, Spotlight: Trailcutter and Spotlight: Hoist, take place between the pages of More than Meets the Eye. Despite this, the powers that be have not seen fit to release a More than Meets the Eye collection which includes them.
 
But, okay, so a couple of character-focus issues are missing. They have a bit of foreshadowing and some characterization context, in addition to featuring characters who don't usually get the-- if you'll excuse me-- spotlight, but ultimately don't affect the story in any major way. A person could go through the run never knowing either of them-- Hoist in particular-- exist and not have any trouble following what's going on (though they may wonder what Trailguy's beef is in More than Meets the Eye #6 and wonder when Rodimus started handing out medals modeled after his own face). Is that enough to say the series hasn't "really" been collected? Even I would agree that, no, it isn't-- but that isn't all that's missing. You know what else you won't find in any IDW volume with More than Meets the Eye written on the side? More than Meets the Eye issues #23 through #27, that's what. See, those issues are the title's tie-in to the aforementioned Dark Cybertron event, a crossover marking the first time the casts of More than Meets the Eye and Robots in Disguise would meet again since the titles launched. Because they form a whole story along with issues #23-#27 of Robots in Disguise and the event's beginning and ending one-shots Dark Cybertron #1 and Dark Cybertron: Finale, they are instead collected-- understandably, even I can admit-- in the Dark Cybertron trades.
 
What does that mean for a shelf of More than Meets the Eye trades? It means, if you want the series in order, you go from More than Meets the Eye Volumes 1 through 6 to Dark Cybertron Volumes 1 and 2 (or the full run Dark Cybertron hardcover) to More than Meets the Eye Volume 7 onward. To round the title off, you'd need the upcoming Titans Return event trade, which will be collecting issues #56 and #57, which form a two-part tie-in story to the Titans Return event. And you'd still be missing Spotlights: Trailcutter and Hoist, unless you also stick in the Dark Prelude trade, in which all the 2012 Spotlights are collected; they'd be out of order, though, since they take place between the fifth and sixth issues of More than Meets the Eye, which are both collected in Volume 2. Some, perhaps even many, would be unbothered by this disarray. I am not among those many. The very idea curls my lip.
 
Lo, but there is another way. Starting in 2010, IDW sought to collect its entire output in oversized (typically over three hundred-page) hardcover volumes in a roughly chronological/"suggested reading" order. Phase Two of the initiative, collecting The Death of Optimus Prime onward, began hitting shelves in 2014. The day is saved, right? Not exactly, for a few reasons.
 
First and foremost-- Phase Two Volume 4, due out this month, will see More than Meets the Eye collected in this format up to issue #16; the title is currently on issue #56. If I want the full run on the title in my mits, this isn't going to satisfy me anytime soon. The second reason casts a wary eye upon the first phase of the line, which is riddled with questionable placement of stories. There's been no tell of such a thing so far in Phase Two, but there hasn't been much to mess up yet either, since the collection is at a point where IDW's Transformers output wasn't terribly busy. Not that the post-Death years in general have been nearly as busy as IDW's first few, and the story has been told in a more linear fashion, but there are one-shots and miniseries still to be collected, as well as a third ongoing title. I can't help worrying. The final sticking point is easily the pettiest, relating to one of said miniseries to eventually be collected in this phase. It is Sins of the Wreckers, loose sequel to the only pre-Death story I especially care about, miniseries Last Stand of the Wreckers. Last Stand is also the only pre-Death IDW Transformers comic I own-- in fact, I own it physically, in both soft and hardcover, though I'm looking to sell of the former. It's been my intention to get the softcover trade and later the hardcover of Sins for some time, but I won't need to if it's properly collected in the Phase Two hardcovers (admittedly questionable, as the first phase hardcovers are missing Last Stand's bonus story content). Which would mean having everything post-Death in the Phase Two collections and then just Last Stand on its comparatively little lonesome. Or everything post-Death in the Phase Two collections, plus an extra trade of Sins. Which would be on the opposite end as the lone Last Stands, if I maintain the order, as is my wont.
 
I'm not going to deny that I have petty grievances-- but, honestly? Yeah. Comic collections are really freaking obnoxious.

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