Do you know the two characters that decorate the banner of this site? Casual Transformers fans would know that they are Arcee, the most famous female Transformer, and Ratchet, the beloved Transformer medic. However, hardcore Transformer fans would recognize where the pictures came from. They’re both pictures from Dreamwave Productions, a Canadian company that once published Transformers comic books.
Dreamwave eventually folded when it went bankrupt in 2005. Its legacy, however, lives on. Matt Moylan, a former Dreamwave editor, is the writer and artist of today’s Webcomic Overlook subject: Lil Formers.
Lil Formers may have its origins in a concept Matt developed: a humorous Transformers comic for Dreamwave Productions. While that original idea never saw print, Lil Formers has found some success in media outside of its website. The website TFW2005.com hosts the comic and includes several exclusive strips. The webcomics is also published in the Transformers Official Club Magazine.
The main attraction of the webcomic are the superdeformed versions of the Transformers. (If you are unfamiliar with the term, “superdeformed” is the anime vernacular for “Muppet Babies.”) Pretty much ever character is fair game. Megatron and Optimus Prime, you’d expect. Beloved but obscure secondary G1 characters? Sure, why not? Beast Machine Transformers? To be expected. Obscure Hasbro products? OK, that was a bit of a surprise.
According to the Lil Formers website, Matt first came up with the idea from a similar webcomic called “Superdeformers.” Alas, the comic itself seems to have disappeared completely from the internet, so I have no idea how similar it really was. Going by the name, though, you can guess that they were stylistically similar.
The layout and theme of the comic remains unchanged from the beginning: the first strip is not all the different from the last strip. There’s the narrator’s set-up, the joke, the superdeformed Transformer, and the sparse, non-intrusive background. Repeat for the next strip. In a way, it’s no different from those New Yorker strips. However, Lil Formers bears more similarity to the caricatures drawn by street cartoonists. You know, the ones that draw you with a big head and a dramatic pose and placed in a “funny” situation that seems more like an afterthought.
And I suppose that among the Transformers fans, there are people that find this webcomic cute. I mean, I try to avoid things like BotCon, so I have no idea. Me, personally, I had a hard time find it funny, and many times it seems more than a little nitpicky.
Take this strip where pokes fun at the confusion between similar-looking Transformers Rumble and Frenzy. I have a hard time believing that this situation happens all that often. I mean, I know they look similar, but if you were a collector, wouldn’t you be the kind of guy obsessed enough to memorize this astounding piece of trivia in the first place? And if this is one of those digs aimed at a pointless and repetitive question being asked on a message board (which I suspect it was), isn’t this basically the cheapest way to cater to an audience? And if you were going to take a dig at repaints, why not take a shot a the Seekers, who in my opinion are way more confusing?
There’s another issue at play here: placing the author’s voice and opinions into the mouths of Transformers that I love. This isn’t characterization: this is airing a complaint, but shoe-horning the dialogue into the mouth of a familiar cartoon character. I doubt this was Matt’s intent, but in a way it seems like a phony and cheap ploy to make your claims more valid.
As a point of comparison, look at this strip from Shortpacked! It does the same thing that Lil Formers is doing: David Willis is complaining about something he didn’t like about the Transformers movie. And unless Optimus actually said “Meh” in the movie, then he changed the dialogue too. What’s the difference? Shortpacked! Optimus generally acts like the character, while in Lil Formers, Optimus Prime acts like … well, acts like Matt Moylan watching the Transformers movie.
I guess that boils down to the core why I really can’t recommend Lil Formers unless you’re a bigger Transformers geek then me. There are too many in-jokes, too many references to obscure Transformers trivia, and a tendency to overreact like the Simpson’s Comic Book Guy when editorializing. To top it off, the jokes and references that I do get are just not that funny.
RATING: 2 stars (out of 5)