Bob Budiansky

Bob Budiansky

Appearing Fri, Sat, Sun.
Bob Budiansky was the writer of most of the Marvel US Transformers comic book series and the creator of much of the mythos, characters, and names behind the first several years of the franchise.
In late 1983, Hasbro approached Marvel Comics to create a storyline around a series of transforming toy robots they had licensed from Takara. Editors Denny O’Neil and Jim Shooter created some of the early background for Transformers, including several names, but much of the material for the first 28 characters was rejected by Hasbro. Revision duties were passed to Bob Budiansky, a writer and penciler who had only been promoted from assistant editor to editor earlier that year.[1] Budiansky renamed most of the characters and revised the personalities… with a week’s deadline during Thanksgiving.[2]Though Optimus Prime was named by O’Neil, Bob Budiansky is responsible for the names of Megatron, the Dinobots, Sideswipe, Wheeljack, and countless others.
Due to its success, The Transformers four-issue miniseries became an ongoing. None of the three writers had been able to ‘get’ the Transformers mythos during the miniseries, and Bob Budiansky spent a lot of time directing the story as its editor — and even he thinks it was a total mess because nobody could keep track.[3] Because of this, after he was replaced as editor (due to Marvel internal rules) he was made the writer from #5 on: he was the only one who knew enough about the mythos! It was in these years that he developed popular characters Shockwave, Ratchet, and Grimlock into the roles they’re famous for today; the only characters at this time he didn’t create were the movie ones, who were specifically created for the film by Sunbow. He did, however, create the concept of the Autobot Matrix. Budiansky continued to write bios and name characters until the end of the original series, working off pictures of the toys and what they could do, with names based on whatever the hell he’d just read or seen or heard about that week. When new concepts like Headmasters or Pretenders were created by Hasbro, Budiansky would be given the job of working out story treatments for them and adding them to the Transformers mythos.[2]

Bob today.
During his run, Bob was constantly kept up to date on Hasbro’s plans: information about new toys and their model sheets were sent to him, he attended meetings at their Rhode Island HQ, he visited their annual toy exhibitions. Outside of pimping their wares, Hasbro left him alone. It was up to him whether or not he wanted to follow the cartoon’s lead, he wasn’t told to keep the target audience in mind (he made the decision himself), and he was even allowed to not use the future-set movie cast.[4]
Towards the end of his time on the comic book series, Budiansky started to feel fatigue. It was complicated and frustrating, from a story-crafting point of view, to introduce so many new characters in so few issues. At Budiansky’s recommendation, the writer of the Marvel UK Transformers comic, Simon Furman, took over Budiansky’s duties on the US comic.
An artist as well, Budiansky also drew several covers for Transformers and penciled the first half of his final issue.
As the quote notes, Transformers was a job he enjoyed at the time but is still just a job he did twenty years ago. Not that he isn’t pleased to have a 25 year old franchise as his legacy! Until he got onto the Internet and searched his own name in the 90s, he didn’t realize it was still such a big deal with fans and was both amused and bemused to learn the truth. In the early 2000s, he started to give interviews to fans and websites. This led to him coming back briefly to adapt The Transformers: The Movie for IDW and he was given an option to pitch to them again, but decided not to as he was far removed from the current Transformers status quo.
Outside of Transformers Budiansky is perhaps best known for drawing Ghost Rider, creating Sleepwalker and writing the entire series, and serving as group editor-in-chief of the Spider-Man titles between 1994 & 1995. In addition, at one point he was assigned to Marvel’s “Special Projects” section; this followed his promotion to “executive editor”.[5]. He was also tasked with overseeing a number of other limited series, such as an X-Men / Micronauts crossover.