Thursday, October 12, 2017
The Snow Issue of Transformers
Once upon a time, long ago, I read the Transformers comic. There have probably been quite a few Transformers comics, so I should be more specific; I read the British Transformers comic which was published in the eighties. I think I read it from 1986 to about 1989, but that's a rough guess. I do remember it had a time-travel story titled Target: 2006, suggesting that I was reading it by 86, when I was nine. The year 2006 seemed extremely remote. I guess it was, really.
Transformers was a good comic. The stories were mostly written by a guy called Simon Fuhrman. Even as a kid I remember realizing how grown-up his writing was, both in terms of ideas and of vocabulary. They were kids' stories, but they weren't as childish as most stuff aimed at kids. I learned a lot of new words from the comic. "Via" is one example, as in "I heard it via the radio". I can't remember any of the others.
There was a very memorable "Snow Issue" of the Transformers comic which was published to coincide with a snowfall in the Dublin area. I can still remember the cover, in which snow was falling on a scene containing the various giant robots. I wish I still had that issue.
OK, not really. There was no "Snow Issue" of Transformers. A British comic would hardly issue a special edition because it snowed in Dublin. But I did have a dream about a "Snow Issue". I can't remember if it was during an actual snowfall or if the snowfall was just in my dreams. Snow is a rarity in Dublin, and it was still more rare in my childhood. When it happened, it was a very big deal.
I've been thinking about that Snow Issue a lot recently, dreamily. I wish I still had it. It seems symbolic of so much, but it would be hard to say what...
I loved Transformers. It was mine. Well, my brothers read it, too, but it still felt like my special comic. There was a letters page called Grim Grams, edited by a Transformer called Grimlock. Grimlock was a Dinobot, one of the Transformers who took the form of a dinosaur. What use is that? Well, they arrived on Earth during the era of the dinosaurs-- or something like that. Anyway, he answered the letters. There was a picture of him opening a letter with his sword. I liked the letters page because it had a pleasant "club" feeling.
There was a comic strip about a military-obsessed boy, Combat Colin, and his friend, Semi-Automatic Steve...who had a beard. Maybe they weren't boys. It was pretty good.
My favourite part of the comic was the "next issue" section on the very last page. This would show an image from next week's comic, with a little blurb of text underneath it describing what the next week's stories would be. What I liked most was that the picture was surrounded by a frame of futuristic symbols, making it look as though it was being seen on a screen. It reminds me of a favourite Chesterton quotation, one I've quoted often on this blog-- that every wilderness looks bigger seen through a window. I remember lying in bed one night, in the dark, talking to my brother, and picturing the subjects of our talk as an image in that "next week" box. I guess it was the beginning of my life-long infatuation with such frames-- cinema screens, Viewfinder slides, stories, etc. etc-- and even more, with the magic of the mind and the imagination.
It's so long ago now that it's hard to believe. But, at the same time, it seems like yesterday... that far-off time of AIDS, Gorbachev, Reagan, Amstrad computers, Halley's comet, Kylie Minogue, video nasties, acid rain, the hole in the ozone layer, Live Aid... all vanished now, forever.
I wish I still had the Snow Issue of the Transformers, though. If you ever come across a copy, email me.